Ever since OK Go first stepped onto a treadmill or that one guy memorized the entire history of dance, viral videos have dominated the pop sphere. Some might say they're even more influential--or at least more entertaining--than record labels' actual big-budget "official" music videos. And 2011 was no different. It was a viral year of epidemic proportions. And so, without further ado, here are the top 10 videos we were tweeting, Facebooking, and IMing in 2011.
10) Kina Grannis Is Ready For This Jelly
Cool beans! Literally! Rising songstress Kina might have gotten her big break when she won Doritos' "Crash The Super Bowl" contest in 2008, but she made her biggest impression with another snack food this year. Her stop-motion "In Your Arms" video took more than a quarter-million Jelly Belly jellybeans, two years, and 1,357 hours of filming to create--and it was all worth it, obviously.
9) Madonna Apologizes, Unsuccessfully, To Hydrangeas
After Madonna was seen ungraciously accepting a bouquet of hydrangeas, her most-loathed flower, from a well-meaning fan at the Venice Film Festival, she attempted to do damage control with this video apology. We're not quite sure her helped her shed her diva reputation, but it made us laugh.
8) OK Go Cover "The Muppet Show Theme" - With The Muppets!
OK Go are viral video superstars, having starred in landmark clips with dogs, marching bands, and of course, treadmills. But in this video, they starred with Muppets. 'Nuff said. It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights. Watch it now.
7) Foo Fighters Keep It Clean In K.C.
On August 30, 2011, the Westboro Baptist Church called for a picket of the Foo Fighters' concert in Kansas City. This is how the band fought back. Just another reason to worship the Foos.
6) Thom Yorke Is One Mean Meme
Perhaps not since Beyonce's "Single Ladies" had a music video's dance become such an instant Internet meme as did Radiohead's "Lotus Flower" in 2011. The original video--which featured 'Head frontman Thom Yorke flailing about a deserted warehouse, caught in the throes of dance and seeming positively possessed--premiered on a Friday. And by Saturday, the Interweb was awash in "Lotus" parodies. This one's still our favorite.
5) Ted Williams Is The Man With The Golden Voice
When 53-year-old homeless man Ted Williams was discovered by a local reporter in Columbus, Ohio, the Internet went nuts when YouTubers heard his voice. It was a voice made for radio--and, apparently, for the Internet, too. While the sudden media attention caused Ted to go off the rails and do time in rehab twice, a lot of good still came out this video--including jobs for Ted on the reality show "Second Chances At Life," a couple TV commercials, and New England Cable News. And it all started here.
4) Sergio Flores Brings Back The Joy Of Sax
Not since the '80s heyday of INXS, Men At Work, Madness, and of course Wham! had the saxophone been so in vogue as it was in 2011--when horn-blowing prankster Sergio Flores, aka Sexy Sax Man, just started showing up in random places to entertain and/or annoy passers-by with his searing rendition of "Careless Whisper." We'd love for Sexy Sax Man to come and serenade us at the Yahoo! offices any day of the week...and we'd make sure security didn't cart him off.
3) Princess Sophia Grace Brownlee Spits "Super Bass"
When precocious 8-year-old Brit "Princess" Sophia Grace Brownlee and her 5-year cousin/hype-girl Rosie uploaded their adorable "Super Bass" cover onto YouTube, the public response was immediate--even from the song's originator, Nicki Minaj, who excitedly tweeted: "I HAVE to meet her. She is a SUPERSTAR!!! Like did u hear how she sang the bridge? The attitude? OMG!" The video also caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Sophia and Rosie to appear on her show--where they actually got to meet and duet with their idol, Nicki herself. And thus, this little princess became viral-video royalty.
2) The World's Cutest Dad-Daughter Duo Sings "Home"
The father-daughter duo of Jorge Narvaez and 6-year-old Alexa covering Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes' "Home" just might have been THE cutest thing we saw on the Interweb all year--and that includes all the kitten and puppy videos out there, too. America fell in love with the Narvaezes, and soon appearances on "Ellen" and even a commercial for Hyundai followed. The duo's YouTube channel is now bursting with videos of them covering Adele, Plain White T's, Chris Brown, Leona Lewis, and others, but this clip's still the one we love most.
1) Rebecca Black Has Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun
Yes, this was terrible. And though we're pretty sure it wasn't supposed to be terrible, "Friday" turned out to be one happy accident. The video got its first big promotion, perhaps not coincidentally, on a Friday, when Comedy Central's Tosh.0 blog posted it under the headline "Songwriting Isn't For Everyone." And that was all it took. By the weekend's end, "Friday" had been Tumblr'd, Facebooked, blogged, and tweeted by countless baffled viewers--and hundreds of covers and parodies had popped up on YouTube as well. The virality of "Friday," a wannabe weekend-party anthem for the new generation, had nothing to with the song being any good, or even with the fact that it was, well, the weekend. It was simply because it was so unbelievably BAD. ("A whole new level of bad," according to Time magazine.) And sometimes, when something's is so bad, it becomes good. The song bizarrely took off, appearing on everything from "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" to Kohl's Black Friday holiday commercials, and it turned tweenage Rebecca into the most unlikely breakout pop star of 2011. And we're afraid think we'll still have this song stuck in our heads throughout 2012.