As more and more content goes viral, Internet memes, or concepts that spread from person to person online, have risen from being merely obscure references shared by social media communities to a social status that more and more content producers, both amateur and professional, seek to achieve. Take a look at five Internet memes and the origins of their viral fame.
1. The Rick Roll
Originating as a variation of a “bait and switch” image macro meme, called a duckroll, on 4chan, an image board known for spawning various Internet memes, the "Rick Roll" is executed by deceiving a user to click on a link to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” under the premise that it’s a link to an interesting image, video, or other type of content. While the Internet meme was born around 2007, it spread far beyond 4chan into the real world at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008. Since its first appearance, the original link has garnered more than 67 million views, not including other Rick Astley videos re-uploaded to YouTube. The meme enjoys a revival every so often, especially on social media sites, where users purport that the original "RickRoll’d" video was taken down due to a copyright claim from time to time.
2. Keep Calm and Carry On
Originally on British propaganda posters during World War II, the infamous phrase has spawn numerous variants poking fun at the original phase. Its resurgence was due in part to the rediscovery of the poster back in 2000 in a used bookstore. While some poster parodies are playful, others take on a different angle, targeting political topics.
3. Advice Animal Image Macros
Popularly called memes by the masses, "Advice Animal" images are frequently thought of when referring to Internet memes in general. Advice animal image macros are spinoffs of "Advice Dog", an image meme from 2006 of a puppy with a color wheel background giving poor advice. The spinoffs typically feature a picture of an animal or human captioned with quotations of a stereotypical character or something a particular character would say or do.
Contrary to some mainstream misconceptions, simply placing two lines of text on top and bottom of the animal or human featured doesn’t necessarily make the image fit the “Advice Animal” meme structure. The belief spread as large groups of people were exposed to the “Advice Animal” memes, particularly with the creation of “University Meme” Facebook pages which featured the image macro memes depicting university inside jokes, which also included incorrect usage of said image macros.
A video from a 1976 television appearance of Russian singer Edward Khil singing his song "I Am Glad, 'Cause I'm Finally Returning Back Home" was uploaded to YouTube in 2009. It featured Khil singing in non-lexical vocables, or nonsense syllables used in music. It quickly became known as the “Trololo” song, gaining so much popularity that Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”) even parodied the video on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
5. Harlem Shake
Taking the same namesake but not the same moves of the hip-hop dance style, the Harlem Shake meme originated from a video uploaded onto YouTube by Filthy Frank on his channel “DizastaMusic” featuring four people dressed in spandex full bodysuits dancing to “Harlem Shake” by Harry Bauer Rodrigues, better known by his stage name, Baauer. The video spawned numerous versions, eventually peaking in popularity in March 2013.
What Internet memes of 2013 do you think will be remembered years from now? Let us know in the comments below.