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The internet loves memes, and music seems to love memes too. Hit songs and trending memes are starting to go hand in hand with one another. It's as if one can't survive without the other. This makes a person wonder if the key to making successful music is creating a successful meme. Well, that's at least the theory I have.
But How Did This All Start?
As far as the history goes, I'll be discussing memes that are related to popular music or music videos.
Now, remember Rick Astley? Remember "Rick-Rolling?" The early days of YouTube had videos where a person clicks on it thinking it's one thing but then it turns out to be Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up." This both irritated and delighted people on the internet and gave the 1980s song new found popularity. Those videos could have been the kick-starter to music related memes.
And It so It Continues (with Mannequins)
Memes surrounding music videos gained higher ground in the 2010s. It usually came from very memorable videos like "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus or "Hotline Bling" by Drake. The internet took music videos like that by storm, giving the song more popularity and the video more views.
"Black Beatles," by Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane, inspired a internet trend called the "Mannequin Challenge." Basically, people in the video will pose as a mannequin with the hip hop song playing in the background. It is said to have started at a high school in Jacksonville, Florida. Since then, it's been done by celebrities like Destiny's Child.
The Power of Drake
However, it seems that Drake is mostly responsible for this new phenomenon. His dancing on "Hotline Bling" was the talk of social media. Then, "In My Feelings" inspired a challenge before a video even premiered. A dancer named Shiggy started a trend called the "Kiki Challenge." He choreographed a dance to the hit song, and then other people took it a step further by dancing aside a moving car.
Drake credited the challenge for helping his song reach number one on the charts. Must be why Shiggy appeared in the official music video with Drake. The challenge videos were featured in the end credits, which includes celebrities like Will Smith, Ciara, and Odell Beckham Jr.
"Hold on Drake, I'm Gonna Let You Finish..."
Drake became the king of pop song memes. So, naturally Kanye West had to try to take over the throne. "I Love It," featuring Lil Pump, had a music video with a look that was instantly memorable. From there came a challenge called the "I Love It Challenge." People dressed up like how Kanye and Pump did in their video and danced around in goofy fashion.
Kanye may be a little crazy, but he is smart when it comes to music. It makes me think that he made the music video weird on purpose. Maybe, he knew a meme would be created. After all, memes created with pop music is now inevitable. It makes sense for musicians to focus on that aspect in order to stay relevant. So, if you want to rise on the billboard charts, become a silly meme on the internet.