1. “Gangnam Style”
Unless you’re my dad, who discovered the addictive Korean pop song last week, chances are you spent the better half of your year hopping around and singing along to a song whose lyrics you don’t understand. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” was released over summer and became an instant hit, both in his native South Korea and overseas.
But more impressive than the reaching abilities of the music is the popularity of the music video, which simply features PSY doing the “Gangnam Style” dance in various random places. After passing over a billion views in December, the insanely popular video has since become YouTube’s all time most watched. “Gangnam Style” gained airplay at local radio stations and was a common feature of bar, club and party playlists; it was truly impossible to escape. And honestly, it doesn’t look like the song will be going away anytime soon — you might as well learn the dance.
Hey, I just watched you, and this is crazy! But this song’s addictive — hit replay, maybe? Sorry publicists and marketing directors of the world, Justin Bieber has proven that there’s no better way to catapult a sticky-sweet song to the top of the charts than by hitting ‘record.’
The Biebs’s viral video cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” embodies the Y Generation in all of its bubblegum glory: the Internet, a batch of pop stars and Disney ex-darlings and an infectious, new catchphrase. Removing the “guilt” from Jepsen’s would-be guilty pleasure, Bieber makes it cool to dance like an idiot with your best friends — as if you weren’t doing that already.
3. KONY 2012
If you’ve stumbled across the little-known website Facebook in the last year, there was no escaping Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 viral video seeking the arrest of African militia leader Joseph Kony, hated for his abduction and brainwashing of children, forcing them to become child soldiers. With over 94 million views on YouTube, it became obvious social media “activism” had arrived. Critics were quick to point out the meaningless action that clicking share on a video embodied as well as the video’s simplification of a complex issue.
And yet, the video undoubtedly opened people’s eyes to the monster that is Joseph Kony, prompting national coverage and a resolution by the United States Senate which helped dispatch additional soldiers to aid in the manhunt. Though the video and its message will continue to be controversial, something positive and tangible resulted, and that’s more than most viral videos can say.
“16.5! 16.5,” shouts USA Olympic teammate Aly Raisman as a giddy (a rare emotion for the teen athlete best known for her sassy smirk) McKayla Maroney joins her after working magic on the vault. The judges go on to give her a 16.233, mere tenths away from that perfect score of 16.5 that Raisman and everyone watching was so certain Maroney would receive. It’s still a hell of a score, one that inched the American Women’s Gymnastics team forward and got them the gold for the first time since Kerri Strug pulled off a miracle on the vault in 1996.
Even though a handful of judges managed to spot something off target, Maroney’s vault was as perfect as perfect gets in the demanding, meticulous sport of gymnastics — so much so that we almost forget she only gets the silver in the individual vault competition. Don’t worry McKayla, we’re all impressed.
2006 is to Tyra Banks’s “kiss-my-fat-ass” outburst, as 2012 is to CBS WKBT news anchor Jennifer Livingston’s awe-inspiring, ‘fat ass’-kicking live address of a viewer’s (is a person considered a “viewer” if he rarely watches the show?) email criticizing Livingston’s weight. “Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular,” the message reads.
Oh, sweet sender, Livingston is quite the opposite. Through her humble and compassionate message — not to mention her eloquent delivery — Livingston proved herself to be a role model, setting an example of kindness, mature discussion and acceptance of others. If bullying is learned and passed on, as Livingston says, then surely this video — with over 10-million views — can teach just as much.