(Published in Sify.com on 26 December 2011, retrieved from http://www.sify.com/news/top-internet-sensations-of-2011-news-columns-lm1a2tcgjbb.html)
Some of the worst music, best voices, worst clothes and best reactions went viral this year. We take a look at ten of the top internet sensations of 2011.
Why this Kolaveri, Di?
With more than 27 million views on YouTube at the time this article was written, Why This Kolaveri, Di? made its singer, actor Dhanush, and composer Anirudh Ravichander internationally famous. It was released on 16 November, and marketed as a leak by Sony Music, from Dhanush’s upcoming release 3. Literally meaning ‘Why this murderous rage, girl?’, the lyrics of this song were written in 20 minutes, according to Dhanush. They are sung in the voice of a youth who has been ditched by his girlfriend, and has decided to drown his sorrows in alcohol. With largely English lyrics, this song became the first Tamil movie song to premiere on national music channel MTV India. Parodies featuring this song in the backdrop to clippings of legendary actors such as Shivaji and MGR, as well as current events such as the Sharad Pawar slapping incident, became quite popular on YouTube.
Rebecca Black’s Friday
Friday by 13-year-old Rebecca Black is one song that could make Kolaveri seem almost profound by comparison. Black’s mother reportedly paid $4,000 to have the single, complete with a music video, put out as a vanity release by record label ARK Music Factory. With more than 167 million views, the song made Black immensely notorious – as one user said, “We don’t hate you because you’re famous, you’re famous because we hate you.” The video was uploaded on February 10, 2011, but received only 1000 views in its first month. It suddenly went viral on March 11, notching up millions of ‘dislikes’ and being panned as the worst song ever. However, it was enough to take Black to the music charts of the US, UK, and even New Zealand. Its young star featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, went on to host MTV’s first online awards show, and even made an appearance in Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).
The Beyghairat Brigade
Aalu Anday, a political satire by Pakistani group The Beygairat Brigade, could easily be the most intelligent viral video on YouTube this year. The Lahore-based band, whose name means ‘Dishonour Brigade’, spoofs the moral police, popularly called ‘Ghairat Brigade’ with its name, and just about everything to do with Pakistan with its lyrics. Uploaded early on 16 October, the video garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube, and drew the attention of international media. The song takes a dig at Pakistan’s obsession with conspiracy theories, the iconic status given to terrorists such as Ajmal Amir Qasab and assassins such as Mumtaz Qadri, who killed former Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, while refusing to acknowledge the religion of the country’s only Nobel Laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam. The video ends with a placard that makes the viewer burst out laughing before pressing the ‘Like’ button.
A Finger to Obama
Senior Russian news anchor, Tatyana Limanova, caused a furore when she casually raised her finger while mentioning Barack Obama in anews telecast, online footage of which had media organisations frantically calling up the television station, REN TV channel. Limanova had been reading an item about Russian President Dmitry Medvedev taking over the rotating chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Cooperation organisation, a post previously held by Barack Obama. As she read out the US President’s name, she raised the middle finger of her left hand. The channel did not comment at first, but several sources claimed the gesture had been directed at studio technicians, and not the President. Others said Limanova had believed herself to be off air at the time. The gesture was particularly scandalous, coming at a time when US-Russia relations have worsened, with the US saying it will stop giving the Kremlin regular details about its military presence in Europe.
The Nyan Cat
This video, uploaded in April 2011, quickly became an internet meme and finished the year as one of the most-viewed videos on YouTube. With more than 55 million views at the last count, the video has an animation of a cartoon cat with the body of a pop-tart flying through space, leaving a rainbow trail. The accompanying music is a Japanese pop song. The initial animation was posted by 25-year-old American Christopher Torres, who said he decided to make the video while Livestreaming video chat during a donation drive for the Red Cross Society. He calls the video ‘Pop Tart Cat’. The ‘nyan’ is the Japanese equivalent of the English ‘meow’, and YouTube user saraj00n combined the Japanese song with the Pop Tart video to create the ‘Nyan Cat’. The feline sensation spawned off a series of ringtones, wallpapers and mobile phone apps. In December, Xbox Live Indie Games even released a game, the ‘Nyan Cat Adventure’.
The Delhi Boy Rant
Some people loved it, and some hated it, but the Open Letter to a Delhi Boy, written by a young blogger who referred to herself as ‘Madrasan’ managed to get her nearly 3000 comments and more than 1500 followers. The vituperative open letter, directed largely against Punjabi men and stereotypes of South Indian women, even got the attention of national daily The Times of India, which published extracts, as well as a rebuttal by another South Indian woman who derided the blogger for some of her remarks. It was a trending topic on Twitter, and according to its author, the Open Letter even got her death threats.
The Halloween Prank and the Sensible Kids
It isn’t often that a video goes viral for good behaviour by two little boys, huh? But brothers CJ, 7, and Jake, 3, became an internet sensation after this video got more than a million views in the first couple of weeks after it was posted on YouTube on November 1. Their mother Shawn Booth posted the video after entering them for a contest where parents pranked their kids by telling them they had eaten all the children’s Halloween candy. While most children cried and threw tantrums, the Booth brothers showed their disappointment, but chose to lecture their mother instead – CJ told her she should have woken him up to ask, and he wouldn’t have cared. He also warned that she would get a bellyache, and said “that’s good” when she said she was all right. Jake suggested it may be yet another trick, grinning, “You’re always tricking us, Mom!” and then said called her “sneaky” for eating the candy. The brothers won the contest, and got a trip to Disneyland, along with a live appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.
Princess Beatrice’s Hat
It was arguably a hotter topic than Kate Middleton’s dress and the second kiss on the balcony – within hours, the Philip Treacy creation that Princess Beatrice sported to the royal wedding set off a Facebook group called Princess Beatrice’s Ridiculous Royal Wedding Hat that attracted tens of thousands of fans. From being called ‘a uterus and fallopian tubes’ to a ‘toilet bowl’ to a ‘Star Trek weapon’, the hat was compared to nearly everything under and above the sun. The fifth in line to the throne, Princess Beatrice is no stranger to ridicule for her choice of attire.
Pippa Middleton’s Derriere
Another distraction at the wedding was the shapely bottom of Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa. The maid-of-honour wore a fitting dress that showed off her backside, and soon after the wedding, had several fan pages on various social networking sites dedicated to her derriere. Artist and satirical photographer Alison Jackson even said she was planning a series of YouTube episodes that would contain tips to achieving a perfect bottom, with a Pippa butt double for a model. The series, called How to Create the Perfect Pippa Bottom, stars Gabriella Paris.
From Homeless Man to Golden Voice
Fifty-three year old Ted Williams, who said he had fallen upon hard times and was forced into homelessness, became The Man with the Golden Voice after a reporter, Doral Chenoweth, chanced upon him in Columbus, Ohio, and posted this video online in early January. He has received several cushy job offers since then. He had worked in radio earlier, but found himself on a downward spiral after substance abuse problems, and spent several years going in and out of jail. He was signed on by several networks and companies after shooting to fame.