The power of the collective conscious of the Internet is most clearly reflected in memes. These ideas or styles, which can take the form of anything from an image to a misspelt word, spread from person to person in the online world all across the globe, with a lot of them eventually reflected in images with text (though that may not be the case all the time).
Which memes took the Internet world by storm in 2013? Many of them were sparked by videos and celebrities this year, instead of pure images. Here are 13 of the year’s best ones.
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1. Doge — the dog that “speaks” bad English
The Doge meme easily takes top spot to be the meme of 2013. Doge is a misspelt version of dog — and the meme is typically made up of a Shiba Inu dog with Comic Sans text in broken English dotting the picture.
Doge has all the factors needed for a viral meme — a cute dog and simple (bad) English captioning that makes people laugh. Here are a few that are particularly hilarious.
A virtual currency was even born out of the Doge craze. Dogecoin was created for fun, using that the Shiba Inu dog from the meme as its mascot, and eventually actually gained some traction — though it recently suffered its first hacking incident.
2. Twerking — the very provocative butt dance
Twerking has existed since the nineties, but in 2013 singer Miley Cyrus made it smokin’ hot — with an extremely sexually provocative twerking performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.
In June this year, Cyrus already put twerking into the limelight via her ‘We Can’t Stop’ MTV. As KnowYourMeme notes, Cyrus even asked fans to submit their twerking videos for the music video.
Subsequently, this year twerking videos have been all the rage on YouTube. However, the best one is undoubtedly Jimmy Kimmel’s Twerk Fail video, which spread like wildfire, and now has nearly 15 million views on YouTube.
3. Harlem Shake — the crazy dance that somehow looks cool
The Harlem Shake exploded in early 2013 when a series of dance videos surfaced using a short excerpt of the song with the same name, which was released by American music producer Harry Rodrigues (Baauer) in August 2012. Wikipedia notes that thousands of Harlem Shake videos were made and uploaded to YouTube every day when its popularity peaked.
The Harlem Shake was technically started by a YouTube video blogger named Filthy Frank. However, it truly went viral as a meme only when a group of Australian teenagers — The Sunny Coast Skate — danced to the Harlem Shake in the form that we are more familiar with now.
Ultimately, even puppies wanted in on the Harlem Shake craze.
4. I Quit — the coolest way ever to quit a job
Next Media Animation producer Marina Shifrin had enough of her job — and she decided to quit in style, airing her complaints in a hilarious dance routine set to Kanye West’s Gone, which went viral after being posted to Reddit.
KnowYourMeme notes that in the first five days the video was posted, the video got more than 11.8 million views and about 14,000 comments.
The I Quit video spawned plenty of memes, such as this below by Cheezburger user PrincessWordplay.
It also spawned videos including a parody from work-at-home mum Brenna Jennings. What took the cake though, was a video made in response to Shifrin by her former employer… which announced they were hiring.
5. What Does The Fox Say? — a senseless song that is so addictive
Brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker of Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis were genuinely curious about what sound a fox makes, and the viral song (along with the video) was born. The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) took top billing as YouTube’s top trending video of 2013, and has surpassed three million views as of now.
The music video became an Internet meme that was widely covered and parodied by people all over the Internet world. Even Morgan Freeman stepped in to reinforce the meme — by reading out the lyrics of the viral hit in his heavenly voice.
6. Grumpy Cat — the cat that disapproves of everything
Move away LolCat, 2013 was the year when Grumpy Cat hogged all the limelight.
Grumpy Cat surfaced in September 2012 via a picture posted to Reddit, as Wikipedia notes, but 2013 was the year when it graced the covers of mainstream news publications such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine. It also won BuzzFeed’s Meme of the Year award — and there’s even an official Grumpy Cat book published in July this year.
Grumpy Cat has spawned endless hilarious images all featuring the same scornful cat face, and here are a couple of the more notable (and funnier) ones.
7. Brent Rambo — a very approving look from the nineties
Brent Rambo was famous before the Internet became mainstream — as a child model in an advertisement for Apple’s desktop products. He surfaced this year when a Reddit user posted an animated GIF of him nodding approvingly.
The image took on a life of its own when others started combining the GIF with other images — such as this one below — and so Brent Rambo Approves has become one of the hottest memes in 2013.
8. Unflattering Beyonce — one word: fierce
Even celebrities have their bad days. A couple of unflattering images of Beyonce from her SuperBowl performance this year went viral after BuzzFeed refused to take them down following a request from her publicist (a huge tactical mistake there). BuzzFeed highlighted the particular images instead, and the Internet world went crazy lapping them up.
Photoshopped images started spreading like wildfire, making the Unflattering Beyonce a meme that made people chuckle but likely made Beyonce cringe a thousand times over. Here are a few funny ones.
9. Obama Skeet Shooting — the President goes shooting
This is another case where Internet users rebel against people telling them what to do. The original photo was issued by the White House on Flickr to show that President Barack Obama enjoys skeet shooting, with an advisory message asking viewers not to alter the image.
Of course nobody obeyed. It rapidly became a meme when users took to Photoshop to come up with images and GIFs that poked fun at Obama.
In this GIF, Obama isn’t even shooting anymore.
10. Starbucks Drake Hands — the most cringe-worthy ‘seductive’ video ever
There is a lesson within the Starbucks Drake Hands meme — seducing a girl with a video that can be easily ridiculed really isn’t the smartest way to go about flirting.
The meme’s lifecycle started when a video of barista Brody “Odag” Ryan smiling and rubbing his hand on his face to the Drake song “Hold On, We’re Going Home” was posted to Instagram by DJ Ben Roc, a friend of Californian model Piper Kennedy. Ryan had asked for Kennedy’s number and sent her the video, presumably an attempt to seduce her and not to draw attention from the whole Internet world.
Subsequently, several parody videos were made with the hashtag #StarbucksDrakeHands. This one by a little boy is particularly chuckle-worthy.
11. Hadokening — a powerful Japanese attack
This year, an Asian photo fad caught the attention of Internet users in the West — and there’s been no turning back since.
The original photo was tweeted by Japanese user @mkpiiii9 in March this year, but the name ‘Hadokening’ was given by a Reddit user, who adopted it from the well-known special Japanese attack Hadouken used in games such as Street Fighter.
— ⓜⓘⓚⓐ☃ (@mkpiiii9) March 25, 2013
Subsequently, several photos surfaced that copied the general concept of the original photo — though most of them came from Japan itself.
In the West, a derivative of Hadokening known as ‘Vadering’ surfaced when Rob Martinez tweeted a picture of himself staging Darth Vader’s Force choke. It was picked up by online media outlets, and the hashtag #Vadering garnered quite a spread on Twitter.
— Rob Martinez (@rbrtanthony) March 30, 2013
12. Hot Dog Legs — sexy legs… or processed food?
Shots of sexy legs are meant to be tantalizing, until you realize they may not be legs after all, but hot dogs. The Hot Dog Legs meme started as a Tumblr blog created by food blogger Alexis Brault in July.
Many Internet users picked up on this really ingenious perspective, spawning pictures that make you have a hard time guessing whether they are hot legs, or hot dogs.
13. Moon Moon — the stupid wolf
Rounding off the best memes of 2013 is Moon Moon, which is actually rather similar to the Doge meme. Moon Moon is a fictional wolf character taking the role of an outcast in a pack, inspired by a silly name that Tumblr user Kitchiki got via a name generator “What is your Werewolf Name?”
The meme took on its form when Tumblr user Frukass posted a reply to Kitchiki’s post, portraying Moon Moon rushing in to “get the thing.”
Subsequently, Moon Moon memes made the rounds on the Internet, all of which prove that even the majestic, cunning wolf can be lame — and funny.