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The Best Memes of the Last 15 Years

Viral Humor, Bizarre Curiousities, and Infectious Storytelling

By

July, 2014

"Memes" are cultural symbols and social ideas that spread virally. In the same way that a flu bug travels from person to person, memes travel through social media and email.

Memes are often things of minor consequence: jokes, urban legends, human and animal oddities.  But in some cases, memes are art and music curiosities, and even philosophical ideas worth repeating.

Modern memes commonly take the form of photos and videos/animations/songs.  

Here are the most popular modern internet memes today.

 

1. Doge! Much Wow, Such Fun...

Doge

Since 2005, 'doge' has been a subculture meme thanks to the Homestar Runner puppet show.  In this episode, the Homestar character nicknames his cohort, Strong Bad, as "d-o-g-e".  

Today, doge is a photograph meme commonly attached to photos of Shiba Inu dogs, combined with comic sans font and the use of bad grammar with comedic monologue text.  Doge has also become the name for a new type of digital currency called 'Dogecoins'.

'Doge' has two common pronunciations: as a rhyme with 'rogue', or pronounced as 'dohj'.

 

2. Grumpy Cat

Tardar Sauce of Arizona

Grumpy Cat is  a housepet from Arizona.  Her real name is 'Tardar Sauce', and she has a disorder called 'feline dwarfism'. With a distinctive underbite that gives her a pouting facial expression, this little beast has become the poster child of sarcasm and faux negativity.  Thousands of captioned meme photos have been based on Tardar's seemingly-sad face.  In actuality, Tardar is a very happy and friendly cat, which makes the sarcasm memes even richer!

3. Gas Pump Karaoke Prank

This smile-inducing prank has become a viral hit. The prankster is a faux newscaster on a gas pump TV. He starts a conversation with Will and Monifa Sims, two California customers filling up their minivan. The conversation turns into an impromptu singing performance, with Will and Monifa performing songs from the 1980's. This is a terrific example of human talent and infectious spirit, and if you're like most viewers, you will cheer and clap during this delightful video.

See the gas pump karaoke prank here...

4. Ylvis: What Does the Fox Say?

Bard Ylvisaker and Vegard Ylvisaker of Ylvis perform on NBC's TODAY Show.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Norwegian comedy and music duo, Ylvis, asks the question "what sound do foxes make?" Sure enough, they not only provide the answer, but they present it via a preposterous dance video that has gone viral in recent weeks. Let's see if this new musical meme could be the new 'Gangnam Style' music video! The video is at 12 million viewings as of this writing...

See The Fox music video here...

 

5. Randall, the Honey Badger Animal Narrator

Randall is an effeminate narrator who creates voice-overs for animal videos. He is renowned for coining the expression 'honey badger don't care', which is quickly becoming a conversational phrase of courage.

Randall's narrating is flamboyant, irreverent, profane, sassy and preposterous all at once. His internet fame started with his narration of a badger video, where the little beast would hunt and eat its prey on screen. Oddly, Randall's narration is quite engaging, so don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting more Randall videos after honey badger.

See the honey badger video here

6. Good Guy Greg

Good Guy Greg  'GGG': a viral meme
'Good Guy Greg' (also known as GGG) is the endearing photo of a marijuana-smoking fellow with a likeable grin. His viral photo has been repeatedly captioned to be an example of acts of kindness and respectful public behaviour. Good Guy Greg is quite a pleasant meme, actually, as it promotes the opposite of trolling and negativity on the Web.

Make your own Good Guy Greg meme here...

 

7. Gangnam Style, by Rapper Psy

Rapper Psy: Gangnam Style
YouTube screenshot
The most-liked video in YouTube history, this pop song was released by South Korean rapper, Psy, in July of 2012. In this video, Psy inspires a funny dance style involving an invisible horse and clumsy dance moves. The 'Gangnam Style' itself is a parody of people's perceptions of the upscale Gangnam District in the city of Seoul, where the residents are known to be wealthy and trendy. See the video for yourself, and see why it has won the MTV Video of the Year.

FYI: here are the English lyrics to the Gangnam Style song.

8. LOLcats

icanhazcheeseburger.com

The absurd gallery of people attaching human behaviors and captions to photos of housecats. If you like Gary Larson's 'Far Side' cartoons, you are bound to like LOLcats/Cheezburger...

9. Ermahgerd

What Is 'Ermahgerd'?
'Ermahgerd' is 'oh my god' as pronounced by someone with a speech impediment. It means 'shock' and 'stupidity' at the same time, often as a caption for unflattering photos. You can caption 'ermahgerd' on your own photos to describe that you did something stupid today, or you can use it to insult someone else by replying 'ermagherd' to their online posts.

Ermahgerd is also becoming popular as a caption for animal photos, much like lolcats. For the most part, ermagherd is a derogatory term like 'doh' or 'durp'.

10. The New Old Spice Guy

screen capture of YouTube
These preposterous commercials are exactly that: preposterous. Yet these commercials have a real charm that makes women grin and men guffaw. Take a look at the number of hits that these Old Spice commercials get on YouTube... that should give you a sense of how viral these commercials are.

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