Home Musical Memes, Choosing A Netizen Anthem

Musical Memes, Choosing A Netizen Anthem

There are a number of perfectly worthy anthems for the wired generation. Kraftwerk’s Computer Love might suffice, or the Ataris’ Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start captures the essence of devoted Konami Contra fans. But a real anthem rallies a movement. It’s the kind of song that is not only widely accepted, but it inspires people to change their lives and behaviors.

The hippies have Blowin’ in the Wind, the children of disco have Stayin’ Alive and the GLBT community has I’m Coming Out. But what do modern day netizens consider their anthem? What gets us grooving in our guilds, cranking out our code and soldering up a mean arduino? Below are some of the top musical memes and anthems from recent years. If you got suggestions for a netizen anthem, leave them in the comments below.

Love and Longing – Code Monkey: While Jonathan Coulton is perhaps one of the greatest geek anthem musicians with songs like Re Your Brains and That Spells DNA, Code Monkey still manages to top the list with its universal themes of a struggling underdog and unrequited geek love. The song actually became the theme for G4’s now defunct Code Monkeys TV series. It also spurred a number of YouTube mash ups including Mike Booth’s World of Warcraft machinima video.

Pursuit of Knowledge – Free Software Song: Richard Stallman is best known as the founder of the GNU Project and father of the Free Software Foundation. A truly brilliant developer, Stallman has been writing folk songs about technology for more than a decade. His Free Software song based on Bulgarian “Sadi Moma” helped define the musical genre of “filking” – a type of folk music generally created by science fiction & fantasy fans. The song is a tribute to free culture and copyleft software licensing.

Bootstrapped Success – Crank That Soulja Boy: In early 2007, DeAndre Ramone Way, also known as Soulja Boy, was a little known rap artist with a number of tracks released on YouTube and music community SoundClick. Thanks to his Crank That Soulja Boy hit, by 2009 Way was a Grammy Award nominated artist with a record deal and his own production company. According to a Yahoo’s Music blog post from May 2009, “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” has sold over 4,183,000 digital downloads in the United States, becoming the third highest-selling song ever. The song became an internet sensation after the dance tutorial video received more than 40 million YouTube views. Thousands of new videos have since been uploaded to YouTube in tribute to this anthem of a bootstrapped star.

Resurrected Oldies: A number of songs written by music superstars have since become geek anthems. Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up was resurrected after 20 years when the act of tricking individuals into listening to the song or Rickrolling became a popular meme. The Astley meme became so widespread that Astley himself Rickrolled the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parade in 2008. Meanwhile, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” although always a popular rock ballad, got it’s first taste at video meme-dom in a “Team Cyprus” video that was wildly criticized as an ostentatious display of wealth during one of the country’s worst economic slumps in history. The song has since been featured in an a cappella version on the season premiere of Glee. The squeaky-clean Glee version debuted at number four on the Billboard charts.

Celebrated Amateurs: Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” first became viral via 4Chan and has since landed the mahogany-voiced baritone features on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live, a spot on Lily Allen’s Freeloader Nation Tour, and several endorsement deals. Also an overnight sensation, Gary Brolsma or “the Numa Numa Guy” is best known for his animated YouTube lipsync to Moldovan band O-Zone’s “Dragostea din tei.” Brolsma has since been featured in a South Park episode and videos for the Bare Naked Ladies and Weezer. While neither of these songs make strong direct political or social statements, the fact that they are so widely embraced, is a testament to the web’s spirit of playfulness.

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