Archive for March, 2011

10 Viral Videos That Are Way Better Than Rebecca Black’s Friday

Mar 24th, 2011

Much digital ink has been spilled in recent days about 13-year-old Rebecca Black, who recorded a pretty terrible song called "Friday" that went insanely viral in a short amount of time, triggering death threats and downloads in equal measure. Regardless of where you fall on the matter — some people hate her, others just feel bad for her — there’s no denying that "Friday" is a really, really bad song, one that chokes to death on auto-tuning, weird dancing, and lyrics that make the Black Eyed Peas look like Bob Dylan. But the success of "Friday" also makes people forget that a lot of viral video songs are really good, whether they’re original compositions or just reworked versions of classic or current pop hits. "Friday" is the worst kind of viral video, since it’s brain-dead earworm stuff that you can’t shake for days, but the videos below can be enjoyed unironically and happily. If you find yourself needing a breaking from the noise — or if you just need something to wash "Friday" out of your head — give these a spin again.

  1. "George Washington," Brad Neely: There’s a sad Internet irony to the fact that the actual owner of the song only has 340,000 hits on his copy of the song, while another user’s upload has more than 3 million. "George Washington" is a gleefully absurd song about the first President of the United States that turns him into a godlike myth somewhere between Chuck Norris and Superman. It’s easy to see why it became a viral hit — it’s funny, short, and well-made — but it’s also a song you can actually enjoy instead of merely tolerate. The best line has to be the one about how Washington "killed his sensei in a duel and he never said why," though your mileage may vary.
  2. "Double Rainbow Song," Gregory Brothers: The Gregory Brothers are some of the best in the business, with auto-tuned remixes of the news and other viral videos to their name. But their musical rendition of the "double rainbow" guy is maybe the catchiest thing they’ve ever done. Bright, upbeat, major-key, and completely hummable, it’s the kind of viral video song you’re happy to see take off because it’s just well-crafted. The song opens the door for interesting conversations about the nature of viral commentary and how original a remix can really be, but while you’re debating all that, you’ll be whistling this tune.
  3. "Here It Goes Again," OK Go: Rockers and general stunt enthusiasts OK Go have released several similarly themed viral-targeted videos since the explosion of "Here It Goes Again," but they’ll never top the first one for sheer surprise value. "Here It Goes Again" is already a fun, energetic song, but seeing it paired with grandiose choreography performed on treadmills takes it to a new, fantastic level. Many have tried to imitate them, but nothing beats the original.
  4. "Photoshop Tutorial Rap," College Humor: The crew at College Humor might not always succeed — such are the risks of shooting for 18-year-olds and missing — but when they’re on, they’re fantastic. This video is a hilarious rap that’s both a spoof of cheesily earnest PSAs like "Don’t Copy That Floppy" and a surprisingly effective tutorial about Photoshop basics. (If you’ve always struggled to get red-eye out of your photos, look no further.) Before you know it, you’ll be roping honies with your magnetic lasso.

  5. "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Literal Version: First thing first: there’s nothing wrong with liking the original "Total Eclipse of the Heart", whether you’re rocking Bonnie Tyler’s version or the Dan Band cover. It’s kind of a masterpiece of 1980s cheeseball love songs. That’s what makes the literal version so addictive: same melody, just jokes about the music video for lyrics. You’ll never hear the song the same way again, but that’s not a bad thing.
  6. "Thriller" at a Filipino Prison: There’s probably a joke to be made about one of Michael Jackson’s getting new life from prison inmates, but it’s too tough to work out. This video blew up a few years ago (seven Internet lifetimes) as evidence of just how creative people get when they’re stuck in prison with nothing to do but eat, work out, and choreograph elaborate re-enactments of classic music videos. The visuals work because these guys are really good: the "Thriller" dance has been taunting the clumsy since the 1980s, but these guys kill it. The video’s also a pleasure because, well, who doesn’t like "Thriller"? The album has sold 29 million copies in the U.S. alone. The guy knew how to make catchy music.
  7. JK Wedding Entrance Dance: Look, we all know Chris Brown is a joke who needs some serious anger management classes. He can’t even handle questions about his violent past without getting violent. This viral video from summer 2009 now includes a link for viewers to donate to charities designed to prevent domestic violence. Yet despite Brown’s antics, this song is incredibly fun, and it’s perfectly paired with a group of dorky people who just want to celebrate their wedding by dancing down the aisle. It even got remade on The Office! Come on, don’t be a cynic. This is cute.
  8. "I’m on a Boat," The Lonely Island: Where would Saturday Night Live be without its digital shorts? The Lonely Island joined the show a few years back, with Andy Samberg appearing on camera and Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone just writing. They blew up with a variety of music videos that promptly went viral — "Lazy Sunday" introduced you to YouTube, admit it — and while they’re all great, "I’m on a Boat" has that extra kick that makes it a great comic bit and a genuinely enjoyable song. T-Pain shows up to auto-tune his way around lyrics about getting it on with a mermaid, while Samberg and Schaffer riff on the joys of grilling burgers in the ocean breeze. It’s a smart skewering of rap bravado, and it’s seriously catchy.
  9. "I’m F***ing Matt Damon," Sarah Silverman: Jimmy Kimmel seems to have found his home on late-night TV. In 2008, he had then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman on to showcase her video "I’m F***ing Matt Damon," about how she’d grown restless on the road and cheated on Kimmel with Damon. (The video is slightly sad now that Silverman and Kimmel aren’t together, but those are the breaks.) The song plays to Silverman’s strengths as a writer, and the video’s hilarious for getting Damon to play along. Definitely one of the better viral song videos. As a bonus, Kimmel retorted with "I’m F***ing Ben Affleck".
  10. "I Will Always Love You," Lin Yu Chun: Now this kid deserved his viral fame. Rebecca Black’s song is a weak one, and she’s not exactly a talented performer, but Taiwan’s Lin Yu Chun soared to Internet fame with his stunning rendition of Whitney Houston’s version of "I Will Always Love You." When you see a chubby Taiwanese boy with a bowl cut take the microphone, you expect a certain quality of performance, but Lin absolutely blows the doors off. The video was so impressive he got an album deal out of it. It’s videos like this one that make you realize that, for all its white noise and snark, the Internet can occasinally be a pretty great place.

10 Most-Abused Basketball Cliches You’ll Be Hearing This Month

Mar 20th, 2011

Now that March Madness has arrived, you’ve undoubtedly been spending hours upon hours parked in front of your TV, watching the spellbinding drama of basketball’s most anticipated month unfold. During that time, the play-by-play men and analysts have become your most consistent company, for better or for worse. It’ll be their duty to educate you about Belmont’s potent offense, Princeton’s memorable first round history, and Pittsburgh’s inability to reach the Final Four amid high expectations. Along with the pertinent information they dispense, however, is an abundance of cliches that makes you feel as though the games are called by a troop of homogenous, preprogrammed robots (Excluding Gus Johnson, of course. We’ll allow "rise and fire" to slip). Here are 10 that are the most used and abused, and need to be eliminated:

  1. Big Dance: The NCAA Tournament already has a fitting nickname — March Madness, a term credited to longtime college basketball play-by-play man and broadcasting legend Brent Musburger (the cliche-repeating machine has invented a few of his own). It makes sense. The month is highlighted by buzzer-beaters, upsets, Cinderella runs, unbridled emotion and general chaos not seen in any other sport’s postseason. "Big Dance," on the other hand, is a tad cheesy. It’s derived from the expression "dancing," which refers to a team figuratively being added to a dance card. The NCAA Tournament isn’t for dancers — it’s for hardened basketball fiends in pursuit of the level’s highest honor.
  2. One-and-done: In a single elimination tournament involving 68 teams, there are always a ton of teams that are "one-and-done" — that’s a given. So there’s no need to repeat it a thousand times over the course of two days. Not only is it repetitive, but it’s a pejorative term. With the frequency at which teams fail to advance in the field and the flack they receive already, why is it necessary to continually harp on the same point? Move on with the rest of the field.
  3. They just wanted it more: This one can be applied to any sport by any uncreative analyst, but it’s most used during the tournament. Duke didn’t beat West Virginia in last season’s national semifinal because they merely "wanted it more" — they won primarily because they shot better from the field and performed better defensively. And it didn’t help that Mountaineer’s leading scorer Da’Sean Butler twisted his left knee. Wins and losses are best explained in objective terms, like with this use of statistical breakdowns. Empty platitudes are a sign of a lazy or time-constrained analyst.
  4. Good no-call by the officials: There’s no such thing as a good no-call. It’s the refs’ job to officiate the game as fairly as possible. Not calling a foul that wasn’t really a foul, well, is expected of them. Are policemen praised for not arresting innocent people? Do you thank your doctor for not treating an illness that you don’t have? Refs have big enough egos as it is, so let’s not inflate them more by paying them unneeded compliments.
  5. They’re getting some good open looks: Is there such a thing as a bad open look? Well, perhaps if they’re shooting from midcourt. It would do college basketball telecasts wonders if the broadcast teams would simply explain their cliches. How is the team getting open looks? Is it the dribble-penetration from the slashing point guard. Are the offensive sets being executed to perfection? More college basketball analysts should be like Jay Bilas — he doesn’t shy away from offering detailed breakdowns during the action.
  6. He’s got a great basketball IQ / He’s a hard worker: Any game featuring a mid-major team that’s perceived as having less talent than its opponent is the "beneficiary" of these types of "compliments." Generally, such teams have lots of upperclassmen and white players who fall under the stereotype. We won’t get into the white player/black player stereotypes because we don’t want to belabor the point. You understand.
  7. They play an exciting brand of basketball: Teams and players that garner this distinction typically aren’t also given the designation of "hard worker." Many basketball analysts, writers and fans wrongly associate "exciting" with high-volume scoring, and high-volume scoring with a lack of fundamentals. Using common sense, it’s hard to imagine a team scoring effectively and efficiently without possessing solid fundamentals.
  8. He’ll have success at the next level: March Madness offers players from lesser known programs the ability to showcase their talents before a national audience. As expected, a few players emerge and shed their designations as "hidden gems," wowing the analysts just as much as the fans who are unfamiliar with them. Their clutch performances, however, don’t always translate to NBA success — and when analysts say "next level," they are referring to the NBA, not Europe. In fact, if you count the names who’ve received the compliment, the total will far surpass the amount of spots available on NBA rosters.
  9. Neither team deserves to lose: During a hard fought game that will inevitably be decided by one or two riveting possessions, it’s common for play-by-play men and analysts to diminish the impending outcome by saying "neither team deserves to lose." They aren’t pre-schoolers. Because of the teary eyes that often accompany March heartbreakers, we tend to empathize with the losers. Regardless of how well the losing team plays, it lost. It doesn’t deserve equal billing with the winner. This is America, darn it.
  10. They need a defensive stop: The team is down three with 40 seconds remaining and they need a defensive stop? You don’t say. Any more wisdom you’d like to share, Mr. Self-Anointed Basketball Guru? To be fair, though, filling 40 minutes of game time is a skill, and it explains why good basketball announcers are few and far between. The job isn’t nearly as easy as it seems.