Memes are a big part of internet culture nowadays. You can either love them or hate them – or only hate some of them – but they are everywhere.
Now, they are here on Ambient Mixer as well! Let’s have a look at meme music, songs used in and for memes, and more!
Songs That Became Memes
Some songs themselves have managed to become memes themselves. For whatever reason, the internet decided that these particular songs have great meme (or prank) potential. It doesn’t have to be a particularly popular or modern song either. Anything could become a meme song. Below are some popular examples.
Darude – Sandstorm
In 1999, Finish techno music producer Darude released a song called “Sandstorm“. Years later, it became the background music to many YouTube videos and Twitch streams (primarily gaming footage and let’s plays) – or so it seems. It has become a tradition of commenters on both platforms to answer the question about which music was used for a particular video or stream with “Darude – Sandstorm”. Needless to say that this information is hardly ever correct.
Darude himself has embraced the meme and has, apparently, even performed the song at some gaming conferences.
Toto – Africa
American soft rock band Toto surely didn’t anticipate how popular their 1982 song “Africa” would become an internet phenomenon over three decades later. It’s unclear how it all started, how this song, in particular, garnered that much love. What’s obvious though is that the internet loves “Africa” and all its various covers, lip syncs, and uses! And can you blame them? It’s a great song, even 36 years after its first release!
Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
No, we are not trying to rickroll you. If you click on the video below, you know what you are in for.
Rick Astley released “Never Gonna Give You Up” in 1987 and contrary to Toto’s “Africa”, people groan and roll their eye when they hear this song nowadays. The trend to rickroll people by sending them to a video of the song instead to relevant information to whatever the conversation might be peaked in 2007 – and yet people are still cautious of opening unknown links to this day in fear of getting rickrolled.
Smash Mouth – All Star
It all started with a DreamWorks movie and a rock song. The 1999 rock song “All Star” by Smash Mouth was heavily featured in the 2001 animated movie “Shrek” – and has almost instantly become a meme. Parodies and covers of the song have spread over YouTube and the whole internet along with the usage of the iconic beginning of the song for a dramatic entrance or to surprise and scare someone.
Are Smash Mouth aware that their song became a meme though? Yes, they are. Not taking themselves too serious either, they embrace the newfound popularity for their creation.
Songs Used in Memes
Contrary to the music above, snippets of songs, themes or other music are often used in memes to describe a particular situation or punchline. What these few notes or parts of songs have in common with the meme music from above, is that they can come from all kinds of genres or time periods. Check out these popular examples below.
Dave Rogers – Deja Vu
Another song from 1999, Dave Rogers‘ “Deja Vu” was used in an episode of the anime series “Initial D” that aired one year later. Now, 18 years later, part of the chorus has become an overlay for videos that closely resemble the subject of Initial D: car racing. If something can and is drifting – a car, bike, train, tank, duck (yes, a duck) – rest assured that someone has created a meme video with “Deja Vu” playing over it.
Baauer – Harlem Shake
Do you remember the Harlem Shake? In 2012, Baauer produced an instrumental track with this name and one year later, everyone and their mother had produced a Harlem Shake video. Starting off with a normal situation in a quite mundane environment (ranging from a living room, over an office, to a military scene even), the video cuts to a wild and often confusing (let alone sexual) chaos of dancing people.
Yes – Roundabout
Another song that garnered popularity due to its use in an anime series. “Roundabout” by Yes was used in the series “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” and has since been carried over from the fandom and into the broader internet space. The 1971 song, together with the “To be continued” graphic from the anime, is used in videos to create suspense and leave viewers with a cliffhanger.
Bag Riders – Shooting Stars
You like electronic music, synthwave graphics, and people slipping and falling? Oh, do we have good news for you! In early 2017, the 2008 song “Shooting Stars” by Bag Raiders combined all of these. As some kind of a more modern Harlem Shake variant, Shooting Stars videos start, most of the time, with someone falling. Instead of showing the impact, however, the electronic beats carry the falling person, object or animal into a wondrous world filled with synthwaves, 80’s graphics, galaxies, dolphins and more.
The duo responsible for the song, by the way, expressed nothing but happiness (and a bit of confusion) about the memefication of their music.
Blonde Redhead – For The Damaged Coda
While “For The Damaged Coda” by Blonde Redhead gained a lot of traction by being used in the popular cartoon show “Rick and Morty“, it has ventured well beyond these realms by now. The 2000 indie rock song is used in various videos as an overlay to portray mostly similar feelings; drama, depression, feeling dead inside, deep disappointment, contemplation of life itself, hopelessness, and more.
TV Themes Used In Memes
Themes used for TV shows and series typically represent the overall tone of the series. This makes them perfect for being used for different memes as well. Below, you can find two popular examples.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Who doesn’t love cringe and fail compilations? As long as it doesn’t happen to us, we can love about the embarrassing demise of others. Curb Your Enthusiasm, the popular TV show, delivered the perfect soundtrack for the cringiest of situations and other awkward fails. The song is known as “Frolic” by Luciano Michelini.
American composer Mark Snow is to thank for the original theme of the TV series “The X-Files“. As if the use for the series’ opening wasn’t enough, it is now popularly used across the internet to accompany different kinds of content. Conspiracy theories, references to the Illuminati and other suspenseful videos get even more dubious and suspicious with this theme playing in the background.
Sometimes, it’s not the music itself that manages to become a meme. Sometimes, the talent of people and the people themselves become immortalized in internet culture. Such as the fabulous creatures below.
Epic Sax Guy
When Sergey Stepanov stepped on to the stage at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest to play the saxophone solo for SunStroke Project’s entry “Run Away”, he probably never suspected that he would become internet famous. Stepanov’s showmanship, vigor, and passion he delivered the solo with made the clip go viral and earned him the title of Epic Sax Guy. It even created a more modern version of rickrolling: saxrolling.
Twitter is known for creating viral posts and videos – and meme celebrities. In early 2018, young performer Mason Ramsey was filmed while performing a yodel-rendition of “Lovesick Blues” by Hank Williams in Walmart of all places. It didn’t take long for the video of the 12-year old talent to spread like wildfire and the first remixes to appear. Well, good for Ramsey or Yodeling Kid as he is also called, as it garnered him not only a gig at Coachella but also a record deal with Atlantic Records.
The Super Bowl is, outside of sports, known for its halftime show and commercials. At the Super Bowl XLIX (49) in 2015, a new internet star was born during the halftime performance of Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream”. The background dancer who is now forever known as Left Shark performed himself into the hearts of internet users in a part of the freestyle choreography to the song.
Professional pro wrestler John Cena probably never wanted to become a meme – but this is not how the internet works. In fact, this 13-times WWE Championship holder is part of a few memes surrounding his person. Whether you can see him or not, it’s the Unexpected Cena meme featuring his entrance theme “My Time Is Now” – performed by Cena himself – that got him the spot on this list. Unexpected reveals, doors opening, a new challenger approaching – you never know if it could be John Cena!