We live in a time where the meme is king. Every time you get on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, you get bombarded with them. They are a great way to use imagery and music to put a punchline at the end of a joke or give a quick, funny response to a question or comment.
Millions of memes, GIFs, and short videos are floating around using recognizable pictures and text. And TikTok is loaded with snips of music to make a joke or a point to an argument. Here are the best meme songs out there.
1. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
Song Year: 1987
This is the original song meme that started it all. It started as the ultimate online game known as “Rick Rolling”. In those days, no link was secure. People would hide deceptive links to this song’s YouTube page to entice clicks. Once it started playing, you knew you had fallen for it.
2. “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton
Song Year: 2002
People love to play around with this song. The simple melody has a place just before the chorus where the music starts to go up a notch. Meme creators and TikTokers love to add repetitive videos like dancing animals in that spot.
“A Million Miles” was infamously performed by Terry Crews in the movie “White Chicks”. That rendition is still used online because he sings it with hilarious passion. It is not uncommon to still catch Terry Crews singing this classic occasionally.
3. “Photograph” by Nickelback
Song Year: 2005
Everyone talks about how terrible Nickelback is, but they love this song. It comes back over and over. On TikTok, it shows up in videos where people are looking back at old pictures of themselves and their families. The first four words of the song are often all that are used.
4. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel
Song Year: 1964
This song has been around for decades. It gained popularity on Vine, making it accessible to a new generation. The opening few words are usually used in a funny video after a person has been rejected or found themselves alone.
5. “All-Star” by Smashmouth
Song Year: 1999
It seems as if this song were created to be a meme. It was released in the late 90s but popularized by children after appearing in “Shrek”. Recently, it has seen a comeback as a sound used on TikTok. Videos usually open with the word “Some”, as a person starts an activity. They then fail and fall over or get hit as the rest of the song kicks in and begins to play.
6. “The Harlem Shake” by Baauer
Song Year: 2013
You can argue that “The Harlem Shake” would be unheard-of if it had not been for the online dance craze that came with it. Videos were released left and right of one person dancing among a group of people who are not paying them any attention. Then the music would cut abruptly, and the video would change to the entire group performing disjointed, senseless dances.
7. “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus
Song Year: 2000
Nostalgia is all the craze today, and this meme started in 2022 to capitalize on it. A trend began recently with celebrities on TikTok showing someone with a modern selfie that gradually morphs into older pictures of themselves. It took off and is now done by many people, with versions created for people to show off their favorite TV shows and musical groups.
8. “I’m Just a Kid” by Simple Plan
Song Year: 2002
Here is another example of a meme trend giving new life to a song that would be forgotten without it. “I’m Just a Kid” was popular at the turn of the century, but over the pandemic, there were hundreds of content creators that used it as the soundtrack of their nostalgia.
Most of these videos showed a group of people in an awkward pose. When the music kicks in, the image changes to a photograph of those same people taken years before in that same pose. Celebrities have jumped on this one as well.
9. “Remember (Walking in the Sand) by The Shangri-Las
Song Year: 1964
Most people that have seen the meme associated with this song do not realize how old it is. Many believe the song is titled “Oh No” because it is used as part of a TikTok trend showing people having accidents or misfortune. The song was sampled by Capone in 2005, with that being the version most people hear in these memes.
10. “Frolic” by Luciano Michelini
Song Year: 2000
This playful march is best known as the theme music for the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” starring Larry David. In each episode, Larry tries to get out of something or fool someone. Inevitably, it all backfires, and this music plays. The internet loves to play with this idea and make their versions of a “Curb” ending with the music.
11. “Run” by Awolnation
Song Year 2015
The way the beginning of “Run” is structured is perfect for making memes. It has an upbeat sound that works well in videos showing someone running away from something or someone. And the way the music starts slow and does not kick up until the singer speaks the word “Run” is perfect for setting up a joke.
12. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash
Song Year: 1963
This trend showed up out of nowhere last year when people started posting videos of themselves running away from something, usually in a bathrobe, carrying a bunch of random objects. It could be a pack of beer, a lamp, or a dead fish. But it leaves you wondering where they are coming from, why they have those things, and where they are going. All of this happens while this Johnny Cash classic plays in the background.
13. “Part of Your World” by Jodi Benson
Song Year: 1989
This song is famous for being sung by Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”. She laments living in an underwater kingdom while so much life is happening above the surface. Pieces of this song were used repeatedly over the pandemic by people forced to work from home and practice distance learning.
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