We're not saying "video killed the radio star," but viral videos have certainly found a distinct place in our musical landscape. Billboard.com chronicled the music-related clips buzzing around the 'net all year long on our Viral Videos Column, and now we're proud to present our favorites of the year.
It was a match made in viral video heaven -- 50 Cent, a rapper who knows a good PR stunt when he sees one, and Keenan Cahill, the 15-year-old YouTube sensation whose Top 40 lip-syncing has earned him millions of views. The two came together for an amateur bedroom duet set to "Down on Me," Jermih's new single featuring 50 Cent, and the results pretty much redeem 50 for any past, present and future mistakes. When he puts his chain around Cahill's neck, you can't help but wish it was you.
19. Wasted Guy Trips Over Flip-Flops At Coachella
There was a fine lesson to be learned from this video of a guy trying to put his flip-flops on at Coachella: if you're planning to get wasted beyond belief at a music festival, you should probably wear sneakers. The video, shot by merciless onlookers with a great sense of humor, captured an unidentified 2010 Coachella attendee who was so drunk/stoned/you decide, he couldn't put on his right flip-flop for the life of him. Hopefully his sober self found the results as funny as everyone else did.
If you felt uncomfortable (or downright offended) watching "Baracka Flacka Flames" this year, you weren't alone. The clip, a reimagining of Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard In Da Paint" with President Barack Obama on the mic -- found our commander-in-chief liberally dropping the N-word, eating barbecue "in the hood" and being generally disrespectful to the First Lady. Obama impersonators usually riff on the President's buttoned-up persona by emphasizing his ties to hip-hop, but this clip went to the extreme and grabbed plenty of attention in the process. Nearly 3 million people have watched it, and one can only hope Obama wasn't one of them.
17. Lin Yu-Chun Is Taiwan's Susan Boyle
Did Lin-Yu Chun turn out to be the next Susan Boyle? Not quite, but the Taiwanese 24-year-old briefly gave Boyle a run for her money by nailing Whitney Houston's version of the Dolly Parton classic, "I Will Always Love You," on the overseas singing competition "Super Star Avenue." Looking as unassuming as Susan Boyle did when she stormed "Britain's Got Talent" in 2009, Lin impressed with his surprisingly pitch-perfect soprano and Whitney-esque runs. Now, if only he could get Lou Reed to direct his first music video...
FIFA freaks, intergalactic geeks and pop-culture crazies all agreed -- Adidas' "Star Wars"-themed World Cup ad was the year's most awesome bit of promotional eye candy. A light saber-wielding Snoop Dogg and a droid-toting Daft Punk stole the show in this hilarious re-imagination of Mos Eisley's famous cantina scene from "Star Wars Episode IV." Ciara, Oasis' Noel Gallagher, Ian Brown of Stone Roses fame, soccer star David Beckham and actor Jay Baruchel all made cameos in a slick and imaginative commercial that's still worth repeated views, no matter what galaxy you're from.
15. OK Go's Incredible Rube Goldberg Machine
It took a while, but OK Go finally found a way to outshine its infectious treadmill choreography in "Here It Goes Again" with the clip for "This Too Shall Pass." The video featured an enormous, two-story Rube Goldberg machine that blasted the band members with paint, and on the way to a colorful conclusion, the complex contraption triggered a chain of complex reactions -- falling dominoes, rolling bowling balls, swinging sledgehammers -- all in time to an upbeat tune. OK Go released a whopping four more eye-catching videos in 2010, but this one held our attention year-round.
In this gem of a clip from its " Michael Jackson & Bubbles: The Untold Story" documentary, Animal Planet reunited the now much larger, intimidating-looking chimpanzee with the King of Pop's sister, LaToya Jackson. It was the first time a member of the MJ's family saw Bubbles since he was retired to a sanctuary in 2004, and understandably, the reunion was emotional. "You know I miss you. I haven't seen you in ages, Bubbles. Do you remember me?" Jackson asked, before bursting into tears. Sadly, we'll never know.
13. Drake and Jimmy Kimmel Write a Twitter Rap
"Why write a song yourself when celebrities are tweeting so many great things?" Great question, Jimmy Kimmel! At least, so thought Drake, who teamed up with the talk show host for a "Tweet Tweet" collabo that quoted celebs' frivolous Twitter musings and made the most of his and Kimmel's, er, "similar flow." The two sported matching white suits (which Drake accessorized with a 'do-rag) and had their heads superimposed on those adorable blue Twitter birds for good measure. Could a Drake hosting gig on "SNL" be in the near future? Based on this skit, we'd tune in.
Were those tears real or fake? That's what everyone asked when Chris Brown paid tribute to Michael Jackson at the 2010 BET Awards, with a medley that saw him channeling the King of Pop's superhuman dance moves and then falling to his knees in a fit of sobs. The reason for Brown's cries, which spilled over as he struggled to sing "Man in the Mirror," was unclear -- was he mourning the loss of an icon, or his own life and career struggles since assaulting Rihanna? Forgotten in all the controversy, though, was the fact that Brown's MJ tribute was one of most skillfully performed yet, and maybe the reason why he's been slowly but steadily making a comeback ever since.
11. Cee Lo Strikes Gold with "F**k You"
Faster than you can say "being in love with yo' ass ain't cheap," Cee Lo Green earned his first smash in years with "F**k You," a breakup revenge anthem that turned the cruelest of curse-outs into a moment of giddy self-empowerment. The song's hit status was spawned not from radio, but YouTube, where a lyric video dropped one Saturday morning and had everyone marveling over its irresistible lyrics and melody. The official video was even more charming, with a young Cee Lo dissing his ex-girl at the diner. Fast forward to December, and Green earned Grammy nominations for record and song of the year. How's that for a viral success story?
The ever-earnest Bruce Springsteen did the unthinkable during a November appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" -- he covered Willow Smith. With the grizzled New Jersey rocker donning his '70s scruff-muffin look and Fallon taking on the persona of Neil Young, the pair joined forces for a brooding rendition of the 10-year-old pop up-and-comer's "Whip My Hair." Bruce fans were left simultaneously laughing and scratching their heads, and late-night TV history was made.
9. Insane Clown Posse Loves "Miracles"
Insane Clown Posse took fans on a wondrous journey with its "Miracles" video -- not just to the sun, moon and Mars, but also under the sea, to the 'Frisco bay, the Giza Pyramids, and wherever you might find "long-neck giraffes." And that was just in the first 60 seconds. The theme was all in the song's title, and Insane Clown Posse's Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope drove the point home with every line and its accompanying visual, urging us to believe in the world's many wonders. "Magic, everywhere in this b*tch," said Violent J. Indeed.
Barbara Walters, Justin Bieber, Pauly D, Willow Smith and too many sports stars to name all helped crown one dance as this year's biggest craze -- the Dougie. A tribute to old-school rapper Dougie Fresh, the dance blew up thanks to young rappers Cali Swag District, who dropped "Teach Me How to Dougie" and spent much of 2010 explaining that it's not so much a set of moves as an attitude. Developing swag clearly takes time, so expect to keep perfecting your dougie well into 2011 -- we know we will.
7. Katy Perry Corrupts "Sesame Street"
Katy Perry's taped performance for "Sesame Street" never aired on the show, thanks to parental complaints about the star's dress revealing her cleavage. But of course, that didn't stop the video from making the rounds online. Millions headed to YouTube to see the voluptuous Perry perform "Hot N Cold" alongside Elmo, and Perry herself took the controversy in stride, appearing in a low-cut Elmo T-shirt on "SNL" and scoring a cameo on the more adult-friendly kids show, "The Simpsons." Well played, Mrs. Brand.
Featuring then-unheard music from his new album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," Kanye West's 34-minute "Runaway" premiered in October and starred a gorgeous phoenix (model Selita Ebanks) who crash-landed on Earth. The centerpiece was a dinner party scene in which West performed "Runaway" as ballerinas elegantly moved to his rhythms, just before discrimination drove the phoenix back to the sky. Sound confusing? It was. The debate over "Runaway's" artistic merit still rages, even as more and more critics agree that West's "Fantasy" is the album of the year.
5. Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" Mocked
Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" music video and lyrics practically begged for a parody, and who better to deliver one than YouTube troupe the Key of Awesome? The pop star couldn't have been too surprised when her ode to being "a little bit tipsy" turned into an intervention against a sloppy-drunk starlet who "vomits tequila and glitter." With the help of a Dr. Drew impersonator, Ke$ha's family breaks the news that she Diddy are not friends, but Ke$ha returns the dose of reality by telling them that "acting like a drunken whore at all times" is just part of her contract. That's right: the Jack Daniels was just apple juice.
Erykah Badu stripped all the way down to her curvaceous birthday suit in her highly controversial clip for "Window Seat," the lead single from her "New Amerykah, Pt. 2" album. The video revealed Badu's naked body collapsing on to the sidewalk after a gunshot rang out and blue blood spilled to form the word "groupthink." It also carried some serious political connotations -- it was filmed in one take at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the site where of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. For her "indecent exposure," Badu paid a fine and is now serving six months probation.
3. Justin Bieber Makes 3-Year-Old Cry
By February of 2010, Justin Bieber's power over tweens had been well-documented. Three-year-olds, though? Their Bieber fever wasn't diagnosed until this clip emerged of young Cody, who loved the pop star so much that she hysterically cried, just because she wanted to "be with him." Her mother and sister filmed the sobfest and received close to 20 million views on YouTube -- enough to grab the attention of Bieber himself. Lo and behold, Cody's dream came true when late-night host Jimmy Kimmel introduced her to the Bieber, and those tears of sadness turned into stunned joy.
Skeptics may have found Greyson Chance's rise to fame suspiciously fast, but we doubt the 12-year-old singer/songwriter and pianist ever imagined that his middle-school talent show cover of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" would generate this much buzz. An appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," featuring a phone-in by Gaga herself, followed just days after the performance hit the web, and Chance promptly signed deals with DeGeneres' new record label and Gaga and Madonna's management. The music video for Chance's debut single, "Waiting Outside the Lines," features about 10 times as many fawning girls surrounding his piano, but we'll always remember how it all started with this clip.
1. "Bed Intruder Song" Becomes a Hit
Viral video auteurs the Gregory Brothers first made their name with "Auto-Tune the News," in which pundits' musings were vocally manipulated to make everyone sound like T-Pain. But the Brothers took things to a far more hilarious level in 2010 with the YouTube and iTunes success of "Double Rainbow Song," and quickly followed that with the even catchier "Bed Intruder Song," the most-viewed independent YouTube video of the year. It all started with a local news clip of Huntsville, Ala. resident Antoine Dodson, who was reacting to a "rapist" that had broken into his sister's bedroom. Somehow, the Gregory Brothers turned this darkly comical report into viral video gold and got everyone singing, "hide your kids, hide your wife!" "Bed Intruder Song" debuted at No. 89 on the Hot 100 in August, and Dodson performed the track at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. Run and tell that, homeboy.