10 Internet Music Sensations That Are Actually Worth Your Time

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So, Kreayshawn’s debut album Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay was supposed to come out this week. But, what do you know, just last week it was pushed back to September 18th. This is no surprise, given that in the year since “Gucci Gucci” was released, she’s already experienced the entire cycle of rapid rise to fame/backlash/naked photos/post-fame slump into “whatever happened to Kreayshawn, anyway?” status, and the record almost feels like an afterthought. The whole thing is a salutary example of how hyper-accelerated and transitory Internet fame can be. Still, it doesn’t have to be that way — there have been some enduringly worthy musicians who got Famous On The Internet and/or have been responsible for bona fide internet sensations over the years. Here are ten of our favorite such artists — as ever, let us know if we’ve missed any.

Arctic Monkeys

The poster children for “MySpace success,” something that apparently annoyed the band in their early days, especially since the page that attracted all the media attention wasn’t actually created by them in the first place. Still, for all that they could protest that “we were on the news and radio about how MySpace has helped us… that’s just the perfect example of someone who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, because we actually had no idea what [MySpace] was,” it doesn’t change the fact that their fans’ Internet-based efforts were pretty crucial to their early success.

Alexander Marcus

The decidedly sinister Alexander Marcus is the alter ego of producer Felix Rennefeld, and his whacked-out YouTube videos have apparently made him super-famous in his native Germany. His appeal beyond that country’s borders is more selective, so if you’re not familiar with him, we definitely recommend checking him out — “Papaya,” in particular, is one of the best (and weirdest) things we’ve seen in a long time.

Joe Penna

Apparently this gentleman’s YouTube channel is Brazil’s most popular — he makes some pretty amazing stop-motion videos to go with his music, and his work is well worth checking out. (God only knows how long the video above took to make, if creating the first frame alone took four-and-a-half minutes.)

OK Go

Oh, come on — sure, the music was (and is) fairly dull, but that treadmill video was pretty amazing the first time you saw it.

Samwell

Even before South Park immortalized “What What (In the Butt)” — eventually leading to a lawsuit from the video’s distributors, the unfortunately named Brownmark Studios — the song was a massive hit on YouTube, spawning myriad parodies and infuriating the Catholic church to no end. Excellent.

Sons of Maxwell

Since we’ve both had a guitar broken by a careless airline and had to endure flying United for 12 hours to Australia (pro tip: rowing a bathtub across the Pacific would be preferable), “United Breaks Guitars” was something to which we could relate a lot. And anyway, quite apart from the singularly awesome fact that it apparently caused United’s stock price to drop some 10% on its release, the song was both super-catchy and really quite good.

Lily Allen

It’s easy to ridicule Lily Allen’s silver-spooned rise to fame, but her meteoric career trajectory was pretty much a how-to guide for mid-’00s Internet success: a) upload demos and mixtapes; b) make gazillions of MySpace friends; c) money shoots out of computer hole!

Vi Hart

It may surprise no one to learn that we at Flavorpill are shameless geeks at heart, and thus “mathemusician” Vi Hart and her idiosyncratic blend of math and music are right up our alley. If only they had this sort of thing when we were in high school!

Weezer

We’ve never been the big fans of Rivers Cuomo et al that some of our colleagues are, but there’s no denying that 2008 single “Pork and Beans” was both their best song in ages and the companion to one of the great Internet-centric videos of our time. From the Dramatic Chipmunk to the Soulja Boy dance, pretty much every ’00s internet phenomenon is here — the only question is why no one thought of doing this earlier.

Rick Astley

Wait, what do you mean he was already famous in the ’80s?