2016 was a year that many are happy to see coming to an end. From celebrity deaths to police shootings to Donald Trump’s election victory, the year closed on a downbeat for sure. But along the way, social media provided some entertaining viral moments as well as some heartrending ones. Here are the top 10 viral videos of 2016.
After the surprising result of the hard-fought and seemingly endless presidential election which led to a Trump victory via the Electoral College if not the popular vote, his new VP, Mike Pence, decided to go see Hamilton, the Broadway sensation. Given his politics, the choice was a surprise. Though it tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, it uses hip-hop and one of the most diverse casts on Broadway to do so.
Hamilton actor Brandon Victor Dixon addressed Pence from the stage after the show. Pence was leaving but may have heard his comments from the lobby, and certainly heard all about them later. Dixon asked Pence to consider the making the presidency more inclusive than the campaign. Dixon’s impromptu speech was met with criticism, most notably from Trump, who said he should apologize. Pence, however, said no apology was necessary. Given Trump’s own comments about Blacks, Mexicans and women during the election cycle, it’s surprising he’s so thin-skinned. Watch the clip below:
9. Mean Tweets President Obama Edition
Of all the features on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, “Mean Tweets” remains amongst its most popular. It’s often hilarious to see just how seriously some celebrities take themselves or whether or not they have a sense of humor about their harshest critics. President Obama has been featured twice and this time, he had the greatest comeback ever in response to a Donald Trump tweet. Unfortunately, Obama, who recorded the segment in October, couldn’t see the future, but at the time it was a great burn.
8. Prince Tribute By BK Jackson and FAMU Marching Band
Among the many Prince tributes after the musician’s untimely death in April, was one that was literally heard round the world. Saxophonist BK Jackson, who once played with Prince, led the FAMU symphonic band with a saxophone solo to the late artist’s signature classic, “Purple Rain.” Out of all the tributes to the man, this one stood out and was shared around the globe. Jackson played the song again at FAMU’s commencement ceremony.
7. The Day Beyonce Turned Black – Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live had a little fun with Beyoncès reputation as a potentially robotic pop singer who was, to many of her fans, nothing more than a great entertainer and a musical icon. But with the release of the “Formation” video and the Lemonade project, some of Beyoncè’s fans were apparently a little surprised that the pop diva was, um, Black, as in all the way, unapologetically Blackity Black Black. These clueless fans were sent up in a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit this year. It’s likely Beyonce got the last laughs, though, as she was nominated for 9 Grammys for Lemonade.
Lucas Holliday, a musician living in Lansing, Michigan and working at local Dollar Store, was pretty surprised when a recording done by a customer of him singing the Maxwell song “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” went viral. In fact, it went so viral that it caught the attention of Maxwell himself, who invited Holliday to sing onstage with him in Detroit. Check out the whole story above.
5. DeMarjay Smith “The Young Jamaican Trainer” Motivational Speech
Do you need a little motivation in your life? Then check out DeMarjay Smith, a.k.a. The Young Jamaican Trainer, who is the most motivated child you’ve ever seen in your life. New Yorker Smith, who has appeared on The Ellen Show is only 9, but he’s probably better than any trainer whose had decades of experience. Demarjay was even Ellen’s special correspondent for the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto and impressed NBA players like Carmelo Anthony, Steph Curry and LeBron James with his motivational skills. This year, Smith dropped a very popular video that encouraged viewers and asked them if they wanted to be ‘a shark in the ocean or a fish in the ocean.’ Well, with Demarjay’s help, any fish can become a shark if they’re willing to work hard for it.
4. Channing Tatum and Beyonce – Lip Sync Battle
Did Beyoncè slay in 2016? Yes, although we can hopefully now retire that term for good. One of her most surprising appearances, though, turned out to be on a show we weren’t expecting. Actor Channing Tatum and his wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum did the absolute most to outdo each other on Spike’s Lip Sync Battle. While Dewan-Tatum came up with her own version of Ginuwine’s “Pony” – the song her hubby has become as known for as Ginuwine – Tatum pulled off the ultimate coup by getting Beyoncè to appear alongside him to do “Who Run The World (Girls).” We think it’s only right that Dewan-Tatum gets to bring out Jay Z next time.
3. Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and Missy Elliott
Michelle Obama may be a Princeton graduate with a Harvard law degree but that doesn’t mean she’s out of touch with her classic hip-hop. Like many a celebrity (although most of them are singers) James Corden did a Carpool Karaoke this year with the nation’s First Lady. In the episode, rapper Missy Elliot joins them and the trio does a pretty terrific version of “Get Your Freak On,” with Michelle going lyric by lyric. Is there any more proof needed that she’s the coolest First Lady ever? Well, consider it handled.
A Shirley Caesar gospel song called “Hold My Mule” that lasts over 9 minutes seems an unlikely song to set off a social media, especially when less than :30 was used for one of the most viral video of the year. DJ Suede decided to take just the ‘Beans, Greens, Potatoes, Tomatoes’ part of the song and set it to a beat just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Well, to say it blew up, is understating it.
It became so popular that gospel legend Caesar was taken aback, and some legal action was ultimately threatened, if not followed up on. Caesar enjoyed the increased visibility of the challenge, but objected to some of the dances and themes that went with it as it went viral. It appears that now that it’s all blown over, everyone will go back to normal, but when you think of 2016, you can’t help think of ‘Beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes…u naaaaaaamme it!”
Like the Water Bucket challenge last year, the Mannequin Challenge seemingly came out of nowhere and then dominated social media. Accompanied by the Rae Sremmund song “Black Beatles,” the challenge had everyone and we do mean EVERYONE holding still in some pretty creative poses. Michelle Obama did it. Hillary Clinton did it. Black Lives Matter activists did it. Sports teams did it. It was done underwater. Rae Sremmund did it at a concert. Even Paul McCartney did it! Unlike the water bucket challenge, it raised no money, and helped no cause. It was just fun.