Random Music as Non-Random Internet Jokes: Reasoning Behind Sample Choice in Music Memes
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Internet memes are prevalent when browsing the internet, and while the humor itself appears to be random, many aspects of memes are not. Existing research into memes already explored how memes should be defined, the community they create, and the political potential internet memes have, showing the influence memes have in modern society. However, music memes are much less studied, especially the question why certain music is used. This thesis is a deep dive into the subgenre of music memes. It theorizes criteria that music must fulfil to be useable for memes. Roughly, music memes can be put into two categories: memes that have old music and a new meme format or new music that uses an old format. To properly analyze why certain music is used for memes this thesis employs theories about ubiquitous listening, decontextualization, and participation culture. Applying these theories results in several external and internal characteristics that explain why certain musical pieces are used more for YouTube music memes than others. While the thesis analyses general music meme trends from the last five years, the specific objects of study are Crazy Frog memes and Morshu beatboxes. Most of these find their origin on YouTube but are also shared across many other media platforms. This thesis sheds some much-needed light on the specific workings of the internet meme culture, because the memes start coming and they don’t stop coming.