We’ve seen scripted content, back-to-school beauty and lifestyle vloggers, family YouTube channels, and now the recent wave of stream-of-consciousness, quirky editing. But within these stages, the era of YouTube parody videos brought us some huge names online.
YouTube and Music
Since YouTube launched in 2005, music has been closely associated with its rise to popularity. Vevo’s red and white logo has nearly become synonymous with YouTube’s red and white color features, so much so that YouTubers making the jump from video content creator to music artist will include the Vevo watermark in the thumbnail of the music videos to increase engagement and legitimize their work.
Artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have all made the jump from MTV viewings to uploading their music videos to YouTube since the early 2000s. Nowadays, YouTube is one of the few sites where artists will post music videos and garner support from their audiences.
As music videos and songs became more popular and pervasive throughout the internet, the widespread circulation of YouTube acoustic covers and fan-made music videos followed. One of the most striking trends was parody videos, which spread like wildfire during YouTube’s beginnings.
Parody videos were a concept that rose to popularity in the early to mid-2010s. Creators would take a popular song from a top-charting artist and change the narrative of the story into something comedic — sometimes at the expense of the artist — and turn it into a parody video.
Read more about how social media is changing the music industry with apps like TikTok here.
One of the most prolific YouTube Creators and the self-proclaimed “king of music video parodies”, Bart Baker was the most popular channel for his creation of parody videos on YouTube. Baker joined YouTube just a year after the launch of the site, and his knack for directing music videos began.
In 2007, Baker’s oldest video entitled, “Get Your Roll On” was posted to his channel, garnering over half a million views. The description calls it a “Remake of the Big Tymer’s hit single “Get Your Roll On” directed by Bart Baker.” Baker has been directing and creating parody videos since the very beginning! Since then, Bart Baker has gained nearly 10 million subscribers on his self-entitled channel, which received over 3.3 billion views.
Bart Baker has four parody videos that have surpassed 100 million views. His most viewed video was a parody video on Katy Perry’s 2014 song Dark Horse. Baker’s parody video, “Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – “Dark Horse” PARODY” received 193 million views and over 1 million likes.
Baker also made a parody video of Taylor’s Swift hit pop song “I Knew You Were Trouble” which received 118 million views. In the video, Baker changed the lyrics and storyline for a dark, comedic twist. Baker played the role of Taylor Swift and perpetuated the long-strung narrative of Swift as the clingy, crazy girlfriend. Baker became known for mocking stars like Swift along with Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber, and these narratives stirred up their fair share of critiques.
Baker has since retired his parody videos and YouTube altogether. His latest parody video was uploaded over four years ago called “6ix9ine, Nicki Minaj, Murda Beatz – “FEFE” PARODY” and received over 16 million views.
VICE News covered the story of Baker’s YouTube retirement in a documentary-style video. The video explains Baker’s “plunge” on YouTube once the algorithm shifted towards more ad-friendly content due to his “edgy” content. Nowadays, Baker is still on the internet, just on a different side: the Chinese Internet or Douyin. Baker continues to upload music content and has made it big on the platform.
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Wassabi Productions is a channel that launched in 2008, created by friends Alex and Roi Wassabi. The channel became known for its comedy sketches and infamous parody videos. Nowadays, the channel is simply called Wassabi and is now owned and operated by Alex Wassabi after Roi Wassabi left to pursue his gaming and personal channel — the now-popular Guava Juice.
The most viewed video from Wassabi Productions was a parody video of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song Call Me Maybe. The 10-year-old video received over 145 million views. This video is still their most viewed video to date. The video features two titular characters from Wassabi Productions, Rolanda and Richard with memorable lines such as “she wants me” referenced throughout their channel. Anyone who grew up watching old YouTube knows all too well about this dynamic duo.
These partners parted ways in 2016 when Roi announced on the channel he would take a step back from Wassabi Productions and Alex would retain the channel on his own. The video entitled, “Goodbye, Roi Wassabi”, began as a skit following Roi’s discussion with Alex about him creating his own gaming channel. The video received over 13 million views, and Roi’s channel Guava Juice has gained over 16 million subscribers since.
The Tre Melvin Productions started on YouTube as a channel entitled “This is a Commentary” in which YouTuber Tre Melvin would post comedy sketches, commentary videos, and parody videos. The oldest video on the channel, “9-1-1 These Days” was posted in 2011 and received 1.1 million views. Melvin’s parody videos were not exclusive to the typical music parody videos like Baker or Wassabi Productions. Instead, Melvin’s parody videos were a commentary on pop culture.
The most viewed video on his channel is called, “Ghetto Christmas Carols” which received over 17 million views and re-wrote traditional Christmas Carols. Melvin also made parody videos and commentated on hot topics in the media. In 2013, Melvin posted a video called, “Paula Deen Apology” in which he acted as Pauld Deen and parodied her apology for her racist comments. The video performed well, receiving over 2.1 million views.
In 2016, Melvin jumped on the popular news of the Beyoncé drama and posted a video called “How To Make Lemonade With Beyoncé”. In the video, he acted as Beyoncé teaching the audience how to make Lemonade, commentating on her critically-acclaimed album Lemonade with remarks about her cheating scandal. Overall, Melvin’s channel has over 300,000 million views.
Learn more about the difference between commentary and reaction channels in this blog.
The era of parody videos, ranging from pop culture commentary to parody videos, was critical to the development of YouTube creator trends. The sweeping results of the trend created household YouTube names and racked up millions of views. Although the so-called era has ended, these creative trends left behind a legacy for the new generation of creators to take inspiration from. These old-time influencers kickstarted careers in content creation that would have never come to be without YouTube.
This article was written by Victoria Huynh