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The year in viral content 2014

Everything can change on the Internet in a minute. To remind you of the year that was, we've rounded up the biggest viral sensations of 2014.

Alex from Target

When it comes to viral trends, nothing can
Photo Credit: Twitter / alcl63

When it comes to viral trends, nothing can beat teens. Alex LaBeouf was a normal Target employee in Dallas when a young woman tweeted a photo of him. It's unclear exactly how it spread through the Internet like wildfire, but teenagers everywhere jumped on board and it was retweeted and favorited thousands of times within hours. Known as "Alex from Target," he picked up hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, and was written up in The New York Times and then appeared on Ellen. There were rumors that he was planted by Target (untrue!) and that the whole thing was a marketing ploy (untrue!), but in the end it turned out the truth was the simplest explanation: Teenagers rule social media, and adults can only try to understand.

Turn Down for What

Millennials just want to dance. And then they
Photo Credit: YouTube / DJ Snake VEVO

Millennials just want to dance. And then they have songs every year that define their partying. In 2013, there was twerking; 2012 had "Gangnam Style." This year we got "Turn Down for What" and its accompanying video. Eventually Lil' John even parodied his own song, making "Turn Out for What," a video to promote voting.

Things Tim Howard Could Save

The World Cup was the biggest Twitter event
Photo Credit: Getty/AFP/Adrian Dennis

The World Cup was the biggest Twitter event of 2014, and it was also one of the top trending topics on Facebook. Even in the U.S., where soccer is not nearly as popular as in other countries, goalie Tim Howard went viral with the meme "Things Tim Howard Could Save" after some impressive saves. Tweets ranged from Robin Thicke's marriage to the dinosaurs.

Michael Brown and Ferguson

After police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson

After police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, the town dominated the news cycle. Protests roiled the town, and it became a divisive topic on social media. In August alone there were 18 million tweets about Ferguson and 3.5 million tweets immediately after the grand jury's decision, according to Twitter.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Forget 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was one
Photo Credit: YouTube / ALS

Forget 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the biggest viral phenomenons ever. It started out small: A golfer named Chris Kennedy was nominated by a friend to douse himself in cold water and donate money to a charity. Kennedy then nominated a cousin of his wife, who had ALS. The idea spread like wildfire among their community, and soon it attracted some big names. It got so huge that in August, George W. Bush, Oprah, LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg and more took it on. And, in the end, the stunt raised more than $15 million for ALS research.

Apparently Kid

Noah Ritter charmed us all in August while
Photo Credit: YouTube / WNEP-TV

Noah Ritter charmed us all in August while being interviewed for local news station WNEP-TV about a county fair. When describing the county fair, he said "apparently, I don't watch the news because I'm a kid and apparently every time, Grandpa just gives me the remote after he watches the Powerball." He repeated the word "apparently" several times, even described how he was "apparently scared half to death" on one ride. He said he had "never ever been on live television before," but that soon changed. After racking up more than 15 million page views by the time he started kindergarten, he appeared on Ellen. But he told her he had "gotten over" "apparently," and now his favorite word is "seriously."

#BreakTheInternet

Oh Kim Kardashian West. When is there not
Photo Credit: Paper

Oh Kim Kardashian West. When is there not a trend that the Kardashian family is somehow behind? Kardashian West appeared on the cover of Paper magazine for the Winter 2014 issue. Of course, this being Kim Kardashian, her famous butt stuck out of her dress while she popped champagne with the headline #BreakTheInternet. And in the inside of the issue, she went full-frontal. The Internet, never learning to not fall for bait, went predictably insane. There is probably some way to blame Kanye West for this, so thanks Kanye.

Odell Beckham's catch

There have been some impressive catches in NFL
Photo Credit: YouTube / NFL

There have been some impressive catches in NFL history. But the Giants' Odell Beckham's one-handed catch right at the line might be the most impressive. Is it any surprise the catch went viral? He was soon memed on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, in "The Matrix" and so so much more.

Re2pect

How do you say goodbye to a legend?
Photo Credit: YouTube / Nike

How do you say goodbye to a legend? Nike chose this ad to say farewell to Derek Jeter, christening the hashtag "Re2pect." Goodbye, Captain.

Ellen selfie

While hosting the Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted this
Photo Credit: Twitter / Ellen DeGeneres

While hosting the Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted this star-studded photo, with the caption, "If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever." The intent was to make a photo go viral, and the Internet, of course, agreed. Seen 37 million times and now known as the "Ellen selfie," the photo caused Twitter to crash and became the most retweeted photo of all time, beating out President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's 2012 Election Night photo. It's estimated that the selfie is worth as much as $800 million for Samsung, the device used to the take the photo.

Adele Dazeem

Another Oscars moment that went viral. Broadway star
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Another Oscars moment that went viral. Broadway star Idina Menzel, the voice behind Elsa in "Frozen," sang the megahit "Let It Go" at the Oscars. Except ... John Travolta had a little bit of trouble with her name, instead saying what sounded like "Adele Dazeem." Sure, okay! In the old days, this might have made for a good cocktail story, but in 2014, it meant meme. A Twitter account was up within minutes, Slate set up a Adele Dazeem name generator and the flubbed name was one of the most Googled names in 2014.

Ashley Wagner 'Bull----'

It was the
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Darren Cummings

It was the "McKayla Maroney is not impressed" moment of 2014. Figure skater Ashley Wagner skated off the ice all smiles after her performance in at the Sochi Ladies Short Program. But after getting an overall score of 63.10, putting her in fourth place, she reacted in horror. The kicker was when she turned to her coach and said "that's bull----." She tried to recover with smiles, but it was too late: Her face and been captured and she was ready to be meme-ed. Is there any better face to describe something you think is just total bull----?

Hot mugshot guy

There's nothing like a mug shot to get
Photo Credit: Getty Images

There's nothing like a mug shot to get you turned on. Jeremy Meeks' mug shot went viral after it was posted to the Stockton Police Department's page in June, with the caption "hot mugshot guy." He became so famous that he reportedly landed two Hollywood agents due to his smoldering looks. Unfortunately for him (and the rest of us), he faced a federal felony charge--and no photos or videos are allowed in the federal court system. He also could face a longer prison sentence.

Pharrell hat

Why would the Grammys garner attention for actual
Photo Credit: Twitter/ Pharrell's hat

Why would the Grammys garner attention for actual music? Pharrell wore this artful hat to the Grammys, and of course social media exploded. The hat is vintage Vivienne Westwood, according to GQ, and Pharrell had been photographed in the hat before. But that didn't stop social media from exploding: A parody account showed up almost immediately and even Arby's got in the fun, tweeting at Pharrell to return the hat.

Mail Kimp

Since its October debut, the megapopular podcast Serial
Photo Credit: FACEBOOK/SerialPodcast

Since its October debut, the megapopular podcast Serial also flourished on the Internet. Reddit users tirelessly parsed through the evidence of the case, and Twitter breathlessly announced when each podcast came up. But perhaps nothing went more viral than the opening ad for email marketers Mail Chimp. In reading the name for Mail Chimp, one woman pronounces it "Mail Kimp?" And thus the meme was born.

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