The inaugural edition of The YouTube Music Awards is happening on November 3rd. Broadcast live online, the show will be a celebration of the artists and videos that were the most watched, shared, and loved on YouTube over the past year, and will feature performances from some of music's biggest artists including Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Fire. In a series of posts sponsored by YouTube, we'll be breaking down the nominees in the biggest categories over the next couple of weeks to help you decide who is most deserving of your votes before the show.
Today's category is YouTube Phenomenon, which highlights the videos that inspired the biggest trends on YouTube, resulting in some of the biggest cultural moments in the world. Get the low-down on the nominees below and vote by sharing the nomination video that accompanies your video of choice on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. (Click here for more info on how to vote.)
PSY — Gangnam Style
K-pop star PSY was a little-known name in North America until the video for his upbeat single "Gangnam Style" went viral back in August 2012. "Gangnam Style" is a phrase used in South Korea used to describe the lifestyle in the Gangnam District of Seoul. Just over a year later, the video — and the signature dance that it spawned — is one of the most iconic of all-time.
Why It Was A Phenomenon: We don't know if it was PSY's signature horseback-riding dance move, the catchy beat, or the chorus that made us sing "HEY SEXY LADY!" at the top of our lungs, but "Gangnam Style" was the first YouTube video EVER to hit 1 billion views, and it's also been recognized in the Guinness World Records as the most-liked video on the hosting site. At nearly 1.8 billion views now, it won't be long until it reaches the 2 billion view mark.
Why It Deserves To Win: The records say it all! Plus, everyone from Britney Spears to President Obama has done the signature "Gangnam Style" dance.
Baauer — Harlem Shake
DJ/producer Baauer released his song "Harlem Shake" in the spring of 2012, but it was in February of 2013 when a huge Internet trend blew up with his infectious hit as the backing track. Groups of people around the world began making YouTube videos of themselves acting normally as the song's bridge built up, only to go totally bananas when the hard-hitting chorus dropped.
Why It Was A Phenomenon: Everybody, and we mean everybody, recorded their own version of the "Harlem Shake" dance video and uploaded it to YouTube. The popularity of the viral videos also earned the song the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after Billboard altered their chart calculations to include YouTube video plays.
Why It Deserves To Win: The fact that everybody from musicians to sports teams to your grandparents made videos goes to show just how big a phenomenon the "Harlem Shake" sensation was.
Taylor Swift — I Knew You Were Trouble
The usually-sweet Taylor Swift turned heads when she released her music video for "I Knew You Were Trouble" in December 2012. The edgy look Taylor wore in the music video and the dubstep-tinged song both represented a departure from the Taylor we knew previously. But what really made the video a sensation was when users uploaded YouTube videos of the hilarious famous "screaming goats" in the "OH! Oh! Trouble, trouble, trouble" chorus of the song.
Why It Was A Phenomenon: What's more hilarious than screaming goats? Nothing. As for the original music video, seeing Taylor Swift get dramatic piqued the curiosity of millions of viewers.
Why It Deserves To Win: Screaming. Goats. Need we say more?
Rihanna — Diamonds
When Rihanna's latest album Unapologetic dropped in November 2012, many people expected another hard-hitting, aggressive single from the good girl gone bad. Then, the Sia-penned "Diamonds" dropped, and the surprisingly beautiful song took the world by storm, as well as its stunning music video.
Why It Was A Phenomenon: This is one of the more sentimental love songs that Rihanna has ever released and really resonated with her fans. The fact that the video shows Rihanna bathing in a tub certainly didn't hurt its view count either.
Why It Deserves To Win: Rihanna showing off her vulnerable side as opposed to her usually-forward overt sexual side makes her a well-rounded performer, and we still love the song almost a year after its release.
Macklemore — Thrift Shop
In August 2012, a little-known rapper from Seattle named Macklemore came out with The Heist with producer Ryan Lewis. The two accompanied the lead-single "Thrift Shop" with a charming music video featuring the two perusing second-hand shops for oddities. The song took off in the winter of 2012 and hasn't stopped since, with that catchy horn hook and the lyric "I'm gonna pop some taaaaaags" consistently running through our heads.
Why It Was A Phenomenon: Taking off in the winter of 2012, "Thrift Shop" not only shot up the Billboard charts, it also garnered over 400 million views on YouTube — a HUGE number for a debut single from a new artist. People really love the song's funky hook, the adorable little girl in the music video, and, well, thrift shopping!
Why It Deserves To Win: Probably the most impressive aspect of "Thrift Shop" is that it was released on Macklemore's own independent record label, making the video a truly organic viral success deserving of an award.