2017 Was The Year All Our Best Music Came From Memes

There's a lot to learn from CupcaKke and Cardi B.


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2017 might just go down in history as one of modern humanity’s greatest fuckshows. Unless you’re Taylor Swift, odds are that your year was pretty bleak. Waking up to nothing but sexual assault allegations and Donald Trump’s latest Twitter tirade, it felt like we were just copping a non-stop barrage of bad news that was anything but fake.

But, there was a glorious silver lining to all of this: memes.

From Salt Bae to Spotify playlists, it was those fleeting moments scrolling through our news feeds or timelines that made us momentarily forget about all the awful shit going on in the world. But this year also saw memes take on a life of their own. Their omnipresence both inside and outside of the internet saw some meme subjects turn their 15 seconds into what some would call the foundations of a legitimate career, especially in music.

No longer are they just a cheap laugh that you tag your mates in only to garner a ‘lmao’ response — they’re bona fide and celebrated artists. Let’s break some of them down.

Danielle “Cash Me Ousside” Bregoli AKA Bhad Bhabie

As far as memes go, Danielle Bregoli, 14, has taken her place on the throne as the queen. Not because the phrase she sent viral – “cash me ousside” – was used to death, not because she tore the exploitative Dr. Phil a new one and not because her Twitter account is a gold mine of pettiness and shit talk that only a teenager could achieve. Nup, none of that.

Danielle Bregoli, whether you love it or hate it, is the queen of memes because she outgrew them and turned her famous three word phrase into a rap career that people actually enjoy.

Her raison d’être, ‘Hi Bich’, has, at the time of writing, amassed a colossal 60 million views in three months, and debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #68 – the highest debut for that week. All this comes after less than a month of signing a multi-million dollar record deal with Atlantic records, which also hosts other rap guns like Cardi B and Lil Uzi Vert.

And let’s be honest — the track bangs. The FADER even included it in their best songs of the year list.

Beyond that, Bregoli, albeit indirectly, has stirred up many important conversations. Accusations of cultural appropriation have rightly followed her, but so too have discussions about the exploitation of at-risk teens and the overall scumminess of programmes like Dr. Phil, which at this point should probably be paying her some form of royalties.

Bregoli has completely and flawlessly transcended the troublesome waters that separate old and new media, whether you want her to or not.


One reason memes have helped us so much in 2017 is because we’re living in a post-Vine world… well, kinda. Those six seconds of ridiculousness made the world turn for a good couple of years, before all those Vine stars jumped that sinking ship and salvaged what they could.

One person who has benefitted from her viral Vine remixes of her songs long after the app’s death, however, is the unstoppable force that is CupcakKe.

Her two biggest hits, ‘Vagina’ and ‘Deepthroat’ (lmao), served as perfect, sexually explicit internet fodder for a generation too young to remember Khia’s iconic ‘My Neck, My Back.’ With catchy, sing-a-long-ready lines like “mouth wide open like I was at the dentist” and “hump me, fuck me, daddy better make me choke” followed by the most ridiculous moan of all time,

CupcakKe, historically, should’ve never been taken seriously.

But she wasn’t having that. In fact, CupcakKe, whose musical themes range from doggy style to police brutality, is shaping up to be one of the most watched up-and-coming rappers right now.

At only 20 years old, CupcakKe has scored verses on two Charli XCX tracks, snuck her track ‘Cartoons’ into a DJ set by Bjork, made a huge Lollapalooza crowd moan in sync with her and earned features on her by Rolling Stone, VICE and Pitchfork.

In fact, the latter gave her album Queen Elizabitch an impressive 7.6 — a whole 1.2 higher than Taylor Swift’s Reputation. Critics are taking a rapper who has a song called ‘Spider Man Dick’ more seriously than the most famous popstar of the modern age — the world is right once again.

Migos & Cardi B Taking It All The Way To The GRAMMYS

We all welcomed 2017 with two phrases — “Happy New Year” and “Rain drop, drop top”. Migos & Lil Uzi Vert’s monstrous collaboration ‘Bad & Boujee’ took on a life of its own when Twitter did its thing and turned the track into a hysterical meme.

Couple that with a Donald Glover shoutout at the Golden Globes, and ‘Bad & Boujee’ topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a collective four weeks before just recently nabbing a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Rap Performance.’

Joining them on the Grammy nom’ roster is Cardi B, who notoriously dethroned Swifty from number 1 with her all-conquering ‘Bodak Yellow’. Cardi gained fame for her hysterical Instagram videos and then gaining a role on the highly meme-able reality show Love & Hip-Hop. She managed to evolve that into a massive #1 song and a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

Money moves, mates, money moves.

Big Shaq & Man’s Not Hot

Yeah, the song’s a piss take. Yeah, Big Shaq is just a character of comedian Michael Dapaah. But did that stop the video for ‘Man’s Not Hot’ garnering over 120 million views in under two months? Did that stop the same song paying some of the best odds to top Triple J’s Hottest 100? You do the quick maths.

Jackson Langford is a freelance writer from Newcastle. He tweets at @jacksonlangford