Top 10 Times Musicians Broke The Internet



Top 10 Times Musicians Broke The Internet

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Jacob Pitts
And you thought you brunch photos got a lot of likes. For this list, we'll be looking at times an artist set the internet ablaze with controversy or excitement. Our countdown includes BTS Breaks Records With “Dynamite” & “Butter”, Childish Gambino Drops The “This Is America” Music Video, Lil Nas X Debuts the “MONTERO” Music Video, and more!

Top 10 Times Musicians Broke The Internet

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Musicians Broke the Internet.

For this list, we’ll be looking at times an artist set the internet ablaze with controversy or excitement.

Which viral music moment had you glued to your screen? Let us know in the comments

#10: BTS Breaks Records With “Dynamite” & “Butter”

Breaking the internet is a regular occurrence for BTS. The dynamic group continues to smash records with every new release. In 2020, their single “Dynamite” debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100. Its music video alone received over 101 million views within its first 24 hours. The Korean boy band held onto this record for almost a year until they were beaten by…themselves. During May 2021, their song “Butter” shattered their previous record with over 108 million views on its release date. With zero signs of slowing down, it’s safe to say that BTS could topple their record again in the future.

#9: Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift

Kanye West and Taylor Swift’s feud has taken many twists and turns over the years. However, everyone knows where it all began. As Swift was accepting the award for Best Female Video at the 2009 VMAs, West walked on stage and took her microphone. He boldly professed that fellow nominee Beyoncé “insert broll for: had one of the best videos of all time.” At the time, Swift was humiliated while West received widespread backlash. To add insult to injury, not only did Beyoncé defend Swift immediately afterwards, but President Barack Obama famously added to the pile-on. But Kanye would have no problem bouncing back from the outburst. He was free to release more music and stir up more controversy after the ceremony.

#8: Ariana Grande Releases “thank u, next”

While Ariana Grande had already been a hugely successful singer for half a decade, the surprise release of “thank u, next” in 2018 catapulted her career to the next level. It was full of emotionally mature lyrics about her past relationships with everyone from Big Sean to Mac Miller. Since this was after her relationship with Pete Davidson kept being seen in viral headlines he was included too. (*xref) The layered lyrics made for an honest and complex breakup song. “thank u, next” quickly became one of Grande’s signature tracks. After its release, its iconic music video broke viewership records on YouTube. Between the single and video release, “thank u, next” became a definite smash.

#7: Childish Gambino Drops The “This Is America” Music Video

Audiences may have known Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino from his excellent comedic role on “Community. But if they also watched “Atlanta”, they’d know that he’s great with serious material. In 2018, Childish Gambino released the music video for “This Is America.” The song is packed with messages about gun violence, prejudice and police brutality. Its violent video and heavy symbolism made a powerful statement about how Black people are treated in America. After its release, the video received an outpouring of praise and spread further through everything from memes to song mashups. No matter how people came into contact with “This is America” in 2018, it was bound to leave a strong impression.

#6: Solange Attacks Jay-Z In An Elevator

Although the Knowles-Carter clan is normally in complete control of their public image, one shocking video brought family drama into the open. In 2014, TMZ released surveillance footage of Solange Knowles attacking Jay-Z in an elevator at a Met Gala afterparty. It was also noted that Beyoncé didn’t seem to do much to stop the conflict. After the public scrambled for answers, the trio released a joint statement saying the matter had been resolved and they were moving on. But Beyoncé later referenced the altercation on the remix of one of her songs. While we never officially learned what happened, the internet still went wild seeing a crack in the family’s composed image.

#5: Taylor Swift Suddenly Releases “folklore” & “evermore”

Releasing surprise albums can be a risky move. But while many spent the start of 2020 biding their time, Taylor Swift took it upon herself to write and record two full albums. Sister records “folklore” and “evermore” were released in July and December of 2020. Showcasing Swift’s return to her acoustic roots. “folklore” received over 80 million streams on Spotify in its first 24 hours. After that album broke the Guinness World Record, “evermore” was nearly as successful. With a fanbase as devoted as the Swifties, practically anything Taylor Swift does is going to break the internet at this point.

#4: Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke’s Close VMA Performance

Miley Cyrus had a busy and eventful 2013 that all led up to her unforgettable VMA performance. During a medley including her comeback single “We Can’t Stop” and a duet with “Blurred Lines” singer Robin Thicke, she did everything possible to shed her former child star image. Miley’s nude colored bikini, risqué use of a foam finger and twerk session with Thicke generated a lot of shock and some discomfort from the audience. The performance garnered over 306,000 tweets per minute and gave Cyrus over 200,000 new Twitter followers. And while he wasn’t the main focus, Robin Thicke’s black-and-white striped shirt reminded people of Beetlejuice. The fashion and mature Miley Cyrus were more than enough to make a mark online.

#3: Justin Timberlake & Janet Jackson’s Infamous Super Bowl Malfunction

Our next musicians not only broke the internet, but accidentally inspired a pretty major part of it. In the final seconds of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s 2004 halftime show performance, Timberlake accidentally tore off an extra layer of Jackson’s outfit. The wardrobe malfunction led to one of the biggest media frenzies of the 2000s. While Jackson became a top search online, DVR service TiVo had an influx of 35,000 subscribers that wanted to rewatch the moment. However, software engineer Jawed Karim was frustrated with his inability to find the footage online. This was one of his motivations to found a little video sharing platform called YouTube. It’s hard to believe that a hugely controversial accident led to an entire media platform.

#2: Lil Nas X Debuts the “MONTERO” Music Video

How does a musician become beloved by some, disliked by others and listened to by what seems like everyone in only three minutes? Just ask Lil Nas X. His comeback single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) broke barriers. The rapper’s video was full of complex and striking LGBTQ+ themes as well as bold lyrics and imagery. In one of the most memorable scenes, Lil Nas X gave a lap dance to a certain demonic figure. It helped that he promoted the song with a series of publicity stunts that turned heads. Even after all this time, people are still talking about and discussing this bold and brilliant piece of art.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Mariah Carey Opens 2017 With a Disastrous Concert
Technical Issues Ruined What Could’ve Been A Sublime Performance

Kanye West Drops “Famous” Music Video
Its Realistic Wax Figures & Mature Content Fueled Feuds in 2016

Billie Eilish Reinvents Herself For British Vogue
The Singer Sheds Her Signature Style in this 2021 Cover

Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion Release “WAP”
The Rappers Teamed Up For A Raunchy 2020 Song That Drew Praise & Critique

#1: Beyoncé Surprisingly Drops a Legendary Album…Twice

Beyoncé was able to easily garner over 2 million likes just for releasing a picture of her twins. (*xref) But that doesn’t hold a candle to what she did with these surprise releases. In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth studio album overnight with zero promotion. This strategy generated 1.2 million tweets in 24 hours and became the fastest-selling album in iTunes store history. Three years later, she replicated the strategy with the extremely well received “Lemonade.” The acclaimed album got over 100 million streams on Tidal and landed a dozen hits on the Billboard top 100. With themes of feminism, race, sexuality and more, both albums revealed a more personal side of Beyoncé while cementing her status as a legend.