Viral Video Stars Then and Now
They used to say there are no second acts in American life. Thanks to the internet, though, these days once-famous folks never really go away.
That’s especially true of those who came into the public consciousness because of the internet. Sure their view counts stagnate after a while, but most of the viral video stars of yore stick around on YouTube and social media. See what the some of the biggest internet stars of the past decade are up to today below. (Check out the original videos below for an extra dose of nostalgia.)
'Numa Numa Guy' Gary Brolsma
Then: Who could forget 'Numa Numa Guy' Gary Brolsma, who lip synched the lyrics and threw his hands in the air to the beat of Moldovan pop band O-Zone’s song 'Dragostea Din Tei'? Since the video went viral in 2004 it’s garnered roughly 100 million views.
Now: While Brolsma initially shied away from the attention the video brought him, by 2006 he had embraced it. He began producing more videos, including different variations of the Numa Numa song. These days he is making his own music, both with his band Nonetheless and as a solo artist.
Then: In 2006, the internet was charmed by the angst-ridden musings of home schooled teen Bree who posted YouTube videos as LonelyGirl15. At the zenith of the channel's popularity an investigation revealed Bree was actually an actress named Jessica Lee Rose and the Web lost a little bit more of its innocence
Now: Rose quickly transitioned to less stealthy acting jobs, landing a recurring role on the ABC Family show ’Greek.’ She is set to star in the upcoming comedy ‘Casting Couch.’
'Chocolate Rain' Crooner Tay Zonday
Then: In the summer of 2007 the song ‘Chocolate Rain’ by Tay Zonday was probably stuck in your head. While the lyrics of the tune seemed to making some sort of important societal commentary, it was Zonday's (born Adam Nyerere Bahner) extremely deep voice and unique, baby-faced appearance that made the song and video such a viral hit.
Now: Zonday has had a fairly successful post-'Chocolate Rain' career, appearing in ads for Firefox and Vizio. He also continues to use his distinctive pipes to make music videos and scored a fairly big viral in 2012 with his cover of the Carly Rae Jepsen hit ’Call Me Maybe.'
Obama Girl Amber Lee Ettinger
Then: In 2007, Amber Lee Ettinger rocked the political world as the Obama Girl, who sung the praises of the Presidential candidate while wearing a bikini.
Now: Ettinger made some news in the run up to the 2012 election by saying she wasn’t sure if she was going to vote for the guy she once had a “crush” on this time around. The model/actress is set to appear in the indie film ‘An American In Hollywood’ and posts occasional videos to her YouTube channel and the Barely Political channel.
'Leave Britney Alone' Guy Chris Crocker
Then: You surely remember Chris Crocker’s impassioned plea to "leave Britney alone” after many were criticizing Ms. Spears' comeback performance at the 2007 MTV Music Video Awards. The video, which was posted on his MySpace page (this was 2007, remember) quickly garnered millions of views and made Crocker an instant internet star.
Now: ‘Me at the Zoo,’ a documentary about Crocker's viral fame, aired on HBO in 2012. Like Britney, Crocker is pursuing a singing career and in his latest videos he sports a closely-cropped hairstyle.
David After Dentist
Then: After a 2008 trip to the dentist a seven-year-old named David remained in an anesthesia haze. On the car ride home, his dad recorded his hilariously drugged up musing, such as "Is this real life?" The video has since scored well over 100 million views on YouTube.
Now: David is still cranking out YouTube videos on his David After Dentist channel. It should be no big surprise that in one of his last postings the now 12-year-old was doing the Harlem Shake.
Miss South Carolina Teen USA Caitlin Upton
Then: Caitlin Upton didn’t set out to be a viral video star. But the Miss South Carolina Teen contestant's rambling word-salad of an answer to a question about geography at the 2008 Miss Teen USA competition certainly made her one.
Now: Upton’s disastrous answer has actually been pretty good for her career. Her infamy resulted in a modeling contract with Donald Trump and a 2010 appearance on ‘The Amazing Race.’ These days, Upton makes fun of her ditzy reputation as host the YouTube show ‘Learning Stuff With Caite Upton.' She will also be in the movie 'Neron.'
Then: In 2010, Huntsville, Alabama resident Antoine Dodson gave a rather descriptive interview about an attempted home invasion at his sister’s house. The video quickly went viral. Then when the Gregory Brothers gave the interview an Autotune remix it became an even bigger internet hit. In fact, the ‘Bed Intruder Song’ managed to snag a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over 250,000 copies on iTunes.
Now: Dodson keeps up with his fans on Facebook and Twitter. According to a recent Facebook post he is filming a reality show called ‘The Oreo Cure.'
Then: In January of 2011, the internet met Ted Williams, aka ‘The Golden Voiced Bum,’ thanks to a Columbus Dispatch video report. Williams, a former radio DJ with the classic voice for the medium, had been rendered a homeless panhandler thanks to years of drug and alcohol abuse, but had recently got sober.
Now: Williams’s new found fame proved to be a challenge to his sobriety. But after he got that under control once again the father of nine started getting voice over work, including a Kraft Mac and Cheese YouTube ad campaign. In 2012, he authored the book 'Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation.'
Then: Proving once again that on the internet bad can be good, 'Friday,' 13-year-old Rebecca Black’s excruciating ode to everybody’s favorite day of the week, took the internet by storm in February of 2011. Although the most common reaction to the tune was to strike YouTube’s dislike button, the song everybody loved to hate became so popular it actually charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and scored Black numerous media appearances.
Now: Black continues to crank out songs on her YouTube channel. While it would be a stretch to say that they are any good, she has gotten better since the days of ‘Friday.’ And since she still is only 15 there’s always a chance Black will eventually be recognized for the right reasons.