Social media served as a much-needed distraction for most people during the COVID-19 pandemic, inspiring some of the most renowned moments of our time. BET.com recaps the best OMG, FOMO moments, mishaps, memes, Black Girl Magic, and Black Boy Joy in our 20 for 2020 social media countdown.
Producers Timbaland and Swizz Beats helped eliminate FOMO on live performances after creating Verzuz TV, which teamed the best artists of their genres and eras for live battles. The events served not only as a getaway from persistent worries about surviving the pandemic, they were a source of political activism and awareness during an historic year.
The Verzuz battle between Brandy vs. Monica broke the internet with more than 6 million viewers across Instagram and Apple Music. Their battle also helped register 35,000 people to vote, and raised $250,000 for When We All Vote, a non-profit voter registration organization. Not to mention, they also featured a cameo appearance from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The ladies together in the same place and the same time took us all the way back to a moment when all we had to worry about was letting it be known that, well, “the boy is mine.” Mo, Brandy, and their collection of hits made virtual history in every possible way.
The Don’t Rush Challenge (#DontRushChallenge) was a transformational virtual moment for people around the globe. The challenge, set to the hit single “Don’t Rush” by Young T. & Bugsey, was started by Toluwalase Asolo (@lase_asolo), a college student in the U.K., and her friends. It was the virtual action of passing a makeup brush through the interwebs, sparking an instant glow up all while busting moves.
The TikTok video garnered 887.1 million views, as the challenge highlighted the transformation from couch potato to quarantine chic. The challenge eventually morphed from glam transformations to graduation celebrations, as well highlighting businesses and brands in socially distant, and creative ways. The Don’t Rush Challenge taught us that getting all dolled up with nowhere to go is exactly what we need at this time.
Savage was definitely a defining word for 2020. But it took on new meaning when Megan Thee Stallion released her song, “Savage.” The single quickly became a mega hit and sparked the Savage Challenge (#thesavagechallenge).
TikTok user Keara Wilson, a dancer whose handle is @keke.janajah, sparked the challenge in March after posting a video of her super fast choreography to the rapper’s hit single. Although the challenge made the rounds on social media fairly quickly, she posted a clip of herself doing the dance for 5 days, urging viewers to tag @theestallion. Welp, she got her wish. Thee Stallion and other celebrities, including Keke Palmer, Marsai Martin, Normani & Ryan Destiny, and Hailey Bieber. The Savage challenge racked up 4.6 million views, while the song soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
DJ D-Nice was looking out for the people when he brought his DJ talents to Instagram Live and birthed Club Quarantine. The nation was going stir crazy under the federal shelter-in-place order, leaving them longing to glam up and twerk to a favorite bop at the club. Instead, Club Quarantine gifted them with Instagram Live house parties hosted by DJ D-Nice, who played hits from almost every era.
Celebrities, including Michelle Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Rihanna did virtual walkthroughs, helping the old school DJ land over 2 million Instagram followers and the 2020 Webby Artist of the Year in the category Special Achievement.
A Drake hit single is the ideal ingredient for any challenge. And the Flip The Switch Challenge (#FlipTheSwitchChallenge) is the proof of that. Even though the rapper’s single, “Nonstop,” was released in 2018, Bella and Dallin Lambert, the couple behind the TikTok account @dallinxbella, revived the hit song with the Flip The Switch Challenge.
The challenge revolved around participants changing identities while moving to the chorus, “I just flipped the switch/ (flip flip).” Creative juices flowed as husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and dog owners and, well, yes, their dogs swapped identities. U.S. Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was by far the most surprising participant. A hilarious clip of her dancing with her Saturday Night Live counterpart, Kate McKinnon, during an appearance on SNL in March garnered over 2 million Twitter views.
The year 2020 was definitely something we have never experienced before and so it makes sense that the Something New Challenge (#SomethingNewChallenge) would come about now. Kerrington Keys, a student at East Carolina University who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina is behind the @kerringtonjk TikTok handle.
Keys told BuzzFeed in February that he accidentally started the challenge at 3:00 a.m. while hanging out with friends. They were listening to the single, “Something New,” released in 2017 by Wiz Khalifa, featuring Ty Dolla $ign when he decided to put moves to the beats. His friends joined in and a movement was born. The challenge garnered over 1.8 million TikTok views and 3.7 million video remakes, including the families of Lebron James, Jennifer Lopez and Aaron Rodriguez, Ciara and Russell Wilson, and Khalifa himself.
We can thank comedian Sarah Cooper for some of the laughs that carried us through the year as Donald Trump’s presidency comes to an end. The former Google UX designer rose to fame by impersonating Trump in a series of TikTok video recaps of his daily White House coronavirus briefings.
One of Cooper’s first viral videos, How to Medical, captured the president’s potentially dangerous suggestion of injecting disinfectant as a treatment for Covid-19. It garnered more than 23 million views on Twitter. And, yeah, Trump blocked her from his Twitter account, so he was clearly bothered by her brilliance. The impersonations propelled her career to new heights, earning her a guest-hosting spot on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, an appearance at August’s Democratic National Convention, her own Netflix comedy special and a TV series in development at CBS, according to Adweek.
In early February, Jalaiah Harmon, a 15-year-old dancer, transformed the internet with the Renegade challenge. It was one of the earliest TikTok dance challenges and paved the way for all the many that were to follow.
Jalaiah got our brains and bodies moving with her complex dance challenge, turning K Camp’s single, “Lottery,” into a Billboard chart topping song. The popular moves earned her the opportunity to perform with the rapper himself. The dance challenge received over 11.4 million views, and won celebrity remakes by Lizzo, Kourtney Kardashian and TikTok’s biggest star, Charli D’Amelio.
Some folks missed dipping and doing it with their friends during the quarantine, but TikTok’s “In The Crowd” filter made folks feel like having club moments could be possible again. From dance offs to birthday celebrations, the In The Crowd challenge sparked a movement. It won 4.4 million views on TikTok, and more than 200,000 remakes by folks, including Tyga. Brandon Brock, known by his handle as @cloutboy on TikTok, helped spark the challenge (#InTheCrowdChallenge) in February after he uploaded a video of the #PGrooveChallenge.
The #PGrooveChallenge was originated by P.J. Howard, (@pjhowardiv), a sixth-grade math teacher at Oscar Smith Middle School in Chesapeake, Va., and was created originally to promote positivity, according to WAVY TV-10. The challenge, set to “Hit Yo Groove” by RunitupTahj, captured over 2.2 million views and 343,000 likes on TikTok, and inspired #InTheCrowd challenge, transforming virtual celebrations from drab to fab across the globe.
Johnniqua Charles, of Dillon, South Carolina, was estranged from her family, fighting addiction and homelessness when a viral video changed her life this summer, according to Buzzfeed. The moment was sparked when Charles asked a security guard why he was detaining her. When he failed to respond, she turned her protest into a song and dance that won over the internet.
“Why are you detaining me? You about to lose yo job,” Charles says in the video. The adlib was remixed by DJ Suede the Remix God and iMarkkeyz, which received 14.6 million video views on Twitter. It became a mainstay at protests against police brutality and a song of celebration after Donald Trump lost the presidential election. The newfound notoriety helped Charles win crowdfunding donations, which ultimately led to a reconnection with her son and family. Sadly, Charles now claims the glow up fell by the wayside after she and her money were mismanaged by her sister-manager, according to Atlanta Black Star.
During a year of virtual celebrations, model Tabria Majors was the cherry on top of the virtual cake after her Halloween video tribute to Beyoncé.
Tabria not only recreated some of Beyoncé’s most iconic looks but also brought the tribute to life with a full-on production with props, a cast of dancers, and everything needed to recreate some of the star's most memorable music videos. Instagram Influencers and celebrities usually do it big on Halloween, but Queen T came out of nowhere to set the internet ablaze making us fall crazy in love with her performance that ushered in over 3.7 millions views on Instagram. And if that wasn't enough, she received recognition from Queen B herself, who gifted Tabria with her full DRIP 2 Ivy Park collection.
If folks weren’t watching videos on TikTok or Instagram Live while in quarantine, they were binge watching shows on their favorite streaming app or on premium cable channels. The brand-new STARZ hit show P-Valleyhelped viewers escape from the realities of the pandemic down to the Mississippi Delta with our girls at The Pynk—the infamous strip club where the series is set. With a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and ranked 2020’s No. 1 new premium series with African American viewers, and trending at No. 1 on Twitter with each premiere episode, Uncle Clifford n’em did it for the culture the entire season.
As the owner of the club, Uncle Clifford captured the entire nation's heart and became family to us all. His “Rules for The Pynk” became rules to live by on and off screen. Its rise to fame made P-Valley, which was renewed for a second season, the phenomenon of the year.
Who’s next? That was the question the entire internet was asking after Gen-Z got hold of Hip Hop Harry, a children’s show from the early-2000s. When an episode of the eponymous character and his friends having a freestyle dance session resurfaced on the internet, the Who’s Next dance challenge proved to be everything folks needed during the lockdown.
The challenge was not the only thing that swept the web as the memes and remixes of the song also went viral, snagging a whopping 76.4 million views on #HipHopHarry on TikTok. From elections to relationships to quarantine parodies, Hip Hop Harry went from an old children's show to a worldwide sensation.
Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter, Jayden, had us all flipping out in more ways than one while watching their awesome videos while under quarantine. The father-daughter cheer stunt videos gained over half a million followers on Instagram, and garnered national news coverage. Pollard and his wife Stephanie,who were cheerleaders and gymnasts, have over 10 years of cheer and gymnastics training experience between them. It’s safe to say, the apple didn't fall far from, ahem, the stunting and tumbling tree.
“She loves whatever I'm doing,” Pollar told WFAA-TV of his daddy/daughter duo from the family’s home in Savannah in Denton County, Texas. “Our bond is just so close. She trusts me with her entire life. And that's the coolest part.”
What's a quarantine without a singing challenge that shows us who can sing and who can sang? The 1998 classic hit single, “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” by Grammy-winning artist Deborah Cox did just that. The challenges started trending after fans and some of our favorite celebrities, including Keke Palmer, Queen Naija, and 11-year-old Liamani Segura — a personal favorite of Ms. Cox herself — shared their renditions of the singer’s powerhouse vocals. The videos gave us the vocal Olympics we didn't know we needed until we heard them hit every note. The challenge clocked in over 10.5 million views on TikTok.
Dance instructor Mrs. Traci Young-Byron exemplified the epitome of Black Girl Magic all year with her dance videos. Popularly known as @supa_blackgirl on Instagram, Mrs. Traci and her Young Contemporary Dance Thtre students gave the fans dance moves, political activism, and comedy throughout 2020, at a time when we really needed it.
Multiple dance videos on Instagram captured more than 2 million views, propelling Black Girl Magic to new heights with each dance routine. Their most recent viral moment came at election time when the dance troupe served up their moves while encouraging young Black voters to exercise their rights at the polls. At a time when folks of color were expected to sit down, Mrs. Traci encouraged us to get up and dance like nobody was watching.
“Fair warning, I’m not nice and do not seek to be respectable,” Black activist Keiajah Brooks told the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners in October at their board meeting in a message that ricocheted around the globe. We all love a good read, and Brooks might as well be a librarian because her scathing statement to the police department received over 2.9 million views on Instagram (@kjg.brks). She was praised by anti-police brutality activists for the speech she made during which she told police they were “pathetic” for having chosen profits over people.”
Unfortunately, Brooks later wrote that she needed security because of her comments. This is one sister who showed up and showed out for our community in 2020.
This year was clearly the best year for TikTok, and the #WholeLottaChoppasChallenge added to the multitude of dares that kept us sane for the majority of the lockdown in the spring and summer. Sada Baby released Whole Lotta Choppas in early August, and by the end of the month, TikTok Star Ohbukster released a TikTok Dance that not only went viral with over 31.4 million TikTok views, but also had everyone doing his dance.
This TikTok challenge was one of the many that pushed us from boring stay-at-home-quarantine to turnt-up- club-living-room-quarantine. The popularity from this TikTok challenge even gave Sada Baby his first Billboard Top 100 hit.
Platinum songwriter and singer Desmond Dennis got the boys back together at his wedding reception performance that had over 2 million people loving them unconditionally. Dennis, who is actually better known for his toddler loving/parent despising song “Baby Shark” used to be in a band before he became a singer-songwriter. Lucky for us, his old bandmates were his groomsmen and together they all gave us vocals, choreography, and a performance that not only his new wife, but the whole virtual world, will never forget.
He pulled it off bringing each of his groomsmen in one-by-one months before the wedding and unknown to his wife coordinated a performance to honor their special day. Their cover of the New Edition classic is now available on all streaming sites.
This year had everyone reevaluating their careers and professional lives. In the midst of a lot of career confusion six-year-old Robert Samuel White and his father Bobby gave us all the professional clarity that we needed. White’s rap matched every letter of the alphabet with a job or career and went viral with over one million views on YouTube. With his dad beatboxing skills and his flawless execution of the lyrics, the flow was just the icing on the cake after experiencing so much sadness this year. Who knew a six-year-old’s rap would give us the inspiration and all the smiles needed to follow our dreams into 2021?
For more of the best of 2020, check out our BET 100 list for the most awesome entertainers, social justice warriors and innovators in business, politics, and style.
*The countdown is not listed in any particular order.
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