Everyone knows the true mark of a music video’s quality is the number of decent parody videos it inspires. (Disclaimer: This is not true.)
This year’s VMA Video of the Year, Best Female Video and Best Male Video nominees are all visually striking, ingenious and very, very watchable, which means the caliber of parody they sparked must be uniformly high. Turns out, that is not actually true, so we went ahead and found the best ones for you instead. Enjoy!
There was never any question here. We’re sorry, group of shirtless dudes, and we’re gonna let you finish, but Serena Williams had one of the best Bey parodies of all time. (That’s the last time we’ll use that joke, we promise.)
Ed Sheeran, ‘Thinking Out Loud’
Just as Ed Sheeran’s rise to fame has been a big win for House Hufflepuff, Jeremy Renner‘s Avengers character Hawkeye has become something of an underdog icon for the fact that on a team that includes a radioactive monster, man in a weaponized metal suit and an actual literal god, his whole deal is being able to shoot arrows pretty well. Renner made light of the whole thing on The Tonight Show, and while it’s not an exact parody of Sheeran’s video, it’s our favorite.
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar, ‘Bad Blood’
Mom blogger Deva Dalporto put together this parody that sheds light on so-called “Mommy wars” with lines like “‘Cause mama you’re just a bad mom / You’re on Pinterest all day long / You never craft with your spawn.”
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, ‘Uptown Funk’
In the annals of viral parody culture, “the experiences of first-year medical students” is a pretty specific niche. But that didn’t stop a group of Washington University (St. Louis) students from achieving viral success with “First Year Funk,” probably (we assume) the only “Uptown Funk” parody video to include a line about MRSA.
Taylor Swift, ‘Blank Space’
Honestly we’re not sure how the combination of Taylor Swift and Girl Scout Cookies didn’t take over the world in some kind of bloodless viral video coup. But combining cute girls, Thin Mints and Swift’s inescapable hit was a good move for Kayelee and Lexi (or their savvy parents).
Nicki Minaj, ‘Anaconda’
This one is less a parody than a powerful example of how to repurpose popular culture to get people to pay attention to a decidedly unpopular issue. A Unilever factory in Kodaikanal, India, stands accused of illegally dumping toxic mercury waste for more than 10 years. Though the factory closed in 2001, 45 of the people who worked there, and 12 of their children, have died from mercury-poisoning-related causes, and people in the area continue to suffer adverse effects. So Sofia Ashraf, a rapper from Chennai, released a repurposed version of “Anaconda” that addresses the issue. Minaj herself approved, tweeting a link to the video the day after it went up.
Sia, ‘Elastic Heart’
Much ink was spilled over Sia’s decision to cast 28-year-old Shia LaBeouf and 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler in a close-quarters dance routine for “Elastic Heart,” and so Funny or Die just went ahead and made the comparison on everyone’s mind, invoking Chris Hansen and To Catch a Predator. It’s kind of uncomfortable, but so is the original.
Fetty Wap, ‘Trap Queen’
“Two Canadian Muslims parody Fetty Wap’s ‘Trap Queen'” sounds like a setup to a joke, but it’s not. It’s another socially conscious parody video, one that specifically tries to address Islamophobia in mainstream culture. “It’s showing that Muslim females have a lot of honor and we respect them,” one-half of the Deen Squad, Karter Zaher, told FADER. “They’re queens.”