When Twitter trotted out Vine in early 2013, many were unsure what to make of the app. Was the six-second social network trying to dethrone the GIF or reinvent YouTube? Would the video-looping platform be just another flash in the pan, or were microvideo creations enticing enough for Vine to take root?
While the majority of 2013 was spent answering such formative questions as the app endured its requisite growing pains, 2014 was all about taking hold of the medium and exploring the infinite possibilities six seconds could hold. This year, people embraced the hashtag #doitforthevine like never before. Users sexually defiled Hot Pockets, teachers twerked their way to six-figure salaries, and peopled self-immolated, all in the hopes of looping themselves to Internet fame.
But there was fame beyond the confines of Vine for many of the app’s stars this year, as Hollywood and major record labels finally took note of the millions of followers popular users commanded. While six-second celebrities like Cameron Dallas migrated from iPhone screens to silver ones with a feature-length film, the success of others was overshadowed by controversy. Nash Grier’s homophobic remarks caused a firestorm of outrage while allegations of rape brought against Curtis Lepore caused him to lose out on a Rainn Wilson-produced TV deal.
But the true Vine stars of 2014 didn’t come from the homogenized stock of straight white males with chiseled jawlines, boyish hair, and rock-hard abs that have been so heavily dominating the appearance circuits of PlayList Live and DigiTour. No, rather the true acolytes of Vine that helped drive the site to over 40 million users and made it one of the most downloaded apps this year were the original voices and unique personalities that cropped up seemingly out of nowhere.
Here are the 10 unexpectedly delightful Vine stars of 2014 who caused us to lose hours in endless loops.
Users sexually defiled Hot Pockets, teachers twerked their way to six-figure salaries, and peopled self-immolated, all in the hopes of looping themselves to Internet fame.
10) Manon Matthews
Matthews certainly didn’t happen into her Vine stardom by accident. As an alumni of the prestigious improv curriculum of Second City, Matthews was fitted with comedic chops before Vine surfaced. But thanks to the app, she’s been able to showcase her cast of characters for an entire new audience. Manon’s range is vast, as she inhabits both the brooding Kristen Stewart and the intellectually aloof Kim Kardashian in a single skit.
9) Simone Shepherd
You might not know Shepherd by name, but chances are that you’ve laughed more than once at the the L.A.-based comedian’s impression of Beyoncé or her wickedly sharp spoofs of the Basketball Wives. In fact, that versatility and ability to flawlessly slip from one character to another is what earned the performer close to 3 million followers and a chance to audition for Saturday Night Live when the show was searching for a black female performer in January of this year.
8) Sione Maraschino
Before Maraschino was rocking his signature “Maraschino Step” in Megan Trainor’s music video for “All About That Bass,” he was simply Sione Kelepi. The 22-year-old from Orlando spent his days as a train conductor at Walt Disney World before finally getting his fairytale moment after signing up for Vine a few months after its release. Thanks to the app, Maraschino turned an empty Publix parking lot into a digital dance floor and soon found his way to major dancing gigs.
7) Katie and Ava Ryan
This is anything but your typical mother/daughter social media duo. While most of their digital peers spend the day updating mommy blogs with cute photos or crafts they found on Pinterest, these two are tackling fart jokes in six-second bursts. But the brash earnestness that spouts from Ava’s mouth is a lot more than just comic relief to her family. The laughs that the 4-year-old has provided have helped the family cope after the tragic death of Katie’s sister.
This is anything but your typical mother/daughter social media duo.
6) Chipotle Kid
Though he surfaced in late March of this year, the child simply known as “Chipotle Kid” still remains a bit of an enigma. The younger brother of Vine user yungsofi was recorded by his sister lampooning white girls’ undying adoration of Chipotle inside the restaurant, and his blatant truth-telling rocketed him to online fame. The boy’s slack-tongued falsetto as he croons “Chipotle is my life!” definitely earns him a spot of our list this year.
5) James White
White is an outlier. While most of his American peers employ the use of elaborate comic skits, skillful editing, or cameos by other celebrities of the app, this China-based user relies on the pedestrian occurrences of his everyday life and his charm to loop his way to fame. If his signature catchphrase of “Very cool, very nice, I like it” didn’t catch your attention this year, then his social media quest for a “white woman” surely did.
4) Brandon Bowen
Bowen might be best known for “blocking out the haters” using a couple plastic spoons, but this self-purported “professional fatty” is anything but a one-meme wonder. The 16-year-old from Tifton, Ga., has uploaded his class clown antics for millions to behold, and he’s quickly earned himself over half a million loops. Bowen’s versatility knows no bounds: He plays a spoiled brat upset at deleted episodes of Golden Girls as effortlessly as he embodies a father proud of his son’s farts.
3) Harmony and Elliott Smith
If there were ever a duo to rival the brilliant family comedy team of Katie and Ava Ryan, it’s Harmony and Elliott Smith. The only thing sharper or quirkier than the spectacle game of this family is their ability to transform awkwardness into adorable skits that you can’t help but smile at. This single mom and her son sing about poop, dress up like Larry King, and have basically rewritten the rulebook about how to be an awesome single parent in the 21st century.
What started as a simple joyride in her mom’s car ended with 18-year-old Tish Simmonds “broom broom”-ing her way to Internet stardom.
2) Tish Simmonds
What started as a simple joyride in her mom’s car ended with 18-year-old Tish Simmonds “broom broom”-ing her way to Internet stardom in July of this year. Though the teen briefly deleted the video and took a hiatus from the app due to some negative response after going viral, she quickly returned to the platform and continues to make unique skits starring her infamous “mum.”
1) PG Bree
Who among us hasn’t misheard the words to a popular song only to embarrass ourselves later by singing the wrong lyric in front of friends or family. Sadly for Bree, her rather unique interpretation of the first verse of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” wasn’t confined to singing in the shower or in the car; instead, it was broadcast on Vine, where it’s been looped over 15 million times. Her potato-centric version of the track has spawned countless memes and parodies, sending spuds literally flying around hundreds of bedrooms across the country.
Photo via Kevin Simpson/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed