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The Best of BuzzFeed - January, 2011

From Ted Williams and dead birds to the Tiger Mom meme and deformed celebrities, we've compiled a list of January's biggest stories and viral hits utilizing a secret sauce mix of data from our partner networks, users, and cumulative views outside of our network.

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  • 1. New Zodiac Sign Dates

    Google searches for the terms zodiac and Ophiuchus surged to all-time highs this month after Parke Kunkle of the Minnesota Planetarium Society dropped some science on our superstitions when he presented a more accurate representations of the constellations. In turn, a new set of 13 zodiac signs were produced, not to mention some satirical ones.

  • 2. Gabrielle Giffords Shot in AZ

    When an unstable Jared Loughner opened fire on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of people in Arizona, the story generated a lot of discussion about how vitriolic rhetoric contributes to the political atmosphere. Only hours after the suspect's name was released, an all-out internet manhunt for any shred of Jared Loughner's online presence was already underway. Although his Myspace was made private almost immediately, one Myspace insider provided us with the exclusive screenshots without comment. BuzzFeed was the first to publish the images to the public, picking up extra traffic from large news sites like MSNBC.

  • 3. Ted Williams - The Man With the 'Golden' Voice

    In the first week of January, Reddit users discovered the video of Ted Williams, a homeless former radio announcer and banded together to get the man a job. After securing national attention, Ted reunited with his mother, got a few voice-over gigs, and has been in and out of rehab all in under a month. Even though the Ted Williams story will continue to develop, the majority of search queries for Ted seem to have run their course.

  • 4. Girl Falls In Fountain While Texting

    With over 6 million cumulative views between multiple copies, this video is among the standout of the month. The title says it all. At first, little was known about the "girl" in the video. To many who first viewed the blurry footage this was a representation of the faults of today's youth. But when Cathy Cruz, a grown adult revealed her identity to CNN to lament the negative attention, we couldn't help but wonder why she would bother coming forward in the first place.

  • 5. Dead Birds

    Dozens of isolated incidents were linked together under the umbrella of mass animal deaths early this month after groups birds, fish, and crabs all died off en-masse recalling a scenario reminiscent of Flash Forward to some, and Angry Birds to others. Besides, who doesn't love a good doomsday angle?

  • 6. Stock Photo Cliche: Men Laughing Alone With Fruit Salad

    This stock photo cliche collected by BuzzFeed editor Matt Stopera was actually a response to a similar piece on The Hairpin: Women Laughing Alone With Salad. The viral views here came as the result of blogger-to-blogger conversation. By creating a list in response to another blogger's list, other blogs like The Atlantic, Slate, The Daily What, and others were motivated to spectate, rubberneck, and otherwise join in on the fun.

  • 7. The Tiger Mom Meme

    Generalizations about groups of people can be negative, but stereotypes exist because they're at least based in truth. In this case, Amy Chua of the Wall Street Journal became the subject of the Tiger Mom meme. Truth be told, this is just the latest iteration in the genre of memes about overbearing Asian parents just like High Expectations Asian Father.

  • 8. Reddit Summons Dark Lord Inglip

    ReCaptcha word pairs are used on many sites in order to cut down on spam by forcing users to prove that they are human. On Reddit, cartoons interpreting these word pairs as cryptic commands from an unseen deity have become one of the funniest trends of the new year.

  • 9. Stephanie Seymour Embracing Her Teenage Son

    There's a deeply-rooted psychological reason that Oedipus is still a recognized name today, even if only a select few are keen on discussing it. This is reflected strongly in the Stephanie Seymour post which, despite having a large number of views, maintained the lowest ratio of viral views to seed than any other item on the list, with no great lead in views from one social network to the next. What this means is that we were all curious about what was going on here, but only some of us felt like sharing it with others.

  • 10. The Meme-Face Story Of World War II

    This WWII re-enactment as told by the familiar faces of Rage Guy and his ilk appealed strongly with StumbleUpon users for two good reasons: A. they're part of a meme that's popular throughout Reddit, Tumblr, and 4chan, and B. World War II is a historical event that can be revisited and retold throughout the year with a certain sustained level of interest as evergreen content, unlike content that's dependent on a current event.

  • 11. Musically Oblivious 8th Grader

    Musically Oblivious 8th Grader first showed up on Know Your Meme over a year ago, but that doesn't mean it's played out. Because the meme depicts the frustrating and ever-present naivete of "kids today" it's just the kind of timeless content that says fresh on StumbleUpon.

  • 12. Milk For Homos

    Homo is short for "homogenized" but it also means "gay." Get it? Like a kick in the balls or a fart joke, sometimes mass appeal just means appealing to the lowest common denominator. Get-r-done.

  • 13. 15 Songs You Didn't Realize Were Covers

    This is the kind of curated content that people love to share, and that's evident from the high volume of Facebook Likes, Tweets, and even links in email. Everyone loves sharing things that they didn't know. Reddit has the TIL (today I learned...) and DAE (does anyone else...) boards, Ripley's publishes Believe It Or Not, and almost every joke you've ever heard begins with "did you hear the one about..." Sharing little-known or unbelievable factoids is a contagious behavior that people have enjoyed well before the internet, and it extends naturally into our online interactions.

  • 14. Octomom Fetish Video

    Take one D-list pseudo-celebrity that people already associate with controversy and add an even more bizarre taboo like infantilization and you have the perfect recipe for people to go WTF, EW, TRASHY!

  • 15. Hot Chicks in Nerd Panties

    Girls dressed specifically to appeal to nerds? You don't really need me to explain why people clicked on this, right?

  • 16. 21 Things That Cannot Be Unseen

    Do you see what I see? I need you to affirm that what I'm seeing is a part of our common reality. If you and I also see something that might differ from what most people notice, then we're more aware of our world than those who don't notice these things. Right? TL;DR Jack probably knows where to get good pot.

  • 17. Michael Douglas Photobomb

    Celebrity content does well with blogs about celebrities, and the word "Photobomb" has become an increasingly popular buzzword for "unexpectedly funny photo composition" in only about the last two years.

  • 18. The Official Stephen Colbert Aging Timeline

    Looking at pictures of celebrities over the course of their lives allows us to fantasize that we've known them all along with only half the creep-factor of rummaging through their trash. Really it's no surprise that Stephen Colbert's rabid and loyal fans passed this link around so much.

  • 19. The Babysitting Dog

    Hey look! The big dog is looking after the little dogs like a person would! People have pets for companionship, fulfilling their needs for a sense of belonging. Many people consider their pets to be members of the family, and as such, anthropomorphizing animals is a natural, almost unavoidable tendency. Get that dog a sweatsuit and some headphones and it'll probably take over the internet.

  • 20. Celebrities With Deformities

    Do you know that celebrities aren't flawless super-humans? Some of them have extra webbing between their toes, just like the one in 2000 "normal" people. But when you frame the story like a circus freak show... well, people get in line to see that.