While “ThrowbackThursday” (aka TBT) remains a weekly social media occurrence, there are some things evoke warranted nostalgia.
We’ve all seen the popular viral videos “Epic Rap Battles of History” where historic figures are pitted against one another in heated, trash-talking lyrical throwdowns. Some of the more notable battles include Mozart vs. Skrillex, Gandhi vs. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Isaac Newton vs. Bill Nye.
In case you’ve never seen one of these fantastic YouTube videos, here’s one between The Muppets creator Jim Henson and the father of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee.
Those rap battles are great, but what if there were a rap battle between things we use every day? What if the different search engines threw down in a fit of epic lyrical stylings?
Search Engine Rap Battles
Rap battles have always been a huge part of the underground hip-hop world, so it was only natural they would find their way to mainstream enjoyment when employed with just a hint of humor. Soon after rap battle videos started popping up on YouTube and elsewhere, the world was graced with a different kind of rap battle, a search engine rap battle.
Back in 2008, SearchEngineRapBattle.com was launched as a single place to watch all of the search engine rap battles. Back when the site launched, it also took votes so the audience could choose who they thought were the winners of each battle.
The players may have changed, but this series was a fantastic look at how search engines would talk trash to one another if personified. These lyrical bouts are so awesome, we had to dedicate a list ranking the top search engine rap battles.
#3 MSN vs. Yahoo!
To begin, MSN squared off against fellow search engine Yahoo. When it came down to voting, the audience picked Yahoo over MSN (19,336 – 18,458).
If you remember, MSN was the precursor to Bing; it was the default search engine installed on Windows PCs fresh out of the box. For this reason, MSN focused less on its power as a search engine and more on the prestige of being the product of the biggest tech company at the time.
“Remember it was me who invented the PC.
You’re just an upstart—you think you got smarts?
But I’m the V12, you’re just the spare parts.” —MSN
This verse appropriately establishes MSN as the big dog with Microsoft at its back and Yahoo is more a niche product. Also commenting on Yahoo’s branding at the time, MSN makes sure to poke fun at the yodeling cowboy.
But the Yahoo! Mascot doesn’t take it lying down. Despite Microsoft’s size in 2008, their company had its fair share of failures and was on the beginning of a downturn with other tech companies rising. Yahoo brings this up perfectly with the following lyrics.
“You’re so old and slow, you’re behind the times,
Your stock hasn’t gone up since 99…”
MSN came out quite hard, but Yahoo made sure to clean up with A-game trash talk.
#2 MSN vs. Google
Next up features MSN going toe-to-toe with the current and past king of search, Google. In this round, Google squeaked out a win over MSN for audience votes (40,101 – 39,378).
The ever nerdy Google took to the mic first to unleash his fiery verses on the MSN blue butterfly. To start off, Google throws out a few lines about how Windows Vista was an awful OS and people only used it because they had to.
“Your new system hasn’t gotten many users,
They only use Vista cuz it came on their computers…”
But then, Google reminds MSN who the search engine big dog is by mentioning market share with Google claiming 68% and MSN at a measly 4%. Boasting their claim as search engine king:
“Well connected – I got crazy links,
S-E-O just means ‘what Google thinks’…”
Just like how Microsoft has had its fair share of failures, MSN does not flinch in pointing out some of Google’s flaws. The lyrical butterfly claims that Google’s apps don’t work and that search is all it has going for it. And at the time when YouTube was in its early days and search functionality wasn’t quite there, MSN got in a nice jab.
“You bought Youtube for 2 billion bucks,
He bought Youtube, the search still sucks…”
If that wasn’t enough, MSN had one last punchline to close out a strong round of search engine rap battles. What makes this have just that much more sting was it still rings true when it comes to how Google commonly uses Wikipedia articles in search results:
“You might have users, but they’ll soon be leavin ya,
cuz your search results say search Wikipedia.”
#1 Google vs. Yahoo
At the time, a battle between two of the largest search engines like Google and Yahoo was a true clash of the Titans. While comparing the two now is no contest, Yahoo did have its time in the sun as Google’s largest competitor for search.
Compared to Google, Yahoo was the scrappy upstart and needed to hit it hard out of the gate. The Yahoo cowboy turns to simple trash-talking, suggesting that the nerdy Google was afraid of sports and averse to the outdoors.
“His skin is so pale, he’s already fatigued,
The only sports you play are in my fantasy league,
Look at this guy, he’s so white that its scary,
This guy is whiter than Sergei and Larry…”
Unfortunately, the bright light begins to fizzle as Yahoo fails to capitalize on much else despite a reference to how Google’s style, “hasn’t changed since 1992.”
The king assumed his crown and Google did not tread lightly against the brazen cowboy. One of the strongest tactics in breaking down your opponent in a rap battle is when you question their relevance.
“Who is this guy? Is he still alive folks?
I thought he died with Alta Vista and Lycos…”
Google continues to throw the punches by referencing how Yahoo still serves Google ads on its platform and how its design is “insane.” Another classic tactic among rappers use is when they compare the size of their possessions; in this case, their stock values and index sizes.
“You wanna test my manhood? You’ll see my stock rise,
Let’s both lift our hoods and compare index size.”
Despite a much stronger round of lyrical beatdowns, the voting was almost too close to call. In the end, Google won over Yahoo with a score of 8,884 to 8,816.
What’s Next for Search Engine Rap Battles?
If “Full House” deserves its own series reboot on Netflix, surely we need a new round of search engine rap battles. MSN is now Bing, Google has only gotten bigger, and Yahoo is struggling to grow its user-base. Maybe there should be a renewed rivalry between Microsoft and Google? Maybe YouTube needs to show big brother who’s boss when it comes to searches?
Which was your favorite?
Who do you think should battle next?
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