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From America’s Funniest Home Videos to YouTube. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for top 10 viral videos.
For this list, we’re looking at videos that became popular thanks to online sharing. We’ve decided to exclude clips from television programming that aired nationally or globally and was widely seen on TV and simply recovered on the web. So, sorry to the Lonely Island and Miss Teen USA—you’re not up for consideration.
Subscribe to WatchMojo—Ranking Pop Culture Since 2006
#10: Kony 2012 (2012)
Shameless marketing or genius campaign? This almost-30-minute mini-doc features Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell explaining guerilla warlord Joseph Kony and his recruitment of child soldiers in Uganda to his young son, intercut with footage from Russell’s time in Africa. Uploaded to YouTube in March, the video sparked a split reaction not only online, but also from the media, and from opponents who condemned Russell for oversimplifying the problem. Russell couldn’t handle his sudden fame and had a breakdown shortly after, but even so “Kony 2012” had 99 million views within two years of its release.
#9: Numa Numa (2004)
It started as a one-hit wonder sung in Romanian by Moldovan band O-Zone. But the catchy synthesized tones of the track caught the ear of New Jersey native Gary Brolsma, and moved him so much he felt the need to film himself lip-syncing to it. It was uploaded to the site Newgrounds in 2004, where it earned over 18 million views, and to YouTube in 2006, where it gained an additional 54 million views and tons of media attention. We don’t care if you agree: this is why webcams were invented.
#8: Leave Britney Alone (2007)
Remember when Britney Spears had a nervous breakdown and basically stopped performing for a while? And then she made an iffy comeback at the 2007 MTV VMAs? Well, that’s what prompted this reaction from Chris Crocker. In a completely overwrought and over-eyelined monologue, this comedian and vlogger pleads for haters to stop ragging on the pop princess. No one’s quite sure if the performance is as authentic as Crocker claims it to be, but who cares: within two hours of its upload the day after Brit-Brit’s performance, “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” had 2 million views.
#7: “Chocolate Rain” by Tay Zonday (2007)
One day you’re a lowly Minnesota grad student; the next you’re a YouTube sensation. Tay Zonday is a singer-songwriter, who uploaded this original creation in April 2007. Supposedly about institutional racism, the song caught on with viewers partly because of the guy’s unexpected voice, his tendency to move away from the mic, and its lyrics, which, well, they make no sense. Awarded the 2007 YouTube Award for Music, this viral video has since garnered almost one-billion views online and has been referenced in shows like 30 Rock, SpongeBob SquarePants, and—of course —South Park.
#6: Bed Intruder Song (2010)
What started as a report about a terrifying home invasion and attempted sexual assault in the Alabama projects on the morning news somehow became an international laugh-out-loud marathon of sheer ridiculousness. WAFF-48 News interviewed Antoine Dobson about his sister’s attempted rape—and that video’s funny enough, believe it or not. But once the Gregory Brothers ran the news report through auto-tune and added a beat, the resulting song went viral, entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became YouTube’s most popular video of 2010—proving once again that everything is better with auto-tune.
#5: David After Dentist (2009)
Poor kid. At 7-years-old, David DeVore Jr. underwent dental surgery, and since his mother couldn’t be there, his father decided to capture his reaction to the whole thing. Obviously hopped up on some sort of goofballs in the backseat of his dad’s car, David goes from asking existential questions to musing about how weird his fingers are to screaming bloody murder to asking more existential questions, then finally falls asleep. Originally uploaded just for friends and family, we’re hoping this video and its 127 million views will help pay David’s college tuition.
#4: Double Rainbow (2010)
A man captures an amateur video of a double rainbow that crosses the sky unbroken outside of his home near Yosemite National Park in California. Doesn’t sound like it’d go viral though, does it? But wait, there’s more: for three-and-a-half minutes, the man once known as Hungrybear9562 is hilariously freaking out over the natural phenomenon, musing over its meaning with wind chimes clanging in the background. Jimmy Kimmel was so amused; he tweeted the video out to his followers, triggering its ascent to viral-ness and eventually leading to over 40 million views.
#3: Star Wars Kid (2003)
After seeing Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber in Star Wars Episode I, 15-year-old Canadian Ghyslain Raza filmed himself in imaginary saber battle with invisible foes. Unfortunately, he became a cyberbullying victim when his classmates uploaded the footage to a P2P file-sharing network in early-2003, labeled “Jackass_starwars_funny.wmv.” Though many loved the kid, just as many were flat-out mean, causing Raza to leave school and seek psychiatric care, and forcing his parents to initiate a lawsuit against the posters. But the Force is so strong with this one; it didn’t disappear quickly, especially when it came to pop-culture references.
#2: Evolution of Dance (2006)
This is the kinda motivational speaking we can get behind. Judson Laipply is a speaker hired to get students inspired, and to keep that fickle audience engaged he started ending his speeches with a dance montage set to 32 different songs that outlined the evolution of dance. While live audiences dug the performance, no one could’ve guessed that this blurry video would blow up to become one of YouTube’s most viewed, most favorite and most discussed videos ever. “Evolution of Dance” boogied its way onto our list and into our hearts.
Before we share our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- “Friday” by Rebecca Black (2011)
- Grape lady falls! (2006)
- Harlem Shake (2013)
- Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise (2007)
- Charlie Bit Me (2007)
- Keyboard Cat (2007)
#1: “Gangnam Style” by PSY (2012)
This song rides its way to number one on an invisible horse! This K-pop sensation was uploaded to YouTube in July 2012, and since then it has become the site’s most-viewed video by a mile at over-two-billion views and brought K-pop and this side of Korean culture to new worldwide audiences. And, with its catchy tune, gaudy costumes, nonsensical settings and—of course—its ridiculous dance choreography that everyone can and has danced to, it’s not hard to see why. While most viral videos only trend for weeks, PSY’s 15 minutes of fame lasted well into 2013 and beyond!
Do you agree with our list? Which viral video did you watch the most? For more infectious Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.