So here it is: 2009. And after our 24-video marathon run through 2008’s memorable moments, hopefully you’re feeling suitably entertained and fired with enthusiasm for the year ahead.
But before we move on into the unknown, let’s take closer look at some of the videos we have featured through the day – be it for the sake of Auld Lang Syne, or just for kicks. Because here at YouTube there is nothing we like more than a bit of backstory to place a video in context.
Weezer's video hit YouTube on May 23. Drawing on 24 of the biggest viral hits the site has seen to date -- from "Dramatic Chipmunk" to "Miss Teen USA 2007 South Carolina" to Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" -- the video salutes some of the most memorable moments and people in YouTube's history, generating more than 15,500,000 clicks in the process and creating (dare we say it) a video that transcended the sum of its estimable parts.
This story of an unbreakable bond between man and beast was one of the most talked about videos of 2008. It briefly chronicles the true story of a lion being reunited with the two men who raised him, years after he'd been released back into the wild and become the leader of his own pride. The actual reunion took place in 1972, but this archive footage was rediscovered and posted to YouTube earlier this year. If one video saw tears stain the leathery cheeks of the battle-hardened YouTube Team over the past 12 months, this was it…
The New York-based collective Improv Everywhere have become firm favorites on YouTube, thanks to their unique public hijinks. Videos like "No Pants Subway Ride" and "Food Court Musical" offer good examples of their large-scale pranks, but the elaborate public performance "Frozen Grand Central Station" was especially popular. The video features more than 200 people simultaneously freezing in place at Grand Central Station in New York City; the reactions of onlookers are as striking as the stunt itself. They claim to ‘cause scenes’ – they don’t lie.
Matt Harding is best known as the goofy guy who danced his way around the world. But Harding's frankly risible grooving has brought inspiration and joy to millions of people -- over 14 million have viewed it on YouTube alone. As one observant user said: "It shows that no matter how different we are on the outside, inside we all just want to dance, laugh, and have fun."
Chances are that at some point in 2008, you or someone you know experienced a "Rick Roll": a bait-and-switch prank that dupes you into watching the video for Rick Astley's 1980s hit "Never Gonna Give You Up." The joke even transcended the Internet with organizers of football games, parades and rallies "Rick Rolling" unsuspecting attendees. But perhaps the ultimate "Rick Roll" occurred on April Fool's Day, when YouTube rigged up every feature to the video. Then he was pronounced Best Act Ever by MTV Europe after – you guessed it – an internet poll. You naughty, naughty people.
When Barack Obama delivered his concession speech after the New Hampshire primary, little did he know he was providing the script -- and the inspiration -- for the most-watched political video of 2008. Will.i.am's "Yes We Can" music video, a celebrity-studded mash-up of Obama's speech, became an instant viral sensation upon its release in early February, and arguably had a massive influence on Election '08 and popular culture. Seen over six million times just on Will.i.am's official YouTube channel, the video has inspired voters, young people, and satirists alike.
Who says you can't become an overnight success on YouTube? Not 15-year-old Lucas Cruikshank, or Fred Figglehorn as he is known to fans, who created a Web series in which he plays a hyperactive six-year-old with anger management issues. Fred's hyper-kinetic videos quickly caught people's attention and helped make him the fastest-rising star in YouTube history. The above video (his second) was Fred's first to break a million views, jump-starting his meteoric rise to his current position as the No. 1 Most Subscribed user on YouTube.
This sweet-faced little lady became a YouTube sensation with her retelling of the original Star Wars movie. Fans of the film can go on for hours discussing the plot, but this three-year-old sums it up in less than two minutes. If not the most detailed description of Star Wars ever, it's arguably the most adorable. Warning: Spoiler Alert.
Not only did Miley release a hit song (and video) this year with 7 Things, which inspired several user-generated parodies (some of them nearly as popular as the original), but the Hannah Montana star also launched her own YouTube channel, MileyMandy with best friend Mandy Jiroux. The girls have used their channel to vlog and generally horse around for their audience of over 292,000 subscribers, and it's also where they post their M&M Cru dance battle videos, which together have notched nearly 15 million views and took the world's "biggest online dance battle" to a whole new level.
As the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, Seth MacFarlane has had a tremendous impact on animated entertainment. This year, MacFarlane opted to launch Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy exclusively on Google and YouTube. Not only was this a groundbreaking event for online video, it also showcased the financial opportunities that online advertising can offer film-makers (not that this comes as much surprise to members of the YouTube Partner Program).
Now we’ve had our say, we’d love to hear what you made of our end-of-year round up. Leave your comments below – it wouldn’t be YouTube without a little back and forth now, would it?
Here’s to a video-rich 2009. Happy New Year!
The YouTube Team