20. Isaac’s Live Lip-Dub Proposal (May 2012)
This great video combines three YouTube staples: the creative marriage proposal, the lip-dub, and the flash-mob. Personally, I would not upload my marriage proposal – this is an intimate and beautiful moment that I would rather keep private. But some people feel differently and are happy to share their joy with the world, and there are many great proposal videos on YouTube that can move you to tears. The flash-mob, where an entire street suddenly breaks into dance as if life was a musical, is truly one of the greatest things YouTube brought to the world. Before YouTube, it wouldn’t have been worthwhile going through all the trouble for something that only the random passersby could enjoy, but now the whole world can relive it and enjoy it. There are better flash-mob videos and better lip-dub videos, but the combination makes what is for me the greatest marriage proposal video on YouTube. From the clever camera setup to the delightful “dancing juice” pun, a perfect video. Isaac, though, has a lot to answer for to his fellow men. He has set the bar too high for the rest of us.
19. Samwell – “What What (In the Butt)” (February 2007)
YouTube came to be at an ugly time in the history of gay-straight relationship in America. In a reactionary wave against the increasing tolerance of the 1990s, Conservatives were busy passing constitutional amendments aimed at ensuring that gays would not get equal rights, especially the right to marry each other. Over-the-top, overtly homosexual videos like ‘What What (In the Butt)’ would never make it to mainstream media, as the uproar from the anti-gay crowd would have been too much. But its success on YouTube in early 2007 showed that the teens and tweens who were running things on the Internet already had a different mentality, and they were not bothered at all by homosexuality. Back in early 2007 YouTube did not yet have its own means to make vids go viral, so when this fabulously campy vid came along it had to rely on the endorsement of some famous gay celebrities to get attention. But once it became viral and loved by the YouTube community you could see that things were about to change.
YouTube presented, for me, one the clearest signs that things were changing, a glimpse into a better future. From the start, it was gay-friendly. Actually, calling it “gay-friendly” would be a disservice to the YouTube community – it was already beyond that stage. Sexual orientation was simply never an issue. There are no “gay stars” on YouTube. There are many YouTube stars who are openly gay, but none of them makes that their main theme – it’s just part of who they are. This is how it was on YouTube from the start, and it produced many viral videos that played an important part in the turnaround that happened in this decade when the anti-gay crowd was beaten back. This vid showed the way, and is still fabulously fabulous.
18. Pumped Up Kicks | Dubstep (September 2011)
YouTube, as I mentioned, has affected a change of taste in music, including a switch towards electronic dance music. And the EDM style that was at the center of this revolution (along with electro-house) was dubstep. The style, which is typified by its insane bass drops, has existed in UK clubs since the early years of the previous decade, but crossed over into the mainstream only in 2010 with the rise of Skrillex. YouTube helped a lot, first by giving Skrillex and other dubstep musicians much attention, secondly by frequently using dubstep as video backgrounds, and thirdly with this guy. Marquese Scott showed that dubstep can even be danced, in a mesmerizing style that took breakdancing to another level. This was his breakthrough video, and he kept on amazing us with more. One of a kind.
17. Catch the Ice Dude (September 2012)
‘Fail’ videos have been one of the first things to be popular on YouTube, and to this day everyone loves a good fail video you can laugh at. There are numerous great fail videos, and it’s hard to pick the most epic one. I think the thing that most of all determines the level of epicness is the contrast between the amount of swagger the klutz shows just before the fail and the intensity of his/hers/its humiliating fall. For years, afro-ninja would have been my pick for the most epic fail, but when this guy came along he took the cake. Syskilled it.
16. The Sneezing Baby Panda (November 2006)
Cute animal videos are always popular, and they don’t come any cuter than this. One of the first viral vids to get to a hundred million views on YouTube, it currently has close to a quarter billion. No explanation required.