Monday 26 February 2018

The most influential YouTube videos of the last ten years

A 'Singing Priest' filmed in Meath provided the biggest Irish smash hit of 2014.
A 'Singing Priest' filmed in Meath provided the biggest Irish smash hit of 2014.
Antoine Dodson's angry TV interview was turned into a chart-topping iTunes song (AP)
LonelyGirl15, who turned out to be a character in a scripted show.
Clare Cullen

Clare Cullen

To celebrate YouTube's tenth 'birthday', we're counting down the biggest cultural classics to come from the video platform.

YouTube has become not just a video platform but a cultural phenomenon, creating the 'going viral' idiom.

Here are some of the biggest and most memorable classics over the last ten years.


YouTube was registered on Valentine's Day 2005 but the first video wasn't uploaded until April 23rd. Simply titled 'Me at the Zoo', it has over 18m views.

By the end of 2005, there was over 8m videos being watched every day on the platform and YouTube cemented its place as the foremost trend-setting platform.


2006 gave us the iconic 'LonelyGirl15', whose short straight-to-the-camera style video-blogs gained huge popularity. The revelation that the seemingly honest clips were, in fact, faked caused outrage among fans who thought they were peeking into someone's life.

The video-blog entitled 'My First Kiss' was viewed over 18m times.

Interestingly, the company behind the "show" said they thought they had created a new art form. They turned out to be correct, with what is now known as "vlogging" taking over the platform - and eventually leading to the Irish YouTube stars the Saccone-Jolys.

Of course, 2006 also gave us the iconic 'Evolution of Dance' video, currently on 289m views.



2007 was all about keyboard cat (38m).

He became one of the first memes - the phrase "play him out, keyboard cat" became well-known, and his clip would be added to the end of awkward or "fail" clips.

2007 did also give us 'Chocolate Rain' by Tay Zonday. His dulcet tones earned him 100m views, and he featured in a South Park episode which parodied the phenomenon of 'going viral'.



Charlie The Unicorn was one of the biggest hits of 2008. The trippy cartoon, featuring three unicorns heading to 'Candy Mountain', racked up over 23m views and became a cult classic.



David After Dentist (128m) was the biggest hit of 2009.

It featured young David following a dentist appointment in which the child is still feeling the effects of the anaesthesia.

David after the dentist spawned many parody and homage videos online.

'JK wedding entrance dance' also went viral in 2009, going as far as to inspire a scene from the wedding of Jim and Pam on the American Office.



2009 saw the invention of 'Auto-Tune The News' YouTube channel, but 2010 saw it's first major hit with 'Bed Intruder Song'.

The music video was remixed from a news report in which the brother of an attempted rape victim was interviewed by a news reporter and uttered the famous line "Hide your kids, hide your wife". It featured on the Billboard Top 100 after selling thousands of downloads on iTunes.

Antoine Dodson became famous worldwide for the clip. He now has a daughter and lives in Alabama with his wife following the 'renouncing' of his 'homosexuality' and 'foolish lifestyle'.


'Friday' by Rebecca Black was the springboard for the career of producer Patrice Wilson, who has since brought us such viral clangers as 'Chinese Food' by Alison Gold (16m) and 'Happy - The Saturday Song'(1m).

This video attracted a lot of negative feedback online, beginning the conversation about online bullying. Black, who struggled with the negativity, took the video down from YouTube for a period before re-uploading it. It had over 90million views before being taken down and the second version now has 75m.

YouTube reported that Rebecca Black's 'Friday' video was the first viral video to receive bumps in popularity - every Friday.

They wrote on their blog that most viral hits "cause a huge, abrupt spike in interest from people searching around the world, only to just as quickly disappear". In stark contrast, they said, "Rebecca Black" searches see a jump every Friday".

Rapper behind Rebecca Black's 'Friday' has new viral hit about Chinese food

The 'Ultimate Dog Tease' also went viral this year, featuring a hilarious voice over of a hungry dog.

The original clip was watched over 166m times while a reupload of the clip by ABC News gained 10m hits.

2011 also saw the 'Shit Girls Say' meme go global, spawning parodies from across the globe.



In 2012, PSY released 'Gangnam Style' on YouTube, becoming an instant sensation online.

The video overtook 'Charlie Bit My Finger' as the most-viewed video on YouTube and became the first video to hit 1BN views.

In 2014, YouTube were forced to update their view system to accommodate the video, which now has over 2BN views.

YouTube released a statement in which they said:

"We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY".

"Gangnam Style has been viewed so many times we have to upgrade (our systems)".

Gangnam Style viewed too many times for YouTube to handle

2012 also saw the social campaign 'Kony 2012 by organisation Invisible Children rack up over 100m views and start a global social media campaign.

The video inspired people to get out on the streets with posters and placards, and the aim was to 'make Kony famous' for his crimes. The video took on the style of presenter Jason Russell explaining to his young child who Kony was and why the campaign was important.

Less than fifteen days after Kony 2012 went viral, Jason Russell had a 'naked meltdown' which impacted negatively on the campaign. TMZ accumulated over 800,000 views for this exclusive clip.

In Ireland, 2012 saw the first video upload by popular Irish cartoonist 'Sminky Animation', with his most popular video being uploaded in June of that year.


Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus was released in 2013 and heralded a new era for the former Disney popstar. Miley spoke of wanting to shed her sqeaky clean 'Hannah Montana' image and did so with this raunchy video, which spurred a meme around the world and gave us this naked man swinging on a ball, this college getting a statue removed and 'Wrecking Bauble' Christmas decorations.


Another huge trend of 2013 was the 'Harlem Shake', spreading fast around the world with thousands of versions uploaded to the site. The video that started the fad has over 53m views.


2014 saw several videos compete for the crown, with 'Look Up', 'First Kiss' and 'Spider Dog' providing massive viral smashes.

However, Ireland's biggest hit of the year came from the 'Singing Priest', racking up over 40m views and earning the star cleric a record deal.

Hallelujah! Father Ray Kelly announces first two professional concerts this November


'It's changed my life' - Singing Meath priest at the centre of global record company battle for upcoming album 

Let us know in the comments - did we miss any videos you think were hugely influential?


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