Happy 10 years, YouTube.
The video-sharing service has come a long way from its 2005 debut — a single 19-second clip of YT’s co-founder commenting on elephants having “really, really, really long, um, trunks.”
But hey, 17.3 million page views says he was on to something.
Over the past decade, YouTube has survived — and thrived — amid dozens of competitors, innumerable copyright threats and a comments section that comprises the bowels of humanity (and that’s according to science).
No thanks for discovering Justin Bieber, either.
But consider: YouTube’s won a TIME Magazine “Person of the Year’ award.
And right now, it regularly wracks up around four billion views. Per day.
So to honor the service, we present YouTube at its best (and worst): a cornucopia of oddball celebrities, snarky commentary and — on more occasions than you’d expect — real human emotion and startling originality.
MOST SUBSCRIBED CHANNEL: PewDiePie
The Swedish video game commentator (and occasional South Park guest star) has racked up 34 million subscribers in his “Bro Army” — all for an inexplicable MST3K take on video games.
BEST ORIGINAL SERIES: CinemaSins
Rapid-fire “Everything wrong with...” takedowns of Hollywood’s most illogical blockbusters. Like, say, Prometheus (“Scientist is depressed at the discovery of alien life”).
BEST VIDEO FLASHMOB: Improv Everywhere
This prolific New York group has 1) “frozen” dozens of people in Grand Central, 2) started a musical at a food court and 3) created a Back to the Future time paradox.
MOST INFLUENTIAL DIGITAL SHORT: Lazy Sunday
Andy Samberg & Co.’s cupcake short was not created for, but certainly nurtured by, a ravenous YouTube audience: one prognosticator claims it made YouTube’s $1.5 billion sale to Google possible. It also made NBC smarter: you can now only find the video on Hulu and NBC.com.
THE FIRST INSTA-MUSIC CELEB: Tay Zonday
Without much range or talent, the Minnesota grad student had no business being a singer. But his anti-racist ode “Chocolate Rain,” coupled with the Zonday’s oddly mannered style and zero-budget production values, turned him into a mainstream star for, well, weeks.
MUST-SEE LIVE MOMENT: Felix Baumgartner’s 128K Jump
A supersonic freefall from near-space, shown live and from many different angles. Scary ... especially if it had all gone wrong.
BEST MUSIC VIDEO: “Here It Goes Again”
A solid enough alt-pop band in the early aughts, OK Go fully embraced their visual side soon after, incorporating a cheeky flair for visual pranks and Rube Goldberg devices into their (complicatedly) fun videos. And it all began with synchronized treadmills.
THIS IS WHY CAT VIDEOS ARE BIG: “Keyboard Cat”
Charlie Schmidt’s manipulated cat banging on the keyboard was actually filmed in 1984. Uploaded to YouTube 23 years later, it’s since spawned 4,000 variations, including odes from Weezer and Stephen Colbert.
AND ONE FOR INSPIRATION: “Battle at Kruger”
An amateur wildlife video on the African savannah that caught an amazingly tense three-way battle between a herd of buffalo, some lions and a crocodile. Spoiler alert: the good guys win.