The 10 best viral videos of 2009

Trying to condense the year’s Web videos into a mere top 10 has been a challenge, not to mention a fabulous exercise the concept of distraction. But without further ado, here are the 10 best non-animal viral videos of 2009. (Yes, that does mean there will be an animal-only countdown tomorrow. Suspense!)

Fan-Made Features
Most viral hits are short and sweet, which might explain why these brilliant — but extremely long — entries into the pop canon didn’t become as popular as they deserved to be: Both the the fan-made “Dr. Horrible” prequel and the student-created Harry Potter musical should have been huge hits. Instead, neither quite took off, except here at PopWatch Dork Headquarters, where they are treated with the respect they deserve.

“Autotune the News” took our insatiable desire to ridicule cable news and made it into catchy jams, covering everything from tobacco legislation to Michael Jackson. Silly, but not stupid, the series was enough to entice Auto-Tune impresario T-Pain into an a guest appearance:

Proving that the ubiquitous vocal editing software’s power could be harnessed for good, John Boswell‘s Symphony of Science made Richard Feynman and Bill Nye pop singers. The already-lyrical musings of Carl Sagan make for the dreamiest, most intellectually stimulating jams, like “A Glorious Dawn,” and “We Are All Connected.”

The trailer for Where the Wild Things Are reduced even the strongest among us to tears. The dead-on spoof of it, for the not-quite-as-classic Everybody Poops also had us crying. From laughing so hard. Suck it, hipster sentimentalism!

College Humor has long been a reliable source of hilarious, well-produced viral hits. (And bare breasts. We all have our gifts, I guess.) “Web Site Story” nailed its premise perfectly, combining impressive orchestration with surprisingly original jokes about the Internet.

Mad Men‘s ultraspecific sensibilities make it ripe for parody and imitation. “Mad Men in 60 Seconds” zinged, “We all have secrets, Don; let’s smoke indoors,” “Milk Men” had a baby trying to smoke, but it was Sesame Street‘s oddly evocative emotions-based bit that had the best line of all: “Good work, sycophants!”

And the top three…
3. Pumpkin Dance
Is there enough WTF in the world to go along with this amazingly terrible yet hypnotic dance? Viral videos have done more for local news than anything since high school sports.

2. Kittens Inspired by Kittens
It was technically uploaded in 2008, but “Kittens” didn’t start making the rounds until early this year. I can’t be the only person who squealed “I want beef jerky!” when asked what she feels like for dinner, right? It’s like a nerd shibboleth.

1. David After Dentist
“David After Dentist” is the greatest stoner comedy I’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s a little obvious for this list, but nothing can top the plaintive, glassy-eyed “Is this gonna be foreeeverrrr?

Comments (98 total) Add your comment
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  • BCav

    Don’t forget Ricky Gervais with Elmo. Not sure how big of a hit it was but it definitely was hilarious!

    • SO2009

      What?? Scarlet Takes a Tumble is not even mentioned??

  • CVisca

    Best video at #1 – me and my friends watched that countless times when it came out. Yes, we have no lives.

    • amj

      Yes, I enjoyed David After the Dentist but it loses its charm once you realize that David has multiple videos and even t-shirts for sale. Then you realize it is just someone yet again trying to commercialize on their child.

  • Flyer

    You missed including the video where British actor Brian Cox successfully teaches Hamlet’s “To be or not to be…” soliloquy to a 3-year-old. Priceless!

    • wg


  • Kelly

    The Harry Potter musical is sheer blazing genius. Maybe the musical-theater-loving-Harry-Potter fanatic is too narrow of a demographic to constitute a pop phenomenon?

    • B

      AGREED. It is fantastic. It needs more fans.

    • Dee

      I feel like it is pretty huge. Act 1, Part 1 has been viewed 958, 281 times.

      • Shaddi

        And that’s just since they RE-uploaded it in early July. They had to take it down earlier this year because WB was breathing down their necks to make some edits, and before that it had an obscene amount of YouTube credentials…it took at least one of the “top viewed” milestones, IIRC.

    • Grace

      Also agreed. A Very Potter Musical is quite possibly the best thing on the internet.

      • Meg

        I’ve watched their entire musical several times and me and all of my friends can quote along to it… lol. We love it.

      • Liz B.

        They are even better LIVE!

      • Jenna

        Team Starkid, who made A Very Potter Musical, is a brilliant group of artists. And genuinely nice people too. Everyone should check out their other show, Me and My Dick. I saw it live and it was totally awesome!

      • Emily

        Don’t forget Little White Lie. Though for that one, you have to watch a few episodes to get into it. Plus, Darren Chriss (Harry) and Lauren Lopez (Malfoy) play a couple, which is perfectly fine, but is a bit odd the first time they are seen together.

    • Celia

      I know I’ve watched it sooo many times. It’s slowly starting to get the recognition it deserves. It’s so creative. They made another one called “Me and My Dick” which is also pretty great.

    • Max

      Looking back…so much for “didn’t become as popular as they deserved to be”. Starkid (the people who made it) has over 100 million views. And the first part of A Very Potter Musical has over 8 million.

  • MikeB

    Have you not seen the Snuggie parody?

    • Madd

      Yeah, I love The WTF Blanket!

  • strickens_girl

    Don’t know if this qualifies or not but the Zachary Quinto audio book edit so that it sounds like he’s reading Kirk/Spock smut is priceless! “Kirk is very confused.” LOL!

    • Grace

      Link please??

      • strickens_girl

        Hope that works.

  • B

    What about the J&K Wedding Video! It got spoofed on The Office it was so good!!!!

    • Mary Q. Contrary

      You have obviously missed the entire point it was spoofed on The Office.

  • Josh

    Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody… but right on with the Harry Potter Musical… I constantly have songs from that stuck in my head.

    • Stacie


    • Celia

      “Granger Danger”…that always gets stuck in my head for weeks.

  • Madd

    Is it weird that I have a crush on that guy who plays Harry in that Harry Potter Musical?

    • Grace

      Not weird at all. Darren Criss is amazing! What’s weird is my having a crush on Joe Walker, who plays Voldemort in AVPM.

      • Jess

        no way, joe walker is completely amazing too. there’s no shame in having a crush on him! i know i dont :)

    • LeBlanc

      Totally not….I will be the first to admit to having a crush on Darren Criss and Joey Richter. I started watching EASTWICK speciafically for him (Darren), and I became attracted to this guy at my college, before realizing it was because he looked like Joey.

    • Jenna

      Totally justified actually. Darren Criss is awesome!

    • jana

      It’d be weird if you didn’t.
      Darren is almost too attractive for his good and he’s so talented and down-to-earth!

    • Celia

      No, he’s pretty freakin’ HOT!

  • mel

    JUGGALOS infomercial. 14 minutes of ridiculous.

  • JMB

    Jones Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage. And Jones Cheap Ass Pre Paid Legal and Day Care. Google that stuff. Santa ain’t comin for NONE o yall.

    • Mel

      Seconded! I <3 TOBY JONES!!!

    • Biz

      What about Jones Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage?

      “Hell, this is a dinosaur!”

  • FabK

    I loved the two cats fighting complete with subtitles.

  • Shelby

    A Very Potter Musical was the greatest video I’ve seen all year!!

  • JRB

    Harry Potter Musical: addiction-forming. Couple of high school journalists tracked down the stars for video interviews. Very charming:


  • Mary

    A Very Potter Musical is TOTALLY AWESOME :D I love it!!! <3
    Joey Richter (Ron) is fantastic :) and Jim Povolo and Darren Criss and Lauren Lopez and Bonnie :) As someone who has loved Harry Potter for over half of my life, I absolutely freaking love it. but I showed it to my friend who hasn't even seen all the movies let alone read the books and she loved it as well. it's written tastefully, the songs are fantastical, and it's defnitely something I've watched over and over again. StarKidPotter is one of the best things out there <3 <3 <3

    • Mary

      *and EVERYONE else in the entire musical. everyone did a freaking amazing job. kudos,serious kudos <3

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