As 2013 draws to a close, we’re looking back at 2013′s biggest, best, and most memorable YouTube videos with some help from the data crunchers over at Tubular Labs. As we delve into the biggest videos of the year, we also couldn’t help but notice some bigger trends:
1) Community Reactions Are Key
This year we saw the importance of the fan and community reaction videos in the domino effect to viral success. From the Harlem Shake phenomenon to music covers and parodies, the success of content isn’t just in the hands of the original creator, but the fans whose reactions and creations around it lead to greater pickup.
2) Pranks Pull Views
This was the year of the prank, from major channels like Vitaly and Roman Atwood getting millions of views with their pranks to Jackass‘ Steve-O launching his own stunt/prank channel. The prank universe, however, brought up many “is it fake?” questions. From Atwood’s anniversary prank to the “Burning My Hair Off” fail to Kimmel’s “Twerking Girl Catches Fire” video, it seems almost every major stunt, prank, or joke video was accompanied by a debate about authenticity.
3) Focus on kids and families
Though YouTube often gets attention for controversial or edgy videos, many of our picks were geared toward younger fans and families, or even featured young people in a central role. (Examples: Kid President, “The Fox,” Lindsey Stirling/Pentatonix, “Convos With My 2 Year Old”)
4) The explosion of dance music
The No. 1 video of the year was Psy’s dance-y “Gentleman,” Ylvis’ parody of EDM songs was the big viral hit, “The Harlem Shake” is built around an electronic dance track, PLUS our pick for Best Effects features a dubstep soundtrack.
5) Indie video games
The No. 1 video game topic of 2013 is an independently produced game, Minecraft. As well, the No. 1 video game channel — PewDiePie — spends much of his time doing Let’s Play videos for indie releases. The few mega-corporations churning out the big-budget video game franchises no longer dominate the conversation.
6) The Entertainment Capital Is Global
International videos dominated views and conversation. We saw this clearly with Ylvis from Norway, PewDiePie from Sweden, Psy from Korea, and even popular celeb interviews like Chris Stark with Mila Kunis.
WARNING: You may be reminded of catchy songs and silly memes that will be stuck in your head clear until 2014. It’s just a chance you’ll have to take. Now on to the list!
NEXT: The viral videos of 2013