Apparently, I was too indecisive to settle on a mere 10 videos last year and created a list of my 16 faves. So I guess I’ll give it another go this year and create another overly long list of videos I enjoyed this year. It’s not a best of the year list – just a list of videos I really enjoyed.
I am generally avoiding music videos with this list because I think they are just a separate thing.
1 Wrong Song Comes On (Sisters Get Mad)
Before, we go any further, I am just going to declare this the best video of the year. Everything about this video is perfect. In fifteen seconds, it tells an entire story, ending on a slapstick punchline right out of Looney Tunes. The setup is simple. Three sisters are going to record themselves dancing to a song. Once the music starts, they realize this isn’t the song they’d intended to dance to – it’s 6ix9ine. And Jada, our protagonist, goes off, making her sisters mad, doing the shoot dance out of frame. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect video.
2 If A Rapper Covered a Police Chase
Maybe there’s a recency bias at play here, given I just watched this video this week, but I thought that this play-by-play rap of a police chase was brilliant.
3 Foo Fighters Meets 70’s Bobby Caldwell – Live Looping Mashup by Elise Trouw
The scale of YouTube is such that videos can be really big now without really making a dent in our consciousness. Elise Trouw’s video is an example of that. This video was released in January, and it’s accumulated over 6 million views. I only found out about it after going down a Pomplamoose hole this fall. YouTube has grown so much that a video can have tens of millions of views and still be considered niche.
4 Doja Cat – “Mooo!” (Official Video)
This video was 2018 in a nutshell. Doja Cat released an album earlier this year (her Genius video about Go To Town is also one of my favorite things from the year) and then dropped this as a fun single out of nowhere. It became a meme anthem almost as soon as it was released, and then the song briefly disappeared and was re-released after copyright issues with Kelis’s Milkshake. Then homophobic tweets from Doja’s high school days began to dog the cat. In 2018, we could not have one nice thing.
Note: It’s hard for me to put this in the same category as regular music videos, and since it’s my list, I get to decide what goes where!
5 にゃんごすたー 激しい アンパンマンマーチ nyangostar 2017年 11月12日
This video was actually uploaded in November of 2017, but the segment a minute in when Nyango Star goes off on a drum solo when viral this summer/fall. Nyango Star had become something of a sensation in Japan in 2017 because of the amazing drum skills on display at the children’s events he’d play, but it took this video to bring Nyango Star to the attention of western audiences. BTW, Nyango Star has a YouTube channel but hasn’t uploaded since 2017. Must be because of all the touring.
6 The Truth About Tanacon
Every now and then, you come across a video that seems like it changes everything. This video was one of those videos. This was the first entry in trilogy of videos exploring the implosion of Tanacon, a hastily assembled convention spearheaded by creator Tana Monjeau and Good Times Entertainment. These videos had the feel of a Netflix true crime documentary mixed with the urgency of Serial’s first season, where things were unfolding in real time.
This series kicked off an impressive run of series from Shane, including a five-part profile of Jeffree Starr and an eight-part profile of Jake Paul. The Jake Paul series would be the apotheosis of this format, in which Shane Dawson would incorporate reaction videos in his episodes and alter his editing choices in the middle of the series due to viewer feedback. His series would also raise questions about the responsibility Shane had as a creator to his audience and to journalistic standards. Shane really pushed the boundaries of what we could expect from YouTube with his series.
7 How I Met My Abusive (ex) Boyfriend
On the topic of videos that feel like paradigm shifts, here’s “How I Met My Abusive (ex) Boyfriend” by Illymation. Confessional animation isn’t a new thing on YouTube. Swoozie and Domics have been doing storytime animations for years. While their videos are generally fun and relatable, this video from Illymation seemed to cross an unmarked border in vulnerability for this format. This real-life story about her involvement in an abusive relationship is unlike anything I can remember from animation, on or off YouTube.
8 Showing What I Looked Like When I Was Normal
I’d avoided watching this video for most of the year despite its being recommended to me over and over again, and when I watched it, I thanked the YouTube algorithm for introducing me to this one-of-a-kind personality.
One of YouTube’s most often cited strengths is the authenticity of its creators and the connection between them and their audience. With this video, I was introduced to a creator, Emilia Fart, for whom artifice is her authenticity and for whom trying to be “normal” had led only to pain and heartbreak.
9 The Tart Adage From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
What can I say? I love this dance, and the Royal Opera House doesn’t get enough credit for the amazing work it’s doing to bring ballet to the people.
10 The Fake Girlfriend
Subscribe to Aaron’s Animals. You won’t regret it.
11 Ten Video Game Songs That Sound Oddly Familiar
This one is kind of a cheat. I just don’t remember which of the videos in this Oddly Familiar series got me into this channel. This is a rare series that my wife and I both enjoy, and it’s not the semi-educational nature of the series we come for – it’s the personality of the host, ICC. He’s very knowledgeable and passionate about video game music, and he’s also very particular about his videos. It’s hard to describe without saying “Just watch.” So just watch, and you’ll see what we mean.
12 Roasting The Men of YouTube
I’ll be honest. I’m surprised to see a Superwoman video on my list. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate her – I do. I just am surprised to see one of her videos rise to the top. I really this collab that played off Nicki Minaj’s Barbie Dreamz diss track and took aim at many of the top male YouTubers. She was able to be sharp-tongued but playful and get other creators on board with being teased in the video. I just think of it as one of her finer moments in a year that included a lot of excellent videos.
13 Bongo Cat – Africa
Chalk the re-emergence of Africa up to being one of my favorite memes of the year. There were several videos I could’ve included to illustrate that trend, but this one gets the nod because it also includes the other good thing from the year: Bongo Cat. It’s only a matter of time before we learn that Bongo Cat hates black cats and has some problematic tweets from before he was famous.
14 The Time Zack Morris Broke Into a House To Record a Slumber Party
Zack Morris is trash is one of my favorite series on YouTube. Unlike Jake Paul, Zack Morris really was a psycopath, and this series goes through old episodes of Saved By The Bell, illustrating the ways Zack Morris was… well… trash. The best episodes feature stories where there really is no redeeming element to anything Zack has done during the episode, and this is one of those.
15 What Is SKAM? A Beginner’s Guide
My friend, Elizabeth, began a YouTube channel, this year, and she’s a natural. Of course I’m going to include her in this list! Her guide to the show SKAM has racked up 20 thousand views, and it plays perfectly into her interest in fandoms.
16 New Shoes | bdg
This is what we all come to YouTube for. Or it’s what we all came to YouTube for. That weird, hand-made article of creativity that could not really exist anywhere else.
Honorable Mention: YouTube Rewind 2018
Is it the most disliked video in the history of YouTube? Yep. Did it spawn a Will Smith meme that I’m already tired of seeing? Yep. But you know what? That doesn’t change how I feel about the video. We were ambitious with this YouTube Rewind, wanting to continue capturing the big trends from the year but wanting to create a better more collaborative experience with creators. I know we’ll definitely take the feedback to heart, but I’m still proud of what we did with this video.
Now that I’ve finished the list, one of the things I notice is the relative lack of traditional “viral” videos. That was also true of the list of the Top Trending videos of the year that we put together for work. It’s just a fact of life that YouTube is less about the traditional viral home video gone viral – it’s weird to call that “traditional” – and more about people actually broadcasting themselves. Another thing I notice is the general lack of memes. I actually had several that I loved this year, but I just didn’t feel like they warranted inclusion. Maybe that could be a different list? I could also see doing a list of YouTube channels I enjoyed.