These are the most popular videos on YouTube, which makes them some of the most popular videos in the world. Predictably, Korean weird-rap phenonemon Psy tops the list, and we see similarly predictable entries in a viral Obama/Romney rap spoof, a Bieber cover of a Carly Rae Jepsen song, and a perfectly zeitgeisty dubstep video.
But the rest of the list reveals a YouTube in flux, showing glimmers of character ultimately lacking an identity. Consider this:
- The most popular music video is not American, and therefore didn't show up on Vevo, the YouTube partner where most American music videos are hosted (and harvest ad revenue). The next two are covers; their counterparts live on Vevo. The "Call Me Maybe" cover on this list has about 55m views. The real "Call Me Maybe" video has over 350 million.
- Many of these videos are professionally produced, but not by the new YouTube partners. YouTube has spent countless millions bringing in TV stations, magazines and well-known individuals to produce pro-level content. Not a single video born of those partnerships is on this list.
- Only one of these is from a vlogger, and not really. #7 starts as a monologue then becomes a music video. Not a great showing for one of YouTube's only native video types.
- Some of these feel... not so great? Kony in particular. In light of questions about the video's accuracy and the subsequent bizarre public breakdown on the part of its creator, it's hard to feel proud that we clicked this to the top of YouTube's charts. #6 is an ad.
- The most durable video on this list was probably the most expensive to make. I know I'll enjoy watching Felix Baumgartner plumet from space five years from now. Not so sure about the rest.
That's our YouTube, now! Neither pro nor amateur, reshaped by strange licensing, revenue and advertising needs, and mainly just weird as hell.