Viral Video Trends from Back in the Day

by Daniel Kosir May 8th, 2014 

Admittedly, this title is a bit of a misnomer. Since Internet video is a relatively recent phenomenon, "back in the day" isn't all that long ago.

YouTube – the world's most popular video site and second most popular search engine, in case you've been living under a rock – was founded in 2005, with its first video, called Me at the zoo, being uploaded the same year (that's right: elephant videos existed before cat videos). Since its acquisition by Google in 2006, YouTube has grown astronomically, and other video sharing sites – Vimeo, Dailymotion, Vevo, Veoh, etc ­- have also risen in prominence.

Despite its relatively short existence, internet video has graced us with some truly magnificent (and awful) trends. But because of their ephemerality, and the sheer nature of video content circulating across the web, we often forget about those special trends that were such an integral part of our lives (or at the very least provided us hours of mindless entertainment).

Fortunately, in this installation of our Throwback Thursdays column, we're going to refresh your memory. Without further ado, here are some of the best/worst/ridiculously popular video trends from back in the day (relatively speaking).

The Viral Videos Blast From The Past

Gangnam Style

Who could forget this? Psy's unprecedentedly popular song/dance/cultural phenomenon took the internet by storm, with the music video garnering almost 2 BILLION views on YouTube, and sparking a number of parodies and related user-generated videos – like SEP Style

Rebecca Black ('Friday')

Full disclosure: I sometimes jam to this song while working away on Fridays. There, I said it. What is interesting about 'Friday' is not only that the video itself went viral, but also that it paved the way for a string of absolutely atrocious videos introduced by the same producer, which are equally as bad (see here and here). Furthermore, it sparked a number a number of remixes, reactions, parodies, etc. 'Friday' wasn't just a terrible song/video – it was truly a viral phenomenon.

Choreographed Wedding Proposals

A trend that took internet video by storm, choreographed wedding proposals became more prominent with the introduction of Isaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal (this isn't the first of its type, but it definitely popularized the trend).

Coning

Hailed as the "new planking" (planking wasn't included as it was primarily a photographic trend, but it definitely stirred up some controversy), coning involved ordering an ice cream cone in a drive through than grabbing it by the ice cream, rather than the cone itself. The purpose of this escapes me, especially because ice cream is delicious, but nonetheless this trend became very popular on YouTube.

AutoTune the News

Take an entertaining news interview, remix it with auto-tune, and you get comedic gold. This was the idea of schmoyoho, the YouTube user who created the insanely popular Bed Intruder Song.

Things that are Epic

A broad category perhaps, but Epic is a trend in and of itself. Take for example the ever-popular Epic Fail compilations, Epic Rap Battles of History, or Epic Meal Time.

'What Does the Fox Say'

More or less the 'Gangnam Style' of 2013. And seriously weird.

Harlem Shake

The Harlem Shake involved a masked individual dancing to a song called 'Harlem Shake' in a seemingly banal environment, only to cut to a crazy dance party once the beat dropped.It started with this video, and became increasingly elaborate. Soon, offices, schools, universities – virtually everyone – did their own version.

Cat Videos

Not a trend. A staple of internet video that will never die.

Yes, I know I missed many, many trends. This list is subjective, and if I had the time, I could go on forever about the awesome and the awful when it comes to viral videos. What are your favourites? Most hated? Most obnoxious? Sound off in the comments!

Daniel Kosir

Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.

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