Top 10 viral videos of the year

19 Dec 2014

Photo by Syda Production/Shutterstock

This year on video-sharing site YouTube, we have been watching a gruff Russian Dr Dolittle, a daring fire rescue, sure-footed goats, clingy pandas, a volcano eruption and, apparently, some charming kid.

About 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the best of them are shared across the web at a remarkable pace. For example, more than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute.

With so much great video content trending online, we round up some of the most-viewed and most-shared among them on a weekly basis, and some of these selections have reached millions of views throughout the year (though nowhere near as many as Gangnam Style).

Here, we count down our favourites from the most-viewed videos of the year, excluding those already featured in YouTube’s Rewind 2014 – in case you’re thinking we plum forgot about Spider Dog and its views approaching 120m.

10. Russian marches ducks into barn

You’ll need to click away a number of pesky pop-ups to enjoy this video fully, but it’s worth it to see this Russian fella command a waddling of ducks to attention and order them to march into a barn at once, like a web-footed army. Dr Dolittle would no doubt be impressed with his view count nearing 5m views!

Uploaded: 2 August 2014

9. Fire near AIG campus

Early this year, a construction worker on the site of what was to be a US$50m luxury apartment complex in Houston, Texas, found himself trapped on a fourth-floor balcony while an inferno raged through the building. Close to 8m people have viewed this clip of his dramatic rescue by the Houston Fire Department, which is so tense, shocking and dramatic, it’s hard to believe it’s real.

Uploaded: 25 March 2014

8. More walking and talking dead

Bad Lip Reading – a favourite of the viral videos countdown – made a number of appearances in this year’s series, but it’s this release ahead of the fifth season of The Walking Dead that makes it onto our top 10 with views approaching 8.5m. Putting more wacky words into the mouths of zombies and surprising us with a hip-hop turn from young Carl Grimes, this video was made using footage from season 4 throughout, so don’t watch if you’re afraid of spoilers (or zombies).

Uploaded: 25 September 2014

7. Chèvres en équilibre

We all know YouTube is replete with cat videos and dog clips, but 2014 marked a surge of videos of another film-friendly animal: goats. In just a few days, more than 6m users viewed this clip of goats balancing on a flexible steel ribbon, which is oddly hypnotic, and a further 3.5m have viewed since.

Uploaded: 17 February 2014

6. Clingy pandas don’t want to take their medicine

Like children, it can be tricky to get pandas to take their medicine. Not because they’re being bold or misbehaving, mind, but because all they want to do is play and cuddle – which would be hard to refuse, but somehow this zookeeper manages to get the job done, with more than 9.8m views for his trouble.

Uploaded: 17 October 2014

5. 3-second cooking: detonation velocity fried shrimp

One of the most recent uploads on this list streaks into the top 5 thanks to a phenomenal rate of views rocketing to more than 11.2m in less than a month. Apt, too, as speed is the theme of this quickfire cooking lesson – emphasis on the words ‘quick’ and ‘fire’. This meal-making method brought to you by Japanese mobile telco NTT DoCoMo is intended to promote the network’s fast LTE data speeds by demonstrating how shrimp can be cooked in the blink of an eye. Remember: it’s flour, egg, breadcrumbs, scorch, then the airbag.

Uploaded: 28 November 2014

4. Run Walter, RUN!!

In the same week we had Spider Dog, we had Walter who, with the help of a camera strapped to his back, gave us a first-hand perspective on the oft-envied dog’s life, if only for half a minute. This short clip of the canine lifestyle from Walter’s perspective has racked up more than 15m views, as the golden labrador wastes absolutely no time in doing exactly what he wants to do. Straight for the water, boy, GO!

Uploaded: 1 September 2014

3. Volcano eruption in Papua New Guinea

Behold the awesome power of nature with this amazing footage by Phil McNamara, capturing the moment when Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea erupted in August this year. From McNamara’s vantage point about 4km away from the volcano, we even get to see the shockwave that bursts from the ground as the magma is pushed upward to the Earth’s surface. Thankfully, all 15.5m views of this clip didn’t require ear plugs for the sonic boom that follows. 

Uploaded: 5 September 2014

2. If Google was a guy

Thrice this year, College Humor imagined what it would be like if the world’s most popular search engine was actually a man in a dingy office. Collectively, these videos amassed about 42m views, but it’s the original that leads the pack, with more than 17.3m views. Take note: some of these Google searches are not safe for work.

Uploaded: 21 January 2014

1. Apparently Kid

Apparently, five-year-old Noah Ritter had never been on live television before this summer and, apparently, he doesn’t even watch the news sometimes. However, he apparently enjoyed himself at the Wayne County Fair in Michigan and this interview made the wee lad an overnight internet sensation, with the video reaching more than 18m views … apparently.

Uploaded: 4 August 2014

Main image by Syda Productions via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.