5 “The Harlem Shake v1 (TSCS Original)”
What happens when five Queensland, Australia, teenagers are forced inside due to summer storms? If it’s Corey Walsh, Jimmy Dale, Matt Stanyon, George Warrener and Oscar Mitchell, a YouTube viral video happens. The thirty-second “Harlem Shake” video, uploaded February 2, 2012, amassed thousands of views in a matter of hours, for reasons no one can fathom, and spawned a meme. Suddenly, people the world over were doing the Harlem shake, and the lads’ video had picked up more than 20 million views. But where did the Harlem shake truly originate? Reasonable minds could differ, and do—in the comments section to the video, of course.
In 2007, the Cebu Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines introduced dancing among the inmates in an attempt to curb problems with gang violence. Able-bodied prisoners are required to participate, typically for around five hours a day, or lose privileges. Prison supervisor Byron Garcia began uploading videos of the prisoners practicing their routines to YouTube, and their practice for a performance of “Thriller” went viral. The performance was intended as a tribute to Michael Jackson, who had died that year. The final tribute performance wasn’t performed until two years later, but the prisoners were already a viral sensation. As of 2013, the original YouTube video had been viewed more than 50 million times.
3 “JK Wedding Entrance Dance”
Jill and Kevin wanted to do something different for their wedding entrance, so the entire party danced into the chapel, accompanied by Chris Brown’s song “Forever.” The video of the entrance dance, uploaded to YouTube in 2009, went viral. After domestic violence allegations with Brown became public, Jill and Kevin decided to capitalize on the popularity of their wedding video in a positive way, so they set up a website to tell their story and take donations for the Sheila Wellstone Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. As of 2010, the couple had raised more than $30,000 for the charity.
2 “Pumped Up Kicks Dubstep”
Since 2003, Marquese Scott has been uploading original videos of himself dancing to various songs in a plethora of public locations. He’d appeared with his dance crew on shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” but success as a dancer eluded him individually—until 2012, when he became an overnight sensation. Scott uploaded a video of himself dancing to a dubstep remix of Foster the People’s hit single “Pumped Up Kicks,” and went to bed. It was the 53rd video he’d uploaded in eight years. Within four months it had 30 million views. In less than two years, the video raked in over 90 million views.
1 “Evolution of Dance”
One of YouTube’s early adopters, Judson Laipply is also the star of what is arguably the site’s first viral hit. Inspirational comedian Laipply uploaded “Evolution of Dance,” his own six-minute montage of the progression of dance trends, and in just a few months it had registered more than 50 million views. After seven years, the video garnered more than 200 million views. The popularity of the video scored Laipply appearances on numerous talk shows, including “Oprah” and the “Today Show.”