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PSY - Gangnam Style (Youtube)
PSY - Gangnam Style (Youtube)

YEAR IN REVIEW

Did you see it? 5 must-watch viral videos from 2012 Add to ...

Before 2012, few people had heard of Psy and K-pop, Walk Off The Earth, the Bieb’s Carly Rae cover, Lindsey Stirling or Belgium’s Telenet. But that, Brad Wheeler points out, was before billions of YouTube viewers started clicking.

GANGNAM STYLE

The Talent: Psy, a carefree South Korean who rode an invisible horse from in-country stardom to international ubiquity.

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The Numbers: The quirky dance-rap single was released on July 15, and by Dec. 21 its charismatic video version had reached an unprecedented one billion Internet views.

The Appeal: Its upbeat and interactive nature was responsible for endemic reaction videos and high-powered attention. World leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who would likely never admit to fondness for Macarena or Cotton-Eyed Joe, copped to busting Psy-styled moves.

The Effect: Psy said his performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve would mark an ending for his smash hit, but Gangnam Style will live on as the vanguard of a K-pop wave that might include the video’s diminutive, dancing sub-star, Hwang Min-Woo.

SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW

The Talent: Walk Off The Earth, an Ontario-based indie band, faithfully covered the Gotye smash hit from 2011. The quintet’s 5 Peeps 1 Guitar video features the group solemnly playing a single acoustic instrument.

The Numbers: Uploaded on Jan. 5, by April the track had achieved Platinum status in Canada – 80,000 digital downloads – and the video has trended to the tune of more 143-million views thus far.

The Appeal: The song’s hypnotic rhythm and the alluring single-mindedness of the monochromatic band was an artful counterpoint to vignettes of cute kitties and water-skiing squirrels.

The Effect: Walk Off The Earth signed a record deal with Columbia in February; the resulting four-song EP (R.E.V.O.) was released to relative indifference in October.

CALL ME MAYBE

The Talent: The star-crossed lovers Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez (and the perky actress Ashley Tisdale and boy-band actors from Big Time Rush) participated in a larky, mustached salute to Carly Rae Jepsen’s cell-phone single.

The Numbers: Jepsen’s official video would go on to grab 366-million online eyeballs, but it was the Bieber-starring parody video – unleashed Feb. 18, with 56-million views and counting – that came first.

The Appeal: By participating in a seemingly homemade spoof, Bieber, the pimple-free pop star, portrayed himself as a regular, fun-loving, music-happy teenager. “He’s just like us,” said millions of fans much less fortunate than him.

The Effect: Though the song was already a success, Bieber’s seal of approval didn’t hurt Jepsen, the third-place Canadian Idol finalist from Mission, B.C., whose number is now unlisted but who receives calls from Grammy and Juno people.

DUBSTEP VIOLIN: CRYSTALLIZE

The Talent: Lindsey Stirling is the violin-playing star of her wildly popular YouTube channel, Lindseystomp. This after the panellists of America’s Got Talent in 2010 told the eclectically minded performer that her skills weren’t marketable as a solo artist.

The Numbers: More than 41-million views testify to the charisma of a fiddling dancer in an ice-castle, even though the serene clip was uploaded at the time of year (February) when parts of the world were looking for less frigid diversions.

The Appeal: The music and scenery are breathtaking, with splashes of the reverberant and in-vogue dub-step genre adding to the appeal of the five-minute escape. The likable Stirling appears at the end, asking for feedback on her adventures in electronic music.

The Effect: Psy is not a one-off phenomenon. Stirling shows that, with a unique skill set, a performer can use YouTube to bypass the traditional music-business model. Ice, ice, baby, indeed.

A DRAMATIC SURPRISE ON A QUIET SQUARE

The Talent: The actors in this spontaneously activated action-adventure scene are relative unknown, hired by the award-winning Duval Guillaume Modem agency to shoot an advertisement for the Telenet television network in Belgium.

The Numbers: According to Unruly Media’s Viral Video Chart, the 1:46-long clip, posted on April 11, is the second-most shared ad of all time, second only to Volkswagen’s 2011 Super Bowl spot The Force. So far, it has racked up more than 41-million hits.

The Appeal:Candid Camera goes Mission Impossible-wild. A mysterious button placed in a middle of a sleepy Belgian square sets of a fantastic flurry of events involving ineffective ambulance attendants, hyper-dramatic music, a gunfight and gobsmacked passersby.

The Effect: A television network goes the if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them route. And, compared to this, most flash-mob videos – especially food-court chorales – are now passé.

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