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The 26 Biggest YouTube Trends

YouTube launched in beta in May 2005, kicking off with an 18-second clip about elephants at the zoo. That was the start of a wave of popular animal videos on the site, along with other crazy YouTube trends.

Now, a social networking community of more than one billion people around the world watch hundreds of millions of hours of video every day on YouTube. This month, the video sharing site is celebrating its 10th birthday with a look at the most popular YouTube trends of the past decade. They created 26 playlists – from A to Z – highlighting the most popular videos in each category.

Here are the hottest YouTube trends from over the years:

1. Animals

Cats, tiny hamsters, corgis, honey badgers – animal videos are a trend that won’t be going away anytime soon. YouTube now boasts over 10 million cat videos alone.

2. Beauty

Eyelash curling, makeup reviews, hairstyles – YouTube now has over 5 billion hours of beauty tutorials to help you perfect your look.

3. Covers

The original song is great, but covers can be even better – think of all the homages to Frozen’s “Let It Go” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

4. Dance

Over 24 million YouTube videos highlight dance in all its incarnations, from twerking to Harlem Shaking to brilliantly choreographed flash mobs.

5. Epic

Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space is the most epic, but other YouTube channels also feature impressive jumps, climbs, backflips, and more.

6. Fails

YouTube’s second video was someone falling off a snowboard, and the #fail meme has been part of the site ever since – whether it’s burning your hair off with a curling iron or graceful faceplanting.

7. Gangnam Style

Psy’s hit “Gangnam Style” is the epitome of virality, with over 2.3 billion total views. This playlist showcases the top 10 most-viewed music videos on YouTube, including hits by Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.

8. How-To

YouTube boasts over 135 million how-to videos, and the most pouplar searches are “how to kiss,” “how to tie a tie,” “how to draw,” and “how to get a six pack in 3 minutes.”

9. It Gets Better

The “It gets better” campaign, and all the coming-out videos on YouTube, advocate for change and provide community to those who might feel lost and alone.

10. Jimmy & Jimmy

Late-night talk show comedians like Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon might first appear on TV, but it’s only on YouTube that they go viral.

11. Kidding Around

Kids being silly – they’ve been doing it since the dawn of time, but now we have the cameras to capture it.

12. Let’s Play

The “let’s play” phenomenon involves gamers recording themselves playing video games, and inviting others to watch – with celebs like PewDiePie, Markiplier, and Vanoss leading the charge.

13. Memes

Harlem Shakes, autotunes, Draw My Life, Shit ____ Say, Nyan Cat, Rickrolling, the Ice Bucket Challenge – we love them so much we start to hate them a little bit.

14. News

Citizen journalists are taking to YouTube to post videos they’ve captured of political murders and protests, meteors in Russia, and earthquakes in Nepal.

15. Old Spice

This trend showcases the most popular commercials on YouTube, including the Old Spice guy, Dove Real Beauty, and Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.”

16. People

The personalities are what make YouTube great, from Matt Harding to Tay Zonday to Keenan Cahill.

17. Questions

You can go to YouTube to figure out almost anything you want to know about the world, from “What color was that dress?” to “What would happen if everyone on the world jumped at the same time?” to “Why are there righties and lefties?”

18. Reactions

Now there are YouTube videos of people reacting to YouTube videos…what will we think up next?

19. Singers

More than 250 channels have more than a billion views, and half of them feature singers and songwriters. Get your fix with Susan Boyle, Justin Bieber, and more.

20. Timelapse

If you have a lot of patience, take a photo of yourself every day for years and upload the timelapse video to YouTube. If not, watch these videos.

21. Uplifting

You don’t need to go to Upworthy to watch some inspiring videos – YouTube has its own share of them, from people hearing for the first time to advice from the dying.

22. Vloggers

It all started with the Vlogbrothers, but being a vlogger is now a popular alternative to regular blogging for people with personality who aren’t shy in front of a camera.

23. Weird and Wonderful

Salad fingers, “I am your Grandma,” cartridge tilting, the super selfie – some stuff on YouTube is just plain weird, but we love it.

24. Xperiments

What happens when you combine Mentos and Diet Coke, or turn a staircase into a piano? Watch to find out.

25. You

300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and YouTubers have come together to chronicle a day on earth and to play a symphony. YouTube wouldn’t exist without its users.

26. Zoo

It all started – and the alphabet ends – with a video about the zoo. Elephants have really long trunks, don’t you know?

Image credit: Flickr / Ace Howard / CC BY-SA 2.0

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact
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