‘Gangnam Style,’ ‘Call Me Maybe’ & More of 2012’s Best Viral Videos
Felix Baumgartner’s Skydive From Space
And you thought you were bad-ass for ghost-riding the whip. “I’m coming home,” said the Austrian daredevil on Oct. 14, before jumping out of a special capsule more than 24 miles above the Earth. Baumgartner plummeted for four riveting minutes, reaching a top speed of almost 834 miles per hour and nearly spinning out of control, while captivating the world’s eyes along the way.
Thank God she said yes! Back in May, this elaborate marriage proposal made the Internet want to say, “I do.” As the shocked fiancée-to-be is chauffeured through suburban streets, dozens of friends and family join the ride, lip-syncing Bruno Mars’s “Marry You” and dancing a choreographed routine. Mars himself tweeted: “I don’t think I could’ve made a better music video for this song.”
Brazil’s Real Tower of Terror
In late November, this terrifying prank sent a chill around the world. In a video of a horrifying hoax from Brazil, unsuspecting victims are escorted into an empty, rigged elevator—only to find that they are not alone. More than 54 million people will never feel safe in an elevator again.
‘Call Me Maybe’
If you claim you never found yourself singing the impossibly catchy pop hit aloud—perhaps accompanied by the phone-to-ear dance move or at least some head-bopping—then we’d bet you’re lying. “Call Me Maybe” was the soundtrack of summer 2012, a song so ubiquitous that it was covered by Cookie Monster, Colin Powell, and more. But it wasn’t Carly Rae Jepsen’s official music video that had us initially come calling (although it did eventually garner more than 366 million views). It was the super-fun, low-budget, home-video–esque production featuring teenage sensations Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Tisdale.
Romney’s ‘47 Percent’ Comments
There’s nothing like a secretly recorded video of a mega-rich Republican presidential candidate making snide remarks about poor people. It was the gaffe to end all gaffes—or at least the gaffe to end Mitt Romney’s run. Although relatively few people managed to watch the whole video, Mother Jones’s “reporting” spurred the most talked-about moment from election season. And it may have been the best quote of the year.
#StopKony could not be stopped. It was the most-watched activist documentary ever, and easily the most polarizing. Invisible Children’s film about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army inspired curiosity, praise, questions, criticism, and the public meltdown of filmmaker Jason Russell. It also underscored the power of the Internet to spread content and prompt debate. It was viewed more than 100 million times in six days, and celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Bill Gates tweeted about it.
After the year that Psy had, K-pop could very well stand for King of Pop. The tuxedo-wearing, pony-dancing, South Korean superstar redefined what it means to go viral, with his epic music video garnering more than 1 billion YouTube views in less than six months. When everyone from Ban Ki-moon to Britney Spears is jocking your style, you know you’re on top.