A Look Back at 2012
Last year was a big year for YouTube. Well, to be fair, it's always a big year for YouTube. It's the most popular social media site on the internet, with audiences of all ages finding their ways to its content on a daily basis. The best thing about YouTube? It gives amateur artists an easily accessible place to publicize themselves and be seen by everyone. In recent years, it has been probably the number one way for people to become famous, even if it is only "YouTube famous." Some people who are now entertainment icons would never have made it there without the Tube, including huge stars like Justin Bieber. The Bieb is probably the biggest YouTube success story, but his rise is so last year. Just recently, YouTube made its very own video tribute to some of the biggest sensations featured on it in the year of the alleged apocalypse (that's 2012, people).
But not everyone might recognize all the media personalities in the tribute, even though they've all made a stir on the site one way or another. The video is just so much funnier when you do understand the references, though, so I'm about to do you a favor.
It's time for me to breakdown the Rewind YouTube Style 2012.
The Opening Act:
Walk off the Earth
The video opens with a group of five people in a formation with one guitar. They are all dressed the same, and each of them has their hands placed in such a way that they can play separate notes on the instrument (one guy even just simply raps his hand against the guitar's base as percussion, and another on the other end plucks strings at the tip like a harp).
This is the same format they used in their most well-known video on YouTube, in which they all played one guitar together at the same time and covered the hit song by Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know." Massively popular, and often labeled as "Five People on One Guitar," this was the video that probably garnered them the most attention in 2012. How much attention? Try 35 million views in under 2 weeks! Now the band has several songs on YouTube--including covers and original songs and their own immensely popular channel featuring such projects--from both before and after their Gotye rendition exploded them onto screens everywhere.
This band is called Walk off the Earth, and they are admittedly pretty awesome.
The Vid that started it all.
It was a great choice to have this indie sensation start off the epic tribute to 2012 that the Rewind is. But they're not simply doing the same cover they did in their most popular video; something a little bit different is happening this time. The cute blonde in the middle of all the boys of WotE looks around in shock as the members of the band suddenly seem to be rocking a rather familiar, shall we say, style...Credit: Screencap
They then proceed to begin playing an acoustic instrumental version of PSY's epicly popular song "Gangnam Style." And they do it the best way they know how; together on one instrument. It's like a tribute to themselves within a tribute to PSY, within a tribute to 2012.
They continue to play the main beat to the hit, until someone decides it's time for the epic quintet to stop violating his copyright agreements. He yanks the guitar away from them and bashes it into a nearby trunk until the only music it's still capable of playing are crackles it might make as firewood.
This is the cameo of the man of the year, PSY himself, as he looks to the camera and with his sunglasses gleaming with pure cool; "Rewind YouTube Style!" From there on out, the entire tribute is very much a massive parody of "GangnaCredit: Screencapm Style," and understandably. It just recently shattered the record for most ever views on YouTube, having almost 1.2 billion views and still climbing. It is without a doubt the biggest hit of YouTube in 2012 and sets a new bar for social media content everywhere. In many ways, PSY is the man of YouTube now. The king of 2012's viral enterprise.
As the flagship of the YouTube year, this means the entirety of all the YouTube stars in this tribute are gathering to poke fun at the infamous video. The Walk off the Earth acoustic rendition and PSY's first entrance mark just the beginning of what is largely just a comical parody of the song's original debut on the site, but with various inside references to the people starring. I'm just going to assume that you'll get any allusions to "Gangnam Style" that I mention; the song has a billion views, so I doubt you'll need me to explain that.
With PSY giving his verbal OK, the love letter to 2012 on YouTube runs down the list of stars pretty rapidly to the beat (and some scenes) from the "Gangnam Style" music video. Unless you just happen to be so up-to-date with the Tube that you instantly recognize all of the references, it might be hard to know who they all are.
Sure is a good thing I'm here to make sure you don't miss anyone, now isn't it? So, without further ado, let's do this. Oppan Gardner style!Credit: Screencap
Guest Star #2: Alphacat
His impressions make him the top dog...er, cat.
Who's that? Is that the president? Well, yes and no. The Rewind is pretty popular, but it isn't that popular. The man in the next immediate part of the video is referred to as Alphacat. He is known for his ridiculously well done impersonations of the current president of 2012, Barack Obama. He has caused quite a stir on YouTube since 2008 doing impressions of the first dark-skinned U.S. leader Credit: Screencapin various and humorous ways. He is frequently lauded for his performances and his views on the Tube have skyrocketed in the past few years--perhaps especially in 2012, with the heavy debates of Obama and Romney just months behind us now.
Alphacat's real name is Iman Crosson, and he is one of many people who have created a successful career out of nothing because of YouTube. Studying as both a dancer and an actor, Iman worked as a waiter until 2008, when he entered an impersonation contest. He won the contest with his impressionist comedy involving the current president, and his success from there snowballed. He was featured on entertainment and culture shows on T.V., covered in news stories and made frequent contributions to some big name blogs. He even performed at Aretha Franklin's birthday celebration in 2009, which is quite an honor for any performer. Two of Alpha's videos have occupied spots in the top ten most "favorited" videos on YouTube's Entertainment category. To put it more simply, he went from struggling artist to a performing sensation.
Bet you Iman is really glad he made that YouTube account back in 2005, now.
But what is he doing? With an opening exactly reminiscent of that from "Gangnam Style," Iman walks out the same way as PSY in the video, only as Barack Obama. He immediately starts doing the video's iconic dance in the stable, lip syncing the song. Ah, but this isn't only parodying the music video. Alphacat has actually already been featured in a popular video on YouTube showcasing himself as Obama busting out his G-style moves.
Clearly Alphacat is no stranger to collaborations with other YouTube artists, so it's no surprise he was involved in the Rewind. Besides, he already knew the "Gangnam Style" dance, so casting him must've been a no-brainer! Having seen his videos myself, I think he lives up to the hype. While the Rewind doesn't show off his real talents since it's dubbed over with PSY's own singing, we can still recognize his Obama-esque face. The man has talent, even if he may be somewhat of a one-trick pony (good thing he's in a stable, hm?). But recent additions to his YouTube account suggest he may be branching out. Maybe now he has the exposure he needs to make it as an actor and do more than Obama impressions. Time will tell.
If you want to see more of Alphacat, check out his YouTube channel. But the video doesn't wait very long to switch to the next guests, and neither will I.
Guest Star #3 and #4: KassemG and DailyGrace
YouTube comedians of Olympic proportions.Credit: Screencap
The next scene is reminiscent of probably the most parodied (that I've seen) scene from "Gangnam Style;" the elevator opening scene. Instead of PSY between the legs of a fellow korean performer dancing suggestively behind him, it is a man and a woman who are both known on the social media site as internet comedians. The funny thing is the scene does a pretty good job of capturing their overall comedic stylings in just a few seconds.
The dude with the creepy, insane rapist sort of face is known on YouTube as KassemG. Born Kassem Gharaibeh, he is a very recent addition to the list of YouTube's popular comedians. Since he began to upload his videos toCredit: Screencap the site in 2008, he has become the 18th most subscribed of all time on the Tube, and the 9th most subscribed comedian. His YouTube channel has more than 2.1 million subscribers and 320 million video views as of the end of 2012. Since stand-up comedy is renowned for being a very competitive performance style, Kassem owes all his recent success almost solely on the publicity YouTube allowed him to garner.
So exactly what sort of comedy is KassemG so known for? Well, one of his most popular segments is called *ahem* "Going Deep," in which he interviews porn stars and asks them funny questions, often involving their work. This capitalizes on what seems to be Kassem's specialty, which is risqué and/or awkward comedy involving him and interviewees. If nothing else can be said for KassemG, you can certainly consider him good at being annoying. And his annoyance is what makes him really fun to watch. Some of his jokes are actually laugh out loud funny.
Why don't you check out his YouTube channel for yourself? What are you afraid of?
But hey, that weirdo Kassem wasn't the only one in the elevator spoof. Who's that chick making the weird face between his legs? The one with her fist iconically on her chin?Credit: Screencap
That's Daily Grace, and she's popular for a few reasons, but she is probably YouTube's most well-known internet personality that comes from the website My Damn Channel. The Channel, which is a comedy site not unlike that of CollegeHumor, has had Grace featured on it since 2008. Since then, she has made over 1300 videos, and has more than 550,000 subscribers on YouTube. She went to college for improv, and it certainly shows. She's able to make a video blog entry every day (that's why they call her Daily Grace, after all!) and it still seems like she never runs out of hilarity.
Like Kassem, but perhaps not as bad, her comedy is a tad risque. With bleeping swears and sexual innuendos, her improvisational comedy often involves her making ironic or sarcastic judgements on society or poking fun at current social trends. As long as you have an open mind and a sense of humor, she'll keep you smiling throughout any of her videos, and you'll find yourself resisting the urge to laugh at almost every sentence. She has a way of keeping very serious expressions even while she's talking about the silliest things, and her jokes are often awkward or even self-targeted. One downside is her videos tend to be kind of short or random topics, but hey, she makes one every single day.
It's impressive that she can pump out so many funny and varied jokes every day; most comedians struggle to come up with a routine to use all year long.
"Come on guys you only live once... so eat that whole f#$%ing cake!"
They're all this funny, if not better. I highly suggest taking a trip to YouTube and checking out Grace's channel for more daily rants. One more thing, though. Do you notice the costumes? Why is Kassem dressed like an Olympic swimmer and why does Grace have an archery bow in her hand? Well, if you were a devout follower of the Olympics in 2012, you'll have noticed that a lot of the coverage for the games was featured on YouTube. This scene is both a nod to the two comedians as well as to the popularity of the Olympics on YouTube this past year. It's a pretty sly reference. In a PSY reference. Yeah I'm lame. Get over it.
Guest Stars #5 to #8: DeStorm, MysteryGuitarMan, DaveDays, and PyroBooby.
It takes all colors to make a rainbow. And a Rewind video.
These four guys may look like Power Rangers, but they are actually parodying the dance-off scene in "Gangnam" in which PSY and another man in a colorful jumpsuit break it down against each other. These guys have a dance-off of their own, each of them being a Youtube personality known as a musician that launched a career or internet fame from the social media site's attention alone.
The one who shows up in the yellow jumpsuit to spar against all the other guys is known as DeStorm (pronounced "day" storm). DeStorm is a musician and comedian known for his covers and mashups of well-known songs, as well as his own original content. Credit: ScreencapSometimes he makes funnier videos based on challenges proposed by his fans, which now number well over 1,200,000 subscribers, and other times he is covering popular mainstream music by making his own videos for them. DeStorm's popularity has seen his YouTube channel ranked 8th out of every music channel on YouTube as of the end of 2012. He's even received an AMA for his video work! Not bad for someone who got their start on YouTube; he probably never would've seen such fame otherwise, as deserving as he may be.
Who's that guy in the cool blue suit, rocking those sleek shades and smooth moves? He's known far and wide as the MysteryGuitarMan that makes some pretty epic music videos on YouTube-such as his infamous "Guitar: Impossible" video that you should look up some time-and has become somewhat of an icon in Brazil, his homeland. Credit: ScreencapHe has frequently been the number one subscribed to on the Tube in his native country and he has more than 2.1 million subscribers now if you count both that and every other country of the world. His real name, however, is Joe Penna, and he is nothing but a normal guy who can really rock the guitar and has a penchant for filmmaking. The popularity, specifically the vast influence he has had in his home country of Brazil, has caused his YouTube channel to push the boundaries of what humble young musicians can do with the social media of the age. This man may look pretty normal, but he's not your average Joe now.
The mean, green, dancing machine that gets all in DePower's face in this scene is known on YouTube as DaveDays. Breaking the 1.4 million subscriber mark, he joins the rest of the colorful gang here in being a musician that has shone above most others on the Tube in 2012. Dave (real name Dave Colditz) has been a part of bands and musical endeavors ever since he was a child, and has pursued it ever since. Credit: ScreencapJust one month after finishing high school, he moved from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California and started his own business/company, Dave Days, Inc. shortly thereafter.His channel's musical parodies and covers of pop and punk musicians have garnered notable attention from celebrities such as Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus (who actually made a guest appearance in some of his work). Like the MysteryGuitarMan, he is also an accomplished filmmaker and makes his own videos himself. He's performed on Disney Channel and is a frontline performer for the Digitour, which is a national tour created specifically for YouTube stars. I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the last we'll hear of the talented 21 year old musician. It's only the beginning for him.
Now, what sets the guy in red apart from the other three jumpsuit musicians is that that they are actually musicians. Well, to be fair, PyroBooby (as Peter Chao calls himself on the social media site) is technically a musician, so he still fits the theme with the others. But he definitely has a different approach to music. All of the other young men here are known for doing at least a few original songs, but PyroBooby is almost strictly about making funny covers or parodies of famous music videos. But he puts a sort of vulgar twist on them; his material is characterized by being quite racist and stereotypical to a comical degree. In particular, he makes fun of Asian nationalities, mostly via a phony, over-embellished asian accent. Credit: ScreencapWhile there is no doubt that such a comical music styling could be very offensive to a lot of people, his channel is quite popular, especially among young adults or teens. He has over 730,000 subscribers and 170,000,000 video views, and he's only been around since 2009. He's more of a comedian than a musician, but most of his skits DO involve music, and dancing, so it still makes sense that the people making the YouTube Rewind grouped him with the other quick-to-rise musicians for this part of the Rewind. If you ever want to check him out, be warned: his material is once again not for everyone. If you're sensitive to either racism or profanity, avoid his videos like the plague. But if you have a big enough sense of humor to see past the riceball-sized tongue in his cheek, you'll enjoy his skits as much as I do!
Guest Star(s) #9: Barely Political
Because politics are just more interesting when they're funny.
Let's face it; not all of us keep up with all the goings-ons of politics. It's not because they're not interesting. It's not because they can be utterly boring and public debates are filled with language best described as robotic. It's because they just don't offer much in the ways of entertainment. Credit: ScreencapYou'll pay attention to politics so you can have some idea about where your country is headed, not because they provide you with entertainment. Barely Political likes to throw that style of delivery to the wolves. They'd rather cook up a more entertaining way to keep us politically informed.
Originally established in 2007, it has since been through a series of purchases that eventually led it into the hands of YouTube. It bagan as its own website, but now exclusively exists as a YouTube channel. The videos of the channel have been viewed over 1.5 billion times now with 2.2 million subscribers, and continue to see more on a daily basis. Barely Political has been known for videos featuring many trendy political topics, including the military and news media, but also videos about entertainment news. They've even been known to have some politicians guest star at times; some of the 2008 presidential candidates were featured in a video, including former Senator Mike Gravel.
Most of their more typical political videos happened around the time of the elections and debates, however. These days, they have been more often than not making parodies or satirical videos about current pop culture topics, such as the recent Les Miserables film and the baby of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
"Let me put it to you this way; if you had ten guys breaking into your house every single day, you'd buy a gun right? Well I live inside my mother, and there are easily ten guys breaking into here every single day!"
While these videos are hilarious, the real essence of what Barely Political was made for comes down to making fun of politicians and their policies. Pay attention to how this video is very obviously making fun of the previous election, but at the same time there are some real topics that were frequently debated around that time being addressed.
For centuries, people have used satire to convey important and controversial issues without making their audiences react badly to it. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to balance "funny" with the truth in satire, but I'd generally say that these guys know what they're doing. It's definitely easier to talk about these topics when you're laughing about them. That's the essence of satire; this is so rife with jokes it's barely political (see what I did there?) but at the same time it has an element of "hey, that's pretty funny, but it is kind of true..." That's what Barely Political is really about. And they are definitely worth checking out for a source of perhaps more intelligent comedy than some of the others featured on this Rewind.
Guest Star #10: The Annoying Orange
-Orange- you glad his face made it here? What?
The Annoying Orange is a character from a self-entitled children's(?) webshow now primarily on YouTube, and also an actual television show that is still airing at the time of this article's publication. Based on the name, it's not very hard to guess what exactly the show is probably about, but I'll say it anyway. It's about an orange. An orange that is annoying to all those around him.
Okay I won't be THAT vague. The Annoying Orange is a show characterized by various inanimate objects from a common refrigerator being, well, animated. The iconic fruit as well as his foodstuff costars all have faces transposed onto them by real life actors, who also lend their voices to them. The overall plot of the show, if you really waCredit: Screencapnted to call it that, is basically Orange just going around being, well, annoying to everyone. He makes childish jokes, pokes fun at the other characters and makes obnoxious noises, and any actual storyline elements of the show do not usually amount to much more beyond just random mockery and whimsical mishaps. Later episodes throw reality to the wind, featuring a variety of fictional characters on the show including video game characters, film characters, mythological creatures, and even other YouTube references.
Another central theme of the show is death. Wikipedia refers to The Annoying Orange as a "children's show," but death seems to be one of the few consistent things throughout the entire series of webisodes, and as I suspect, the T.V. series spawned from it. Oftentimes, the Orange's fruity brethren will be forced to be pestered by the character before meeting their untimely end, often (at least at first) to everyday household appliances, with the most popular "weapon of choice" being a kitchen knife cutting into the victim. But that's about as much sense as the plot of these episodes make; the show is deliberately random and comprised mostly of riff humor. Most critics hate it, and don't even seem to find it funny, but the show must be pleasing somebody because as of now, the Orange's YouTube channel has over 2.5 million subscribers and about a billion and half views on collective videos. That's quite a lot for a webshow that everyone says is bad!
I have to admit, there is somewhat of a trainwreck effect when it comes to The Annoying Orange; it's really stupid and it has no point, but for some reason I do feel compelled to keep watching... I am fond of the character named Squash. He's a squash. And he squashes other characters, usually until they're a pile of mush...like squash. But I hate to tell you, Orange just gets even more annoying as the show persists, and he has yet to meet his end; remember the premise of the show is to let him be as annoying as possible for you and everyone else. He's not going anywhere, no matter how much he gets under your skin.
And in the clip of the Rewind, he is alive and well enough to parody both PSY and something else. Notice he's wearing a spacesuit with a Redbull logo on the helmet? He's referencing Felix Baumgartner. I really shouldn't need to explain why that name is important, but I'll do it anyway. He's the first person to break the sound barrier...with his body. Earlier in 2012, he jumped from higher than anyone has ever jumped--practically from outer space--and lived to tell the tale. He basically skydived from the upper atmosphere of Earth, and the video of him doing it can be found on YouTube, which was a major player in covering the event.
Of course, though, the Orange (like everyone else so far) is also mouthing the words to "Gangnam Style" with his iconic yellowed teeth and a big pair of PSY-like sunglasses on, but it was a funny way for the people over at the Tube to make sure they included what was a big event in human history into the year it took places' tribute. Plus, the orange just fits so well in that helmet, being spherical and all.
Guest Star #11: FreddieW
And his sidekick, Brandon Laatsch.
Freddie Wong (a.k.a. FreddieW) is a filmmaker of videos that have a very particular basis close to this writer's heart: video games! Credit: ScreencapHis videos, often parodying video games in one way or another, involve some impressive special effects and film techniques you wouldn't expect to find on YouTube entries. To put it simply, he and his team actually do some really awesome things when they make videos, with top-notch set designs, props and visual movie magic.
FreddieW and his partner, Brandon Laatsch (a fellow gamer and filmmaker he met in college) are seen here wearing the Mark VII version of Mjolnir Powered Armor (see the Halo video game series), as it appears on the Master Chief in Halo 4. They then proceed to add to the PSY parody video by engaging with other guests in the iconic "Gangnam Style" dance (and lip syncing) while wearing their props, much to the glee of Halo fans like myself. The armor is more than a simple reference to Halo, however, and kind of funny when you see them dance in it, it is also a reference to what the two filmmakers do often: funny video game tributes.
FreddieW is active in the YouTube community, and frequently guest stars other big YouTube personalities in his videos. He has collaborated with the MysteryGuitarMan (mentioned above) and various other people famed on the Tube, such as one of my personal favorites, Miss Lindsey Stirling (starring in the Zelda parody above). Lindsey didn't quite make it into the Rewind, but in between chorus drops there are quick montages in which you can catch some clips from her music videos. They reference her in a big way later, so I won't stop to talk about her now. The point is, FreddieW is involved with other huge name internet names when he makes new videos for the site. He has done so well for himself making these top-notch shorts that he now has not one, but two YouTube channels: one of them has 800 million views and over 4.1 million subscribers, and the other has 140 million views and a million subscribers of its own. FreddieW is going places on the internet.
He was even a key developer in a hit episodic series in 2012 called Video Game High School, which would later be compressed into a movie and featured on iTunes and Netflix (you can see it there now). The film, backed by a Kickstarter initiative (a method of developers of raising money via donation of interested parties) was considered a hit by most viewers and has developed a cult following on the net. I expect it will be the first of many great things from this rather dynamic duo of YouTube filmography. Check out one of the episodes below to see what it was all about, and try hard to remember this quality vid was made exclusively for YouTube.
Guest Star #12: Corridor Digital Productions
Let me walk you down the hall...of internet fame.
It would appear that official information on these guys are scarce, but those two dressed as characters from Minecraft (the ones with the boxy costumes and pickaxes) are with Corridor Digital. Credit: ScreencapThey are a nearly entirely video-game themed production team that makes videos with outstanding special effects--similar to FreddieW. In fact, the group frequently makes videos for Rocket Jump Studios (the same studio that created Video Game High School with FreddieW). Basically, they are known for some viral YouTube videos that involve pretty impressive special effects (for their budgets) and video game references.
Like Freddie, the two main men in Corridor Digital--Niko Pueringer and Sam Gorski--like to parody some common video game elements, and the tone of their videos is pretty similar. Their connection to FreddieW by making similarly-themed videos, working for the same studio and being avid followers of the gaming industry means it makes perfect sense that they appear in this portion of the Rewind to perform with him. And with almost 1.5 million subscribers of their own and 150 million views on their videos, they earn their place right next to him. Credit: ScreencapWhen you consider that they, like FreddieW, have only been around for about 2 years, you have to respect numbers like that. These guys make not only special effects and good action choreography their business, but also great props--as you can see in the video.
The dynamic duo's YouTube channel sees a lot of attention these days, and you can check it out for yourself here.
How many references can you recognize in this one?
These guys do some impressive work. I enjoy the little quirkiness they add to their renditions of gameplay and the sort of "buddy cop" vibe they give off when they make videos together and while videos like the above are clearly intending to be funny, not every video they do is like that. Some of them have more serious tones that aim to really capture the essence of some good games, keeping the more serious tones they typically possess. To an extent; there's always some way they intend to make fun of the games they display--and as far as I've seen this has always taken place even if it's at the end of the video only--but some of their work is so good that you just wish they were longer. It's for this reason I await each release from Sam and Nico and I haven't missed one in almost a year.
While they don't match up to the high number of videos Freddie has so far put out (they only have 60 so far on their channel), they still have managed to get the huge following I mentioned above. Quality over quantity is always my motto-- you can tell by my number of articles versus how many of them have been featured. And how many of my features are video game related? It's no mystery why I like to see some good quality video game parodies. I highly recommend checking these guys out on YouTube this year; they'll impress.
This one is one of my favorites. I always wondered what it would be like if medics with defibrillators could use them as weapons in FPS games.
Guest Star(s): #12: Rhett and Link
The gift horse's mouth and backside.
Something seems a bit off about the cast in this video, don't you think? You know; the cast including guys in Halo and Minecraft suits, an animated orange, and a dude crossdressing as a young girl(I'm getting to him soon). Credit: ScreencapIt would appear that there is also a giant zebra in the mix, one with a penchant for dancing and nodding its head to PSY's addicting beat. You might have noticed them first about 30 seconds into the Rewind, during DePower's segment inside the stables. These two guys are the ones in the giant zebra costume. Although they are known for far more than dancing inside a two-man horse costume, this prop reflects one of the most viral of their web videos on YouTube in 2012 (and it helps them to fit in on this part with Freddie and CorridorDigital, who are all dressed up in props). Besides, there's nothing funnier than watching a giant zebra shuffle to the beat of "Gangnam Style." If you want to know more about the phenomenon of the "Dope Zebra" these two guys have created, just check out the video below. I won't waste too much time on it. Suffice it to say the Zebra--as in the costume itself, not Rhett And Link per se--went on to audition for America's Got Talent and tour with LMFAO (seriously, just watch the video).
But I'm not here to go into too much detail about particular stunts that these YouTube personalities do. I'm here to tell you about the duo themselves. Here's the thing; these two guys met in elementary school and have been teaming up for projects ever since. They dormed together in college and then began a career as a duo on YouTube. Seriously: they make a living solely based on their YouTube videos, still making 6 figures a year from adverts because of how popular they are.Credit: Screencap Directly from their website information: "Rhett & Link are the comedy duo consisting of life-long best friends, Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal. They are best known for their internet videos and are self-proclaimed 'Internetainers'. They have been featured on Conan, CNN, BBC, NPR, TV Guide, E! News, TMZ, The Jay Leno Show, Lopez Tonight, Last Call with Carson Daly, and Ellen. In addition to their web presence, Rhett & Link are also musicians and filmmakers, and have worked in network television as hosts. They own and operate a video production company, Rhett & Link, Inc."
"Internetainers." That's what they have coined to describe their jobs. Basically, they are comedians, actors, musicians, and filmmakers. But what they are most known for is commercials for small businesses, and related jingles. This is where they originally got their start into what has become a career for the bbfls (best buds for life) based solely on YouTube earnings and other sponsorships for their videos.
A few things. Yes that is a real commercial that was really used. Yes that was ridiculous. Yes that was really George Lopez endorsing it. I said they got their start making commercials... I never said those commercials weren't comical. The point wasn't they were good commercials that you see on national television. The point is they were low-budget and deliberately hilarious and very popular on YouTube. Ultimately, this is what the majority of the 280 videos on their YouTube channel consist of; parodies and low-budget laughs. Much like past guest stars thus far. But one thing you have to remember is that these two have been on YouTube for 6 years now. If there is anything Rhett and Link know, it's the YouTube audience and what they want to see. In 2012, that was two men dancing inside a zebra costume. Take that as you will.
ON TO #13!
Guest Star #13: Smosh
And the Mars Rover?Credit: Screencap
Finally, they have their moment in the spotlight. In 2011's Youtube Rewind (which, by the way, paled in comparison to this one), the internet sensation known as Smosh was mysteriously absent from the top 10 list they included. The comments were riddled with perplexed Tubers who thought such a thing seemed odd. The reason for that is because Smosh has for a long time been a smash on the site, garnering a ridiculous 7 MILLION subscribers and 2 BILLION (total) views as of the end of 2012! And that's just on their primary YouTube channel: they currently have 5 that are active (seriously--look it up some time). Why is Smosh such a huge name on YouTube right now? It might be because they started way back in the summer of '05 and have been pretty active ever since.
To put it bluntly, Smosh first started with flash cartoons developed by one Anthony Padilla on a website called Newgrounds, a website popular in the early 2000's for such material. Eventually, he was joined by his friend Ian Hecox in his flash parody endeavors. Credit: ScreencapThe two then later became yet another comedy-parody duo to add to our growing list of such archetypes in this video. The only difference is that these two arguably set the precedent: they started on YouTube before the rest, and almost immediately to great acclaim. Once again, they are prone to doing video game spoofs. They tend to aim for younger teen audiences, while others we've seen so far probably towards more college-aged viewers. Their stylings involve low budget costumes and effects and simple humor. Their videos usually are based on random humor rather than linear plotlines (like other parodies seen so far). Smosh has long been equated to random as heck, silly improv comedy for gamers and "nerd" audiences (probably the most likely to view anything on YouTube, now that I think about it...). See for yourself what I mean.
Random? Yes. Funny? Kind of. Either way, the duo is very much the face of YouTube for devout followers of the site. Heck, they've been there about as long as I've ever browsed it, and whether I knew it or not, I saw their material all over the place. Their cameo in this Rewind is brief, but seeing them a couple times is all any good YouTube junkie needs to know exactly who they are and what they stand for. They've always been more than a smash hit. They've been a Smosh-hit! Yyp. I went there.
But, wait, what is that little thing that scuttles across the scene of FreddieW, Smosh and the gang in this scene? It looks like something familiar from 2012, doesn't it?Credit: Screencap
It's a mock-up of the Curiosity rover sent to Mars in 2012. The one we keep seeing news reports about whenever it finds glimpses of ice or water on the Red Planet. I'm not going to go into this; if you don't know what Curiosity is you haven't been on the internet enough to be reading this anyway. But something happens as FreddieW does an impomptu robot dance, and he mistakenly fires at the little droid with his Halo assault rifle.
After the robot blows up, everyone stops, looking shocked and/or guilty. There really is no significance to this, but what it does is halt the music and interrupt what has so far been a nonstop "Gangnam Style" track. This is because there is about to be a shift in music, and the overrall tone of the video is going to change in order to reflect that. As everyone exchanges looks of worry and everyone is watching the wrecked remains of the robot, the Smosh duo starts to cry and one of them (Anthony) reaches for a phone, sobbing and saying "Felicia," as if to break the news to someone that something terrible has happened. This brings us to our next guest stars...
Guest Stars #14 and #15: FeliciaDay and ChesterSee
Now that's some sex appeal(?)!Credit: Screencap
The girl's full YouTube user name is FeliciaDay (real name Kathryn Felicia Day) who is a big name in the internet world, particularly for gamers and people who fall in the "media nerd" clique. One thing that the people at YouTube are obviously taking advantage here is that Felicia has become somewhat of a sex symbol for this audience, whether she meant to or not.
You see, Felicia got her start on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a minor character named Vi, but that's not really what people know her for. When she really came into the spotlight was when she created her very own show, The Guild, which stars herself as the main protagonist. The show is about a group of people who play an online massively multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG), similar to that of World of Warcraft. Credit: ScreencapThe show is humorous and often parodies stereotypes of the MMORPG gamer audience. Felicia came up with the idea after becoming an avid gamer herself, and wanting to show people that not every MMORPG gamer is an adult male living in their parents' basement (her protagonist is a young woman living on her own). The entire show was a web series featured prominently on YouTube, but it became so ridiculously popular (face it; that's the main active audience of the Tube) that it was eventually picked up in full by Netflix, and featured prominently on the Xbox Live Marketplace by Microsoft. Basically, it became kind of a big deal. It also catapulted FeliciaDay's subscibers and views on her dedicated YouTube channel; she now has nearly a million subscribers of her own and over 3 million views despite having just 39 videos. Her real claim to fame lies in The Guild's own YouTube channel, however, which has just over 322,000 subscribers, but--get this--over 83 million views.
The actress' charisma is her key to success; her natural good looks and charm and the fact that she is a self-proclaimed (and stars as a) gamer. This has made her a huge sex symbol for gamer nerds everywhere, and that's exactly why she's playing a sort of "girl next door" character in this parody--and why they have her singing "Call Me Maybe" (by Carly Rae Jepsen) now instead of going along with the whole "Gangnam Style" thing that's been happening so far. The reason they did this is because while "Gangnam" was very obviously number one on YouTube in '12, "Call Me Maybe" was second most often played. It also fits well lyrically with Felicia flirting with her neighbor while she washes a sports car in short shorts and pigtails (talk about clichéd). But every "girl next door" needs a neighbor to be attracted to her.
In the video, this is ChesterSee.
Chester is not extremely well-known yet, but there is no question that 2012 was a huge year for him on YouTube and his channel there. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, yet (and believe me, I checked)! In actuality, he's been on YouTube for a long time (about 5 years or so) but he's only recently been seeing a lot of traffic there. A natural hearthrob for a lot of his female fans (seriously, just look at some of the comments on his videos), it makes sense he was picked as the handsome, guitar-playing cheesy love interest of Felicia in this Rewind skit. Plus, the guy has some seriously fine vocal chords. I'm not a girl, but even I start feeling weak at the knees for his voice. Okay, not really, but he's pretty damn good as a musician. That's mostly what he does; music videos, but he's above the other musicians in the video so far as far as overall ability, for sure. Credit: ScreencapHe also does some parodies sometimes, but let's face it; if you're subscribing to Chester's channel, it's probably for his awesome music videos over anything else. Speaking of subscribing, his channel has just shy of a million, but with almost 100,000,000 views on all his videos. Hopefully my little breakdown here gets him a few more. This one is an artist who deserves more publicity!
Here's a fun fact: Chester See hosted the show "Disney 365" on the corresponding channel from 2006-2009, where I remember first seeing him. He has song songs on iTunes, and you can find them there if you check out his music videos and enjoy his original content. By the way, he makes original content; not just covers. Probably should have mentioned that earlier. He also, like many people on this list, has a penchant for working with other people from YouTube. Some people he works with extensively are NigaHiga (I'm going to get to him by the end) and fellow musician Lindsey Stirling. I mentioned her earlier when I talked about FreddieW, who also worked with her a bit. I said before I'd get to her, and I'm about to because it's time for...
Guest Star #16: iJustine
And by nature of obvious reference, Lindsey Stirling.
The next guest star is kind enough to be emulating another star that couldn't make it to the Rewind. That star is Lindsey Stirling, but more importantly, the star playing her is known on YouTube as iJustine. Justine, either by her own kindness or fondness for the violinist Sterling or because YouTube absolutely needed some sort of reference for her, is clearly pretending she is the young violist. How do I know that? Because iJustine is in no way, shape or form known for playing violin, yet in the Rewind that is exactly what she's doing.Credit: Screencap Combination
Left: iJustine as she appears in the Rewind video. Right: Lindsey Stirling as she appears in her video for "Elements."
Who knows why Lindsey couldn't make it to the Tribute, but it's pretty clear that YouTube wants to recognize her as a big hit of 2012. Personally, I love Lindsey Stirling, and I'm sure I'll write about her again, but you can find out more about this dynamic violinist by looking her up on YouTube or by checking out this article. As awesome as Lindsey is, for this tribute to 2012, iJustine is the guest star, so I want to talk about her!
Now, iJustine stands as a testament of YouTube popularity all on her own. Her YouTube channel has over 1.3 subscribers and 270 mil views. The thing is, she has 4 more channels, eventually totaling her video count at over 1,700 videos and more than 360 mil views--all on YouTube. Justine got her start on a user-generated video site called Justin.tv where she wore camera equipment 24 hours a day and basically recorded her life. This earned her the moniker "lifecaster," which is when people record everything that they do for entertainment or documentary purposes. Since then, she has been making videos about every day things in her life in amusing ways. She once made a video solely about just her wanting to order a cheeseburger at a restaurant and it was viewed over 600,000 times in one week. She has a way of gathering attention to herself (her looking like a model probably helps her out in that department).
One thing about iJustine besides her obvious attractiveness is that she is heavily tech savvy and an avid gamer (seems to be a trend that girl gamers are popular, hm?). For the YouTube audience, this is gold. She often talks about funny things involved in the gaming, tech, or social media world. One of her most popular viral videos involves her lamenting at the giant bills iPhones used to come with back in their initial days. Her videos, like this one, are little more than podcasts, but they still generate immense popularity on YouTube every time she posts one.
Seriously, all she does is flip through a massive bill. This video has over 3.3 million views as of 2013 on YouTube. Do NOT underestimate the power of a hot blonde who makes tech and gaming podcasts. iJustine pretty much tops off the triumverate of hot YouTube personalities that the past 3 guests have been.
You can pretty much forget all about that as we move on to the guys she's next to in the video, though.
Guest Star #17: Epic Meal Time
And, just barely, Guest Star#18 MyHarto.
These guys (as well as iJustine) have much less screen time compared to Felicia in these scenes, but that by no means is a statement of unpopularity for them. What you typically see most out of these guys is the lead man of EpicMealTime, whose name is Harley Morenstein, a raucous, swearing Canadian man who seeks only make his meals, well, epic. Even so, he's not actually in this video, but the guy with the beard is one of the cooks from the show. The one eating the raw bacon in this scene. Yes; that is raw bacon (I thought it was cheese at first). Credit: ScreencapTo put it overly simple, EpicMealTime is a YouTube cooking show. However, unlike most cooking shows, this one involves simply combining the most unhealthy dishes that the crew can find into one (often giant) dish. The recipes these guys use are not AT ALL healthy ones; in fact, the main goal of each episode is to see how many calories and grams of fat they can reach with their concoctions. It's almost scary, to be honest. They also seem to have an unhealthy obsession with both bacon and Jack Daniel's whiskey.
However, close to 3.4 million subscribers, 142 videos and half a billion views later, EpicMealTime's YouTube channel is a huge hit for internet, er...connoisseurs. When you consider that these guys have really only been around for 2 years now, it's pretty amazing how popular their low-budget "cooking show" has become by the end of 2012. It's enough of a hit that these guys were able to quit their jobs and now do the show for full-time work, selling merchandise like T-shirts and making money from YouTube ads enough to make bank. And they get to eat things like fast food pizza cakes, burger pies and candy sushi while they do so.
*The following video is not suited for audiences under PG-13. Because that's how EpicMealTime rolls, b(insert bird call)ch!*
What do you think of that? Crude? Low-budget? Disgusting? Even a tad offensive? EpicMealTime is all of those things, in every episode of the web show. But nonetheless it is really becoming a pretty big YouTube sensation. One thing that I can say for certain is that it IS pretty unique. And kind of funny in the way it parodies real cooking shows that you might see on television. Speaking of which, the popularity of EpicMealTime has caused them to make their own reality cooking show. Ever see the show Chopped? It's kind of like that. With booze. And bacon. Lots n' lots of bacon, served with bacon, topped with more bacon.
There's just bacon everywhere, seriously.
They call it "Epic Chef" (you know, kind of like Iron Chef), and in that show they encourage contestants to cook in their over-the-top, fat-filled ways with pre-established ingredients...and bacon. There's always bacon involved with EpicMealTime, no matter what they are doing. But I have to admit the judges actually really do critique the food based on both its taste and presentation--much like any other cooking critique reality show. Of course, don't expect network-level judges on this show, but it really starts making EpicMealTime have an ounce of actual credibility. It can be kind of entertaining to see such a thing on YouTube.
NOW SPEAKING OF COOKING PARODIES WHAT ABOUT THIS CHICK?!?!Credit: Screencap
She's only there for a few moments, probably because she's brand new on the site; 2012 was here first real year at all in fact, but she did well enough to earn a little screen time on the tribute. She goes by MyHarto on YouTube, and she is yet another person on the guest list that doesn't seem to have her own wikipedia page, and not a lot of information on her available. It usually takes time before there's a lot of info on YouTube artists, and MyHarto only started about a year ago. What I DO know is that she hosts a web show kind of like EpicMealTime, only less...epic? And less manly. She doesn't seem to share their unhealthy addiction to bacon, either. She does, however share their penchant for getting drunk while they film a cooking web show.
As a matter of fact, MyHarto (real name Hannah Hart) has a show on YouTube called "My Drunk Kitchen." In that webshow she, uh, gets drunk. In her kitchen. She makes other videos, too, usually random amusing podcasts, but this is definitely what she is most known for on the Tube. And that's probably why she is seen here (wine glass included) next to EpicMealTime--though she does seem a bit afraid of the man in front of her engulfing raw bacon. Even she doesn't get drunk enough to do something so epic, I suppose. I can tell you one thing; watching someone cook when they're obliterated is actually pretty entertaining, and I can see why despite being on YouTube for only a year, she already has half a million subscribers and 41 million views on her channel. She's doing pretty well for herself for someone who is, basically, just getting drunk and eating food in front of her camera lens.
She really takes me back to my younger days, learning to cook from my mother. BECAUSE SHE MADE TACOS A LOT. Geez, it's not like she was always drunk. She just...didn't always know who I was while she was cooking.
Just joking, mom.
I just came to the realization that we had a lot of men in this cast up until we hit FeliciaDay, and then they all seem to be rolling out together now. Hannah adds to the mix of young YouTube artists that have two complete X chromosomes, and we have two more coming... well sort've. Slightly unrelated note: MyHarto's video above actually just made me crave tacos.
Guest Stars #19 and #20: Jenna Marbles and Sh*tGirlsSay
I swear, we're almost done now...
Out of all the women in the Rewind, Jenna Marbles (real name, Jenna Mourey) is the epitome of a girl's success on YouTube. As of the beginning of 2013, she has over 5.7 million subscribers and almost a billion views on all her videos, making hers the 4th most popular YouTube channel (out of all of them!) at the end of the year 2012. Credit: ScreencapThe funny thing is, what she does is not anything sensational. Like others in the line-up, she simply makes podcasts and videos about things that she finds amusing or funny on a weekly basis. But her demeanor, her charm, her candidacy, and her penchant for utilizing certain popular words that start with the letter "F" and end with the letter "K" (hint: it isn't "fork") have made her extremely popular on YouTube. She has had videos featured in magazines like New York Times and ABC News and at least one of her videos, "How to Trick People Into Thinking You're Good Looking" received over 5.3 million views...in just one week. Jenna is pretty much the pretty blonde face of hitting it big on the Tube, just by being yourself and saying things nobody else seems to have the guts to say about how people can be either dumb or annoying in American society. I know I don't make it sound like what she talks about is important, and well, it isn't, but her way of parodying common social trends--especially those of shallow women--is actually pretty hilarious. Let the video do the talking!
Starting in February of 2010, JennaMarbles is a sensation for YouTube. In many ways, even though she's not making awesome videos with special effects or doing something really "out there" and different, she is exactly what the Tube is built upon. She is a normal, every day girl who shares her views with the world in her own quirky and funny ways, like someone might if you were sitting around the living room lamenting and joking about society. The power of YouTube is that it allows ANYONE to share their views and present their voices to the world at large. Jenna did this, and look at her now. She speaks her mind on a weekly basis, and hundreds of thousands almost immediately respond with praise.
Jenna isn't the only, er, "girl" who has seen some massive popularity on YouTube by making social commentary about shallow women, however.
Sh*tGirlsSay is an interesting one. It began as just a funny Twitter campaign, in which creators Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard made joke tweets about what girls say in daily conversation. Of course, these are jokes, so they only naturally chose things they thought were funny when females converse in public settings (the video clearly shows what I mean by that). The two men are actually a homosexual couple, with Sheppard dressing in drag in order to play the main character in the parodies and his boyfriend, Humphrey occasionally posing as his boyfriend in some of the quips. The two have stated that they always try to keep the jokes clean of anything related to violence or overy sexism.Credit: Screencap They also believe that their status as homosexuals in society and the fact that Shepperd dresses in drag for the videos makes it more humorous and less offensive to women in the audience. In fact, if you view the videos on YouTube, you can see in the comments how well-received the two are by women more than anyone else, most of them stating how true they think the uh, sh** they are saying in the videos is.
They have made 4 videos for the phenomenon, and their plan seems to be to leave it at at, sadly. They did however make a book including some of their best-received tweeted phrases, publishing it for all to buy and see in most bookstores. And even though they only creatred 4 of these short videos (they're all only about a minute or so in length) they have garnered over 34 million views on the little YouTube channel. For such a tiny amount of videos, that is beyond impressive. And since they joined about a year ago, these videos all happened within 2012; their quick popularity led them to be included in the Rewind. Sh*tGirlsSay has also spawned similar parodies of men crossdressing as women, posted on popular sites such as CollegeHumor or other channels on YouTube. But it was this creative couple that started the whole thing, and they did it all with just a small handful of videos.
Both Jenna and the costumed Sheppard are seen in the Rewind riding on a college bus and dancing along to the continuous "Call Me Maybe" track that has been ongoing since Felicia Day was onscreen. But once their little bus skit is over, the screen cuts to a large dance floor (reminiscent of the dance floor scene towards the end of the "Gangnam Style" video) and the music is remixed with some of PSY's vocal work. All of the characters mentioned thus far are shown to be dancing a remixed version of the the "Gangnam" dance--including a rolling hand motion symbolizing the Rewind itself--and generally having a good time together. Much like the actual video for PSY's song, this is the culmination of everyone featured thus far in the presentation coming together for one final scene. But there is just one more guest that, by his nature, just has to stand out as a form of comic relief.
Enter the Final Guest: NigaHiga
His rise and free-fall.
NigaHiga is a YouTube legend going even further than any of the rest so far except for PSY himself and Smosh (just barely), which is probably why unlike most of the others, his skit sees him onscreen by himself. His YouTube channel has over 6.7 million people subscribed to him and more than a billion and a half views. He actually released a second channel where he discusses how he makes the videos and other aspects of his YouTube (and most of his financial) career, and even that has gone over a million subscribers. Credit: ScreencapNigaHiga is one of the big ones on the site, and he actually is a pretty good filmmaker in his own right; his videos are well filmed and show that he studied filmography before making it a career on the internet.
His real name is Ryan Higa. "Niga" is loosely translated to "rant" in Japanese, reflecting his half-japanese nationality. So, it's Mr. Higa, ranting about things. Podcasts and selfie vids just like soo many others thus far, only he actually is pretty good at the whole filmography and directing aspect of making his videos. Of course, he's also a resoundingly funny comedian and parody artist, and as we've seen, this is received very well on YouTube and the internet at large. He started early on in the site's lifetime, just like Smosh, and has since made over 140 videos since those delicate days. Fun fact: he's also the same age as me. Really makes me self-conscious when I realize he's probably seeing 7-8 figure income from his internet career... Some of us make it big early!
Everything can be explained...by continuity.
Being in the biz for some years now, he has developed some trademarks. The most obvious of these is his way of using clones of himself (by filming at separate locations, speaking to himself, and splicing the pieces together) to convey the themes of his videos. It's actually kind of funny to watch someone argue with themselves, literally, and adds a unique form of comedy to his videos. Ryan has really gotten pretty good at what he does on YouTube. He deserves every bit of his success and more, and is one of my personal favorite internet comedians for years now.
So what's he doing falling from outer space?
Remember how the Annoying Orange was referencing Felix Baumgartner's epic Red Bull space jump? Well, in the final scenes of the Youtube 2012 Rewind, that's what NigaHiga is doing, too. His rendition is actually an animated jump (using a green screen, obviously) from an outer space backdrop. He does actually appear to be wearing a spacesuit, however. This adds to the previous reference of the man's giant leap (straight down) for mankind because, like I said before, it was a pretty big deal for the year. And what is this video besides celebrating great YouTube features of 2012? At least Ryan was willing to do what he does best; parody a big-name public event.
And that about wraps up YouTube's highlight of the past year. Just so it's clear, I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with any of these people (as much as that would be awesome) and all videos are taken directly from their own YouTube channels. This has been an exposé on all the people featured in the YouTube Rewind Style 2012, and 10,500 words later, I hope that you now have a better understanding of who each of these characters is and why they deserve this honor. At least for the year 2012, all of the names in this article made a big dent in the zeitgeist of our current culture. From the vulgarity of EpicMealTime to the dance moves of Alphacat, these people have made something everyone with an internet connection has access to. They have all given us something to enjoy.
As far as I'm concerned, 2012 was a good year for YouTube. And a good year for making social media seem like a new entry into the realm of show business. In case you want to see it again, here it is: the Rewind YouTube Style 2012!
I'll save you the full 2 minutes of scrolling back to the top to see it.