YouTube changes format for year-in-review Rewind 2019
Lack of direct involvement from creators draws mixed reviews
YouTube Rewind, the video platform's year-in-review, arrived in a brand-new format on Thursday after a torrent of negative reviews in 2018.
That year's video — which featured a monologue by Will Smith and the slogan "Everyone Controls Rewind" — was widely mocked and eventually gained 17 million downvotes, making it the most disliked video in the site's history.
This time, instead of an original production using some of its most famous users, YouTube simply created a collage of 2019's most popular content.
"In 2018, we made something you didn't like," text at the beginning of Rewind 2019 reads. "So in 2019, let's see what you DID like. Because you're better at this than we are."
The review breaks down the most-liked creator, music, dance and beauty videos; the most-viewed games and creators; and the top breakout creators.
Creators James Charles, Shane Dawson, Jimmy (MrBeast) Donaldson and Felix (PewDiePie) Kjellberg dominated the lists — each landing in multiple categories — reflecting the feuds and controversies that largely ruled YouTube in 2019.
Charles had the most-liked beauty video for his Makeup Tutorial en Español, itself a response to the 20-year-old model's ongoing feud with fellow beauty vlogger Tati Westbrook.
Donaldson's Make This Video The Most Liked Video On Youtube did exactly that, earning the No. 1 spot for creator videos. YouTube also briefly featured his TeamTrees initiative — a fundraising attempt to plant 20 million trees — something Donaldson's fans had demanded for weeks leading up to Rewind 2019.
Dawson's documentary series The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star, about a fellow YouTuber, was the second most-liked beauty video, while a Star video that featured Dawson was the fourth most viewed.
This year also marked the return of Kjellberg's PewDiePie channel in the Rewind series. Despite his massive popularity, he's been absent from the last two Rewinds amid controversy over anti-Semitic imagery in his videos and his popularity with alt-right groups .
But in 2019 Kjellberg was listed as YouTube's most-viewed creator, and had its second most-viewed video, in which he married his longtime girlfriend.
Among Canadians in this year's Rewind, Shawn Mendes' collaboration with Camila Cabello for their song Señorita was the most-liked music video of the year. Cosplayer Azra (AzzyLand) Bajrami was the tenth most-viewed creator, and rapper-singer Snow had the eighth most-liked music video for his collaboration with Daddy Yankee on Con Calma.
Though the category was not featured in the Rewind video, Con Calma was also the most-viewed music video, YouTube said.
Responses to Rewind 2019 have been largely negative. By early Thursday evening it had about one million dislikes, roughly double its likes, with some criticizing its lack of direct involvement from YouTubers — closer to a "top ten" ranking than the elaborately choreographed constructions they have come to expect.
YouTube generated its lists using data from early November, excluding geo-restricted content and content from channels such as media companies.
The new format was an attempt to better reflect how audiences use the site, according to the head of its culture and trends team.
Last year's Rewind "didn't authentically represent their YouTube experience or YouTube in general," Kevin Allocca told the technology news site the Verge.
"The decision this year is to try to actually represent that directly and as accurate as possible with the things that people really like."