YouTube's 10th birthday: Viral video's greatest hits

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first YouTube post with a walk down viral video's memory lane, year by year.

The most-watched video on YouTube has been viewed more than 2.3 billion times

Evolution of Dance was a viral heavy-hitter in the early years of YouTube. It has been viewed almost 300 million times. (YouTube)

The first video posted on YouTube was uploaded on Saturday April 23, 2005, by the site's cofounder Jawed Karim under the user name "jawed." 

In one of the most mundane YouTube posts you have probably ever seen, he refers to the length of the trunks of the elephants behind him at the San Diego Zoo in a clip titled Me at the Zoo.

Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of that historic post, and the video received some renewed love as well-wishers dropped by to say Happy Birthday. While there's no word on what the elephants are doing these days, YouTube has gone mainstream in the intervening decade. Here are some of the most-watched viral videos on YouTube year by year: 

Mutant Giant Spider Dog (2014)

YouTube user SA Wardega topped the most-watched on YouTube last year. In it, a Polish prankster dresses his dog up as a giant tarantula and scares unsuspecting people – YouTube gold. Last year's top viral videos also included the Toronto-made iPhone 6 Plus 'bendgate' video.

What Does the Fox Say? (2013)

The top viral videos of 2013 were The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) by Norweigian duo Ylvis and Harlem Shake (original army edition), one of the Harlem Shake videos that was a major internet meme that year.

Gangnam Style (2012)

Psy's best known song, Gangnam Style, holds the most-watched-ever title. It currently has over 2.3 billion views and contains plenty of horse dancing.

Gangnam Style also took the top prize for 2012. Among the other most-viewed that year, 5-member Canadian band Walk off the Earth played Gotye's Somebody that I used to Know on one guitar and a brave soul pulled off a supersonic freefall from 128 km above the earth

Friday (2011)

The most-viewed video of 2011 was Friday by Rebecca Black, a completely forgettable song about, you guessed it, Friday. That year YouTube was redeemed by the talking twin babies – two diaper clad siblings gabbing at each other like a couple of old men egging each other on. 

'Hide your kids' (2010)

Remember Antoine Dodson? An angry rant about an attack on his sister made the young Alabama man famous after it was turned into an auto-tuned song that made 2010 a special year for YouTube legends. 

It was also the year of the double rainbow - User Yosemitebear's "full-on double rainbow across the sky." The video of the two rainbows, which he filmed while crying and asking, "What does this mean?" was tweeted by Jimmy Kimmel and legitimately went viral. The man behind the video, Paul Vasquez, later appeared in a segment on Tosh.0


The top viral YouTube video of 2009 was Britain's Got Talent darling Susan Boyle auditioning with a rendition of I Dreamed a Dream. It also featured the YouTube classic Jill and Kevin's Big Day, which was recreated during Jim and Pam's wedding on The Office, and viral kingpin David After Dentist


In 2008, Bill O'Reilly flips out and "does it live," Drunk History is born, and Tom Cruise opens up about Scientology, rather nonsensically. 


Who can forget 2007's Charlie Bit Me, the grandaddy of viral videos that was formerly the most viewed YouTube video.

2007 & 2006

Chris Cocker's 2007 Leave Britney Alone video made him an internet star, as Battle at Kruger did for a herd of buffalo, a pride of lions and a pair of crocodiles in South Africa. Evolution of Dance was a top contender in 2006 along with Lonelygirl15