Their names are Wei Wei and Huang Yixin, but the world knows them as the Back Dorm Boys. In January 2005, they recorded their lip dub of "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys and uploaded it to their campus network, where is spread quickly. They put the video on YouTube in June 2005, just two months after the video-sharing website launched. The clip became one of YouTube's earliest viral sensations, and the Back Dorm Boys went on to pretend to sing many other songs.
Liam Kyle Sullivan was an up-and-coming comedian in 2006 when his female alter ego Kelly finally made him a pop-culture icon. The character sang the electroclash novelty song "Shoes," which earned viral fame when the music video found attention on YouTube. Sullivan had further hits with Kelly songs like ""Txt Msg Brkup" and "Let Me Borrow That Top," but nothing managed to achieve the same lofty success as "Shoes."
4. "Chocolate Rain"
Adam Nyerere Bahner, better known as Tay Zonday, became one of 2007's brightest viral lights with his original song, "Chocolate Rain." The video was nothing more than Zonday recording the song in his home studio**, but the unique quality of his baritone and the song's inexplicable lyrical content earned him his 15 minutes of fame. Zonday was smart enough to cash in, appearing on countless cable shows and even earning himself a gig as a spokesinger for Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr Pepper.
**He moved away from the mic to breathe in.
5. Sneezing Baby Panda
You may not know them by name, but you've seen the giant panda named Mao Mao and her cub, Xi Dou. More specifically, you've watched Xi Dou scare the bejesus out of his mom with a loud sneeze issued in the pair's enclosure at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China. The 17-second video of the panda pair has been on YouTube since Nov. 6, 2006, and since then has amassed nearly 220 million views. But we believe that figure translates to only a few hundred thousand unique viewers, since anyone who sees this video has to watch it at least 1,000 times.
6. Zombie Kid Likes Turtles
Here's what we know about Jonathon Ware: He's from Portland, Oregon (or its environs). In 2007, he got an awesome facepaint job and was a great zombie. And, most importantly, he likes turtles. We found out later that Jonathon was nervous about his on-camera interview, and having just seen a turtle exhibit, blurted out the first thing on his mind. But this background info doesn't detract from the delight of Jonathon's immortal non sequitur, nor his legacy as a viral-video legend. As the always eloquent then-10-year-old put it in a followup interview: "I'm famouser than a lot of other people!"
7. "What What (In the Butt)"
Perhaps the greatest Valentine's Day card ever bestowed upon the planet, the music video for "What What (In the Butt)" by Samwell was uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 14, 2007. It thrilled the world with its startlingly frank appreciation for a particular kind of physical love. Samwell later appeared on Tosh.0 to perform an unplugged version of his ribald hit along with Josh Homme. Sadly, we haven't heard more from Samwell since then. Like so many one-hit wonders that came before him, a star that shines as brightly as Samwell shone is bound to burn out more quickly than most.
8. Leave Britney Alone
In 2007, Britney Spears needed a win after an apparent nervous breakdown that involved shaving her head and attacking paparazzi with an umbrella. She tried a comeback performance on MTV, but it was widely mocked. Enter Chris Crocker, a Britney fan who would become her greatest defender. Hot tears streamed down Crocker's face as he shamed us into remembering "She's a human!" Crocker's vlog was a mix of earnest empathy — as a gay kid from the Bible Belt, he understood ostracization — and over-the-top theatrics. Looking back on his 15 minutes of fame, Crocker still believes in the message: "I don't understand why I was the only person or the first person to say, `Leave Britney alone.' And I think that for anyone that looks beyond the dramaticness of the video, what I said was very true."
9. Grape Stomp Lady
This clip is from a WAGA-TV news story about a grape-stomping contest in Atlanta. Field reporter Melissa Sander demonstrated squishing grapes with her bare feet while standing in a tiny plastic tub inexplicably placed on an unrailed platform 3 or 4 feet in the air. Because it was a competition, Sander added some "fun" by cheekily getting in a few extra stomps after time was up. But karma's a business, so Sander immediately tripped, tumbled and smashed her face into the unyielding ground far below. Her moose calls of pain were equal parts upsetting and hilarious, revealing a cold sadism within the hearts of the more than 16 million people who have seen the video on YouTube.
10. Miss Teen South Carolina Answers a Question
How often do you sputter out a rambling, incoherent reply to an unexpected question? Weekly? Daily? Then don't judge Caite Upton, who got caught with her verbal pants down on national TV during the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant. After she was asked some dumb question about Americans and geography, Upton dribbled a bunch of nonsense about "the Iraq" and "the Asian countries," plus a dizzying armada of filler words like "uh," "er," "like" and "such as."
Poor Upton's bad moment made her a national joke for a little while. Thank goodness supermodel Kate Upton came along later to become the new most famous person with that name, taking the attention off of the lovely Palmetto State pageant queen.
In June 2006, a YouTuber called lonelygirl15 launched a vlog that quickly earned a following. She was a teenager who described her mostly mundane, suburban life. But over time, she began talking more and more about her involvement with some weird cult. Fans cried shenanigans, and by September, the creators of lonelygirl15 revealed that it was indeed a scripted Web series. The apparent "hoax" caused widespread outrage and disappointment across a population not yet cynical about viral marketing.
12. "Here It Goes Again"
"Here It Goes Again" is not the first DIY OK Go video to feature complex choreography; that honor belongs to the pre-YouTube "A Million Ways." It also wasn't the most elaborate video the group ever made; they've topped themselves again and again since. But "Here It Goes Again" was the video that made OK Go a sensation, erupting in views and even earning the band a chance to recreate their impressive treadmill dance live at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.
13. Evolution of Dance
Judson Laipply bills himself as an "inspirational comedian." We don't necessarily get any of that from his "Evolution of Dance," but we can understand why the impressive performance of more than 30 fad dances in under six minutes became the first true King of Viral Videos. Back in 2006, "Evolution of Dance" was seen more than 70 million times in under eight months. Though it has long since been dethroned from the top, the clip for quite a long time was both the No. 1 most-viewed video on YouTube and the No. 1 best-rated video.
14. Charlie Bit My Finger
The "Evolution of Dance" reign atop the YouTube view lists ended in October 2009, when a clip of a baby biting a slightly bigger baby ascended to the throne. The original "Charlie Bit Me" video features an adorably British tot first laughing, then crying, then laughing again when his baby brother Charlie bites his finger. Yes, that's all that happens. It lapped "Evolution's" view count several times, and today remains the 16th-most-watched YouTube video of all time with its staggering 825 million views.
Check out the new trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie! Haha, gotcha. We told you we had a link to something you wanted to see, but it was really just a link to the music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley. You just got Rickrolled! Isn't that a hilarious prank? In case you've forgotten, everyone in the world thought so for years.
"Never Gonna Give You Up" predates YouTube by nearly 20 years, but when it was repurposed for Rickrolling in 2007, it not only became YouTube's longest-running meme, it made the song even more well-known than it had been upon its initial release. The Internet is real dumb sometimes, you guys.
16. "Lazy Sunday"
In 2005, "Saturday Night Live" hired a team of young comedians who called themselves The Lonely Island. The trio created a series of pre-recorded videos called SNL Digital Shorts, and the second one they made became one of the most viral videos of all time.
"Lazy Sunday" was such a hit when it aired on Dec. 17, 2005, that people immediately demanded to see it again and again. SNL uploaded the clip to YouTube, leading millions of folks to the site for the first time. NBC copyright hawks have since removed "Lazy Sunday" from YouTube, but it will always be the video that gave us the ubiquitous video-sharing website we never knew we needed. (You can still watch the "Lazy Sunday" Digital Short on NBC's website.)