How would you describe viral videos - a time waster, a guilty pleasure that kept you up late at night? This year, it felt like we encountered a brand new, ‘need-to-watch’ YouTube video about three times per day. Only a select few of the videos -- "Gangnam Style," "Felix Baumgartner's fall from space", "Call Me Maybe" and "Kony 2012," for instance -- survived the test of time. Viral videos -- from pop videos to advertising, parodies to accidental hits -- have been entertaining, and occasionally informing, us like never before in 2012.
Gangnam Style becomes YouTube's most watched video
What was the year’s most popular music video online? The answer would seem obvious: “Gangnam Style” by the South Korean rapper Psy, which in just a few months has racked up 942 million views, the most of any clip in YouTube’s history, thus redefining the term “viral hit”. It went on to overtake "Baby" by Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber.
Walk off the Earth
A rendition of a hit Gotye song featuring five people simultaneously performing on one guitar made to the most viewed music videos of 2012.
A digital campaign for peace: Kony 2012
Who was Joseph Kony? No one knew until "Kony 2012" was made. It was a video campaign by the group Invisible Children to make people aware of the atrocities carried out by Joseph Kony, a Uganda based, guerrilla militant and raise support for his arrest. "Kony 2012", went on to become the largest, most popular digital push for peace in recent times, wikth over 94 million views on Youtube.
Felix Baumgartner's fall from space
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who launched himself off the platform of his capsule 24 miles above Earth, has smashed the YouTube live view record with more than eight million people tuning in to watch the daredevil's leap.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”
Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," that catchy pop song that inspired countless parodies -- also topped the list of most-watched music video of 2012.
Best public service broadcast: Dumb Ways to Die
A public safety video for an above-ground railway system in Australia leaves a funny song in your head! Cartoon characters showing 'novel ways' of dying became an online sensation with over 26 million hits. It made to try and reach young people who are resistant to traditional shock warning adverts.
Internet's crying sensation: Abigael Evans
4-year-old Abigael Evans became an online sensation with 16 million views, after she burst into tears, frustrated with “Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney” and the endless coverage of the US 2012 presidential elections.
‘Curiosity’ lands on Mars
The landing of NASA's $2.5 billion craft ‘Curiosity Rover’ on Mars in August became one of the most watched videos online, as the rover began its exploration of the red planet.
London Games opening ceremony
The London Games opening ceremony was the spectacle of the year that projected the best of British theatrics and was watched by an estimated 900 million people across the world. The queen and James Bond gave the London Olympics a royal entrance like no other in the opening ceremony that rolled to the rock of the Beatles, the Stones and The Who.
Epic Rap Battles of History
This episode, featuring well-known Obama impersonator Alphacat, is from YouTube’s “Epic Rap Battles” which drew over 250 million views this year. Videos of Obama and Romney were viewed well over 2 billion times.
Disclaimer: Listing in no particular order