YouTube’s 2018 top-trending videos are “really a portrait of the modern celebrity – it’s dominated by YouTube creators who’ve built huge audiences and are making the biggest videos of the year,” said Kevin Allocca, head of culture and trends at YouTube. In past years, YouTube’s ranking of trending videos featured more mainstream content, including viral videos from late-night shows.
The No. 1 trending video was Jenner’s mini-documentary about the birth of her daughter, Stormi, with rapper Travis Scott. It was released on Feb. 4, Super Bowl Sunday, and garnered more than 53 million views in the first week. Given her Kardashian-clan heritage, “she’s definitely part of the traditional celebrity culture, but her predominant connection to her fans is online,” said Allocca.
The popularity of the Koshy and Dobrik breakup video, coming after the couple had been dating for two years, reflects the fact that “they’re like the Brangelina of the YouTube generation,” Allocca said. Their “We Broke Up” video, posted in June on Dobrik’s channel, had 14 million views in its first 24 hours and ranks No. 3 on the trending list. Together, Koshy and Dobrik’s YouTube channels have 2.5 billion views so far this year.
Other YouTube-native talent to make this year’s list include trick-shot artists Dude Perfect, taking the No. 2 spot with “Real Life Trick Shots 2”; Mason Ramsey, the yodeling Walmart tyke; and AsapSCIENCE’s explanation of why you hear “Yanny” or “Laurel” in that viral sound clip. Also trending was the first episode of “Cobra Kai,” a YouTube original series adaptation of “The Karate Kid” movies that tapped the nostalgia factor.
The top 10 also includes three videos from Asia, reflecting YouTube’s global footprint: a comedy sketch from India’s Amit Bhadana, the biggest Hindi creator on YouTube; a video showing two men building a moat-like swimming pool around an in-ground dwelling from Primitive Survival Tool, a channel based in Southeast Asia; a 2-hour musical comedy movie about the criminal underworld from Vietnamese singer Lâm Chấn Khang, part six in a series (the first video from Vietnam to make the list).
YouTube’s trending-video list doesn’t fully encapsulate the year’s zeitgeist, Allocca noted. One big trend not reflected was the proliferation of “Fortnite” dances, spurred by a number of World Cup players imitating the game’s signature moves. “There wasn’t a single ‘Fortnite’ video that was big enough to make the list but inarguably, it was a huge trend,” Allocca said.
Another big trend: the “In My Feelings” dance challenge, inspired by Drake’s song of the same name, which took off faster than you could say “Kiki, do you love me?” In fact, his official music video for the track was a tribute to the #InMyFeelingsChallenge (which also prompted a warning from the National Transportation Safety Board). Another Drake hit, “God’s Plan,” landed on YouTube’s top 10 list most-viewed music videos of 2018, which was dominated by Spanish-language artists.
In addition, on Thursday at 10 a.m. PT, the video platform is set to release the 2018 edition of YouTube Rewind, its annual mashup of the biggest music, trends, memes and characters of the year featuring YouTube stars and mainstream personalities. This year’s YouTube Rewind is again produced by digital studio Portal A.
The YouTube ranking of trending videos isn’t calculated solely on views: The list factors in multiple variables, including views, likes, comments and searches. In aggregate, the 10 top-trending YouTube videos of 2018 have more than 673 million views and have been watched for around 50 million hours.
YouTube 2018 Top-Trending Videos:
- Kylie Jenner, “To Our Daughter“
- Dude Perfect, “Real Life Trick Shots 2″
- Liza Koshy and David Dobrik, “We Broke Up“
- Mason Ramsey, “Walmart Yodeling Kid“
- AsapSCIENCE, “Do You Hear ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel’? Solved With Science”
- FIFA TV, “Portugal v Spain – 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia – Match 3“
- Primitive Survival Tool, “Build Swimming Pool Around Underground House“
- YouTube Originals, “Cobra Kai” Episode 1, “Ace Degenerate”
- Amit Bhadana, “Behan Bhai Ki School Life”
KhangProFilm, Lâm Chấn Khang – “Người Trong Giang Hồ Phần 6“
Pictured above: Liza Koshy and David Dobrik