Who’s the YouTube star of 2016?
But there was lots of competition around the world.
This month, YouTube Rewind released its list of the top 10 most popular YouTube videos in nearly 40 countries and regions, based on how many people viewed and shared them. Here’s a sampling from some of the places we cover in our blog.
Nigeria: The 6-year-old wisecracker
With nearly 6.7 million views, Nigeria’s top video of the year features a comedic faceoff between six-year-old Emanuella Samuel and a gang of bullies nearly twice her size. “You’re not afraid of me right?” she shouts (even though she is clearly afraid of them). The video, titled “I’ll Beat You,” is also ranked among the top 10 most popular videos in South Africa and Uganda.
Senegal: Doing the sabar
Last year, a new dance — the na goore — brought out the moves in Senegal. This year, something old is new again: sabar, a traditional Senegalese dance set to energetic drumbeats and characterized by “high-knee lifts and springing jumps,” as a New York Times dance critic put it. Abandoned during the French colonization of the 1800s, sabar re-emerged between the 1960s and 1980s under the country’s first president in the post-colonial period as a point of national pride. The video has picked up close to 1.4 million YouTube views.
India: Dad dares son to tell the truth
It’s the old game “Truth or Dare” played between a dad and his son — part of an infomercial from India’s first furniture rental company in an attempt to woo millennial shoppers. The 10-minute ad garnered 1.5 million views in just four days and is among the top 10 most popular videos in the country, with more than 6 million views. Dad starts off with innocent questions “What is the capital of Nagaland” and then goes in for the kill: “You have alcohol bottles hidden in your flat?”
South Africa: Trevor Noah hits home
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Trevor Noah’s skewering of South African president Jacob Zuma was the top video of 2016 in The Daily Show host’s home country. Zuma has been facing calls to resign after having been accused of corruption and political mismanagement. In the clip, Noah pokes fun at Zuma’s use of $15 million in state funds to “renovate his house” — including the installation of a pool, which Zuma said was actually a “fire pool” whose water would be used to put out any fires. And then there’s his inability to read aloud the numeral “769,870.”
Middle East: How do you say ‘owl’ in Arabic?
A video of a Kuwait-based talk show that ponders the future of the Arabic language has racked up 9.1 million views. The host asks some kids to name different animals. They know the English words “giraffe,” “crocodile” and “owl” but go blank when asked to say the names in Arabic. And it’s not just a joke: The National, a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, reports that experts are increasingly concerned about young Arabs speaking a hybrid language — usually Arabic laced with English — to sound more sophisticated and modern.
Uganda: Obsessed with chess
The trailer for Disney’s Queen of Katwe — a movie based on a true story about a young chess champion rising out of the slums — was the fourth most-watched video in the East African country, with 1.8 million views. As NPR previously reported, this is possibly the first Disney movie to be set in the Africa with all black actors.
Mexico: Rants from a vlogger
One of the top videos of 2016 from Mexico come from the second most subscribed YouTuber in the world. A native Chilean who likes to rant, he’s known mainly by his stage name HolaSoyGerman — Spanish for “hello, I am German,” which is his first name, pronounced Herman. He has over 30 million subscribers and 2.9 billion views. His most popular video this year, in which he enthusiastically spews out a string of thoughts on food, has reached 24 million viewers. He dramatizes, for example, his frustration of opening a bag of chips only to find filled mostly with air.
Indonesia: A pen-pineapple-apple-pen homage
The original Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen video didn’t break Indonesia’s top 10 list, but the song itself clearly struck a chord. The third-most popular video in that country, with 8.3 million views, is a version of the song by comedian Andre Taulany on an Indonesian talk show. The bit is just one of many imitations of the viral but head-scratching routine, showing that sometimes all it takes is a catchy beat and a silly dance to bring the world together.