Home Evolution of Dance No Longer King: An Era Has Ended

Evolution of Dance No Longer King: An Era Has Ended

The king of YouTube’s All Time Most Viewed Leaderboard, Judson Laipply, creator of the Evolution of Dance, has been unseated. The new leader is a fast climbing Italian video on top of a remix of a Brazilian song popularized by an iPod Touch commercial and titled “CANSEI DE SER SEXY Music is My Hot Hot Sex“. Foul play is suspected, however, as the new leader displays a number of statistical anomalies in viewership numbers.

It’s a new era for YouTube. No longer is the number one video of all time a plucky American dancing to 50 years of this country’s greatest hits. The new leader is a video made and viewed primarily from outside the U.S., explicitly tied to a current commercial campaign and suspected to be part of the now widespread cheating on the site.

Hot Hot Sex is truly a defining video for the current era online – the heady days and American flavored story of “well, golly look at that” user generated content are over.

The International You

Hot Hot Sex deserves some analysis beyond the suspicions it faces. For one thing, YouTube now gets a majority of its viewer ship from outside the U.S. so it only makes sense that the #1 video of all time isn’t from the U.S. There are now three of the 20 all time most viewed videos on YouTube with non-English titles. Non-native English speakers and other languages are an essential part of US culture and English titled videos are of course viewed substantially outside of the US – but the growing internationalization of the site can’t help but increase the prominence of non-English videos. The victory of Hot Hot Sex is a strong signal of the global reach of YouTube.

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Additionally, the new leader is a video based on a song that was popularized by an iPod Touch commercial. The YouTube folk story has been that it’s the poster-child for the rise of user generated video, it’s America’s Funniest Home Videos broken free of the TV, it’s the more authentic American Idol. It’s laughing babies and piano playing cats.

Except it’s not, at least at the fat end, opposite the long tail. The big majority of the most viewed videos of all time on YouTube are commercial productions. There’s a laughing baby, there’s an oddly unfunny puppet show and somebody playing the guitar. Other than that it’s all big star music videos. It’s like low-quality MTV from the days when they showed music videos. It’s not user generated content at all. It would be interesting to see how the total views of User Generated content in the long-tail compare to the fat head of big act music videos, but that information would not be easy to acquire. For now, all hail the new king – Hot Hot Sex, a fan remixed commercial hit popularized by an iPod commercial. It may not be a traditional music video, but it’s certainly more complicated than a laughing baby.

Pants on Fire

Allusions to sex are a big factor in much of YouTube’s daily viewership (and who’s not a fan of sex?) but it’s widely understood that there’s something even funkier going on with numbers for many videos. From home-baked page refreshing scripts to high-end soulless cheating/marketing campaigns – there’s all kinds of ways to artificially inflate the number of views for your video, and thus its prominence on the popularity-based parts of the YouTube site. (See the subhuman Dan Ackerman Greenberg’s post on TechCrunch, for example.)

Upcoming.org co-founder and now investigative blogger Andy Baio brought this whole story to the world’s attention with some number crunching he posted today. To put it simply, Hot Hot Sex has a views-to-comments/ratings ratio wildly disproportionate with the majority of other videos on the YouTube leaderboard and there’s no clear source off-site for the huge upswing in traffic the video is getting in the past few months. Its numbers look more like the numbers of some other questionable mega-hits than they do the numbers of videos like Evolution of Dance, the music videos or the laughing baby cats playing piano.

The video’s creator, Italian music blogger Clarus Bartel, runs a related and active music blog, but judging from the comments and inbound links – and there are essentially none of either – it’s not Bartel’s blog that’s driving the YouTube views. A forthcoming YouTube analytics tool suite may offer us some more perspective.

It’s fishy, it’s international and its commercial. It’s also not a bad little video. That’s the new YouTube story, at least as far as the most visible parts of the site are concerned. There’s certainly still a lot of great, original, noncommercial content out in the long tail – see a search for “wheel throwing” for some great pottery videos, for example. Be that as it may, let all the subjects in the kingdom of YouTube know, there’s been a change of leadership, at least as far as content is concerned.

Throw in YouTube Live, which is coming later his year, and the future of online video’s biggest site is going to look very different from its storied past.

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