YouTube's 2018 Global Hits: From Obama's Dancing Step-Grandma To A Beat Beyonce Loves
Each year, YouTube releases a list of the top videos from 40-plus countries, ranked by how many times they're viewed, liked, shared and commented on.
The 2018 list is a lively mix of humor, catchy beats and social commentary — not to mention a cameo from Barack Obama's step-grandmother busting some moves.
Here's a sampling of top international videos from the countries we cover in our blog.
Mexico — Roast yourself
YouTube vloggers get a lot of likes — and sometimes a ton of nasty comments. Mexico's YouTube has an ongoing "Roast Yourself" challenge in which the vloggers take the insults they've seen and create a song in response.
The same-sex couple Daniela Calle and María José Garzón, who have their own YouTube channel, had the most popular "Roast Yourself" video — and in fact the most popular YouTube video in Mexico — with an astonishing 95 million views.
Their song calls out viewers for mocking everything from their looks and fashion choices to their sexual orientation. "Quien es el hombre de la relacion? Soy yo, soy yo," they both sing. Who is the man in the relationship? It's me, it's me.
Bahrain/Middle East — A day as a supermarket employee
In a video filmed in Bahrain that became popular across the Middle East, Omar Farooq just wants to buy one thing but the supermarket isn't open yet.
So he sneaks in, slips on a uniform and makeshift hairnet and then decides to learn what it's like to work in a supermarket. He weeds out spoiled peppers, fillets fish and bakes bread (sneaking a bite). Then he races against the clock to deliver groceries to music that ranges from Middle Eastern to operatic.
The video, which racked up 4.1 million views, is part of a series called "Omar Tries," in which the young filmmaker puts himself through wacky experiments. He's also the star of his own TedXYouth talk.
Nigeria — A presidential joke
Comedian and social commentator Francis "I Go Dye" Agoda isn't afraid to use Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari as his punchline. In a video that's the third most popular in the YouTube ranking, Agoda critiques the president for turning a deaf ear to the country's problems.
"Everybody knows that no matter [what] you tell him, he will not listen," he jokes. Instead of explaining why he hasn't addressed complaints, Agoda suggests Buhari feign actual hearing loss: "The best is to tell them that 'I get the ear problem.'"
South Africa — Do the "Nayi le Walk"
Beyonce is a fan of the song "Nayi le Walk" from renowned South African producer DJ Maphorisa, with its slinky, propulsive beat. She even posted it on her Instagram. But her dance moves can't compare to the impressive footwork in this video featuring local dancers on a lonely road at night.
They step in unison, then show off their own kicks, swivels and dips. "Nayi le Walk" (which means "there's that walk") is currently a top hit in South Africa. This dance video ranked No. 1 in the country's 2018 list, beating out the likes of Trevor Noah and Kylie Jenner.
India — True-life crimes against women
Among the movie teasers and creative choreographies that topped India's list of most popular YouTube videos this year is an episode of the long-running reality series Crime Patrol. The TV show, presented in Hindi (without English subtitles) dives into actual cases through reenactments. This harrowing episode, which garnered more than 30 million views, recounts several rape cases of young girls in Mumbai in 2016.
Indonesia — Gold ticket for a 13-year-old singer
In her audition for "Indonesian Idol Junior," then 13-year-old Nashwa Zahira smiles shyly before wowing the judges with a sweet rendition of Marshmallow and Anne-Marie's 2018 pop hit "Friends." The hijab-clad teen won a "gold ticket" to go to the next stage in the TV contest — and more than 32 million views on YouTube.
Kenya — Obama (and his step-grandmother) have moves
It wouldn't be a complete list of YouTube hits without a clip of a politician dancing. In one of the top videos in Kenya, with 2.3 million views, former U.S. President Barack Obama sheepishly but suavely dances during a 2018 summer visit to his father's homeland, Kenya. He's soon upstaged by his 90-plus step- grandmother, who rises from her wheelchair and waggles her hips.
Philippines — A ghost's got talent, too
Pilipinas Got Talent isn't just for humans. On the talent show, a ghostly contestant tries to impress the judges with a popular party trick. Clad in an ethereal white gown, her pale face hidden by a veil of black hair, she cleanly pulls a towel from underneath a pot. But when she tries the trick with a fan, the fan goes flying.
A spirited performer, she tackles the tablecloth trick with bigger and bigger items: an old TV, a laundry machine, even one of the hosts. Succeed or fail, she sends the audience into gales of laughter and prompts one judge to exclaim, "Amazing talent. How did she do it?"
Linda Poon covers science and technology forThe Atlantic's blog. Find her on Twitter @linpoonsays.
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