Most talked-about videos of 2017

From a bullied schoolboy to Despacito, we round up some of the biggest viral hits

Pepsi's protest advert featuring Kendall Jenner was taken down almost immediately after a massive backlash
(Image credit: Pepsi Co.)

In 2016 we couldn’t get enough of viral videos, from “Chewbacca mom” to Beyonce’s half-time gig at the Super Bowl.

So what were the top ten most talked-about videos in 2017? Here are The Week’s candidates...

10. Sophia, the Saudi robot

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Saudi Arabia made headlines for granting citizenship to a robot - with critics joking that it had more rights than most of the kingdom’s women. Stories about Sophia (aka, the “hot robot”) were posted and reposted. Not only does Sophia not wear the traditional hijab, but she also talked openly about wanting to start a family of mini-robots.

9. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad

Kendall Jenner’s widely mocked Pepsi advertisement racked up more than seven million YouTube views - followed closely by the “Kendall Jenner breaks down in tears over Pepsi ad” vid. Why was it so controversial? The sight of model and reality TV star Jenner quelling protest tensions by offering riot police a can of fizzy flavoured water sparked an outcry. The drinks maker was accused of trivialising street demonstrations, particularly those of #BlackLivesMatter. Pepsi pulled the ad within 24 hours of its release.

8. Ping-pong trick shots

Dude Perfect’s “Ping Pong Trick Shots” was among the three most viewed YouTube sponsored ads of 2017. It also had incredibly high engagement, with three million likes and 393,000 comments proving how much viewers loved the seven minutes of impressive ping-pong trick shots.

7. The Masked Performer - CNN

A man dressed as an oyster doesn’t sound like the makings of a video hit, but it was when the man sang the rap song Until We Will Become Dust, which starts out as a ballad, on Thailand’s singing contest show The Mask Singer. The TV show requires performers to wear elaborate masks to conceal their identities. It is a catchy premise, but who’d have dreamt that the performance would rack up more than 180 million YouTube views?

6. Despacito

Hit music video Gangnam Style, by South Korean rapper Psy, has been bested by Puerta Rican singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi’s Despacito, featuring rapper Daddy Yankee, with more than 4.4 billion views - and getting more by the day. The video shows the Puerta Rican pair performing the song in the Old San Juan neighbourhood of La Perla and in local bar La Factoria. Despacito (or “slowly” in English) topped the charts in 47 countries and became the first Spanish song to reach No 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 since Macarena in 1996.

5. Ed Sheeran

A round of applause is also due for Ed Sheeran. The singer-songwriter inspired not one but two of YouTube’s Top Five viral videos in 2017. A clip of Shape Of You dance choreography, and Carpool Karaoke, featuring Sheeran singing with James Corden, ranked second and fifth respectively. By year’s end, Sheeran also scored a Christmas No 1, beating Eminem’s River and Wham! hit Last Christmas to the top spot. Sheeran revealed he has written a James Bond theme tune as well - although nobody has asked him to - but wasn’t providing details in case someone nicks it.

4. United Airlines passenger dragged off flight

Dr David Dao was an unknown until a couple of burly United Airlines security guards dragged him into the spotlight. The Kentucky doctor was forcibly removed from a flight after he refused to give up his seat, protesting that he needed to return home from Chicago to see patients. He later settled with United for an undisclosed sum. The fallout from the viral video of his treatment prompted the airline to offer up to $10,000 (£7,500) for passengers to give up seats. Within two days of the footage going public, in April, it had reportedly accumulated some 290 million views on China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, and the doctor’s name brings up 16,100,000 Google hits. (Warning: disturbing footage)

3. Irish father goes one-on-one with a bat

Tadhg Fleming had the camera rolling when a bat flew into the kitchen at his family’s home in Co. Kerry. His father, Derry - dressed in football shorts and woolly socks - decided to take matters into his own hands and catch the bat with a tea towel. Their dog, Basil, even makes a wet cameo appearance in the resulting video, watched by millions.The video was so widely shared, visitors have dropped by the family home asking to take photos of the bat, and the Fleming family were invited to appear on a US late-night talk show.

2. Keaton Jones

Tennessee student Keaton Jones poured his heart out in his mother’s car, too afraid to go to lunch and face his bullying tormentors. “Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It’s not OK,” a tearful Keaton says in the clip. The video went viral and saw the boy inundated with support from a host of celebrities ranging from Justin Beiber to Star Wars actor Mark Hamill. Keaton even inspired a “Go Fund Me” page, but there was no happily-ever-after ending. Keaton's parents were both accused of racist behaviour and Jones initially refused to return to school.

1. Robert Kelly’s BBC interview crashed by his child

Professor and South Korea expert Robert Kelly’s BBC interview started out so well - until his two children found their way into his office while he was live on air. His wife, Jung-a Kim, made a brief appearance trying to drag children Marion and James out of the room without being noticed, only serving to draw further attention to the comic turn of events. Kelly’s original BBC video got 25 million hits, with another 7.8 million fans tuning in for the family’s follow-up interview with the Beeb.

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