In February 2005, three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim—created the phenomenon we now recognize as YouTube. Before its launch, the inspiration for the site initially came from the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show along with the Indian Ocean tsunami that same year. The idea was to simply share videos of these events online for those who missed what was going on—but little did they know the site would revolutionize the way we consume media.
YouTube’s first video was uploaded on Apr. 23, 2005, which was a short clip of Karim visiting the San Diego Zoo. The “Saturday Night Live” skit “Lazy Sunday” by The Lonely Island blew up in December 2005—becoming one of the first viral videos of the site, and is directly responsible for catapulting its popularity.
An ordinary person can start making fun videos one day and then in an instant, it could be their claim to fame. From the overly dramatic, yet ever so truthful “Leave Britney Alone” to the quotable “Charlie Bit My Finger,” there have been countless videos over the years that have grasped our attention.
As we go through memory lane, let’s discuss three original videos from YouTube’s early years that should, if they haven’t already, be etched in the history books for eternity.
Any time you go shopping for shoes, it’s difficult to not hear Kelly’s voice in your head repeatedly saying, “Oh my God, shoes.” With over 60 million views, user LiamKyleSullivan uploaded one of the first comedic music videos to make it big. Whether it’s Kelly bluntly telling clerks who think she has too many shoes to shut up or the random scenes with two girls dancing with a ring of fire, there’s something infectious and oddly hilarious about it.
This legendary video by Tay Zonday is forever imprinted in our memory, and even if we haven’t seen it since its upload in April 2007, we somehow know the song by heart. As much time as we spent focusing on Zonday’s unexpectedly deep voice and the often parodied footnote of “I move away from the mic to breathe in,” most people completely looked over the meaning of the lyrics, which actually provided commentary on institutionalized racism. Being one of the first to navigate viral success, Zonday later appeared on many television shows and even released a promotional sequel to “Chocolate Rain” for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper.
YouTube also became a place to upload local television commercials and news broadcasts. Who could forget “Flea Market Montgomery” or even Sweet Brown’s “ain’t nobody got time for that” line? The same could be said for a young Jonathan Ware, who was asked by a reporter what he thought about his new zombie face paint—soon setting the Internet ablaze through the state-of-the-art reply: “I like turtles.” The unrelated excellence of the answer turned into a sensational meme and even has an excellent techno remix..
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.