10 Canadian viral sensations

From the Maclean’s Blog of List: Canadians who shook the web

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Dave Carroll, author of 'United Breaks Guitars' - Photo by Andrew Vaughan, CP Images

1. Star Wars Kid

In 2002, Ghyslain Raza of Trois-Rivie?res, Que., made Internet history by leaping around with a makeshift light saber. He needed psychiatric care for all the subsequent bullying, and his parents sued the families of the classmates who leaked the video. It’s been viewed an estimated one billion times.

2. Walk off the Earth

The indie band from Burlington, Ont., who covered Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know—with all five band members playing one guitar—earned a record deal, and inspired a parody song during the Vancouver Canucks brief 2012 playoff run. YouTube views: 113 million.

3. Ultimate Dog Tease

Halifax comedian Andrew Grantham gave voice to a German shepherd being teased with meat, and it became Canada’s second-most-watched YouTube video of 2011 (Rebecca Black’s Friday was No. 1). YouTube views: 108 million.

4. Lady Gaga Girl

With just a piano and her powerful voice, 10-year-old Maria Aragon recorded herself singing Lady Gaga’s Born this Way last year and got a flood of online attention, including from Gaga herself. A chain of Philippine malls later hired Aragon as their holiday season spokesperson. YouTube views: 51 million.

5. Emerson Baby

Under the title “Emerson—Mommy’s nose is scary!” five-month-old Baby Emerson from London, Ont., is both endlessly terrified and delighted by the sound of his mother blowing her nose. YouTube views: 36 million.

6. S–t Girls Say

When Toronto-based artists Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard spliced together stereotypical girl-talk banalities, it was the meme that launched a thousand social analyses—and a book deal with Harlequin. YouTube views: 29 million.

7. Corey Vidal

In 2008, Corey Vidal made a video of himself singing a four-part harmony for Star Wars (John Williams is the Man), a compilation of Star Wars-inspired lyrics sung to the composer’s most famous film scores. YouTube views: 17 million.

8. United Breaks Guitars

After a flight aboard United Airways in 2008, Dave Carroll of the band Sons of Maxwell discovered his $3,500 guitar had been broken. When
the airline refused compensation, he wrote a song about his ordeal that drew worldwide attention and a book deal. YouTube views: 12 million.

9. He?le?ne Campbell

When 21-year-old Campbell found out she was ill, she created @alungstory while awaiting a double lung transplant, garnering thousands of followers, including Justin Bieber and a surprise video call from Ellen DeGeneres. She received her transplant in April.

10. Arrested Drunk Guy


In November 2011, Robert Wilkinson of Edson, Alta., was arrested by RCMP for allegedly driving drunk. Proclaiming himself sober from the back seat of a squad car, he launched into a passionate, and remarkably accurate, a cappella rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody—all six minutes of it. YouTube views: 8 million.

Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The answers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists, hitting stands in time for Canada Day.

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