Watch: What the most-viewed YouTube videos of 2017 say about Canadians

YouTube's top-ten chart for 2017 shows that we love heartwarming videos of Prince Harry, sea lion sneak attacks and Despacito. But some of these front-runners are simply baffling.

The top trending video of 2017, posted by Vancouver resident Michael Fujiwara, shows this sea lion suddenly pull a little girl into the water at Steveston Wharf in Richmond. One day after Fujiwara posted the video  Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 2.6 million times on YouTube.

Michael Fujiwara/ YouTube

The top trending video of 2017, posted by Vancouver resident Michael Fujiwara, shows this sea lion suddenly pull a little girl into the water at Steveston Wharf in Richmond. One day after Fujiwara posted the video Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 2.6 million times on YouTube.

Every December, YouTube releases its “rewind” lists — the top ten most-watched videos, broken down by country and subdivided into three genres: movie trailers, music, and all the rest (called “trending”).

Now the views have been counted. The tabs are all closed. The numbers have been crunched. And, well — how to say this, Canada?

According to Nicole Bell, communications lead at YouTube Canada, videos posted between Dec.1, when the roundup is compiled, and the turn of the year on Dec. 31, don’t qualify for the rewind. So if you’re planning to shoot the next big viral video over holiday break, hold off posting it till New Year’s Day.

This year’s rewind is weighted towards grassroots, user-generated content, in contrast to last year, which included Adele’s Carpool Karaoke and So You Want to Move to Canada, Eh? from The Ellen Show. A lot of the talk-show and comedy content this year was political (read: a huge bummer) and “not very shareable,” Bell said.

Now, without further preamble, here are some highlights of Canada’s YouTube Rewind, divided into arbitrary categories invented by me. For the full lists, scroll the end of this post.

Top fail of 2017

There will never be a more popular YouTube genre than “opportunities to laugh at other people’s idiocy and/or pain.” Hence, the number-one trending video in Canada in 2017 depicted a sea lion dragging a little girl by her backside into the waters off Steveston’s wharf in Richmond, B.C. (She was, blessedly, unharmed, and all of us learned a valuable lesson about not feeding wildlife or allowing children to do so).

Most Heartwarming

The quiet gay love story at the heart of the student-made, Kickstarter-funded short film In A Heartbeat stole Canadians’ hearts this year. Aww.


Cheeky tot steals food from literal royalty. ‘Nuff said.

Weird Animal Stuff

The most watched livestream on Youtube of all time is not a video game or a world-cup match or an election debate. Nah, it’s the slow, gory process of a giraffe at an adventure park in New York State giving birth in real-time. 1.2 million people tuned it at the moment of birth, Bell said, and 15 million in all.

It’s a wolf attacking a moose in Sault Ste. Marie. At one point it chases the poor thing into a lake. I can’t describe it as well as you can watch it.

Least surprising

In “no, duh” news, Spanish-language summer jam Despacito was far and away the number one music video of the year. But Canadians liked the Justin Bieber remix far more than other countries, Bell said. Patriotic pride! The OG Despacito with Daddy Yankee surpassed Gagnam Style’s five-year reign as the most-viewed YouTube video of all time, earning nearly 4.5 billion views to Gangnam’s 3 billion.

Side note: When it comes to Spanish songs on YouTube, I still say this one ought to be the undisputed champ. (One Semester of Spanish Love Song)

Some critics call it the worst Taylor Swift song ever, but Look What You Made Me Do was the sixth-most watched music video on Canadian YouTube this year.

Engineered to go viral

It’s the only Buzzfeed video in the Canadian top ten, but there are many, many more in the Top 100, Bell said. This pick probably just reflects Canadians' well-documented love of fried dough. (We allegedly have more doughnut shops per capita than any other nation on Earth).

Trailers for movies people realized they didn't want to see

Intriguingly, previews for the Emoji Movie and Boss Baby were among the most watched on YouTube this year, but neither cracked the top 10 in terms of actual North American box office results. Perhaps not coincidentally, zero per cent of top critics on Rotten Tomatoes recommend the Emoji Movie.

Surprising, yet unexciting

This gets counted like one video but it's actually a 24/7 live-streaming global news channel in French. It came in tenth in trending. Yay journalism!

This compilation of ping-pong ball tricks came fourth. 2017 was weird.

BONUS: Canadian flops the rest of the world loved

In my personal opinion, BBC dad, the political pundit being spectacularly upstaged by a three-year-old and an infant, is the finest content ever posted on YouTube, and indeed, the entire Internet. But it missed the list in Canada. Coming in at number six on trending, on the other hand, is the feminist parody. In it, a woman suffers the same interruption, but powers through it while also preparing dinner and defusing a bomb.


Canadians overlooked this crazy-amazing clip of a banging power-ballad performance on a Vietnamese contest show in the vein of American Idol. It was the top trending video on YouTube worldwide this year, and it didn't even crack our top ten.

Canadian YouTube Stats, 2017
Courtesy of YouTube Canada

Top Trending Videos

Top Music Videos




Luis Fonsi

Shape of You

Ed Sheeran

I'm the One

DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne

That’s What I Like  

Bruno Mars


Kendrick Lamar

Look What You Made Me Do

Taylor Swift


The Weeknd

Stay (Lyric Video)

Zedd & Alessia Cara

Bodak Yellow  

Cardi B

There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back

Shawn Mendes

Top Movie Trailers



Star Wars:  The Last Jedi Official Teaser

Star Wars

IT - Official Teaser Trailer

Warner Bros. Pictures

Thor: Ragnarok Teaser Trailer [HD]

Marvel Entertainment

Black Panther Teaser Trailer [HD]

Marvel Entertainment

DEADPOOL 2 Teaser Trailer (2018)

KinoCheck International

JUSTICE LEAGUE - Official Trailer 1

Warner Bros. Pictures

THE BOSS BABY "Diapers" Trailer Tease  

FRESH Movie Trailers

12 FEET DEEP Trailer  

Movie Coverage

THE EMOJI MOVIE Trailer 1 - 3 (2017)

Entertainment Access

BLADE RUNNER 2049 - Official Trailer

Warner Bros. Pictures

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