Zany animal videos are a dime a dozen on the Internet. But a Canadian clip of a hungry, talking dog stood out as one of the biggest YouTube hits of the year.
The Ultimate Dog Tease video, created by Halifax comedian Andrew Grantham, captured the attention of a whopping 74 million viewers, earning the No. 2 spot on YouTube's lists of most-watched videos in Canada and around the world. It was topped only by Rebecca Black's notorious stinker Friday, which attracted around 180 million views, mostly based on its reputation as the worst music video ever.
Ultimate Dog Tease, uploaded in May, is roughly a minute-long conversation with a voiced-over German shepherd, reacting woefully to descriptions of meat he doesn't get to eat.
YouTube spokesman Aaron Brindle says he was blown away by the popularity of Grantham's mini-production, noting it was also the No. 1 YouTube clip in Britain this year.
"Outside of the Drakes and the Biebers, I really do believe he [Grantham] might have been the most consumed Canadian entertainer last year," Brindle says. "Based on these numbers, it's hard to argue."
Grantham could not be reached on Tuesday, but Brindle says the Halifax resident represents an entire Canadian cottage industry of Internet content providers who "make a decent living" through Web advertisements from such videos. Grantham has a sophisticated home-based operation of video editing and audio software, which he uses to produce other similar voice-over clips for his YouTube channel Talking Animals, Brindle says.
"It's one of those facets of Canadian culture that few people realize that there are these amazing online talents, generating incredibly popular content, and they're attracting these enormous global audiences," he says.
He attributes Ultimate Dog Tease's online success to clever writing, amusing voices and skillful editing. "I think it really does demonstrate a real craft."
Other videos that made it to the top 10 Canadian list are 12-year-old Winnipegger Maria Aragon's cover of the Lady Gaga song Born This Way (No. 3); Kijiji Canada's promotional video Eric Wants to Sell His Stuff. Fast. (No. 4); Saturday Night Live's Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton) (No. 5); a high-pitched, fast-tempo and repetitive music video of a digital cat, titled Nyan Cat [original]/i> (No. 6); Songify This – Winning – a Song by Charlie Sheen (No. 7); Volkswagen's The Force commercial, starring a miniature Darth Vader (No. 8); Einstein vs Stephen Hawking - Epic Rap Battles of History #7 (No. 9); and Emerson – Mommy's Nose is Scary! (Original), which shows a baby alternately laughing and frightened when his mother blows her nose (No. 10).
So what does the popularity of this hodge-podge of videos mean?
"I think it's a reflection of the-year-that-was in terms of what Canadians were interested in watching on YouTube," Brindle says. "It reflects our interest in being entertained. I think we're drawn to talent, I think we're drawn to something that surprises us."