YouTube’s “Rewind 2019: For the Record” is Far from Record-Breaking

Beginning in 2010, YouTube has released a “rewind” of the year consisting of everyone’s favorite content creators and popular internet trends. In recent years, YouTube Rewind has received backlash because of the perceived decline in quality, escalating in 2018 when the people of the internet made “YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind,” the most disliked video on YouTube, with over 17 million dislikes. In 2019, YouTube responded to the negativity and decided to listen to viewers’ plea for change. But it seems the problem has changed from YouTube Rewind missing the mark to not making a mark at all.


In “YouTube Rewind 2019: For the Record” YouTube recognized that they had “made something [the people of the internet] didn’t like.” In order to try and prevent that kind of backlash again, YouTube proceeded to change the rewind to a reboot in this year’s rewind. Rather than the usual formula, YouTube took the top YouTubers across the globe and compacted them into a WatchMojo styled montage list.


In a way, the idea to play it safe is clever. Viewers can’t complain when they indirectly chose who the video featured. YouTube even acknowledged their tactic, stating “the [viewers] are better at this than we are.”


The problem is that in adapting the outline to accommodate for the majority’s needs, the actual heart of the concept was sacrificed. Anything that brought life to past YouTube Rewinds was reduced to data and statistics. What YouTube fails to see is that viewers enjoy being excited by the content they consume. A simple list of videos won’t get someone’s heart racing.


This circles back to the question: what made YouTube Rewind exciting in the first place? In my opinion, the concept goes farther back than 2010. As children, when TV shows like “Wizards of Waverly Place” or “Hannah Montana” hosted a crossover, we lost our minds. YouTube Rewind was special in the same way. Seeing our favorite YouTubers on one screen interacting with each other gives life to the video.


However, YouTube Rewind wasn’t a complete loss. They shined a light on international YouTubers, fixing the issue of alienating those outside of the US. Unique genres were also mentioned such as dance videos and breakout YouTubers. Even PewDiePie, who has been in the Rewinds since 2013, made his long-awaited appearance along with other familiar faces such as Mr. Beast and Emma Chamberlain.


Strangely enough, one of the most prominent genres was completely cut from YouTube Rewind. Only one animator, “Pencilmation,” was included in the lineup which deviates from the past rewinds featuring a stream of popular YouTube animators. Creators often holding the #1 Trending spot, like theodd1sout or JaidenAnimations, were snubbed.


Overall, YouTube Rewind 2019 was underwhelming. While the video effectively dodged the bad press, it didn’t receive any praise either, as it is currently sitting at the 3rd place of most disliked videos, under Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” The new format generated a neutral response that had viewers disappointed. Anything vibrant or interesting about YouTube Rewind was scrapped. The only unanswered question now is how can YouTube overcome rock bottom? Well, as the saying goes, when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.