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7 best YouTube videos of 2023

Even as apps like TikTok dominate many people’s screen time, YouTube has endured as a source for whatever it is that you might be interested in watching. Sports highlights? On YouTube. Clips from late-night shows? Same. Music videos? YouTube’s got ’em.

Because YouTube has such a diverse array of options, it can be hard to narrow down our list to just seven to represent the entire year. Needless to say, there are plenty of videos that could have made this list, but didn’t. For our money, though, these seven are some of the best ways you could’ve spent your time on YouTube this year.

Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

Rihanna’s FULL Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show

Undoubtedly one of the most impressive Super Bowl halftime shows of the last 10 years, Rihanna managed to thrill during her performance without appearing to work all that hard. Of course, just because it didn’t look hard doesn’t mean it wasn’t. More importantly, though, it was also just the reminder we all needed that Rihanna has churned out more bangers than almost anyone over the past 20 years.

She didn’t even get to every song you might have expected, and that’s only a function of her incredibly deep catalog. On top of that, she revealed a pregnancy in the same casual fashion she used for everything else.

Olivia Rodrigo covers Stick Season

Olivia Rodrigo - Stick Season (Noah Kahan cover) in the Live Lounge

Two of the year’s biggest breakthrough musical acts got to cross over when Oliva Rodrigo covered Noah Kahan’s Stick Season for BBC Radio 1. The cover captures all the wistful charm of the original recording, but benefits enormously from Rodrigo’s incredibly expressive vocals.

It stays largely faithful to the original, but Rodrigo caught this song at exactly the right moment. Now, Kahan is the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, but when Rodrigo covered Stick Season, she likely helped it blow up.

Taylor Swift watches a Chiefs football game

Taylor Swift at Arrowhead watching Travis Kelce and the Chiefs

This is an ongoing phenomenon, to be sure, but nothing captured the internet’s attention quite the way Taylor Swift’s first appearance at a Kansas City Chiefs game did. Swift, sitting next to her beau Travis Kelce’s mother, took in the game just as the public was realizing that this was a real relationship.

The way she watched the game — from her celebrations to her looks of concern — only made the whole thing more relatable. On top of all that, Swift undoubtedly exposed an entirely new audience to the notion of football, in all of its confusing complexities.

The History of the Minnesota Vikings

Trailer | The History of the Minnesota Vikings, a Dorktown docuseries

Actually an entire series, The History of the Minnesota Vikings is the latest effort from the fine folks at Secret Base, who tell long documentary stories about the world of sports. Using statistics and charts as their backbone, these documentaries manage to be both hugely insightful and deeply moving, especially because Jon Bois and his team choose topics so carefully.

In this series, we learn about the complete history of the Minnesota Vikings, including plenty of insights into particular players and moments in the history of a franchise that has had plenty of success, but has yet to actually win a Super Bowl.

The Barbie trailer

Barbie | Teaser Trailer

The first look at Barbie was so exciting in part because no one had any idea what to expect from Greta Gerwig’s movie about the incredibly successful toy.

What we got, as it turns out, was a parody of the opening moments of 2001: A Space Odyssey that made it clear just how game-changing the introduction of Barbie was for a bunch of girls who were entirely accustomed to playing with baby dolls. The movie didn’t offer much in the way of plot details, but we didn’t really need them. This was the Barbie movie, and we were all going to be there.

Washington’s Dream sketch on Saturday Night Live

Washington's Dream - SNL

Saturday Night Live has always been funny on a fairly irregular basis, but at least once a year, it gives us a sketch that is simply unimpeachable. Such was the case with Washington’s Dream from the episode hosted by Nate Bargatze.

The host plays the role of George Washington here, and he proceeds to offer inspiration to his men by telling them about his dreams for the future, including a sport called football that involves only “a little kicking” and a system of measurement that seems so random it could only be intentional. It’s dry, sardonic, and deeply hilarious.

Corrections episode 82 (Seth Meyers)

CORRECTIONS Episode 82: Week of Monday, October 16

Seth Meyers may be the best host in late night, and Corrections is his masterpiece. This running, YouTube-only series features Meyers addressing corrections that he receives throughout the week from listeners.

What should be a relatively simple conceit has quickly evolved into something that features a series of running jokes and bits that are too strange or experimental to ever air on NBC. Not everything works, but when Corrections is really humming, as it is in this episode, there are few things on YouTube that are more likely to make you laugh.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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