- TikTok released its year-end report on Monday, including a list of the platform’s top videos.
- At number one was @totouchanemu’s viral dance video to “Stay,” filmed with a drone.
- The list included other videos with million of likes that sparked some of the year’s biggest trends.
The top TikTok video of 2021 was a drone-filmed video of a man dancing to “Stay” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber, according to the platform’s year-end report.
TikTok defined its top videos as those that “make up some of this year’s biggest moments.” All have like counts that number in the millions, and David Allen’s (whose handle is @totouchanemu) “Stay” video, which has amassed 43.9 million likes and over 313 million views since he uploaded it on July 28, came out on top, both in the US and globally.
The video shows Allen in a blue button-up shirt, white over-the-ear headphones, and sunglasses shaking his butt and rotating his arms forward while dancing on a hilltop. Its soundtrack, “Stay,” exploded on the platform this year.
Allen, an Austin, Texas-based wedding photographer, has 8.9 million followers on TikTok. His viral success has led to him balancing his two careers as a photographer and content creator — as well as getting asked if he’s “the TikTok guy” at weddings that he’s shooting, he told Insider in an interview.
Allen said that his viral success — and being named TikTok’s top video of the year — still “doesn’t feel real,” but that he’s “very grateful and feel lucky as all get out.” While he said that he still doesn’t completely understand why his video exploded in the way that it did, he thought that “it seemed to just give people good vibes” based on the reception in its comments.
The video drew inspiration from another creator: Max Taylor (@maxtaylorlifts), who posted a video on his side account @maxtaylorgames on July 27 shaking his butt to the song that amassed 12 million likes.
“The main theme of my TikTok is ‘How can I do this popular trend in a different visually stunning way?'” Allen told Insider over email. “Which is actually how the Stay video originated, since it was inspired by the dance of @maxtaylorlifts.”
While he makes plenty of other videos within that theme, filming his own takes on other TikTok trends, the “Stay” format has become a cornerstone of Allen’s content on TikTok. He’s filmed iterations upon it with celebrities and influencers like Bella Poarch, Jason Derulo, and Paula Abdul, to great success even months after the original.
There is “no shortage of commenters who are happy to remind me that the bit is getting old,” said Allen, who added that he’s willing to keep iterating upon the format until people lose interest. “But there are tons of creators who would kill to find a format that works this well for them and I refuse to take that for granted.”
TikTok identified nine other top videos of 2021 in the United States
Coming in at number two in the US was @chipmunksoftiktok’s June 18 video showing Squishy the chipmunk filling his mouth with a seemingly impossible number of nuts, which has 34.5 million likes.
At number three is a May 7 video from the user @_catben_ that shows them restocking spices, snacks, bathroom items and cleaning supplies. To date, it’s amassed 25.1 million likes.
And at number four is a July 18 video from @my_aussie_gal showing Secret the Australian Shepherd painting a flower that has 30.7 million likes.
The number five video was from Zach King, a “movie magic” creator whose June 15 video showing him seemingly disappearing into chalk art amassed 16.9 million likes.
Number six was @tracy.oj’s July 14 video showcasing her choreography to Doja Cat’s “Woman,” which became one of TikTok’s biggest dance challenges of the year. It has 25.6 million likes.
@chaotticgoood’s March 14 video showing them participating in the “Please Don’t Go” trend amassed 4.7 million likes and was TikTok’s seventh top video of the year. The trend involves the Mike Posner song of the same name, and involves cutting to footage of yourself and a friend driving, typically while wearing Hollywood-style hair scarves.
The eighth-top video in the United States was @felixgabrielmusic’s take on “here comes the boy,” a song based on a short jingle sung by TikTok user @june_banoon. His arrangement added synth strings over the original jingle, as well @alexfromsf’s piano arpeggios, and received 1.1 million likes. It’s been used in over 334,000 videos on the app.
The number nine video was Olympic champion Sunisa Lee’s video celebrating her gold medal, posted on July 29. With 7.2 million likes, it shows Lee dancing to a sped- and pitched-up version of Azaelia Bank’s “Luxury” with the caption “on top of the world rn.”
The 10th-top video in the United States was @zeddywill’s July 24 comedy video, in which he asks a lovestruck friend “bro, who got you smiling like that?” It created some of the platform’s biggest soundbites: that particular line was remixed into a viral sound by the user @dan_is_nice along with the song “Loverboy” by A-Wall, and used in over a million videos.
Globally, other top videos included Scottish singer Nathan Evans’ cover of “The Wellerman,” which helped spark a sea shanty craze in January; an orange slice-based photoshoot video from German creator Younes Zarou; an aquarium video from São Paulo-based creator Lucas Cunha; and a video of Singapore-based creator @a.z.yx using TikTok’s Photo Crop video effect.