It all started in 2006 with a website on which you could watch videos. It was later purchased by Google and is now the top video-streaming site in the whole wide world on the world wide web. That’s right, it’s YouTube. There is so much to watch and discover on YouTube, and as this is Subjectively Shortlisted, I’m now going to list some YouTube channels I think are the best of the best. In no particular order. So, set the quality to 2160p, make it full screen and enjoy.
Amazingly educational with all sorts of mind-boggling information and facts, Vsauce is one of my favourite YouTube channels of all time and was partly the inspiration for making my own educational content in Kanis Majoris. The man behind it, Michael Stevens, explains complex concepts such as how black holes are made, why we have déjà vu, nostalgia and a whole lot more in a way that is easy to understand — which is something I’ve always found extremely appealing. Each one of Vsauce’s videos (or most of them, anyway) answers a question that you probably didn’t even know you wanted answering, such as: What colour is a mirror? Is your red the same as my red? Is the Earth really flat? What is the speed of dark? Why do we play games?
Michael’s videos are well-researched and not only give you a ton of information about the topic of the video and a whole lot of other things but at times also leave you with a sense of wonder and curiosity. So many of his videos have left me feeling different about life. It’s a truly amazing YouTube channel that brings obscure knowledge in an accessible way — although it does get a little complicated at times when Michael begins to get really deep and science-y. I can pretty much guarantee that by watching Vsauce you will learn something new that you didn’t know before. And then there’s also all the Vsauce-related memes which may or may not add to the Vsauce fun.
Comprehensive music reviews across all different genres and time periods by Anthony Fantano. Although you may or may not agree with his views, his thorough analysis in every review and extensive knowledge of music is evident in all of his videos.
A totally unique YouTube channel documenting various chronicles of the internet in the most hilariously silly and ridiculously entertaining way. Despite the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good sense of humour, every video is thoroughly researched and I love how in-depth Internet Historian goes with his longer content. And the style and format is actually quite educational. I really wish more documentaries out there were like Internet Historian’s content.
A philosophical and curious channel based on various phenomena such as destiny, chance and the reality of life. This channel may (or may not) give you a different perspective of life and a lot to think about. Or maybe you’ll think it’s all just bullshit and sappy nonsense. Either way, the channel is uniquely made and beautifully written.
Movie reviews by Jeremy Jahns are always informative, reliable and tell you what you need to know without spoiling the movie. Jeremy’s relatable and likeable commentary on new movies, movie trailers and at times TV shows makes this a fun YouTube channel to check out if you like movies.
The most heart-breakingly sentimental and beautifully emotional channel ever. Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a channel that really needs to be talked about more. The channel — and the companion website — features a collection of made-up words with their definitions. On the channel, each entry is produced into a just-a-few-minutes-long video that brings out emotions and explains the concepts that make you feel like these fictional words are actually real.
A channel featuring short skits and commentary-type videos, Gus Johnson is YouTuber I check in on regularly. What I like best about his videos is that his sense of humour has so much variety and he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously. My favourite character of his is the “forced positivity dad” character that he does where he plays out ridiculously funny scenarios of a stereotypical Midwestern family man in a comedy style that reminds me of The Office (the US version, I mean). A lot of his other videos include his “mom” character in which relatable situations play out in a hysterical, improvised style. A lot of his videos feature his brother, Sven Johnson (he also has a hilarious YouTube channel), and what I find most funny is that if they’re both playing characters in some sort of skit, they will often break character and burst out laughing which actually makes it even funnier and making you as the viewer laugh even more. I don’t want to get too analytical here, but I think Gus Johnson’s videos are ingeniously comical on a whole new level, and I’m not even sure it’s done intentionally. It’s just a guy who is genuinely talented and knows how to make you laugh.
A channel that re-edits content such as movies and shows to create masterpieces in editing and cinematography that is done quite creatively and is fun to watch.
Another fun music channel that makes playlist-compilations of music but gives them funny titles like: this playlist will make you feel like a 19th century villain. The choice of music on this channel is mostly classical — Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc. — however there are some other types like Brazilian bossa nova, Russian pop from the ‘80s and oldie hits from the ‘50s. basically if you like old school-type music, this channel may interest you.
Hands down the best prank calls I have ever seen. Ever. Ownage Pranks has a series of characters all voiced by the same person that call up random businesses and people to create insanely funny, original and unique content. In my opinion, the older videos are a lot funnier, however, the channel has still kept its sense of humour, which is what I value the most from Ownage Pranks. I have seriously laughed so hard at some of these pranks that I almost fell off my chair. My favourites are the ones featuring Abdo and Buk Lau, and although now the channel mostly consists of fulfilling viewer requests, my faves are the old ones where he’d call up Walmart with a heavy accent and ask for something ridiculous or phone some restaurant claiming he’d gotten food poisoning from them and ask for a refund. What’s so unique about the way he does prank calls is, firstly, that his voices are all incredibly realistic. Whether it’s Chinese, Arab or African-American, he nails the accent impeccably. Secondly, he’s incredibly spontaneous with his calls and sometimes can keep the person on the phone for a really long time which makes for very entertaining content.
This ridiculously hilarious channel satirizes through short skits the relatable realities of modern life.
With his distinctive animation style and fast-paced voiceovers, CGP Grey is one of those educational YouTube channels that explains various topics and breaks down things into easy-to-understand bits of information.
This channel is a rare gem on YouTube hosted by Richard Wiseman with all sorts of fun magic, math magic, psychological-based content and illusions. A lot of the videos on this channel are a bit old and with low quality, but for me that’s a good thing. You know, for the nostalgic vibes.
A beautiful, minimalist channel with peaceful music and a nice aesthetic. Good to leave on in the background — or on a second monitor — whilst working.
A geography-related channel with a very ridiculously British sense of humour. The duo, composed of Jay Foreman and Mark Cooper-Jones, chronicle the weird, strange and fascinating with stories and facts relating to maps and places.
Another movie-related channel that poses strange notions like talking about how Neo isn’t actually the One in The Matrix or which state the town of Springfield (from The Simpsons) is actually located. Every video launches into an in-depth investigation that is intriguing and fun to follow along.
A YouTube channel that primarily makes short music memes. You like memes? You like music? You like short videos? Then go check out Yosuto.
A very prolific and informative channel dedicated to coffee. I drink coffee almost every day so I like this channel by James Hoffmann — who actually won the World Barista Championship in 2007 — as he provides good insight and info with a style of presenting information that appeals to me. I don’t however, like being too overly pretentious about coffee, which is the only aspect about this channel — and the coffee world in general — that I can’t really take seriously.
This is probably one of my favourite travel vloggers. Simply because the host, Benjamin Rich, has a really “up close and personal” style with his vlogs. He doesn’t do a lot of talking or giving a tour around the places he visits; it’s more like him just experiencing things as he likes and then just filming it, basically.
Marc Rebillet is a YouTube musician who makes funky, groovy and comedic beats that are often spontaneous and improvisational. He does a lot of live streams but I really like his short-format videos.
ReThinking Tourism has a simple concept: well-written narrations with parodies of travel-related things. These videos are witty, funny and relatable. If that’s your thing.
A hugely popular channel with a whole host of pop-culture-related content. My favourite is the famous “Honest Trailers” series where they make what are basically parodies of movies in the form of a trailer and a funny narration.
I really enjoy browsing through this channel from time to time. In Kanis No. 2, I made a compilation of the best short films I could find, and I think apart from one or two, pretty much all of them were from this channel. They have maybe thousands of all kinds of short films ranging in style, topic, length and is a great portal to discover some amazing short film channels also on YouTube like Gobelins and vewn, which I’ve mentioned before. Short of the Week posts new short films regularly, so that’s also a good plus point.
An original and witty concept of taking various pieces of footage and dubbing over them to make the people or characters sound like they're saying a more hilarious version of what they actually are.
Jang Bijju, for those who don’t read Korean1, is a hilarious YouTube channel with short, only-a-few-minutes long content that is off-the-wall hilarious. My favourite of Jang Bijju’s videos are the original animations which are painfully relatable and have an addictive, over-the-top comedy style.
Half as Interesting is another one of those informative, educational YouTube channels — of which there are a lot on YouTube, I know. However, the reason why Half as Interesting stands out to us here at Kanis Majoris — and by “us” I mean “me” — is because the topics that Half as Interesting often covers is usually relating to the incredibly curious or interestingly obscure things that exist in the world.
This is the channel that made the famous “Potter Puppet Pals” videos that went viral way back in like 2007 when YouTube was just a sapling — not the mighty oak that it is today.
This is another one of those pop-cultured themed channels that do a whole host of stuff. I particularly like the humour behind the “Earthling Cinema” series and the insight-filled philosophy-related videos.
A great educational channel by John Green — yes, the same guy who wrote The Fault in Our Stars — on topics that you might have heard of but may not know much about. Crash Course is a great one to watch if you want a base knowledge on a multitude of topics — but be prepared for how fast-paced it might be.
A channel dedicated to the “strange, dark and mysterious delivered in story format”. MrBallen presents dark, mysterious and shocking true crime and mystery stories presented in a very clear and easy-to-follow storytelling style. Some of the stories do get pretty dark, though, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Okay, I know this is a bit late to the party but I really miss CollegeHumor. This YouTube channel definitely saw its better days around 2013-2016 when the content was actually funny and relatable, but I still think it deserves to be on the list as one of the greats. The thing is about YouTube channels is that the content exists on the platform forever — unless it gets deleted or taken down. But you see my point, right? CollegeHumor’s new videos might not be as good as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean why we can’t go back and enjoy the old videos. They are still relatable and funny and I think that deserves something. Also, you might get a bit of that nostalgic pang when you watch their older stuff.
As a fan of all things old-school, vintage and nostalgia-triggering — okay, maybe not all things —I really do like going through the British Pathé YouTube channel from time to time. It isn’t really a YouTube channel like most others, but more of an archive of old footage which you peruse through and see what the world was once like.
Similar to channels like Thomas Flight and Spikima Movies, this is one of those “video essay” YouTube channels that focus on media like movies and shows. These kinds of channels can be fun to watch, if you’re the artsy type and like to analyse the things you watch or if you’re really into film analysis and film theory. Although these kinds of channels can become a little pretentious sometimes, I like watching this kind of stuff every once in a while if I’m in a film-analysing mood or if I see a movie that I really want to see the analysis of. Every Frame a Painting has some great content with some well-though-out ideas and comments.
Brought to you by the same organisation who brought the famous TED talk to the world, TED-Ed is a YouTube channel featuring educational and intriguing content. The best part is that all of their videos are animated with a different art style in each one. This one is great to watch if you like learning new things in a fun way.
Guitar and music-based videos combined with relatable, parody and a unique style of humour.
A YouTube channel with a very specific concept. Whoever is running this channel takes clips from the hit sitcom The Office (the US version) and uploads it with a title that highlights a certain piece of linguistics that’s featured in the clip. For example, in the episode Women’s Appreciation when Phyllis gets flashed and Dwight puts together a task force (as always), directing Pam to make a sketch of the perpetrator, he accidentally says “phallus” instead of “Phyllis”. So this channel uploads that titled Dwight’s Freudian slip. You get the idea, right? This channel has dozens and dozens of these kinds of videos, all with various linguistic properties and — with the exception of a few videos — all of clips from The Office (the US version). Which makes me love this channel so much, because, as you probably know, I’m a huge fan of The Office2. And, yes, I mean the US version.
So I probably don’t need to say much about Casey Neistat given that he’s one of the most famous YouTubers out there, but I can honestly say that his style in making vlogs is unique, catchy and very subscribable.
I’m sure you’ve heard of VICE: the world-famous magazine that produces rather raw, shocking and unfiltered content. So you can expect their YouTube channel (or one of many of their channel network) to be of a similar nature, although the reason their channels are so great is because their video content is exceptionally well-made and very insightful.
Of all the video essay YouTube channels out there on the YouTubesphere, I’d say this is one of the best in my opinion. The content is nicely made and well-thought-out as well as being of varied subjects and with a very in-depth and attention-to-detail type approach.
Music covers mostly from the rock, grunge and soft rock genres usually played in a very lo-fi, style with minimal instrumentation and not many effects, making this a cool channel to check out if you like that kind of music.
A commentary-style YouTube channel by former Vine star Drew Gooden (the guy behind the the “road works ahead?” meme) which is varied in content, captivating in nature and with a very honest sense of humour.
Even though I know this isn’t primarily a YouTube channel, per say, but for those of you unfamiliar, Key and Peele was a sketch comedy show on Comedy Central and although the show aired its final season in 2015, the sketches are still available to watch on YouTube. Yes, Comedy Central actually has an official YouTube channel dedicated to Key and Peele content that they themselves maintain. So don’t worry about the FBI kicking your door in because of copyright infringement.
Another Gus Johnson-like channel with short, funny, relatable skits by Trevor Wallace, who plays each character impeccably well and has incredibly specific and accurate jokes for every situation.
Vox is an informative channel that presents information and content with a very strong emphasis on visuals, which I always like. Vox has a lot of content that I have enjoyed with some very obscure and specific topics like why claw machines are so tricky to win prizes on, more everyday things like the bad design of doors. I don’t so much enjoy their politically-aligned content, but there’s plenty at Vox for you to pick and choose what you want to dive into.
A very intelligent educational and informative YouTube channel full of stuff that you might not — in fact, things you probably will not know. I always learn something new when I watch Tom Scott, with his well produced videos and topics that range from the incredibly complex to the weirdly obscure and more.
1 Remember way back in Kanis Majoris No. 1 when we learnt how to read Korean? What do you mean you weren’t there? No, you were there. I remember you being there.
2 If you’d like to read my review on The Office (the US version), please click here.