One of the year's biggest music successes wasn't defined by millions of record sales, arena tours or even a controversial headline. He simply released a music video.
Korean entertainer Psy became a worldwide sensation with his video for "Gangnam Style," a cheeky commentary on a wealthy Korean district in South Korea rapped entirely in Korean. It's humorous, over-the-top and includes a signature dance move that rivals the popularity of the Macarena.
Since the video's release in July, the video has surpassed Justin Bieber's "Baby" as the most-viewed clip on the internet, raking in approximately 990,900,000 views and counting.
By way of Australia, musician Gotye also hit it big this year with a hit single "Somebody That I Used to Know." Although strong sales helped bolster Wally De Backer's success, the 350 million views on YouTube for the music video also did wonders for the band's popularity. So much so that Andy Samberg and Taran Killam parodied the video during Gotye's appearance on an episode of Saturday Night Live.
Article continues after Top Ten Music Videos of 2012 slideshow
Indisputably the biggest video of the year, Korean star Psy has catapulted to fame solely thanks to his video for "Gangnam Style." The video has only been out for half a year, but it's already managed to surpass Justin Bieber's "Baby" as the most-viewed video online as well as launching the biggest dance craze of the year.
This song may have technically been released last year, but Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" didn't become a hit until this summer, staying on top of the Billboard charts for several weeks as well as capturing everyone's attention with the music video for the song. The video shows collaborators Gotye and Kimbra naked and covered in paint based on a piece of 1980s artwork that frontman Wally De Backer's father created. The video has been viewed over 354 million times now.
Canadian star Carly Rae Jepsen shot to stardom this year thanks to a hefty endorsement from fellow Canadian Justin Bieber who "discovered" the artist when he heard her single "Call Me Maybe." The video, in particular, which shows Jepsen head over heels crushin' on a boy, is a witty take on a love story and its plot twist at the end had everyone talking. It has gotten over 356 million hits on YouTube so far.
This rapper from Harlem grabbed everyone's attention this year with her video for "212," a low budget project that introduced everyone to the force that was Azealia Banks. The black-and-white clip shifts between close-up shots of Banks rapping, dancing and flashing lyrics - it's simple, effective and oh-so addictive, raking in over 39 million hits on YouTube.
Although an established star already, the success of Taylor Swift's single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was boosted by not one, but two videos - the actual video, which has taken in over 94 million hits now, and a lyric video - a bonus karaoke-ready clip that more and more artists are adopting. The actual video, a pop-up book style kiss-off to an old flame, is a fun and definitely the best use of strange animal costumes we've seen this year.
Previous record holder for most-viewed video on the internet, Justin Bieber has released a slew of videos since "Baby," including this year's "Beauty And The Beat," which arguably stirred up the biggest headlines prior to its release. As a publicity stunt, the pop star reported a stolen laptop and camera the week before the video's release and followed by an exchange with a fake Twitter account, who claimed to have his stuff in possession and threatened to leak private photos and videos. It was then revealed that said "private" videos were actually just a lead-up to this self-directed pool party video featuring rapper Nicki Minaj.
Although the video only boasts a mere four million hits, this is still considered a massive success for up-and-comer Grimes, who dominated this year with her electro-pop, Polaris Prize-nominated album Visions. The clip, which shows the pink and green-haired oddball artist in the unlikely environment of a football stadium, captured the hearts of indie fans everywhere and helped draw more eyes towards the rising star.
Up until recently, Canadian indie-pop artist Rich Aucoin was a relatively well-kept secret. Only those who have seen his live shows can attest to his magical, life-affirming pop anthems, but this year saw not one, but two music videos which showed everyone just how creative and entertaining Aucoin really is. Both "It" and "Brian Wilson Is A.L.I.V.E." are spectacular clips that capture the spontaneous and fun nature of Aucoin and his music as he recreates a number of movies in the former and chronicles the life of a Beach Boy in the latter.
Grammy-winning Canadian band the Arcade Fire caught the attention of music video fans with their clip for "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" with its special interactive feature. In an attempt to get viewers more involved with the music video-watching experience, fans can be the director of the video, controlling a number of characters using a mouse or webcam.
After a number of years where controversy overshadowed her music, rapper M.I.A. returned with "Bad Girls," a video that can only describe as "badass." The Sri Lankan artist teams up with director Romain Gavras (who also directed the controversial video for "Born Free") for video that features a bunch of dangerous car stunts in the desert. The video was nominated for Best Video of the Year at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards and has gotten over 10 million views on YouTube.
These successes are a marked difference from the turn of the millennium. In 2001, following a 36.5 percent decline in music video airplay, prominent music channel MTV decided to rebrand themselves and move on from the glory days of putting Madonna's "Like A Virgin" or Michael Jackson's epic "Thriller" (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year) on rotation.
Instead, the network focused on the up-and-coming trend of reality TV shows, building off the success of their '90s hit, The Real World. They continued to churn out seasons of that as well as a slew of other shows, one more outlandish than the next: Punk'd, The Osbournes, Newlyweds, Laguna Beach and My Super Sweet 16, just to name a few. The more shows gained popularity, the less the channel seemed to bare any ties to the music culture it once pioneered.
"Clearly, the novelty of just showing music videos has worn off," MTV/MTV2 president Van Toffler said in a 2001 interview with Billboard. "It's required us to reinvent ourselves as a contemporary audience.
"Music will remain the soul of MTV. Our non-music shows like Jackass just get more press. What matters most to us is pleasing our audience."
Well, so much for Music Television.
Part of this shift in focus, though, was MTV's - and other music channels, such as Canada's MuchMusic — way of coping with the giant wave of competition rushing in from the internet. With file sharing, illegal downloading, and this new platform for music videos, YouTube, television was quickly losing its audience to the computers.
In a witty online video by comedic group Brian & Maria, they address this shift in a harsh, but mostly true manner. When asked by Natalie, a female in her mid-20s, why MTV doesn't play music videos anymore, Brian Firenzi simply responds, "Dear Natalie, are you fucking kidding me?"
"Yes, back in the day we earned our brand credibility by breaking new artists," he continues. "But music videos were only worth making if they had actual promotional power behind them and the game has changed. Your generation, not the one before you, not the one after you, your generation decided to steal music and music videos are more worthless than ever before."
He also mentions the blatant product placements in music videos today, "the only reason that video got funding in the first place.
"Why bother otherwise when you can build an avid Twitter following for free? Before I continue, I want to reiterate that it's your generation that stole music and it's your generation that's bitching about us not playing music videos anymore."
In this transitional period, as the video points out, music videos briefly lost its audience. With the sudden ability to create and upload your own content online, the internet became the music video wild west.
And it's only now when online music video culture has matured that we've found ourselves with one of the most successful years for music videos... ever.
The popularity of YouTube, and a growing number of other video-sharing websites and social networks such as Vimeo, VEVO, Facebook and Twitter, has brought eyes back on elaborate music videos that could potentially spark a viral reaction at any given moment.
VEVO now reports that they're streaming 3.6 billion videos a month to more than 425 million users worldwide, delivering more than $100 million in royalties to its rights holders. VEVO chief executive adds, "VEVO offers the largest premium music video inventory in the world."
YouTube is teens' first choice for music now and music is the most popular category of videos being watched online today, capturing 31 percent of analyzed videos according to research conducted by marketwire company, Sysomos.
Even two years ago, MTV rejoined the music video game. In 2010, the company began a new project entitled Supervideo, financing music videos and pairing them up with big name directors and stars for bigger and better videos in an attempt to recapture the luxury and extravagance of old, big-budget clips.
Their first venture was the now-defunct LCD Soundsystem's glossy video for "Pow Pow" featuring movie star Anna Kendrick. Supervideo has since also funded the Best Coast-Drew Barrymore collaboration for the band's single "Our Deal."
Music videos have comfortably survived the wave of technological changes; much like the vinyl record has, and has claimed its rightful place on worldwide web.
So stop wondering why MTV has opted to show you Jersey Shore reruns, type in whatever you want to watch in the search engine and enjoy your new version of Total Request Live, where you're the DJ. Carson Daly's too busy hosting The Voice anyway.