Future Tense

“Numa Numa,’ the Original Viral Video, Turns 10

Long before absurd, cringe-worthy lip-synch videos were breaking YouTube counters and rocketing Korean pop stars to global superstardom, they found a home on the fringes of the Internet at sites like Newgrounds.com. And their stars? Heavyset computer store employees with a webcam and a dream.

The most famous of those dubbed-over entries is, of course, “Numa Numa,” the webcam video of then-19-year-old Gary Brolsma singing and dancing to Romanian pop song “Dragostea Din Tei.” Arguably the Internet’s first truly viral video, that epic display of enthusiasm for obscure Eastern European pop music turns 10 on Saturday, Dec. 6.

On the off chance that you’ve spent the last decade without an Internet connection, Brolsma’s performance—which the New York Times described as “earnest but painful”—was basically what amounted to Web video perfection. Over the course of 98 seconds, he mouths the words of the ridiculously catchy song, mixing in a bevy of facial expressions usually reserved for the privacy of the bathroom while throwing his hands up in the air in a way that can only be described as amazing.

Not long after uploading it to Newgrounds—then a reasonably popular home for games and flash movies—Brolsma was a viral sensation. Viewed more than 700 million times in the years since its pre-YouTube posting, it’s clear that in addition to being one the first, it’s also the rarest type of viral video: one with staying power.

And for good reason—it’s still hilarious, even a decade later.

According to a recent CNET interview, Brolsma’s life has changed little since his moment in the sun, save for the occasional picture request. As for his plans for the anniversary? He’s apparently considering recording another, updated version. To which I say: Please. The Internet needs you, Gary.