Where previous generations idolised pop stars and telly personalities, today the kids go mad for normal people making YouTube videos from their bedrooms – and it's big business. Welcome to the world of YouTube stars.
Twenty-six-year-old Swede Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is the hottest YouTuber out there. With nearly 42 million subscribers, sweary, blue-eyed, pug-loving PewDiePie came to prominence with his Let’s Play computer game commentaries.
He entertains his legions of fans – known as the ‘Bro Army’ – with offbeat, slightly anarchic videos called things like What Happens When You Hammer An iPhone?, Would You Kill Baby Hitler?, Eating A Scorpion, and 10 Things You Should Never Google.
His influence has been seen in increased sales for the video games he rates and in several hugely successful charity fund-raising drives.
With his channel receiving over 10 billion views, he has overtaken Rihanna as the most viewed channel of all time. It’s estimated he earned around $12 million in 2015. Not bad for a lad who dropped out of university to follow his YouTube dream and funded it by working at a hotdog stand.
What Zoella doesn’t know about putting on a bit of slap probably isn’t worth knowing. Make-up masterclasses and fashion fixes from this British girl-next-door have taken YouTube by storm, and Zoella – real name Zoe Sugg – has amassed just shy of 10 million subscribers.
A typical video such as the recent My Everyday Make-up Routine which has been viewed more than 2 million times, will see Zoella, 25, putting on her make-up to camera and name-checking the variety of products she uses along the way.
She published her debut novel, Girl Online, in 2014 and it had record-breaking first-week sales. Other achievements include launching her own beauty range, appearing on Loose Women and This Morning, featuring on the Comic Relief edition of The Great British Bake Off, and being in the Band Aid 30 charity supergroup which released Do They Know It’s Christmas in 2014.
As well as her YouTube channel, she has a beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog, and the good news for parents is that it’s all good, clean fun where Zoella is concerned. Her brother Joe and boyfriend Alfie Deyes are also huge YouTube stars, but more of them later!
If you’ve got boys of a certain age, you’ll probably be aware of this shouty comedy pair and their high-octane antics.
With food battles, songs – Parents Suck, Evil Santa and I Heart Burgers – dressing up, making a mess and lots of shouting – did we mention the shouting?! – they have 21 million subscribers.
Smosh is actually two friends, Americans Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, as well as various other actors, and it has expanded to include 10 YouTube channels. Such is their popularity that last year saw the release of Smosh: The Movie, and they will be lending their voices to the Angry Birds Movie, out this year.
4. Michelle Phan
Another beauty and lifestyle vlogger, American Michelle Phan has fans and plenty of them – 8 million subscribers and counting. Touchy-feely Michelle is big on de-stressing, living life with inner peace and digital detoxing – spot the contradiction?
She shares her tips for everything form overcoming break-ups to reducing bloating, how to makeover your bag to how to take the perfect selfie.
Michelle seems super-nice, super-pretty, super-smart and super-the-person-most-teen-girls-would-probably-like-to-be.
5. Alfie Deyes
Goood morning guys! Yes, it’s Alfie Deyes. Alfie is another of the good-looking, wholesome YouTube Britpack. He’s also part of the couple known as Zalfie – that is, he and girlfriend Zoe Sugg of Zoella fame, with whom he shares a house in Brighton.
Hair-obsessed Alfie charms the nearly 5 million subscribers of his PointlessBlog and vlogs with challenges, reactions and lots of stuff about YouTube. His pug Nala is a frequent co-star, as is Zoe.
Canny Alfie has published Pointless books, appeared on Radio 1 and was also part of Band Aid 30.
6. Joe Sugg
Not only is Zoe Sugg’s boyfriend a famous YouTuber but so is her brother, Joe! Known for his ThatcherJoe channels – 6 million subscribers – Joe describes himself as ‘a 24-year-old who likes to make a fool out of himself on camera for your entertainment’.
With challenges like drinking a shot of soy sauce and snorting vinegar, he appeals to children everywhere! There are plenty of pranks and impressions too, the former roof thatcher from Wiltshire is almost like a one-man Dick & Dom (for those that still watch telly!)
Joe is another YouTube entrepreneur with a book, film, voiceovers and songs under his belt.
7. Caspar Lee
Flatmate of Joe Sugg – are you keeping up?! – Caspar, 21, is another with more than 5 million subscribers. South African Caspar makes videos with Hollywood stars like Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell and Chris Pratt, loves pranking people – especially his roommate – and generally acting like young men act – just with a camera on him the whole time.
And guess what? His sister has a YouTube channel too!
Games commentator, comedian, rapper and actor, KSI – real name Olajide ‘JJ’ Olatunji – is another Brit making it big on YouTube, with a whopping 11 million subscribers. That’s 11 million people who want to watch someone else playing FIFA on their computer.
Another with more strings to his media bow than just vlogs, KSI has charted in the UK with his song Lamborghini, written a book, KSI: I am a bellend, appeared on telly and has a film in the offing. No surprise to hear that KSI’s brother is yet another with his own YouTube channel.
9. Jenna Marbles
American Jenna Mourey – YouTube moniker Jenna Marbles – is the queen of YouTube with 15 million subscribers. There’s the classic mix of make-up videos – ‘my boyfriend does my make-up’, ‘I do my boyfriend’s make-up’, ‘drunk make-up tutorial’ and so on – plus every part of Jenna’s life gets uploaded for her adoring fans. At 29, she is positively mature by YouTube star standards.
‘How to trick people into thinking you’re good-looking’ has had more than 63 million views – that’s only a little less than the number of people in the UK!