The week of August 31, 2014

Meet the YouTube class of 2014

By Michelle Jaworski and Rae Votta

When these teens tweet their locations, they cause mini riots. When they celebrate their birthdays, it’s a worldwide trending topic. They’re sneaking into the music charts, TV networks, and the coming attractions. They’re the YouTube class of 2014, and they’re gunning for mainstream entertainment in a big way.

With the start of a new school year ahead of us, we doled out some class superlatives to the teenagers who are changing the way digital stardom will define the future of entertainment as a whole.

Jack Baran (Thatsojack)

Age: 17
Superlative: Most Likely to Try Anything
Bio: Anyone’s taste in video styles can change over time, and while Baran began with stop-motion music videos, he eventually got into vlogging, challenges, and funny yet relatable videos as he got older. He also frequently collaborates with other YouTubers these days, and his “Fab Five in Real Life” video with Anthony Quintal, Andrew Lowe, Jenn McAllister, and Rebecca Black was nominated for Choice Web Collaboration at this year’s Teen Choice Awards; they lost to Troye Sivan and Tyler Oakley.

Ryan Beatty (TheRyanBeatty)

Age: 18
Superlative: Most Likely to Randomly Burst Into Song
Bio: Justin Bieber got his start by covering songs on YouTube, so it was only a matter of time before someone was discovered after covering him. Winning fans over with his charm and voice since 2011, Beatty doesn’t limit himself to covering major hits, often going for some lesser-known songs from an artist’s catalog. More recently, he even started to make his own music. His debut EP, Because of You, reached the top of the iTunes Pop Charts (No. 7 overall) within 24 hours in 2012, and the song “Hey LA” was used for a national AT&T campaign against texting and driving.

Rebecca Black (Rebecca)

Age: 17
Superlative: Most Talkative
Bio: If all you think of when you think of Rebecca Black is a certain day of the week, you’re missing out. Thrust into Internet fame unwillingly at 13 when her video company uploaded the video for “Friday” without her knowledge, Black has adapted to become one of the most savvy teens on YouTube. She hasn’t shied away from poking fun at herself, from working with Funny or Die on parodies to aptly naming her followup single “Saturday.” But she’s also broken into the wider world of YouTube, with vlogs that run the gamut from makeup tutorials to how-to guides and collaborations with other prominent stars.

Cimorelli (CimorellitheBand)

Age: 14-24
Superlative: Choir Girls
Bio: A group of six sisters who perform covers and original songs, Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, and Lauren Cimorelli have been making videos since 2007, with the youngest sister, Dani, joining in 2010. While the the oldest three (Christina, Katherine, and Lisa) are now out of their teens, they’ve ensnared the teen audience, winning the award for Choice Web Star at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards, and make frequent collaborations with fellow teen crooner Ryan Beatty.

Cameron Dallas (TheeCameronDallas)

Age: 18
Superlative: Teen Heartthrob
Bio: He’s got the fans, he’s got the platforms, he’s often got star power alongside him with friends like Nash Grier, and well, he’s got the movie deal. He was part of that infamous video that told female fans “what guys look for in girls,” but that hasn’t stopped his audience from growing. If you watch his vines, you’re bound to love his YouTube videos, and to cement his place as a teen heartthrob even further, he offered to go on dates with some of his fans.

Teala Dunn (Tealaxx2)

Age: 17
Superlative: Most Likely to Win an Oscar
Bio: Teala Dunn didn’t join YouTube until 2010, but she’d been in front of the camera for years before that, starting off as an actress in 2002 when she was just 6 years old. She’s best known for her recurring role as Juanita on the Nickelodeon TV show The Naked Brothers Band. On YouTube, Dunn takes fans with her as she embarks on many dream teen adventures, like getting ready for the Teen Choice Awards, but she also keeps her videos relatable to the everyday lives of the teen audience. She shops at Forever 21, then goes through it in a haul video or doles out boy advice with the help of her friends.

Meredith Foster (StilaBabe09)

Age: 18
Superlative: Best Hair
Bio: Foster started making videos since she was 14, and she’s been creating ever since. With a mix of fashion, makeup and hair, and skin routines, the Los Angeles native manages to take celebrity looks and make them more accessible (and a lot less complicated) for her fans, who she calls her MereBears.

Lauren Giraldo (PrincessLaurenTV)

Age: 16
Superlative: Triple Threat
Bio: Giraldo’s earliest video is just two months old, but she’s easily one of the biggest people on Vine, where she regularly posts to her 2.9 million followers and easily can make as much as $2,000 for revining a sponsor’s post. She’s mostly used her YouTube channel to answer fan questions that she couldn’t do in just a quick format. And once the next thing comes along, she’s bound to rise to the top of the ranks at that too.

The Janoskians (Janoskians)

Age: 18-21
Superlative: Class Clowns
Bio: The Australian-born and -bred Janoskians (that stands for “Just Another Name Of Silly Kids In Another Nation,” for the uninitiated) started off their career performing pranks and gross-out-humor on YouTube in 2011. With twins Luke and Jai Brooks, their brother Beau, and friends Daniel Sahyounie and James Yammouni, the quintet made the move stateside in 2014 to work on a film project with Lionsgate (think Jackass but with fewer beer bellies). These guys aren’t one-trick ponies; they’ve diversified their brand to include a tour, clothing line, record deal, and even apps and games.

Lia Marie Johnson (liamariejohnson)

Age: 17
Superlative: Most Likely to Succeed
Bio: Lia Marie Johnson’s YouTube channel dates as far back as 2007, when her mother began uploading videos of her talent show performances and recitals, but Johnson didn’t break out on the platform until she began collaborating with the Fine Bros. as part of their Emmy-winning Kids React series. She’s since graduated to full-fledged teen star, with more than 1 million followers of her own as part of the AwesomenessTV family. Johnson sings, films sketches, and plays pranks and games with her fellow YouTube celeb friends. She’s also (at the time of this writing) one half of a YouTube teen power couple, as she’s dating Jc Caylen of O2L. The pair often make videos together for their equally rabid fanbases.

Jenn McAllister (jennxpenn)

Age: 18
Superlative: Future Sketch Comic
Bio: Although her official channel began in 2009, Jenn McAllister already had YouTube experience making funny sketches with her friends on collective channels. She’s a frequent collaborator, being part of a now-defunct channel called “MyCollab” with other teens and now part of AwesomenessTV’s conglomerate of teen and tween superstars. Her style is straightforward, and her content ranges from personal vlogs on her main jennxpenn account to a channel solely dedicated to video game content.

Shawn Mendes (qzMendShawqz)

Age: 15
Superlative: Best Voice
Bio: A young Canadian boy makes it big singing covers of his favorite songs online. No, we’re not talking about Justin Bieber. What it took Bieber full YouTube videos to achieve only took Shawn Mendes six seconds on Vine. He rose to fame covering tunes, has shifted to build a YouTube presence, and inked a record deal with Island Records. His debut single, “Life of the Party,” soared to the top of iTunes minutes after release and peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard charts. The singer-songwriter is only continuing on an upward trajectory, joining Austin Mahone on his 2014 tour and releasing a full album later this year.

Siena Mirabella (BeautyBySiena)

Age: 16
Superlative: Most Likely to Style the Stars
Bio: The YouTube makeup and fashion world is always expanding, but anyone can make their mark while still going through high school. With fashion, hair, makeup, and shopping hauls alongside Q&A videos for a taste of real life, she’s got her viewers covered for just about any occasion.

Matthew Morris (MattyBRaps)

Age: 11
Superlative: Best Role Model
Bio: Most of us can’t say that we’ve been on YouTube for over one third of our life, but Matty B, who’s been rapping since he was 7, certainly can. Plenty of people online hate him, but he’s got more than 2.5 million subscribers who’ll listen to anything he puts out (plus, his family—who run his social media—shield him from the hateful comments). While the songs he covers aren’t exactly suitable for children, he’ll often revise them so that they’re family-friendly with the help of his dad. He recently signed a deal with Endemol Beyond, which might turn into a TV deal if he has the audience.

Bethany Mota (macbarbie07)

Age: 18
Superlative: Best Dressed
Bio: Many teenagers can say they shop at Aéropostale, but only one can say she sells her own clothing there. Bethany Mota is a force to be reckoned with in the YouTube fashion world. She is the youngest creator to be featured in YouTube’s own massive advertising campaign targeted at branding creators. She posted her first haul video in 2009 as a way to escape bullying, and she’s relentlessly upbeat and cheerful in her content. She’s the quintessential American girl next door, making her irresistible to marketers and fans alike.

O2L (our2ndlife)

Age: 15-21
Superlative: Most Likely to Incite a Teen Riot
Bio: Jc Caylen, Trevor Moran, Ricky Dillon, Kian Lawley, and Sam Pottorff (fellow founding member Connor Franta left the group earlier this summer) make up the teenage YouTube collaborative channel to end all collaborative channels. Often confused for a boy band, the group is simply a vlogging collective that boasts 2.4 million subscribers, while each member has 1 million-plus subscribers on his own individual channel. A few members sing, a few simply vlog or prank, and overall they’re YouTube’s answer to a teen supergroup.

Anthony Quintal (lohanthony)

Age: 15
Superlative: Best Legs
Bio: Calling all the basic bitches! Quintal sprung into the YouTube consciousness at 13 with this infamous leg-twirling video that reminds you just how basic you are, but by then he was already three years into making videos on the service. Since then, Quintal, better known as lohanthony across social media, has simply exploded, and the Boston native churns out pop culture reactionary videos on his channel. He also pulls hosting duties for MTV during the Teen Wolf aftershow.

Brent Rivera (MrBrent98)

Age: 16
Superlative: Most Relatable
Bio: You may have never heard of Rivera, but plenty of teens on YouTube, Twitter, and Vine certainly have. His videos tackle the sort of things teenagers relate to (or get annoyed with), but it’s even easier for him to do that on Vine, by far his most dominant social media platform, whether it’s talking to your crush, the lack of food in the refrigerator, or not wanting your friends to leave. The sound bites, along with his observational videos, almost make you feel like he’s not just an Internet celebrity.

Troye Sivan (TroyeSivan18)

Age: 19
Superlative: Best Personality
Bio: Bored in his Australian town, Troye Sivan began uploading videos at age 12. At first, he used the medium to release music covers, but in 2012 he turned to vlogging, skyrocketing his channel to more than 2.5 million subscribers, making him the second most to subscribed channel in Australia. Born in South Africa, Sivan is also an actor, appearing in X-Men films and the series Spud, but most recently he’s been refocusing on his music, releasing debut album TRXYE earlier this month with a No. 5 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. Sivan has grown up on the platform and has used it as a space to be more open and honest about his life, notably coming out in a 2013 video.

Amanda Steele (MakeupbyMandy24)

Age: 15
Superlative: Beauty Queen
Bio: Steele got into YouTube at age 10 making beauty videos after coming to the site to learn sewing and fashion tips. Now she’s the one doling out advice to her more than 1.6 million followers. While many of her beauty contemporaries are in their late teens or 20s, Steele stands out as firmly in the midst of her teenage years. She shares her shopping hauls, style inspiration, and beauty tutorials, with looks ranging from casual and everyday to theatrical and thematic. She also tends to theme her videos to relatable teenage milestones—the first day of eighth grade, or pre-school morning routines.

Jenna Rose Swerdlow (SRVMOE)

Age: 15
Superlative: Most Likely to Kick Your Ass at Karaoke
Bio: Swerdlow has a similar origin story to Rebecca Black: a heavily Auto-Tuned YouTube music video that not very many people liked. But don’t judge her singing capabilities with that one song. She’s constantly performing covers using her own voice and put out a number of singles over the years.

Harrison Webb (OmgHarrisonWebb)

Age: 17
Superlative: Most Likely to Be Triple-Dog-Dared
Bio: The U.K.-based prankster and dare-taker started out by stuffing a bunch of marshmallows into his mouth, and his pranks and comedic stunts have only gotten bigger and even more ridiculous. He frequently collaborates with Sam Pepper (who’s just a few years off of making this list) and other YouTubers like Jennxpenn, and he isn’t afraid to get slapped for the sake of a video—and his fans’ enjoyment.

Alexis G. Zall (AlexisGZall)

Age: 16
Superlative: Most Likely to Join the Cast of SNL
Bio: Multitalented and determined, Zall caught the acting bug after starring in the school play in sixth grade. She’s a recent addition to YouTube, and she’s already making her mark with comedy sketches with a feature film under her belt. She already appeared on AwesomenessTV, stars in Rachel’s Galaxy, and is in a webseries with Lia Marie Johnson.

Illustration of Jennxpenn, Rebecca Black, Lohanthony, Teala Dunn, Siena Mirabella, and Matthew Morris by Max Fleishman