WATCH: Viral Hit 'Shoes' Has Just Turned 11

The story of one of the first great viral video of YouTube, Shoes, 'betch'.

still of Kelly from Shoes video

YouTube used to be such a simple place. In 2007, we were introduced to Kelly, a misunderstood “teenage girl” who was head over heels for shoes.


The video has been heralded as the beginning of the viral age of video.

Even though there had been viral hits before ‘Shoes’, it had always been produced by a TV network or advertising company.


‘Shoes’ was one of the first viral hits made natively for YouTube by an individual.

That individual is actor Liam Kyle Sullivan who wrote, composed, edited, directed and starred as the character Kelly 11 years ago.

Kelly is an imagined character that Liam had originally perfomed live on stage at a comedy gig but no-one found it funny. It was a few years later when he dawned the blonde wig and glasses and decided to make the video.


Kelly stomps about town in typical teenage angst and gets what she wants if she doesn’t she unleashes a fit of fiery and rage calling everyone a “betch!”.


It was the popular electroclash medley plus comedic visuals that made it such an online hit, it led the way for many parodies that followed in its footsteps.

Sullivan spoke to Noisey about his inspiration music-wise:

“I was definitely inspired by Peaches, she was huge for me, as well as Chicks On Speed. I remember hearing them and they just captured the attitude so well. They were so expressive, but not doing too much. They weren’t screaming or singing, they were just talking their way through it.”


It reflected the tone of the popular indie movie at the time, Napoleon Dynamite and bared a resemblance to Feris Beullers day off in its depiction of Kelly’s home environment.

When Kelly’s brother receives a PC and a car, Kelly receives a giant stuffed toy. When she isn’t happy with her gift her Mother resents Kelly’s demeanour in what she assumes was an expectation of “con-dams”.


In the aftermath of the success of ‘Shoes’, Sullivan had a national comedy tour with Margaret Cho but he has since retired from YouTube.

He attributes his skills and knowledge of video production to making the ‘Shoes’ video and he now works as a video editor.


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