Major worldwide catastrophes and global news events have a way of swooping in and completely dominating the viral video world, and the situation in Japan is living proof. Videos of the earthquake in action, videos of the tsunami's devastation, and videos of explosions at the nuclear plant have gone viral in record numbers this week, as the world tries to come to grips with the horrible tragedy. All this serves as just more proof of the consumer demand for video, and how video can deliver breaking news in ways that traditional media cannot.
And yet, even in the midst of the sad news and concerned viewers... the viral world continued on as normal. After all, we all need laughter and entertainment in our lives to balance out the sobering current events and surrounding drama. So, I will include a brief list of Japan-related videos at the end of the article... but, since many of us have seen a lot of that footage this week already--and possibly could use a bit of a break from the more serious content--the bulk of the column will be entertainment-focused as always.
Let's dig in...
The New Laughing Baby Champion
We're in the midst of a bit of a surge in laughing-baby videos here lately, most recently with this one, who loves ripped paper--and over 11 million viewers love that baby. So it should come as no surprise that other laughing-baby videos are enjoying some extra attention.
Our first example of the week is, quite simply, one of my favorite videos of all time. It's over 2 million views in three days, and that popularity is only going to grow. The star of the video is a baby named Emerson, who is alternately terrified and entertained by his mother's nose-blowing. Check it out:
Oh man... right around the 13-second mark, I lose it every time when he goes directly from mid-laugh to reeling in horror. So funny.
The video shows us a cute baby, and while that may be a great foundation for viral success on its own, what really sets this video apart is the juxtaposition of fear and hilarity in the child's reactions. It's something most of us have never seen before. Emerson is also exceptionally demonstrative... his expressions, particularly during the moments when he's scared, are rich and detailed for a five-month-old.
Babies aren't slowing down in popularity anytime soon. Probably never. But as we move forward, baby-related videos will need some new element in order to stand out--the next "baby reacts to nose-blowing" video will not be as popular as this one, it's the law of diminishing returns.
For example, we've seen "child falls asleep" videos aplenty in the past. But have you ever seen a video where a child and his dog slowly nod off together... at the same time?
Cute. Though I do worry about that child's poor neck. If you speed this video up it probably looks like he's at Ozzfest.
Playing off a previous viral hit is always going to be a reliable tactic, but straight-up mimicry will only take you so far (and won't earn you as much respect). Adding in a new twist or wrinkle to the established formula is the best way to use the trend's popularity to your own advantage.
It's becoming more and more common for aspiring bands and singers to take to YouTube as a way of being discovered. If you can get enough views, then maybe you can repeat the success of Justin Bieber... or Greyson Chance. But just performing a song, even if you do it well, is often not enough to help you stand out.
The aspiring musicians that stand out the most are usually the ones that have a gimmick--some clever way of showing off their talent that also ropes in viewers looking for something new.
Enter DoneRight Jr... a band in Denmark (from what I can gather). Instead of just posting a video for one of their songs, they created an elaborate scene--and I do mean elaborate. The lead singer uses Chatroulette to find a pretty girl and ask her what her name is. She replies that it's Diana, and then he appears to whip up a spontaneous song about her.
But soon other band members appear, with instruments and voices of their own, and before you know it you're watching a full-on performance that culminates in a playful marriage proposal. The girl, for her part, appears to have been swooning appropriately:
Unbelievable creativity and coordination to pull that off in a live setting. Of course, the skeptics among you will suggest that they didn't really do it in one take... or that the girl was an actress hired for this video. To which I respond: who cares? They already have over a million views in three days, which is the kind of buzz you simply cannot buy.
But they're hardly the only creative musicians with viral hits this week. Take Freddie25--whose work we've featured in the past. He likes to create medleys, and this time he's combined several songs from classic Simpson's episodes into one big performance. If you like the Simpsons, there's no doubt you will enjoy this video:
Freddie25 knows what he's doing. He's providing a walk down memory lane with his medleys, while also getting the chance to showcase his musical and vocal talents.
I want to squeeze in one more, if I may, because it's so remarkable. The video was uploaded in January but only started taking off late last week. It is a clip of a televised piano performance by a young Chinese girl. The performance is exceptional because she's very talented... but also because she's missing all the fingers on her right hand:
Audiences love to see people overcoming obstacles, and this girl is basically the definition of that behavior. most people with all their digits cannot play as well as she can. She's truly one of a kind, and viral viewers will always respond to that.
Professionals Need Viral Views Too
Amidst all the amateur footage I enjoyed this week, there were a number of notable viral efforts from brands and entertainment professionals (who are really starting to get the hang of this online video thing... finally).
First up, we have a clip from a BBC show called Fast & Loose. It appears to be a bit of a modern-day Whose Line Is It Anyway?, consisting of improv comedy games. One such game involves contestants having to pantomime the lyrics of a popular song--in this case, Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now"--while their teammates try to guess the song. Check it out (there is a little bawdy humor at work here, so be warned):
Note the uploader on that clip--it's the BBC, smartly extending their programming to a half a million more eyeballs.
Another clip from some pros involved a pair of Mad Men castmembers performing a little sketch about trains... all in character:
While I have no idea what the motivation for this video was, or who masterminded it... it's still entertaining, particularly to Mad Men fans who are having to wait an extraordinarily long time to see new episodes.
Another famous duo put out a new video this week--Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. The British actors and comedians (who not-so-coincidentally have a new movie out this weekend) released a "reenacted" Star Wars scene starring themselves as C3PO & R2D2. The results are pretty hilarious:
I never have enough room for all the videos I want to share, so I can't finish without dropping off a few more gems here:
- Reddit discovered the wonderful videos of Vihart this week, and thanks to them so did I.
- A bunch of students from Wesleyan University in Connecticut decided to show their support for Planned Parenthood with a video proudly proclaiming that they have sex (don't worry, nothing inappropriate in the video).
- Cat vs. Blu-Ray player? Yes please.
- Movie trailers re-cut to look like a different style movie are still quite popular, as this Ferris Bueller re-imagining proves.
- A couple young lions shower their keeper with love, scaring me to death in the process.
- World's Greatest Extra shows off how many films and TV shows one mostly-unknown actor has appeared in.
- One of the first videos I saw of the Japan earthquake was also one of the freakiest, and depicts the swaying of the downtown buildings.
- This video of the powerful tsunami was also fairly shocking to watch.
- Ditto for this tsunami footage.
- Imagine being on the second story of the airport and seeing the water rush by, taking all the cars from the drop-off with it.
- There are also some frightening videos showing explosions at the Nuclear facilities.
- Popular YouTube user Ryan Higa is donating cash for every million views his "Honk For Japan!" video gets.