Videos are a powerful source of media. They make it possible for people to capture moments and to express themselves. Video have purpose and influence, and are being watched now more than ever. Thanks to the internet, videos can easily be displayed for the world to see.
One of the most popular ways these videos are shared is through YouTube, a site created in 2005 that is now highly recognized and used in 53 countries. According to the statistics page on YouTube.com, more than 800 million people visit YouTube per month, and 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
Over four billion videos are watched on YouTube every day, but there are certain videos that seem to stand out. These videos, which receive millions of views, are often said to “go viral,” which generally means they have over a million views. Videos that do go viral have certain qualities that make people watch them over and over again. These are just a few of the most popular ones in 2012 and 2013.
Those that involve music…
There are trillions of music videos performed by famous musicians and regular individuals alike. Two that became very popular during 2012 were videos in which multiple musicians played one instrument at the same time. The group Walk Off the Earth performed a cover of the song “Somebody That I Used to Know” in which all five members played the same guitar. Another five-some, the Piano Guys, performed a cover of the One Direction song “What Makes You Beautiful” on one piano.
Those that inspire us…
Kid President is a character played by ten-year-old Robbie Novak, who is featured in his own series of Soul Pancake videos. His videos are aimed to be inspirational, with a mission of making the world awesome and giving everyone a reason to dance. His messages are combined with comedy, especially in his revisions of famous quotes. His Pep Talk video, one of his most popular, received comments like “I’ve never been so inspired” and “So motivated! Thanks Kid President!”
Those that make us laugh…
One popular video that came out in January of 2013 is made by MagicOfRahat, a YouTuber who performs and records elaborate pranks. In this clever video, he made a costume to look like the seat of a car and then wore it when he went through drive-thrus, just to see how people reacted when a car pulled up with no apparent driver.
One Australian video that became popular was a message from Metro that proved that commercials can be both funny and educational. This public service announcement, entitled “Dumb Ways to Die.” This video is intended to warn people against the dangers of carelessness around railroad tracks, but that doesn’t become clear until the very end of the video. Rather than making a traditional public service announcement, Metro wrote an original song about “the dumbest ways to die” and had it performed by animated, dancing characters.
Those that make us want to dance…
There are some dance videos made each year that become extremely popular to the point that many people record their own version and they no doubt will be overplayed at all upcoming school dances. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jespen, didn’t become popular until a video of Justin Bieber and many of his famous friends dancing to this song was released. This pushed the song to the top of the charts and inspired thousands of remakes, including one by the Harvard Baseball team and the McNick faculty.
The most recent dance sensation to take on the internet is the Harlem Shake, which quickly replaced the previously popular Gangnum Style. The Harlem Shake has become the basis of more than 200,000 videos since the trend began in January. This dance is unique because it has no apparent point to it. Rather than organized dancing, it is total chaos for 30 seconds. It starts out with one person dancing and being ignored by everyone else in the room, and then in a flash everyone is sporting assorted costumes and dancing however they want to. Some of the most popular remakes of this are an underwater video by the University of Georgia swim team and one with a military theme by the Norwegian Army.
English teacher Ashley Markesbery even used this as a block day project for her English III Honors classes. The students had to dress up as characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and they called it “Harlem Shakespeare.”
“I thought it would be fun to combine what we were learning with what the students were already watching in an effort to kind of meet them at their level,” Markesbery said. “It allowed the students to do something fun, but it also required some thought because they had to a write a paper on the character they chose using what we learned.”