It’s Friday, and if you’re anything like me, that means you wish it was Friday night already. Unfortunately, an entire work day stands between you and the official start of the weekend. But I’ve got your back. I’ve collected the week’s best viral videos from amateurs and brands for your viewing enjoyment. We’ll also talk a bit about what made some of these clips so successful–you might even learn something. So sit back and enjoy; Friday can wait just a little bit more.

Branded Viral Videos

It’s an exciting time in the world of online video advertising. Every day, new brands are waking up to the power and flexibility the format allows (and calls for). If they can entertain, and create an emotional response, they have a good chance of seeing social activity propel their video into viral status.

One of the most common ways brands go for that emotional response is with humor. Like the PGA Tour, whom many have accused of having no sense of humor at all. They created a fictional boy band made up of four of the sport’s best young talents, and then they created a ridiculous hip-hop video:

Converse went about courting the “whoa, cool” audience reaction with a video of nifty skateboarding tricks.

And of course, when all else fails, brands can always go running back to their viral security blanket: humor. Even AARP is getting in on the act:

Caught On Camera

Some of the best news video we’ve seen from events over the past few months has come from amateurs… witnesses on the street with cell phones that capture footage of news events from riots to tornadoes. When the right-place/right-time timing is perfect, you can see some amazing things caught on film. And those videos go viral even when they’re not necessarily newsworthy–because this kind of footage is just rare.

For example, have you ever seen a man dumb enough to walk right by a burning car? No? Have you ever seen a burning car explode? No? then I guess you probably haven’t ever seen a video with both of those events happening at once, then, have you?

Do not know how that guy survived, but it makes me feel a lot better about watching that video to know that the events didn’t claim his life.

Another “caught on film” video this week also spared peoples lives, because it’s video of a car accident that didn’t really happen. It only nearly happened:

You’ve seen chickens escape their farm enclosures in the movie Chicken Run. Now see a cow do it in real life:

Cats are supposed to meow, and dogs are supposed to bark. This next video challenges those notions:

One of the viral video staples is the “deer on the loose” video. Every six months or so another video goes viral featuring a confused deer running wild in some strange place like a bank or a school. This week, it was a church, and it looks like it scared the dickens out of those poor people:

This final “caught on film” video is hands-down my favorite clip of the week. It’s a simple video, showcasing what one man saw on the highway the other day:

Crazy Talent

Musicians, artists, and other performers continue to find viral success by simply showcasing exceptional and unique talents. If you can do something most of the world cannot, you have an inside track.

Like the hip-hop violinist, who is like no one I’ve ever seen before:

Sometimes the talent is both impressive, and completely unheard of. For instance, I was, until today, unfamiliar with the art of glue-and-glitter painting, but I am quite impressed by it:

Freddie25 has been creating outstanding medleys and other musical performance videos for some time. His editing is often as much fun as his singing. Check out his latest cover:

Humans are not the only talented creatures on this planet, mind you. We don’t even have the breakdancing market cornered:

Sometimes talent masquerades in the form of luck; this happens particularly often in sporting events:

Grab Bag

While I do my best to break each week’s videos down into manageable topics or categories, sometimes it’s just impossible. So here are some other great videos we can learn from that simply didn’t fit into one of the above categories:

Tilt shift is still pretty popular, with the viral viewing masses as well as with myself. I can’t get enough of it. Here we have a Ken Block stunt driving video… the tilt shift effect ends up making it look like an RC video game:

A popular viral strategy for some is to take a current Internet trend, and then make a video of that trend “in real life.” In fact, I’ve seen three or four Facebook In Real Life videos already in my lifetime. But this one still found a huge audience, and it’s also pretty funny:

What if you took a song that is a popular cover choice for YouTube musicians, and then you stitched together their performances to form one giant collaborative medley? You’d have this video:

You know that Hollywood trick where they create a lens flare… where they want to recreate the bright effect that direct sunlight has on the human eye inside their shot? Well, some folks feel like the trend is going overboard lately–with J.J. Abrams Star Trek taking the most criticism for overuse of the technique. And now we have Lens Flare: The Movie:

Slow motion is another huge trend in online video. It gives audiences a unique look at a well-known movement or entity, often with interesting or impressive results. A slow motion video of a cannon firing might do just that, wouldn’t you say?

If you’re already familiar with Maru, then skip ahead and just click play. If you’re not, then know this: Maru is the best cat in the history of the Internet. He’s goofy, funny, full of personality, and he stars in hilarious videos. One of his favorite pastimes is trying to fit his large body in boxes that are entirely too small:

Honorable Mention

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