This is getting ridiculous.  There are simply too many great videos–funny ones, shocking ones, videos that amaze–to squeeze into this once-a-week column.  I’m going to have to start doing a “Best Viral Videos of the Midweek” article or something.  This week I have so much great video content I want to share… I could easily fill this article three times over. I guess it makes sense.  As video rises in popularity, more people will start making their own.  As more people make their own videos, there’s bound to be more quality clips than before.  But it’s making my decisions on which examples to include a lot tougher than it used to be.

Let’s dive in…

Crowd Helps Girl Finish National Anthem

We’re starting things off with something heartwarming this week.  At a Norfolk Admirals minor league hockey game on the 7th of January, a 9-year old girl was chosen to sing the national anthem.  And she sang it well… right up until the microphone cut out.  She’s belting it out, doing pretty darn good for a kid, and then suddenly… no sound.  Her lips kept moving, but it was clear the microphone was malfunctioning.

But what happened next was the kind of thing that gives you faith in humanity–the crowd comes to her rescue.  Almost immediately, the fans collectively started singing, picking up right where she’d left off, and they guide her through to the end of the song–where they cheer her victoriously.  Take a look:

Over 2.5 million views in six days of being online–yeah, that’s a viral smash hit.  With plenty of good reason.  A feel-good story still moves the needle.  America still loves to have their heart strings played like a harp.  It’s comforting to me to know that so many people find this heartwarming.  The news feeds us so many wackos and criminals, it’s easy to forget that the bulk of us are decent people.

I’ve seen this video all over the place, on sports blogs and entertainment sites.  The appeal is pretty universal.  Now, if the game was being played in Philadelphia–a city that famously booed Santa Claus–that girl might have been left to fend for herself.  But thankfully the good people of Norfolk came to her rescue, and in doing so… created an event unique and inspiring enough to go viral.  Probably the video of the week.

Baby Says “No”

Of course, there was another video of a cute kid that went supernova this week–the clip of baby Charlotte saying “no” a bunch of times.  Launched in late December but only going viral in the last week and a half, it’s racked up just over 2 million views, helped by its appearance on multiple television programs like The Today Show and Inside Edition.  It’s spread so far and wide that I’d be very surprised if you hadn’t seen it already.  But even if you have, it’s worth another look, because this might be the cutest baby in the history of Earth:

If that video doesn’t make you smile, then you probably hate puppies or something.  Charlotte’s negative responses can melt even the hardest heart, I should think.

This is also a good time to point out how quickly we’re seeing remixes and parody videos hit the web.  I actually saw a parody of Charlotte’s video before I saw the original–this parody, to be exact:

I’m not here to debate whether or not parents should put their babies on the Internet, as I think that’s up to each set of parents to decide for themselves.  But cute babies rule the viral video world.  There’s a reason Etrade is still running those talking-baby commercials, you know.  The only way to build more viral potential into this video would be to add a dog playing a musical instrument.

Dog Playing The Piano

Speaking of dogs playing musical instruments, have you seen this video?

Tucker’s piano prowess landed on YouTube three weeks ago, but it was largely ignored until earlier this week, when an incredibly popular pet blog, called Cute Overload, posted it.  It’s risen to nearly half a million views in just the days since then.

Now, it’s pretty clear to me by the end of the video that this dog has been taught to do this… this is a trick–you see how he looks toward the camera for approval?  Does that make me like the video any less?  Not at all.  It’s pretty hilarious whether it happened organically or it was rehearsed (though it does go on a bit too long for my tastes).

Dog tricks are a pretty reliable sub-genre of animal-based viral videos.  Part of the appeal is due to how easily this sort of thing crosses cultural boundaries–you don’t need to understand English or know much about America for this to be funny.  Having pets is a universal concept.  And the more universal your topic or theme, the bigger your potential audience.

Grand Theft Auto’s Brief Ressurgence

Grand Theft Auto IV came out nearly three years ago, and was an incredibly popular video game.  Since then, however, there have been many popular video games released, and you’d be tempted to think that Grand Theft Auto’s viral video potential had waned… but you’d be wrong.

Two videos related to the game went viral this week.  The first, is another in a long line of “glitch” or “modded” game videos, where someone’s gameplay experience is wildly different than the normal one.  In this instance, the game has been modified (or “hacked”) to remove the friction element that powers the car wheels on the road.  The result is a “carmageddon” of ricocheting vehicles that has racked up 300,000 views in just three days:

Show them something they haven’t seen before, and you’ll have their attention.  And while tens of millions of people have played Grand Theft Auto IV, almost none of them have ever seen this.  Typically, we ask for realism in our video games.  And game-makers have risen to the challenge.  In fact, they’ve made games so realistic that we sometimes long for a bit of the ridiculous again, which is why videos like Carmageddon go viral.

Of course, there’s another way to look at the real-ness of video games:  they’re now so real that we can basically make movies out of them.  And that’s what Dailymotion user Murakawa did.  Using the Grand Theft game engine, he spent two years of painstaking work creating a feature-length motion picture about a vigilante garbage man who also cleans up the criminal “garbage” of his city.  If you have a spare hour and a half, I’m quite certain you’ll be impressed:

The trashmaster (nouvelle version nouvelle voix-off !)
Uploaded by murakawa. – Discover more gaming videos.

Video games are big business, with the blockbusters grossing more in a first week of release than most Hollywood movies make in their entire runs.  So it’s completely logical that videos featuring video games are starting to go viral more often.  Tap into what’s popular, and adapt your message to fit that topic or theme.  Also, it never hurts to tackle a huge artistic undertaking, as viral audiences consistently reward hard work by artists and filmmakers.

4 Instrument Parts On One Guitar

This last example simply floors me with its creativity.  It’s four musicians–all part of a band called Little Comets–performing one of their songs.  The gimmick, though, is that they’re all playing their instrument parts on one guitar.  And rather than try and explain what I mean by that, I think you should just take a look:

One of the ways you can ensure you grab some attention in the viral marketplace is to show us something we’ve never seen before.  If you’re in a viral video pitch meeting… the ideas you want to gravitate toward should be the ones that haven’t ever been done.  Maybe that means a dog that plays the piano.  Or maybe it means a strange physics mod to a video game.  The beauty of the strategy is that it crosses all genres. Just show the audience something new, and you’re ten times more likely to see your video go on to be shared virally.  And I’ve definitely never seen four musicians playing four distinct instrument parts on one instrument, which is exactly why I sent this clip to all my old guitar friends.

You also have to marvel at the ingenuity on display, as well as the practice time they must have logged to get all the parts down.  Kudos to the Little Comets for finding a unique-yet-simple way to help themselves stand out in the crowded field of aspiring rock bands.

Honorable Mention

If I had more time I would also have talked more about these gems: