The Internet has created a whole new strata of stars: those who find fame and fortune through YouTube. Every day millions of videos, often featuring the most inane things, like hit song covers and jumping cats are uploaded on to the video sharing site. A few of them manage to really capture the collective imagination of the Internet. These get shared, reshared, highlighted, picked up by mainstream media and lo and behold! More often than not, a star is born. India had its own viral video sensation in 2011 with Dhanush’s Kolaveri di in November, and of course there was the Govind Tiwari phenomenon that took over Indian social media real estate in July. (In case you’ve forgotten about it you can refresh your memory here)
But 2011 was also the year of the miniature Darth Vader in the Volkswagon ad, the iPad head girl who was a marketing sensation for Cosmo for men, and a homeless man with the ‘golden voice’ who got a job at an oldies radio station after a Youtube video of him doing various ‘spots’ went viral.
Here in no particular order are some of our favourite viral videos for this year:
1. We simply cannot start this list without referring to Govind Tiwari. The man with the website that should come with an epilepsy warning. According to his Orkut profile, he studied at Bharat Scout and Guide Inter College, Allahabad. While he has a presence on most social media networks, Govind seems to be most active on Orkut where he has about 160 friends and has posted over a thousand scraps and over 200 photos. But he also has a YouTube page which features videos like this:
2. This video which made the rounds has got to be one of the cutest advertisements of all time. This ad spot by Volkswagon features a miniature Darth Vader who simply cannot get ‘the force’ to work for him. That is until…
3. This next video is all about the creation of a child star. Eight-year-old Sophia Grace Brownlee’s rendition of the song “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, got her a spot on the Ellen DeGeneres show, a meeting with Nicki Minaj and a chance to host the Video Music Awards. This video gets extra points for the fact that Sophia is dressed in a fluffy pink princess dress and tiara while singing lyrics like, “Who the eff is I”.
4. ‘The man with the golden voice’ was a true rags to redemption story. 55-year-old Ted Williams was a down on luck homeless man in Columbus Ohio, until it was discovered that he had an amazing ‘radio voice’ and could make everything from sugar to hit music sound awesome. Shortly after a video of him enacting various radio ‘spots’ and commentary was put on YouTube, Williams was snatched up by an oldies radio station and is now trying to get his life back on track.
5. Talking twin babies:
And what is YouTube, if not a repository for videos like this? Twin boys have an animated discussion that clearly only they can understand:
6. This video was a little weird, but highly fascinating. Two engineers hooked up two versions of “Cleverbot” — an online chatbot which has conversations based on interactions it has had with people earlier. The programme has been around since 1997, which means its bots have had an estimated 65 million conversations with humans so far. But no one really expected the conversation to get this surreal. The robots which identify each other as robots (until one says it is an unicorn), have discussions about God, and whether or not they would like to have a body. See it to believe it!
7. iPad head girl
This was arguably the best marketing gimmick of the year. A girl walks through Bryant Park in New York. Everything about her neck down is normal. But her head is actually a cube made up of iPads. She doesn’t do much — just walks into the park, sits on a bench and reads a book. The reactions however, are hilarious.
8. Home — Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic zeros: Cover by Jorge and his daughter Alexa Narvaez
This video gets the cutest cover of the year award. Father and daughter do an amazing rendition of Home and the video catapulted them to Internet cult status. Since then, they have done a number of other covers, but none to our mind quite as effective as this one.
Bonus: We just know you want to listen to Kolaveri di. So here goes: