The best viral videos of 2008 weren’t necessarily the ones that got the most page views, in my humble opinion. Or the list below would feature Fred — whose helium and sugar-fueled antics often make me want to chuck my dying laptop out the window — a music video, or Paris Hilton.
Here’s the final countdown, with more videos after the jump. While you’ve likely seen a few on the list, there should be a couple of surprises.
10. Pojemna paszcza – There’s a cookbook called A Man, A Can, A Plan. This guy took the title literally. Is that a sandwich or a Mountain Dew can or both? It garnered over 16.7 million views, with over 15 million on YouTube, making it the most popular (and disturbing) viral video of 2008.
9. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Note: this is 42 minutes long) – Quarterlife, the first web-based show to make it to network television, tanked, while online videos reigned supreme this year. But Internet musicals did better. Case in point: Fans of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog flooded the site and crashed its servers earlier this summer. Its success had a multi-pronged approach — the show can also be downloaded on iTunes, viewed on Hulu, and ordered on DVD. One of Dr. Horrible’s stars, Felicia Day, also made it big with her web-based series The Guild and scored a deal with Microsoft. Felicia, if you’re reading this, please e-mail me — I have VentureBeatnik Anthony Ha’s phone number for you.
8. Samsung Omnia i900 Unboxing – This was the year of the iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1, the Blackberry Storm…and lest you forget, the Samsung Omnia i900, too. And you thought the packaging for Amazon’s Kindle was impressive.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQlzX7EyIwU&hl=en&fs=1]
7. Electric Feel – MGMT – The Rock-fire Explosion – While this video gives me flashbacks of my disastrous fourth grade birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese and the now-defunct Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland, it’s an impressive display of animatronics and choreography. Even though it didn’t get a bajillion hits on YouTube, the user-generated video still had a huge impact. The band MGMT recreated a piece of it for the official music video for their song “Electric Feel”, which goes to show how user-generated videos on the web can influence mainstream media and the artists involved.
6. Bert & Ernie Try Gangsta Rap – Copyright infringement aside, this is an awe-inspiring and head-bobbing pairing of Sesame Street duo Ernie and Bert and hip hop duo M.O.P, whose song “Ante Up” was a hit in 2000. The video’s 2 million views on YouTube certainly inspired more downloads of the tune and hopefully purchases of the group’s album and Sesame Street DVDs.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21OH0wlkfbc&hl=en&fs=1]
5. Take on Me: Literal Version – No metaphors needed here.
4. Bill O’Reilly Flips Out – To say that political commentator Bill O’Reilly needs anger management training is a bit of an understatement, like saying Elliot Spitzer has a teeny bit of a prostitution problem. In the vintage clip that resurfaced this year, he goes bananas because of an innocent teleprompter. Technology, why do you taunt O’Reilly so?[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tJjNVVwRCY&hl=en&fs=1]
3. Katie Couric and Sarah Palin on SNL (sorry, non-US viewers)- 2008 was the year of Tina Fey, whose presence was unavoidable at magazine stands, at the movies, on TV, on my laptop and in my dreams. Fey’s first spoof of Alaska’s Caribou Barbie was NBC’s most watched video ever, and fueled arguments that the impersonation was sexist (pfft, wouldn’t it be more sexist if they didn’t parody her?) and concerns that it made Palin even more popular with right-wingers. After the election, a lack of Sarah Palin could’ve contributed to a drop in Hulu’s traffic in November, says MediaMemo. As for me, I’m retiring my usage of the word “maverick.”
2. Where the Hell is Matt? – Matt Harding started proving that white guys can dance — or at least jig earnestly — in 2003, during a trip to Asia. After posting a widely-passed around clip of his sincere homage to Riverdance, he landed a sponsorship from Stride Gum for two more trips. His 2008 edition involves 42 countries and a whole lot of excited locals who caught dance fever. I got some Stride gum in my stocking yesterday, but I’m not sure it’s because of Matt (I prefer Orbit gum, personally).[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY&hl=en&fs=1]
1. Frozen Grand Central – Unlike lip dubs, which have become more annoying than people who believe leggings pass as pants, this video is incredible. Improv Everywhere, a comedy group dedicated to devising missions that “cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places” was responsible for the following awesomeness. More than 14 million people watched this YouTube video of over 200 people stood frozen in New York’s Grand Central Terminal for five minutes. The group’s FAQ on their web site adamantly states that it was staging massive public pranks this before the whole flash mob fad.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwMj3PJDxuo&hl=en&fs=1]