YouTube’s best of the best

Jinae West

In another whirlwind year of celebrity feuds, political mishaps and corporate conglomerations, perhaps the biggest story of 2006 was the glorious coming of YouTube.

Named Time’s Invention of the Year, the Web site quickly became a pop culture staple, continually making morning headlines. With thousands of videos ranging from Michael Richards’ racial outburst at the Laugh Factory to varying versions of the explosive Diet Coke-Mentos experiment, YouTube deliver endless hours of mind-numbing entertainment. To commemorate its enduring success, ALL has compiled a list of some of the year’s best viral videos.

“Here It Goes Again” by OK Go

What do you get when you mix a pulse-pounding beat, eight treadmills, a video camera, and four hipster-clad musicians? You get a breakthrough hit, complete with a Grammy nomination and mainstream success.

Since its release, the video has garnered more than 9 million views to date. “Here It Goes Again” is a refreshing breath of simple originality amidst forgettable and formulaic music videos introduced by the likes of Total Request Live’s rotating VJs. Needless to say, OK Go has not only proven YouTube’s burgeoning influence on the media, but also that, yes, treadmills can actually be fun.


Evolution of Dance

Dance trends come and go, but Judson Laipply will make sure audiences never forget some of pop culture’s forgotten missteps.

Laipply’s video is comprised of the most popular and frankly, the most embarrassing dances of the past two centuries. With more than 37 million hits, the Evolution of Dance is ranked as YouTube’s most viewed video of all time and it’s not hard to see why. And in watching Laipply’s enthusiastic performance on-stage, you can’t help but see a part of yourself up there as well. Doing the sprinkler.


White House correspondents’ associate dinner

While YouTube videos are often choreographed and meticulously planned, this one captures one of the best awkward silences in recent memory.

Last April, Stephen Colbert appeared at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner as the evening’s featured entertainer. In the video, Colbert offers his honored guests, including the president, a hilarious and biting routine, mercilessly ripping into both the Bush administration and the media for the country’s faults, prompting several YouTube users to comment on Colbert’s “balls of steel.”

However, the majority of Colbert’s jokes fall painfully flat with the audience. Ouch. Guess the truth hurts.


Lazy Sunday

Relative newcomer Andy Samberg has helped to reinvent “Saturday Night Live” with his SNL Digital Shorts, typically consisting of music video parodies. In Lazy Sunday, Samberg and veteran player, Chris Parnell, perform a rap about The Chronicles of Narnia and their “McAdams loves Gosling” type infatuation with cupcakes.

It’s absurd, outlandish and borderline idiotic – yet wholeheartedly funny. Lazy Sunday’s silliness is exactly what makes it so great. It set the tone for Samberg’s other digital shorts to follow, including a more recent holiday-themed R&B video that features Justin Timberlake and a box. Hey, maybe “Saturday Night Live” doesn’t suck after all.


Canon Rock as performed by funtwo

Cleverly concealing his face, a young man sporting a bright blue T-shirt and a baseball hat shreds effortlessly on a gold-colored ESP guitar, illuminated by the natural backlight of a bedroom window.

The kid is seemingly impassive in his mind-blowing rock rendition of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D, artfully arranged by JerryC. Never lifting his head toward the camera, the mysterious guitarist’s identity remains unresolved as the video slowly fades to black.

It was only after an investigation by the New York Times months later that the world would learn the name and face of “funtwo”: Jeong-Hyun Lim, a self-taught 23-year-old from Seoul, Korea. Lim’s video, simply titled “guitar,” is a testament to the unprecedented online video phenomenon and a taste of what’s in store for YouTubers in 2007.


Contact ALL correspondent Jinae West at [email protected].