Humour, embarrassment, obscenity, and plain old stupidity. They're all ingredients for a viral video that attracts millions of internet users. Since the emergence of YouTube in 2005, many viral videos have been uploaded to the internet, but few surpass the popularity of the 20 classics we’ve picked out here.
The Coke and Mentos experiments
Who'd have thought that an eighth-grade science experiment would become the object of worldwide fascination? That was the effect of this viral video classic, and people are still checking it out on YouTube and a hundred other viral video sites. You simply drop seven or eight pieces of Mentos candy into a bottle of Diet Coke, stand back, and watch the geysers shoot out.
Hundreds of people have now duplicated the experiment in their own versions of the original video, and the original's creator, Steve Spangler, has done numerous live performances of the beloved trick. Following is what we think is one of the first Diet Coke/Mentos videos to have appeared in shared video land.
Kids lip-synching the Backstreet Boys
One of the first viral hits, the video features two Chinese students (Wei Wei and Huang Yi Xin) passionately lip-synching to the Backstreet Boys' "I Like It That Way" to a cheap webcam. I can't tell whether I hate or love these guys, especially the freaky one on the left (Wei Wei), but I keep watching because I like the guy in the background playing Counter Strike.
According to Wikipedia, the 'Back Dorm Boys', as they've come to be called, were later signed as spokespeople for Motorola cell phones in China.
Bush and Kerry sing 'This Land Is Your Land'
Remember this goody from the 2004 Presidential campaign? One of the first truly viral videos, JibJab's 'This Land Is Your Land', created by brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, recasts the Woody Guthrie classic with places and faces of the 2004 presidential campaign. The original was about pride and national unity, themes that sounded completely out of place in the context of the election, when the cultural gulf between Democrats and Republicans couldn't have been much wider.
But for all that, the big heads of George W. Bush and John Kerry sitting on top of stick-figure, Shockwave-animated bodies was funny in and of itself, never mind the digs that the filmmakers throw at both candidates throughout the video. The 2004 election seems like a decade ago now, but JibJab's video brings it all back, and it's still good for some laughs.
Lonelygirl15 is a fake video blog cooked up by Californian screenwriter Ramesh Flinders and his friend Miles Beckett, a physician turned filmmaker.
The star of 'lonelygirl15', a fictional teenage girl named 'Bree', is played by New Zealand actress Jessica Rose. For a long time, people thought the series was a legitimate video blog, until some Los Angeles Times reporters finally outed the creators and the star in September 2006. There's just something about Bree and her so-called life that keeps them coming back for more, even after the series' cover was blown.