Trends in Viral Videos (a Viral Video Rundown)

OK Go's  "Here It Goes Again" video has over 17 million views on YouTube!
OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again” video has over 17 million views on YouTube!

OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again” and the Numa Numa Dance hold the reign of what can arguably be considered the original viral videos. They are certainly a few of the first to rack up a hit counter on sites like New Grounds, eBaum’s World and the newly launched YouTube back in the day, but what made them skyrocket in popularity? What could a chubby kid dancing to a catchy song by a Moldovan pop group and four guys dancing on treadmills possibly have in common? The Answer: originality. Nobody had ever seen anything like those before.

But if it were only that simple.

Not to say that it was easy, but in the early days of YouTube it was much more likely for a clever video to go viral than today simply due to the lack of content. But in these modern times where every other person owns a DSLR and an idea and videos go up on the Internet like a virus it’s hard to pick out which of those will be the ones to cause the fever. With the increase in talent turning to YouTube as their creative outlet comes the increase in creative content. And with that comes the competition. That’s why the band OK Go jumped off of the treadmills and started creating some of the greatest music videos of all time.

Other bands followed.

Nobody really knows what makes a video go viral, but when you get right down to you and look at YouTube under a microscope you start to notice some trends. For instance just to give you an idea:

– The Internet loves cute animals. Absolutely loves them. Especially cats.

– The Internet is fascinated with slow motion.

Epic videos.

One take music videos.

Clever song covers or just unorthodox musical talent.

Pranks, pranks, pranks, or any sort of public performance.

-You’ll be happy to know that educational YouTube channels have skyrocketed in the past few years.

-And on occasion the Internet is a fan of inspirational videos.

However! Just when you think you’ve got your grasp on what makes a video go viral something like this gets 6.6 million views! Don’t get me wrong. The video is hilarious. One of my personal favorites. But it doesn’t have what you might call “that viral X-factor.” It doesn’t have cute animals, it doesn’t portray any sort of ridiculous talent, it’s not particularly clever, etc.

All of which begs the question: Why does something like this get 97 million views when something genuinely clever gets a few in comparison? What makes the “lesser” of the two more popular? That, I suppose, is a question for the philosophers.