Trending This Week: A Celebrity Supergroup for Ebola

With temps turning arctic (at least at YouTube Trends HQ) and the holidays careening ‘round the corner, might we suggest curling up by the hearth with a steaming mug of viral videos?

This week on the Spotlight channel, we heard the moving voices and vlogs of the transgender community and unearthed the incredibly bizarre, fascinating ASMR phenomenon.

And here’s what else hit it big this week:

Band Aid 30 - Do They Know It’s Christmas?

There’s truly nothing we love more than a celebrity supergroup coming together for charity (we still can’t think about “We Are the World” without getting a little tingly, and it’s been like 30 years). Thirty years after leading his first “Band Aid” single, Bob Geldof brought together big names like Bono, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, and One Direction this week to raise money for Ebola. The track is headed for #1 on the British pop charts, but views and downloads aside, the only important metric is the money it raises for the cause – and the organization announced they raised $1 million in the first five minutes. Big claps for this charitable kick-off to the holiday season.

The Holderness Family - All About That Baste

You know this family: sporty, squeaky clean, super healthy-looking, dad who’s literally impervious to embarrassment … they’re now on YouTube. The Holderness family has been pumping out wholesome parodies (see their back to school spectacular “Baby Got Class” or last year’s resplendent holiday offering “#XMASJAMMIES”) for a year and picked up over 30 million views in total. We’d say “keep it up,” but we’re pretty sure they don’t need the encouragement.


Stunt driver and general insane human being Ken Block is back with a new installment in his “Gymkhana” series. Captured via some epic cinematography, he races a souped-up, 845 horsepower Mustang around the sexy streets of L.A., and the result is a captivating, stomach-churning watch. The Gymkhana videos have been massive YouTube hits – episode five racked up 68 million views – and the latest installment is proving no exception, with over 10 million views in the first 48 hours on YouTube.

OrsaraRecipes - How to pronounce Worcestershire Sauce?

Our “aww”-inducing pick of the week features 75-year-old YouTube chef Pasquale Sciarappa of New Jersey trying (and failing) to pronounce the classic British sauce (he also gets points for his great “no sweat, no sauce” tee). Gramps: this hug’s for you.

--Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week: Taylor Swift, Plus the Saddest, Sweetest Video We’ve Ever Seen

This week on the Spotlight channel, we bought whatever these fake commercials are selling and feted Movember’s finest moustaches.

And here’s what else bedecked our upper lip:

Taylor Swift - Blank Space

While a Swift hit is hardly @breakingnews here at YouTube, we’d be remiss not to mention the week’s single biggest kahuna. Bolstered by a surprise release and a tantalizing subject matter (Taylor’s mascara-streaked self-parodying as a crazy girlfriend), “Blank Space” set a new personal record for first-day view count, with over 4 million hits on Monday. Forget Kim K: from where we sit, it was Taylor Swift who broke the Internet this week.

Epic Rap Battles of History - Ghostbusters vs Mythbusters

At this point, ERB’s a bonafide institution. Back for their fourth season, their first video, a face-off between the ‘busters, proves their schtick’s still starp, the raps’re still smart, and they’re still bringing the views to the yard (over 6M in a couple days).

Obese2Beast - My Biggest Insecurity: Loose Skin

We recently wrote about YouTube’s body image empowerment videos, but we haven’t seen one like this. John David Glaude recently lost 160 pounds, and has a YouTube channel motivating others with tips, workouts, and Q&As. His latest video focuses on the loose skin left in the wake of extreme weight loss, but whether or not you can relate to this journey, his candid confrontation of the thing about himself he hates the most feels incredibly courageous. And with over 4 million views in three days, it clearly struck a chord.

K.C. Hohensee - Blackbird with Lennon

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night/Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” If there’s a more intimate, touching, tear-jerking "Blackbird" cover, we haven’t seen it. In this clip, which went viral this week, musician Chris Picco serenades his newborn son Lennon, who’d been delivered via emergency C-section after the sudden passing of Picco’s wife. The gentle tribute (shot just a day before little Lennon passed away) has drawn tears around the world.

-- Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week: Christmas Penguins and Kimmel’s Kids

This week on the Spotlight channel, we bugged out over kids who got moves, paid tribute to a guy who only gets cooler and more relevant as time goes on (Bill Murray), and rounded up some captivating, try-this-at-home magic tricks.

And here’s what waddled in and stole our hearts this week:

Jimmy Kimmel - YouTube Challenge - I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy

Kimmel is a bonafide YouTube hitmaking machine (he’s had 750 million views so far this year), but we think this gag is his sweet spot. For the past four years, he’s challenged parents to trick kids about their treats, and doggonit, their priceless reactions get us EVERY TIME. Like “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” his Halloween YouTube challenge is an enormous fave: the four installments add up to over 120 million views. Sweeeeeet.

John Lewis - Christmas Advert 2014 - #MontyThePenguin

The blood on Halloween may not even be dry, but ho, ho, ho, we’re lumbering on to Christmas. British retailer John Lewis brought their A-game to this beautiful little Christmas advert about the friendship between a boy and a CGI penguin (a timeless tale, really). John Lewis first had a viral Christmas hit in 2011 with this gem, and this year, they’ve got Monty the Penguin all queued up for a book (“Monty’s Christmas”), an app, and an in-store experience. This truly is the #magicofChristmas.

JubileeProject - Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question

Whether it’s the Dove Sketches or Meghan Trainor crooning “All About That Bass,” there are a lot of examples of empowering body image videos on YouTube (check out a sample here). Nonprofit Jubilee Project had 3 million views this week asking 50 people what they’d change about their body and highlighting how drastically body image changes from childhood to adulthood. Its simple, magical message is something we can get behind.

-- Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week: Catcalls, Ten Second Songs, and PewDiePie

Halloween is one of YouTube’s favorite holidays, and this year on the Spotlight channel, we celebrated with some of our hallow’ed traditions: cool DIY costumes and scaring the heck out of people. This week was also doubly special as we celebrated the birthdays of two of YouTube’s greatest raisons d’etre: the Internet and Katy Perry.

Street Harassment Video - 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman

This video, commissioned by an advocacy group called Hollaback, started with a simple concept: follow a young woman for a day, capturing all the catcalls, “hey baby’s,” and harassing remarks that come her way (more than 100 after 10 hours, as it turned out). But it had a complicated response – sparking controversy, conversation, and a lot of close reading. Editorializing aside, the buzz made for a blockbuster view count (over 18 million in 48 hours).


There are two types of people in this world: people who know about PewDiePie and people who don’t. And never the twain shall meet. For that latter group, here’s the deal: the Swedish gamer is the current sine qua non of YouTube, holding the top slot for number of subscribers (his channel has had just shy of 3.5 BILLION views so far this year). But even if you’re not a member of the #BroArmy, you can get down with this charming chat sesh with Pewds’s mom, sister, and a pair of pugs. Shall we raise our hands in brofist (editor’s note: a Brofist is a friendly greeting or farewell and the main symbol used by PewDiePie to his bros)?

Ten Second Songs - Michael Jackson - Thriller

Impersonator impresario Anthony Vincent has a reliable formula: cover songs in 20 different styles, ten seconds a pop. (Improbably, he can pull off everyone from Kurt Cobain to Frank Sinatra, the Spice Girls, and DMX ). He hit it big with a “Dark Horse” cover in March, and has had over 35M views since then. This week he threw on some facepaint and covered "Thriller" to rapturous Internet praise. We think this YouTube commenter put it best: “dude. subbed for eternity.”

Abby Holcowitz - Kelly Clarkson “Shake It Off” Taylor Swift Cover

With the world in the vice-like grip of Swift mania, we were surprised to realize that the most-viewed Taylor Swift video on YouTube this week doesn’t exactly feature Ms. Swift herself. Fan-shot footage of country-pop singer Kelly Clarkson putting a stripped-down, soulful spin on the ubiquitous hit at a recent concert got the coveted Swift stamp of approval. And if you – like us – can’t get enough of celebrities covering celebrities, feast your ears on this playlist.

-- Claire Stapleton