Trending This Week: Weird Al, Tiny Ninja Warriors, and the Pizza Diet

What a week. The crop of new viral videos on YouTube was so rich, so bountiful, that our eyes bugged out around Tuesday afternoon and still haven’t returned to their normal socket position.

We forge on. This week on the Spotlight channel, we crowned the King of Parkour and paid our respects to the first non-human princess of pop (reality is overrated).

And here are a few other things that caught our meme-hungry eyes:



Weird Al - Word Crimes

Were you a dorky teen who hung on Weird Al’s every schticky pun and parody? Cool, us too. And gods be good, that curly-haired, nasal-voiced icon has endured for decades. He re-emerged this week, releasing a new video every day, including his take on current hits like Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (“Handy”) and Lorde’s “Royals” (“Foil”). We have a major soft spot for “Tacky,” his Pharrell parody (“It might seem crazy wearing stripes with plaid!”), but the web crowned a clear winner with his Robin Thicke cover, “Word Crimes.” The entertaining ode to proper grammar has 5 million views so far, putting it on the map of his biggest hits of all time. Relive the awkward memories in our ultimate Weird Al playlist.



American Ninja Warrior - Kacy Catanzaro at the 2014 Dallas Finals

We’re not regular “American Ninja Warrior” watchers, yet this video had us rooting for Kacy Catanzaro like she was about to win gold at the Olympics–or even clinch the Copa di Mundi (sic). The 5-foot, 100-pound warrior is the first woman to conquer their insane-looking obstacle course and qualify for something called “Mount Midoriyama.” Come for her spidery, superhuman maneuvers, stay for the incredibly hyperbolic commentary (they declare history in the making approximately four times a minute). You go girl.



Suntory - japanese school girl chase #ninja

In other tiny ninja warrior news, we took an exhilarating journey through the Japanese city of Atami with this butt-kicking pair of schoolgirls. The story starts off with some sort of premise (a smartphone pic gone awry kicks off an epic chase through town), but after three-and-a-half minutes of parkour, acrobatics and ninja moves, you won’t know up from down. Check out some more inspiring women in our Girl Power playlist.



Munchies - The Guy who Survived on Pizza for 25 Years

On a more somber note–this guy. This mini-documentary about Dan Janssen, who’s subsisted on pretty much nothing but pizza for 25 years, plays like an Edward Gorey-esque tale for young picky eaters. In other words: scary stuff. We found ourselves engrossed by his fiancé’s gentle crusade to get him to eat even a single mushroom on his pizza and mournful for the moment when he says, while at a Domino’s, “It feels good to be home.” It just goes to show: sometimes a little kid’s dream is a grown-up nightmare.

-- Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week on YouTube: Tiny Hedgehogs, 'Sharknado 2' & Football Flopping

With the world in the grips of Copa di Mundi (sic) fever, we've found solace in a familiar source: viral video. This week on the Spotlight channel, we took the edge off with the ultimate Beyoncé dance off playlist, and we suggest you do the same.

And here’s some other interesting stuff on YouTube this week:



HelloDenizen - “Tiny Birthday for a Tiny Hedgehog”

A passion for tiny animals is practically a pre-req for working at YouTube. So naturally, we were captivated by “Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos,” a masterpiece from HelloDenizen that picked up over 7 million views this spring. On Tuesday, they launched their second episode: “Tiny Birthday for Tiny Hedgehog.” They're also soliciting ideas for the next chapter of delicious tininess. What do you want to see petite vermin consume or do? Some of our favorite suggestions from the comments:

[editor's note: Larke Paul, have you considered a career in video production?]






Pro tip: for a daily fix of cute animalia, check out our “Daily ‘Aww’” playlist (truly the pièce de résistance of our curatorial efforts).



Fourgrounds - “Everyday Football Fouls”

While the World Cup has divided countries and pitted coworker against coworker, we can all agree on one thing: the absurdity of flopping in football. Who hasn't enjoyed a laugh at the dramatic writhing and general embellishment of injuries that goes down on the soccer stage? Even The Wall Street Journal had a chortle with a piece called “The World Cup Flopping Rankings.” A Canadian comedy troupe took the bait in a sketch that imagines what would happen if we all reacted like soccer players in everyday life. With almost 2 million hits in three days, it just goes to show, laughter truly is ... the universal language (*cue muffled applause*).



"Sharknado 2: The Second One Official Trailer"

The sequel the web's been waiting for got its first trailer this week–and frankly, it’s everything we dreamed it would be. Chainsaws? Check. Forgotten '90s actors? Check. Vague, cliché dialogue? Check, check, check (so far Tara Reid is winning with her gripping delivery of: “It’s like he [the shark] knew who I was…”).



Scripps Oceanography - "Anchovy school at Scripps Pier, July 8, 2014"

Watch enough YouTube and you'll know that it doesn't take a Hollywood production to marvel at the mysteries of Mother Nature. A late-breaking hit for the week, captured by students from the Scripps Observatory, showed millions of anchovy (by their accounts, the biggest school in 30 years) moving in a lava lamp-like formation off the coast of San Diego. It's a thrilling natural phenomenon–nothing fishy about it.

-- Claire Stapleton



Trending This Week on YouTube: 40 Slaps, 2,000 Songs & Clickhole

This week on the Spotlight channel, we laughed with Dave Chappelle, cried at nature’s most horrific creatures, and swooned for the hottest YouTubers alive.

Here’s what else had us glued to our seats (figuratively speaking ... YT Trends HQ is strictly standing desk-only):



Uptomyknees - “The Slap”

If you thought it was a little late for another "First Kiss" parody ... you were dangerously wrong. It’s been almost four months since a video of 20 strangers kissing went viral and inspired over 6K imitators (measured by number of videos with “First Kiss” in the title), but Uptomyknees's twist on the concept was a big hit this week. "The Slap" features 40 strangers slapping each other (one of which, in a satisfying twist, is former child star Haley Joel Osment). It's a little perverse and pretty compelling and racked up 4 million views this week, proving that memes never really die. Lusty for more “First Kiss” parodies? We rounded up the best ones in this Spotlight playlist.



Jonathan Mann - 2000 songs in 2000 days

Big ups to Jonathan Mann–the minstrel who’s been writing a song (and uploading a video about it) every day since January 1, 2009–for hitting 2,000 on Monday. That's a lot of tunes. His latest video is a tribute to his first 1,999 songs, a recording of his 2,000th, and a mini-manifesto on what it means to be creative. Phew. If the Steve Jobs cameo doesn't tug even the tiniest of heartstrings, then we don't know what to do with you. Rock on, Mann.



ClickHole - This Stick Of Butter Is Left Out At Room Temperature; You Won't Believe What Happens Next

Our faces have been stuck in a loose, mirthful expression since The Onion launched Clickhole, a viral content parody site, which brings us headlines like “10 Hilarious Chairs That Think They’re People” and “7 Classic 90s Toys That Weren't Fun Anymore After 9/11." So we were excited to see they started uploading to their YouTube channel this week. They scored their first hit with an inspired three-hour long time-elapse of a stick of butter that you literally have to see to believe.



FKA twigs - “Two Weeks”

In the lead-up to releasing her debut album in August, breathy up-and-coming R&B singer FKA twigs débuted a single and video on Tuesday with "Two Weeks." The mesmerizing piece was directed by Nabil Elderkin, the mastermind behind Kanye’s “Mercy,” Frank Ocean's "Pyramids," and this month's showstopping World Cup spot for Beats by Dre. The Egyptian goddess motif recalls Katy Perry with a dash of Daenerys Stormborn, but "Dark Horse" this ain't–twigs lords over a crew of tiny, lithe (dare we say twig-like?) dancers and, at one point, coolly shoots water into their mouths from the tip of her finger. Is there anything more luxe than that? Here's one to watch.

--Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week on YouTube: Britney Superfans, OK Go & More

The sun is shining, the temps are rising, and the first summer memes are starting to bloom. This week on the Spotlight Channel, we got to know some “Females Who Code," celebrated "Sloth Week," and asked the age-old q: “Famous Cats: Where Are They Now?”

And here are a few highlights from everything else:



Volinez Spears - “Hi Brit”

Is there anything more beautiful than a superfan's love for his idol? This week we got a stunning spin on a Britney classic from Israeli performance artist Gal Volinez (aka VOLINEZ SPEARS), who edited himself into literally every frame of Brit’s “Work It” video. An instant entry into our (completely unofficial) fan video Hall of Fame, Gal joins Ton Do-Nguyen, a 16-year-old who replicated Beyonce’s "Countdown" video shot for shot in a blue Snuggie. The completely profound result won the ultimate superfan prize: a shout-out from Queen Bey herself.



OK Go - “The Writing on the Wall”

Virtuosos of dad-pop, maestros of the mind-numbing music vid ... OK Go was back in a big way this week. Though their previous works have featured intricate treadmill choreography, dancing dogs, and a Rube Goldberg machine, the video they released this week--a four-minute trompe l’oeil masterpiece--might take the cake. You’ve gotta see it to (dis)believe it. The band and crew spent a month in a Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn warehouse prepping the M.C. Escher-inspired set, and the single-take final result took a cool 50 tries. OK Go ... this Bud’s for you.



AsapSCIENCE - “Should you hover or cover?”

You’ll want to chuck your cutting board immediately after watching the latest AsapSCIENCE. The masters of the whiteboard explainer--their channel has had more than 250M views, pretty amazing when you consider that their stock-in-trade is nerdy educational videos--had a hit this week as they investigated the public restroom. Feeling inquisitive? Check out this “That’s a Good Question” playlist.



Alton Brown - “How to Slice a Mango”

Food Network host Alton Brown only started posting YouTube videos to his channel two months ago, but he’s already clocked in a couple of hits with Grilled Grilled Cheese and Champagne Saber Time. This week, he mixed a straightforward tutorial with a little perverse physical comedy. The result? APPETIZING.

--Claire Stapleton