Trending This Week: Existential Animals, Heady Kids, and Melting Icebergs

Sometimes we come in on Mondays, fire up our Viral Video Machine,™ and think: will the week yield any fresh memes? But an hour will go by and ... boom, a trailer breaks. A music vid pops. And then, there it is: something we never saw coming, yet suddenly can’t imagine life without. A LOL is born.

This week on the Spotlight channel, we spotlighted Unlocking the Truth, a Brooklyn-based metal band who just signed a major record deal (and yeah, they’re 12). We also rounded up the Best Interviews Ever and got into the song of the summer game with these cheeky “Problem” covers.

And here’s what else we spotted trawling the streets of Meme City USA:

Rebecca Ehalt - Dog passes out from overwhelming joy

If you read the title, you’ve got the gist. But that didn’t stop the cellphone-shot clip from getting a whopping 30 million hits this week. That vaults the excitable schnauzer into the top 20 most-viewed videos of the year to date (and if you took out the music videos, it’d be straight up the most-viewed video of the year--we’ll give you a second to ponder the enormity of that). Look, it’s not a Caravaggio, but there is something about the universal delight in watching a cute animal do a cute thing that is, in its own way, a work of art.

Maddie & Tae - Girl in a Country Song

“Well shakin’ my moneymaker ain’t never made me a diiiime …” The twangy breakout hit from a brand-new country duo was our not-so-guilty pleasure of the week. Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye took the “bro country” script, flipped it, and reversed it, with a witty video that makes a point about sexism in country music (watch your back, Blake Shelton). M & T, consider yourselves cordially invited to our next tailgate/backyard BBQ/dueling fiddles competition.

Wanda Stead - Iceberg collapse

Shiver me literal timbers. For Wanda Stead and her husband, a casual boat ride through the Bay of Exploits in Newfoundland, Canada, turned calamitous when they witnessed--and captured--a massive collapse of an arch-shaped iceberg. The short clip packs a wallop about what’s happening on the planet: warmer winters in Antarctica mean ice sheets are colliding with the ocean floor more often, and bringing big ramifications for the entire ecosystem. Yeah, Wanda, we’d scream too.

Alex Miller - Sadie doesn’t want her brother to grow up

Another UGC miracle this week shows a 5-year-old having a heady meltdown over the meaning of life, death, and time--you know, kid stuff! The little brother gives a brilliant performance: his perfectly timed smile makes for a stunning dénouement. Such a wise little buddha! In the words of commenter Michael Warbux: “You know the best part about this video? EVERYTHING!” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

-- Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week: Adult Toddlers, 'Star Wars' & 'Assassin's Creed' + Parkour

Our mission here at YT Trends HQ is to keep you abreast of all that is viral in the world of video, a mission we take quite seriously. If we have to spend hours (yes, hours) each day combing the site to unearth hidden video gems, then so be it. We wouldn't have it any other way.

On the Spotlight channel this week, we explored the sensation that is meme rap and took the plunge with some epic water slides. Now, let's dive in to some other highlights from the week that was:

Tripp and Tyler - "Things You Can't Do When You're Not a Toddler"

Toddlers have it easy. They can say and do just about anything and get away with it because they're tiny and cute. But when a grown man acts that way, then people apparently have a problem with it. This is the idea that comedy duo Tripp and Tyler (whom you may know from their classic perspective on conference calls in real life) explore in their hilarious take on arrested development. It's possible that someone at YT Trends HQ is a parent to twin toddlers and found that this hit a little too close to home, but we would never admit to that (especially if a certain wife reads this - ahem).

Star Wars - "Star Wars: Force for Change - An Update from J.J. Abrams"

During a week when plot details for the upcoming "Star Wars Episode VII" were apparently revealed (do NOT click on that link if you want to see the movie as it's intended - consider yourself warned), director J.J. Abrams made his own reveal. We don't want to spoil the surprise, but let's just say one lucky fan and a few friends and family could see something before anyone else does on December 18, 2015, and it's all for a good cause. We've already said too much.

Last Week Tonight - "Prison"

Comedian John Oliver and his critically acclaimed show make a second appearance on this blog, with his incisive commentary on the United States prison system. And it's clear we aren't the only ones noticing. With more than 2 million views, this becomes the 16th video from the show to garner at least 1 million views on YouTube. And his former employer, "The Daily Show"? Three videos north of 1 million views, including one with a certain British comedian. Well played, Mr. Oliver. Well played indeed.

Devinsupertramp - "Assassin's Creed Unity Meets Parkour In Real Life - 4K!"

We may not play "Assassin's Creed" with any sort of proficiency, but we know a sweet video when we see it. With the "Unity" trailer having already garnered nearly 9 million views and the game set to drop in late October, Devin Graham (aka devinsupertramp) feeds off that anticipation and takes his own amped-up spin on the video game, pairing it with parkour. Where did parkour start, you might ask? None other than France, where the game is set and where the video was shot, on the streets, walls and roofs of Paris. And, it must be said, unless you're a trained professional, don't try these stunts at home, or anywhere else, for that matter.

--Marc Hertz

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