Viral Awards: The Week's 10 best videos of 2012

Dec 27, 2012

There was a runaway winner in the pop category - but what about best comedy? And best drunk?

THE YEAR 2012 saw a huge rise in video viewing and all manner of clips went viral, from the usual You've Been Framed-style pratfalls to one that began 24 miles above the earth. Here are The Week's prize winners in ten categories:

Best daredevil video:
Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the speed of sound in a freefall after jumping out of a helium balloon from a height of 128,100ft (24 miles). The 43-year-old Austrian also broke the records for highest manned balloon flight and highest skydive – and grabbed 31m hits on YouTube as a result. The footage is at times breathtakingly beautiful. 

Best comedy video:
The German man jumping into a swimming pool. Instead of the usual cliché of the pool being empty, it is full of water – but when he tries to jump in he bounces off a completely solid sheet of ice. Posing for the camera, the man confidently pulls a Usain Bolt lightning strike before launching himself full speed at the pool – and slides across it, much to his friends' amusement. It reached 22m views.

Best pop video: 
South Korean rapper Psy's Gangnam Style attracted an astonishing billion hits on YouTube. The rapper had been on the music scene for over a decade, but the single, which features Psy doing an "invisible horse riding" dance, caught on. Tom Cruise, Robbie Williams, Britney Spears and Nelly Furtado declared their love for Gangnam Style.

Best furry animal video: 
Two red pandas got a fright when a zookeeper crept up and surprised them during meal time. In the clip, three red pandas can be seen pottering around their enclosure in Maruyama Zoo in Japan. Two are enjoying a bite to eat when a zookeeper's foot appears in the frame and surprises them. One of the cuddly creatures is so shocked it is literally bowled over backwards.

Best charity video:
Kony 2012 was a short film made by the Invisible Children charity to promote the Stop Kony movement. Its aim was to bring to justice the Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, charged with enslaving thousands of Uganda children during his reign of terror. The charity was accused by many of being smug and manipulative - but the powerful half-hour film had over 94 million hits. Kony, however, remains a fugitive.

Best boozy video:
Footage of an apparently drunk, but doggedly determined, businessman trying to walk the wrong way down an escalator on the London Underground became an instant hit. The footage, which lasts for more than two minutes, shows the man, plodding along at the top of the 'up' escalator at a London tube station. Even streams of passengers coming the other way fail to dent his enthusiasm for the task.

Best wedding video:
A film of a well-meaning grandmother who mistook her glass of Pimm's for confetti, and threw her drink into the bride's face, became an instant hit on YouTube. In the clip, Pimmsgate - How not to throw confetti, newlyweds are showered with handfuls of confetti. When the bride nears the grandmother, she confuses the hand holding her confetti with the one holding her drink.

Best hoax video: 
An eagle is seen swooping down and grabbing a toddler in a Montreal park, almost flying away with him. The dramatic clip received millions of hits after it was picked up by media organisations round the world – but it was later confirmed as a hoax, created by students at a Canadian film school. The National Animation and Design Centre came clean, admitting that "both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated in to the film afterwards".

Best political video:
Ed Balls's recent embarrassment over his stammer may have made the news but earlier on in the year he managed to rile PM David Cameron, who called him a "muttering idiot". Balls chanted across the Despatch Box: "How many glasses of wine did you have?" Cameron's "muttering idiot" response went viral.

Best oddball video:
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the funniest, as with this brief clip from Jurassic Park. It starts with Richard Attenborough's famous line "welcome to Jurassic Park", before Sam Neill turns around to see dinosaurs roaming the earth. Then, for no apparent reason whatsoever, a gloriously cheesy harmonica bursts onto the soundtrack. It's completely incongruous and utterly random but all the funnier for that.

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