Trending This Week on YouTube: A 'Friends' Reunion, Tasers, and Husky Rodents

We’re capping off a long, languid summer with another week of perky viral vids. On Spotlight, we gasped at gravity-defying leaps of faith, LOL’d at the Internet IRL and wept softly at Saved by the Bell’s 25th anniversary (‘cause we’re that old).

And here are some other trending gems:

Jimmy Kimmel Live - Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel in "Friends"

Kimmel’s late-night shenanigans regularly make for monster YouTube hits: who can forget “Epic Twerk Fail,” “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” or even “(I Wanna Channing) All Over Your Tatum”? This week, he staged a mini-“Friends” reunion that brought smiles to our faces and a chuff to our hearts. And proving that “Friends” nostalgia unites all of humanity: in just over 24 hours on YouTube, it cleared a whopping 6 million views.

Fstoppers Fans - The Taser Photoshoot Original

A few weeks back, we highlighted “How the Sun Sees You” and this week, another photography project-cum-social experiment was a big hit. Photographer Patrick Hall captured some willing victims being shocked with 300,000 volts of electricity (by a loved one, no less) and the result is something we couldn’t quite look away from. It picked up over 3 million views since Monday.

The Second City Network - Is This The New iPhone 6?

Let’s be frank: we’re gluttons for a little tech industry skewering. With iPhone 6 rumor mania hitting a fever pitch, Chicago improv group Second City posted this ingenious sketch. In this week’s unofficial YouTube comedy contest, we’re gonna go ahead and declare this the wiener. Ba-dum-ching!

PsihAL - Спасение жителя Ольхона/Saving of a fat gopher

This week’s home movie miracle is a cautionary tale about the perils of obesity. A Russian couple swoops in to rescue a rodent so rotund that he’s stuck in his hole. Will the gluttonous gopher live to see another day? Suspense, redemption, and the true value of friendship: this thing has it all.

-- Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week on YouTube: Taylor Swift and Ice Bucket Fails

It was a week like a bucket of ice water to the face. On Spotlight, we made a timeline of the news out of Ferguson, Missouri, logged the most-viewed #icebucketchallenge videos, and toasted the Swedish invasion (with lingonberry juice, naturally).

Here’s what else we watched rapturously:

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

This week, we were blessed with two late-breaking entries for the “song of the summer” crown from two diametrically opposed pop stars: Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. On Monday, Taylor dropped her surprise video–an ode to shaking off your haters featuring a lot of awkward shimmying and perfectly art-directed outfits–and in stunning proof that the girl’s still got it, the video has racked up 26M views and counting. Listen to all the other song of the summer contenders here.

Grady Riley - Ice Bucket Challenge Fail

When alien anthropologists study life on Earth, what will they make of the great celebrity wet T-shirt contest of 2014? We’ve counted over 300 million total views of ice bucket challenge videos, but what’s more, the A.L.S. Foundation announced yesterday that they’ve gotten over $41 million in donations thanks to the super-viral campaign.. While everyone from Oprah and Bill Gates to Kermit and Bieber has taken the plunge, the big trend this week was ice bucket FAIL videos, of which this was the most-watched.

Kruszon1984 - ДТП мотоциклист

The title’s in Russian, but the insanity of this video is universally clear: a dash cam captures a man making an incredible recovery from a motorcycle accident. Though the jury’s out on whether it’s real or not, the suspense is infectious, and in three days, it’s had more than 7 million views. How do you say “holy smokes” in Russian?

Mashable - Simply Genius Shower Thoughts With Nick Offerman

If you’ve ever trolled Reddit, you’ll know that there’s a lot of random wisdom lurking within. Mashable has brought one of the most profound subreddits, ShowerThoughts, to life with this great little video starring Nick Offerman. More, please.

-- Claire Stapleton

Trending This Week on YouTube: RIP Robin Williams

This week, when we weren’t mourning a legendary comedian, pondering the meaning of the supermoon, or weathering sympathy chills for #IceBucketChallenge competitors, we were dutifully seeking our fill of trending vid. On the Spotlight channel, we covered the inescapably catchy phenomenon of “Rude!” covers and highlighted some amazing coming out stories.
And here’s what else the world was watching:

Mashable - The Best Robin Williams Moments

Mork, Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Mr. Keating …. in mourning the loss of the incomparable comedic genius this week, it felt the world was also paying tribute to their favorite Williams characters–each one of which seems to hold its own incredible nostalgic weight. Mashable’s clip compilation–posted just after the news broke–seems a fitting homage to the master. O Captain, our captain: you’ll be greatly missed.

Sky Williams - A Message to the Depressed

The conversation around Robin Williams’ death prompted comedian Sky Williams to post this video: a powerful, heartfelt monologue about depression. It went viral in a flash and was one of the most-shared videos of the week. Watch it, hear it, and pass it along.

Thomas Leveritt - How the Sun Sees You

What does your face look like under ultraviolet light? Photographer Thomas Leveritt asked people on the street in Brooklyn to check out what they look like under ultraviolet, exposing sun damage that’s not yet on the surface. The result is unsurprisingly completely spooky and will have you *finally* heeding the eternal mom advice: WEAR SUNSCREEN!

Bradley Friesen - Paul Bissonnette ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The #IceBucketChallenge might have gone viral this week, but it also went glacial, thanks to Paul Bissonnette. The pro hockey player took the challenge to the next level with a video that involves a helicopter, glacier water, and a full production crew. Your move, LeBron.

-- Claire Stapleton

#IceBucketChallenge on the Rise

Over the past week, thousands of videos have been posted across social media platforms of the "Ice Bucket Challenge," a charity video trend primarily benefiting ALS research. "ALS"--short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis--was one of the top rising searches on Google Sunday thanks, in part, to clips posted by everyone from casual video creators to celebrities and athletes, all of whom are dumping buckets of ice on their heads for a cause.

In the past week, USC football coach Steve Sarkisian, jam band O.A.R., and NFL quarterback Matt Ryan were among those who joined in. The most popular recent video comes from "The Fault in Our Stars" actor Ansel Egort. Here's a quick playlist of some of the most popular #IceBucketChallenge videos on YouTube:

Silly? Yes, maybe. But the challenge has now reportedly resulted in a donations boon for the ALS Association.

And things are still taking off. As the below chart indicates, upload activity around this trend really just started to take off late last week and into the weekend:

Find out more about the challenge here.

-- Kevin Allocca