BBC Culture

Viral videos of the week

(PR)

(PR)

They might have topped the views this week, but how do these viral video hits fare against their predecessors? BBC Culture checks out the competition.

Renaissance art: Epic rap battle v Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation

Renaissance Masters square off with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the season three finale of Epic Rap Battles of History. Not pulling any punches, “man on the ceiling” Michelangelo threatens “I made David but I’ll slay you like Goliath”, to which a sparky masked reptile responds with “I’m a pristine Sistine nun chucka”.

Sequestered in the cloisters of Florence’s Santa Croce church, Kenneth Clark intones on Renaissance architecture over the strains of choral music. The presenter of the 1969 BBC series Civilisation mixes the verbal flair of the epic rappers with an art historian’s knowledge; choice lines include his statement that “through proportion, we can reconcile the two parts of our being: the physical and the intellectual.”

Happy birthday: Merkel v JFK

Angela Merkel went through several phases of discomfort as a news reporter serenaded her at a press conference in Brussels this week. From an acknowledging flick of the arm to a slightly forced nod in time to the singing, the German Chancellor retains a stiff posture until the end, when she manages a carefree laugh before shuffling her papers.

In contrast, US president John F Kennedy remained in the shadows when greeted by the glittering Marilyn Monroe, who received a round of applause for a sigh before she even burst into song. With full orchestral backing and accompanied by a cake so big it had to be carried by two men, this rendition in 1962 – just three months before Monroe died – was parodied by Madonna on Saturday Night Live three decades later.

Doctor Who: Series 8 v first episode

Doctor Who ups the special effects for series eight’s first full-length trailer, featuring dinosaurs, spaceships firing lasers, a grumpy Cyberman and Peter Capaldi on a horse. The 12th incarnation of the Time Lord will hit screens in August, offering a darker edge: “Am I a good man?” he asks his companion, to which she replies: “I don’t know”.

Short on dinosaurs, but big on shrieking women and electric shocks, the scene in which the Tardis takes off for the first time reveals Doctor Who’s more lo-fi roots. Featuring in the first episode, which aired in 1963, it shows a similarly ambiguous lead character (played by William Hartnell) as he threatens to abandon his granddaughter and launches his time travel machine with the help of some very shaky cameras.

Weird Al Yankovic: Word Crimes v Eat It

Self-proclaimed “novelty dinosaur” ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has now outlasted most of the people he has parodied, creating spoof versions of songs for more than 30 years. To mark the release of his 13th full-length album, Yankovic has drip fed successive viral hits this week, including a rendition of Pharrell’s Happy that shows Jack Black twerking in tie dye and a homage to Lorde’s Royals that has a reference to the Illuminati. Our pick is Word Crimes, a parody of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines that’s packed full of grammar tips.

Long before memes and gifs, Yankovic was offering up cultural commentary with humour and a questionable haircut. His 1984 parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat It was his first Top 20 entry on the Hot 100, and earned him a Grammy for best comedy recording. “You’d better listen, better do what you’re told/ You haven’t even touched your tuna casserole” he sing-shouts with Jackson’s signature woop.

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