From the most meta to the most White-House-official
The “Mannequin Challenge” took the web by storm, starting with the Cool Teens in high schools before making its way to the worlds of celebrities, professional sports, concerts, and politicians, (It’s even gotten political, as with this powerful Black Lives Matter-themed compilation film.) Between Britney Spears, Blac Chyna, and Beyoncé, it’s become something of a celebrity rite of passage. And when First Lady Michelle Obama gets in on the game, well, it’s official: we have a national phenomenon on our hands.
We’ve rounded up some of the absolute best and most amusing videos of frozen-in-time groups of people, including some who frankly defy physics.
Best Casual High School Squad: These kids all managed to freeze-frame some of the most iconic high school scenes, from that moment when you rush down the school steps after the bell has rung, to those casual encounters hanging in the hallways or goofing off in a classroom.
Best School-Approved Mass Assembly: Hundreds of teens got in formation for this giant tableau, featuring what appear to be a number of dance squads.
Best Meta Music Moment: Rae Sremmurd, the hip-hop group whose song “Black Beatles” is the unofficial soundtrack to most of the Mannequin Challenge videos, somehow got an entire concert crowd to participate. It’s eerie.
Best Even-More-Meta Music Moment: Paul McCartney—an original Beatle—tipped his hat to Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” with his own version of the challenge.
Best Team Effort: The New York Giants got in the spirit admirably.
Best Surprise Celebrity Sighting: Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and his wife Ayesha contributed to the genre with a video of an entire restaurant rendered frozen mid-meal. Keep an eye out to glimpse the basketball player and cook in the mix.
Best Political Participation: On the morning of Election Day, Hillary Clinton and her team shared a video of their entire plane cabin—filled with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi and Bill Clinton—executing the Challenge with aplomb.
Best Execution by the Pros: James Corden got his backstage crew and guests to do the Challenge… and then brought it all the way to the front of house, where his full studio audience remains motionless as the camera swoops through. The nearly three-minute video is flawlessly executed, with dozens of people captured in complex activities.
Best Beyoncé: Because something isn’t pop-culture-approved until Queen Bey gives it her royal stamp. The Destiny’s Child version is simple but, naturally, flawless.
Best Test of Strength and Skill: It’s hard to understand just how these cheerleaders are maintaining their acrobatic positions for quite so long. Practice makes perfect?
Best Dance Crew: Laurie Hernandez and the crew at Dancing with the Stars know exactly how to pose for the cameras.
Most Mind-Bending: This gravity-defying, physics-defying squad’s submission just doesn’t seem real.
Best Workout Video: You know anything Kevin Hart’s involved with will be comedy gold. This one’s short but sweet:
Best Mannequins on… Rollerskates? This roller rink is no joke.
Best Party Animals: Things start to get fancy when filmmakers get involved, like this Twitter user, whose freeze frames are physically impossible (bullet frozen in midair, anyone?). But that doesn’t make the scenes any less engrossing to watch.
Best British Invasion: The team at BBC’s Radio 1 music station got in on the game, too.
Best Guest Appearance by a Non-Human: Watch for it.
Most Committed: Blac Chyna’s mid-labor Mannequin Challenge shows insane levels of dedication to the craft of web virality. Well played, Team Kardashian.
Best Behind-the-Scenes: Ellen DeGeneres and her crew look like they’re having a great time backstage at her show. Ping pong, anyone?
Best Britney: Don’t mess with the queen of Vegas shows.
Best Red Carpet Appearance: The SoulTrain Awards managed to freeze their entire red carpet, including photographers and onlookers, to do the challenge. Erykah Badu slays.
Best Surprise Ending: Director Ava DuVernay stopped time on the set of the upcoming movie A Wrinkle in Time… and revealed the movie’s release date.
Most Impressive Location: Yes, that is First Lady Michelle Obama hanging out with LeBron James and the rest of the dapper-looking Cleveland Cavaliers at the White House. They chose to soundtrack their challenge with some classical music, understandably.