5 Music Videos That Justify the Existence of the Internet
A while back I wrote about how music videos improve the Internet, because all the evil comments in existence can't cancel out one awesome song. Good music is a thought transfusion, wirelessly injecting moods from another brain into yours. It's a sonic emotional override, hacking the brain by directly accessing the pattern-recognition systems which make up our personality the same way pipes and wires make up an engine.
"I am the pinnacle of evolution and I listen to Justin Bieber."
For years major music-releases were controlled by the sort of people who think "target demographics" is a phrase you can use and still count as human. It doesn't matter if you have a tween-pop single or a metallic endoskeleton: When you're reducing entire swathes of the population to numbered metrics, you're not someone who can speak to the soul. But modern technology means anyone can make a music video and share it with the world. The following five music videos would have been destroyed by production committees, and only exist because the Internet is a thing -- and the world is better for it.
When someone is trying to be popular, as opposed to actually doing something genuine (which risks not being popular), they want to produce something familiar and liked by everyone. That's why we have approximately one billion songs about love and almost exactly the same number of them suck. Most of them couldn't capture the joy of finding a piece of next-morning hangover pizza, never mind the soul-fire of love.
"I love how you're not covered with anchovies, let's make out."
It's automatic anti-originality. The sort of person who thinks, "The world needs another song about love" is by definition the last person capable of saying something new. Which is why Guyz Nite chose an emotional state just as well known, just as widely understood, and even more powerful: "Die Hard Kicks Ass."
This video takes every feel-good song ever written and throws them all out of a 40th-story window. A good song can change your life, and this does that by changing the next seven hours into "Rewatch the entire Die Hard Quadrilogy." Which will still be the best life-advice any song has ever given you. I don't care if you're currently on fire, this song will make you feel good about life. And decide to run into a fuel tanker driven by terrorists.
It elevates a fairly serviceable rock structure into pure joy with the greatest bridge of all time, which rhymes with "Hippies like hay, lover succor," but means the exact opposite. It shouldn't even be possible to sing, "Now we know what the basic gist is," but in this song it not only rhymes, it's an expression of legitimate lyrical genius, working with both the subject material and its relative location in the song. And anything that devotes an entire stanza to killing Ellis is automatically great.
Yeah, now you agree with me.
Game of Thrones of Teamwork
The Game of Thrones theme is now a Pavlovian response for millions of viewers. Play it in a public place and everyone will start phoning their family to make sure they're still alive. It's a more dire reminder of mortality than the horn of an impending train, because trains can't leap off the tracks to veer directly at your favorite characters. But as "something popular that has existed in the last four years," it's been covered by everything from auto-tuned cats to floppy-disk drives. And as if to apologize for those, three people made the most magnificent version of it you've ever heard.
Jason Yang is better with a violin than you are with your own genitals, and has already made more people happy than you ever will. Roger Lima of White Noise Lab is proof that one-man bands don't have to suck, if that one man has the intelligence to stay at home and use a mixing desk instead of bugging people. Director Paolo Dy cunningly crafted their work together. And these people have never met. The Internet isn't just causing collaborations between people who would otherwise never have got together, it's creating collaborations between people who still haven't got together. There's just so much creativity being uploaded that we've reached collaboration critical-mass, where mixes can be generated across the world with nothing but HTTP.
The result is a "super-feit" -- a copy superior to the original. The official Game of Thrones theme sounds as if an orchestra clocked in at the Epic Theme Factory and dutifully completed its shift. The fan-made version sounds as if people really wanted to grab their swords and epically murder each other's families. But, you know, heroically.
Zerglings and Justin Bieber should only meet in a "Top 10 Incredibly Annoying Scraps of Flesh You Can't Escape" list. Instead, in the hands of Nerd Alert they make for an awesome parody. This video isn't the work of some idiot with an auto-tuner trying to get a few extra nerd-clicks by adding the word "Mario"; it's packed with more acronyms and codephrases than Rainbow infiltrating a disco. And more explosions.
And it's been watched by twice as many people as those living in my home country. Clearly, "niches" are getting big.
I'd point out how this is better than the original "Baby" if that weren't true of everything up to and including screwdrivers through the eye. It's also a music video with a twist: What seems like a simple mockery of a Zerg Baneling Bust rush (an intricate strategic plan made entirely of alien suicide bombers), morphs into scenes from: a Terran counter-strategy that involves flying bases, a hidden island fortress, a Lamborghini and a swarm of female backup dancers. Clearly, this game is more complicated than we thought.
This is not the normal environment of people complaining about OP (OverPowered)
For most of the song people are thinking, "It's just a couple of gamers with better than normal cameras"; then you find out that they did have access to all the usual cars and women -- they just knew it was more important to talk about the game first. Nerd Alert also made an original romantic ballad portraying a pair of interstellar military T-280 space construction vehicles as hunky gay lovers. It's still better than most pop songs, and uses probably the only analogy which hadn't already been used for a love song.
Not what first comes to mind when thinking of StarCraft players.
Who is Nerd Alert? StarCraft expert Husky lives a gamer's dream, commentating on StarCraft games so hard he ended making a living from it, teaming up with music producer Kurt Hugo Schneider to appear in pop songs that have ended up for sale on iTunes and are listened to by millions of people. That is the exact opposite of what StarCraft mastery normally gets you.
The best thing about the Internet is discovering entirely new fields that don't just exist but are already stuffed with people who've been working on them for years. Sometimes it's terrifying, like websites that ask, "select gender of goat." Sometimes it's amazing, like finding out that "steampunk chap-hop dissing rap battle" isn't a Tourette tic but a style of music. (Though the only difference between the two is talent.)
Gentlemanly rap has already reached the level of spontaneous battle. (Although in rap that only requires two people.) The genius responsible is Professor Elemental, who decided that lyrics are a lot more fun when you can use words like "impertinent." He also has songs about tea, Frankensteinian animal experimentation, and others that generally prove that the most ridiculous idea can be awesome if you love it and work hard. Instead of sitting around strumming half-assed covers of other people's material. In case you're wondering, his target for this song was Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer. To show there were no hard feelings, Mr. B gave Professor Elemental a cameo in his latest video.
As you can see, they're now best of friends
If you even tried to explain these songs to a record company you'd be escorted out of the building, and the security guard who failed to prevent you from getting in would be fired.
Acoustic Gangnam Style
Gangnam Style is still genius, even if you heard of it more than a week ago and have therefore decided it now sucks. It's a satire which works both as a satire of the elite Gangnam area, and as a genuine over-the-top music video, which is how satire is meant to work. (The Scary Movie series has destroyed people's ability to think of satire as anything but a genre in which you "Do something stupid that looks like something else, but with swearing.") The global spread of "Gangnam Style" is an obvious success for Internet video, and it features the greatest extra in the history of film.
A man with hips like that should come to and at every party. Everywhere.
It's great, and like everything else great, up to and including sex, the Internet has done its level best to destroy it. You'd have to live on International Space Station during a power-cut to avoid it, and then drop the entire station on Shergar's grave to reach the level of dead-horse-beating the Internet managed in a week. There is not a single series, instrument, video game or body part that has not been Gangnam-styled. And one band still managed to come out and make it all worthwhile.
UC Berkeley-based rock band Ra-On did things most of the other covers didn't: thought, and knew about music. It has the same effect that I described with German madman Peter Fox: Disconnect the language center and the voice becomes another instrument. With him, German became a combine harvester eating itself while singing about how much it needs oil. In Ra-On's lounge style, the Korean pours out like warm honeyed butter -- butter which is at that moment lubricating slow fireside audiosex. Tongues can't normally make you feel that way through your ears without licking them. Those voices come together better than most people's entire bodies do, even when those bodies also have a cameraman and people with instruments to help them.
Also, attention every asshole with a guitar at a party in my first year at college: THAT is what guitars are for. That guitar player is essential, far better than you, and he still knows his role is to make the music possible instead of trying to be the center of attention.
At no point will this man destroy all conversation to make people listen to "Wonderwall."
And this was only made possible by the Internet's saturation coverage, which let Ra-On know about the song and motivated them to care enough to make their own version. Thus making the whole horrid meme-overdose worthwhile. Because that's the point of the Internet: Most people might be crap, but now and then we all get to see the few that aren't.
For more musical opinions, read 5 Cover Songs That Stole the Show From the Originals and 5 Rock Radio Classics That Actually Suck.