The 5 Best Songs Hiding on YouTube (Part 2)
People hate YouTube videos because of the comments, but that's like hating batteries because you bite them open and drink them: You shouldn't be put off of such useful technology because of poisonous stupidity.
"I know I shouldn't, but the only other drink in the house is Bud Light Lime."
As a professional combat proctologist, I'm paid to plunge into the Internet's orifices and find assholes to mock. But happiness is better than anger, so here are five golden nuggets I found while panning the Internet.
Evolution of "Get Lucky"
Earlier this year, Daft Punk released Random Access Memories, a useful tool for identifying idiots who try to sound smart by not liking objectively wonderful things. Music might be subjective by nature, but this is some of the most brilliant noise since "Let there be light." I still get happier every time I listen to it, not just because I like it more each time, but because my capacity to feel joy increases each time.
The electronic faceborgs distilled the frequency of pure groove into "Get Lucky," and PV Nova made it even better.
It's the funkiest time traveling since the Doctor volunteered the TARDIS as a tour bus for Earth, Wind & Fire (because it was the only vehicle big enough for all their members and instruments). You've got Old Crooning Man Punk, Daft Elvis, the only hippie singing I've ever agreed with -- and PV Nova, I will pay you right now to remake the full album in that '70s style. I will pay you to remake all albums in that '70s style. But while the old music is fun, the modern decades are a psycho-sonic tuning fork: Each one resonates with the memory of any era you were alive for.
It's genius YouTubery because he understands that he's talented but you're busy. Thousands of other artists overextend one idea across 10 minutes of introduction, tragically unaware that you clicked away the second they started talking instead of playing. He hammers through the decades like shots of tequila, with similarly energizing effects on your intentions to get down, up, and groovy. He masters the soul of an entire decade, reworks it into the song of the summer, and 20 seconds later he's moved on to something else.
Then you see the guy alone in his room!
I don't do anything nearly that impressive when I spend time alone in my room. Especially when I'm chaining together dozens of short clips. And if I uploaded video of the results, it would interest only a very specific niche of fans. While he's got an entire album available to download, right now, for free, or for as much as you want to donate.
Mega Man 2 Rap
Music often speaks to shared traumas of a society. That's why we have so many songs about being desperately in love, why so much rap rhymes about crime and oppression, and why now we have one for another scar on our species-wide psyche: Mega Man 2. It's the most self-inflicted frustration you can get short of joining a monastery, and it had similar effects on the social lives of an entire generation. And it made you even more focused on the subject of death. Now we can all share that pain in song.
WARNING: It's mostly brilliant, with just one incidence of the worst bullshit ever. You'll know it when you see it, and we'll talk about that after.
Rap battles could not be more perfect for Mega Man, because knowing his enemies' weaknesses so he can destroy them is his entire deal. And when he does it, he's immediately and explosively proved right. And when your enemies are built around basic themes they're not "puns," they're brilliant observations! The level themes mean a constantly changing beat and rhythm, keeping it interesting for seven minutes of talking about Mega Man 2. Which is seven minutes more than most people can manage.
"Most people ignore and pity me, and I prefer that to this conversation."
The Internet lets everything find its fans, and every fan of Mega Man 2 is guaranteed to be online by now. Songwriters are freed from looking for mass-market appeal and can instead revel in the most gloriously niche subjects. The Bubble Man verse alone is particularly perfect, both for that boss and for how all water levels should be treated in all games everywhere.
The only downside is where they take 30 seconds out of a song about robots blowing each other up to conjure the only woman in that universe just to joke about domestic abuse and sending her to the kitchen. But don't worry, it's not like misogyny is an endemic problem that festers in almost every aspect of gamer culture.
Riot Games' League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), which means you play a school crossing guard for lemming murderers in a world where all your co-workers hate you. The "enemy" players merely want to beat you, but your teammates think you're Leper Judas in a world without antibiotics or silver. Because every single one of them is perfect, so any loss must be your fault.
"YOUR CHOICE OF WARDS IS REASONABLE CAUSE TO SCREAM LIKE AN ELECTROCUTED PSYCHOTIC!"
MOBAs feature scores of selectable heroes, and instead of the usual blog update and stats page, Riot decided they'd announce Jinx, their latest character, a little differently. In a world where the two main video game advertising strategies are having the same name as a previous game and rendering a gun in front of a jumble of brown shit, they released a full music video.
The video is absolutely and only kicking ass. It's a hyperkinetic pigtailed girl mowing down robots with a roboshark rocket launcher and an extendible minigun, which only leaves me wondering how Riot Games set my 13-year-old subconscious to music.
Of course the shark launcher is in the sky. SyFy ain't got nothin' on this.
The attitude is embodied in that gloriously impractical gun. The barrels unfold -- which should give them the heat capacity and structural resilience of toffee -- just to look cool. Never mind BattleDuty's obsession with weapon specs; this game is so uninterested in accurate weapon physics that there's a gap between the barrels and the rest of the gun. Bullets find a way to teleport out of the end just because the resulting design is so cool, they want to be seen coming out of it.
You don't need accuracy when you have this much awesome.
There's also a grenade that bites you before exploding, and a carousel of plasma, and I'm even now inventing Van de Graaff lightning-throwing theremins just to create a genre of music for that to be the best band name in.
Bitey the Boomball, the world's shortest-lived kids' cartoon mascot.
It doesn't just kick ass as an ad, it embarrasses the hell out of modern music videos. Strangelove-surfing a missile strike on a clockwork city? THAT'S how you start a pop-punk video, not noodling around your parents' garage looking depressed. Computers have advanced to the point where people have enough hardware lying around to just make something amazing as a side effect, and we've reached the connective critical mass where companies can just create something cool and know they'll get attention from it without the 10 levels of blandinization and focus-groupery that render most corporate marketing down to a gray baby-food version of human communication. And video gaming may be unlikely link to Norwegian black metal rock singer Agnete KjÃƒÂ¸lsrud of Djerv, but that's exactly the kind of link that makes the internet brilliant.
Tom Jones -- "International"
The last time I wrote "Large Hardon Collider," it was an intentional typo joke. Tom Jones wrote it as a video plot and said "Done."
Tom Jones appeared in my last list of video glories. He realized that while other singers need music videos to make them sexy, music videos need Tom Jones to make them sexy. Which is why he cast himself in a featureless void and called it "Sex Bomb."
When Tom Jones says he's all you need, he's existentially accurate.
In "International," he passes right through that absolute zero point of music videology, coming out the other side to actively take the piss out of the idea of acting sexy while still doing it. It starts with an old man insisting he's still relevant under a harsh white light while people stare and take notes. It rebuilds the CERN particle accelerator as a secret military plot to build a Sex Bomb, and he overloads it. Scientists construct robotic hips just to out-thrust him, and fail, and women have to be harnessed to hold them back from his then-sextuagenarian booty. It features old, chubby white men who have to be forcibly restrained from pretending to be sexy because they think they're Tom Jones, and it doesn't bother him, because he knows he's Tom Jones.
No lie, every act should have these guys as backup dancers.
If someone was making a video to mock him, this is the exact one they'd make. In fact, that may well have been what happened, because Tom Jones could stroll into his worst enemy's stronghold and make it his by sheer charisma. He knows it looks tragic when older men try energetic moves, so he simply doesn't. He moves back and forth slowly, like the tides, and is just as powerful, and gets just as many women wet. Then the whole laboratory complex undergoes sexiness red alert and becomes a nightclub, which is the other plot my brain wrote when I was 13. It's more proof that true sexiness is all about self-belief, and Tom Jones believes in himself hard enough to bend local space-time over and make sure it comes first.
Thousands of songs try to focus on the one thing that gives us all life and hope and warmth, but then screw up by thinking it's "love." Kim Boekbinder gets it right.
This isn't analogy; this is absolutely a song about nucleosynthesis. Endlessly interchangeable romances make thousands of other songs sound identical, like the confessions of an army of cloned stalkers. (Hint: If you wonder why your "romantic" target won't love you when you talk constantly about how much you want to have sex with her, that's why.) But there are an infinity of other subjects no one has ever sung about, and Boekbinder chose the hottest one.
Punching darkness and unoriginality in the face.
If you happen to get undertones of romance and loss from it, well, that's you mapping emotions and feelings onto the unstoppable physical processes of the universe. You know, the same way you do by existing in matter.
"I see what Rodin did there."
Using a truly interesting subject gives us some of the smartest lyrics ever sung: "My heart is an iron fist" and "When I go you will get gold." Fusing smaller atoms into larger ones releases energy until you reach iron, after which point fusing into even larger atoms would cost energy, so the star can't keep going. Instead it collapses and explodes, and there's enough energy released in the explosion (just one of many amazing things stars do) to drive that heavy fusion, creating all the elements heavier than iron. All of them, everywhere, all of it, except a few atoms we made in particle accelerators. The zinc you need to see properly? The copper without which your body will poison itself? Stellar detonation corpse bits.
And the best bit is you don't need to know any of that -- it works as perfect pop without the astrophysics. It's just even better with it.
Checking the credits reveals "Sound of star HR3831 courtesy of NASA." This is a musician so cosmic, she has rocket scientists acting as sound engineers, recording the universe as a backup singer.
This isn't just a great song, it's brilliance brought about by the Internet. With Kickstarter support for the album, and then the tour, you've got someone building a music career -- and appearing in cities all over the world -- as a fully independent artist. No recording labels, no executive overview, no albums released according to a marketing schedule instead of creative impulses, no buffing off the interesting edges to reach the largest market possible. This is what can happen to music when you remove the corporate filters. Boekbinder, aka the Impossible Girl, has a whole album of this stuff. The Sky Is Calling is pop with brains and only $5 for a digital download.
The Internet, direct sales, and social media support enable a bit of local intensity to draw in thousands more little bits from all around until it can ignite into a shining beacon others can bask in. Which reminds me of something.
"Real subtle, and I'm saying that as a nuclear reactor 1 billion meters across."
Luke also explains the most insane politician in the world with The Real Rob Ford Located in Body of 19-Year-Old Drug Dealer. He also studies the Japanese Lightning Punisher with 56 Thunder Gods Who Could Kick Thor's Ass.
For more musical joy, groove to 4 Music Videos That Will Make You a Better Person and 5 Music Videos That Justify the Existence of the Internet.