Can you believe it? Come February, YouTube will be a decade old. YouTube has become so entrenched in our social media-fuelled lives that it is impossible to imagine life without it. While originally a haven for pirated contents, endless cat videos and all imaginable pointless minutiae, YouTube has come a long way towards developing a unique identity of its own.
Some may argue that the advent of YouTube has nurtured a culture of attention deficiency and instant gratification, where viewers constantly channel-surfed for the next quick fix. While that may be partially true, one can hardly deny the many conveniences YouTube has made possible. Feeling nostalgic for a music video you haven’t seen for ages? Obscure music videos of your favourite bands are just an entry and a click away. Looking for feedback on a little-known indie movie? Somebody somewhere in the world has watched it and is eagerly looking for your feedback as well. Mainstream news feeding you the usual bullshit? Let your opinion be known and be immortalized for all to see. More than anything else on the internet, YouTube has definitely made the world a closely-knit place, where almost everything is within reach.
Of course, YouTube has its fair share of pointless bullshit and tidal waves of mediocrity, where every wannabe is looking to craft the next viral video. However, there definitely are pockets of brilliance that will shine through if you can take the time and effort to sift the diamonds from the shit. Here are four of the best channels:
Epic Rap Battles of History
The core concept of Epic Rap Battles of History is one that is so simple that corporate media executives are probably kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. That said, the devil is in the details. The execution of the rap battles are so brilliantly flawless, it’s hard to imagine anyone else but Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD helming it. Actual or fictional figures, typically ideological rivals, face off in an epic rap battle (much like real life MCs) and try to put each other down with facts drawn from their multi-layered histories.
Interested to see how Einstein fare against a moog-based Stephen Hawking or how tech arch-rivals Bill Gates and Steve Jobs tear each other a new one? You are in luck. (Hint: Steve Jobs died mid-battle and HAL9000 took over). Currently, in its four season, the series has gotten progressively better and funnier with bigger budgets. The latest installment features a battle royale of directors like Spielberg, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Kubrick and of course Michael Bay. Not only do the rappers have the mannerisms of each director down pat, the rap battle is also shot in a way that is reminiscent of each director’s visual style. See to believe.
CollegeHumor is of course the granddaddy of all the humor channels. While the quality of the recent videos can be a bit of a hit or miss these days, who can forget all the classic Hardly Working videos? Or the Batman and Kim Jong Un series? It’s probably a good thing Kim Jong Un never chanced upon the channel, or he might be tempted to implement some of the awesome ideas for his propaganda plan.
Everyone knows the gaming industry is up to its neck in bullshit, what with the inevitable downward spiral towards an unholy mess of glitchy releases, money-grabbing DLCs, season passes and shitty micro-transactions that are designed to handicap players who are unwilling to pay. Gaming journalism, in general, is equally lame since most of the mainstream game media outlets know that it is in their best interests to create undeserved hype for at best mediocre games. It is thus, refreshing to witness the greatness that is Jim Sterling, whose frank and unbiased commentary dissects the putid corpse that is the gaming industry, week after week. Jim plays shitty games so we don’t have to. For that, we should really, really thank God for him.
To check out the music contents of your favourite bands, you can either look up their repertoire of music videos or catch their recorded live performances put up by fans and bands alike. However, a better option would be to check out La Blogotheque’s A Take Away Show series. The series often captured your favourite indie bands in interesting open, public locales, such as cafes, squares and alleyways. The videos are amazingly produced, yet they are often imbued with a welcome impromptu energy that is rarely seen these days. Some of the highlights include Bon Iver doing an acapella version of For Emma, Forever Ago in what appeared to be a school hallway, Phoenix playing 1901 in Trocadero, Alt-J playing on some park benches and Arcade Fire performing an entire song in an elevator.