n almost every Friday the 13th sequel, there’s some scene where the film’s token badass gang member attempts to kill Jason. Usually, it’s with some makeshift weapon—a crowbar, a guitar, a shoe. At first, the plan seems to work, but then—seemingly out of nowhere—Jason finds a way to grab that same weapon and massacre the fool. Now Jason’s trick is manifesting in the music world. See, it first started when video killed the radio star. Music seemed fine for twenty years—just like life at Camp Crystal Lake. But then pesky MP3s grabbed the Internet and tried to murder the Video Star. Generic websites—both legal (Pure Volume) and illegal (Kazaa)—became prime outlets for up-and-coming (and already established) artists. Wanna appear on the Tonight Show? MySpace, my friend. Wanna hit the top of the charts? Get your tracks on iTunes stat.
That was then. Now the times have changed. Word of advice? Step over MP3 Superstar; it’s time for Zombie Video Star’s sweet revenge. His weapon of choice? The same weapon with which you tried to kill him: the Internet. As it turns out, a number of potentially awesome artists are ditching MySpace and instead posting karaoke on YouTube.com. Oh, and they’re also receiving nice record deals in return. Here’s a guide to some of the more notable YouTube stars.
Perhaps the most famous online protégée is Esmée Denters. In 2006, the 18-year-old Dutch singer-pianist started posting covers of pop songs. A year later, she was doing more of the same—but, uh, those covers? They became duets with the original artists. Singers like Natasha Bedingfield and Justin Timberlake joined Denters in the studio and created instant eHarmony. Timberlake even signed the young web phenom to his new record label, Tennman. No word as to who’s producing her record, but it’s bound to be popular. Her smooth, somewhat soulful voice goes down easy. Just take a listen to her take on “How Come U Don’t Call Me?” (which she mistakenly credits to Alicia Keys, lol…kids thz dayz).
Denters isn’t the only crooner finding success via YouTube. Her chief rival, London-based Mia Rose, recently signed with Ryan Leslie, the man responsible for Cassie’s “Me & U.” Just like Denters, Rose posts a combination of original songs and covers, but it’s the latter that have made her famous. Even so, if you check out one of her videos, you’ll be likely to find as many comments bashing the 18-year-old as there are praising her. JulieofSurburbia writes, “Omg, she's just an averagde singer! The only reason she's getting ll this attention is because she dress like a slud :o” Adds losova, “5*'s out of 10. I think it would sound better sin su camisa.” < (that’s ‘without your shirt’ in Spanish) And Tupronostico with the last word, “U KNOW WHAT ESMEE ITS BETETR THAN YOU! BECAOUSE YOU ARE SOOOO I DONT KNOW AHHHH !! :s... THE WAY U FACE LOOKS WHEN YOURE SINGING ITS LIKE IM THE BEST OF THIS FUCKING WORLD!:s.. I DONT KNOW .. U CAN SING BUT .. :s.. THE WAY U ARE.. I CANT STAND IT! :S I WANNA WRITE MUCH MORE BUT I DONT SPEAK ENGLISH VERY WELL! Byep” Recently, there’s been a surge of videos demonstrating how Rose (or her marketing team) has inflated her number of subscribers (via fake YouTube accounts), but last I checked, that was called “genius marketing.”
Tired of cute girls singing decent pop covers? Don’t worry. You can listen to cute girls sing original coffeehouse tracks, too! Take Terra Naomi, the singer-songwriter who penned “Say It’s Possible.” First posted in June 2006, “Say It’s Possible” became an instant favorite with the Michelle Branch fan club; over the past year, it’s inspired a number of fan videos, like this anime version (possible spoilers for fans of “Videl and Gohan”???). Since, Naomi has signed with Island Records and even performed at Live Earth. In August, she’ll release her major label debut, Under the Influence.
Fans of Naomi will probably enjoy Ysabella Brave, a cute, smoky-voiced Marilyn Monroe look-alike. Brave joined YouTube last year and quickly started posting covers of jazz standards. Recently, she’s received some attention for her own songs, like this one called “James.” For a Cole Porter fan, Brave’s songs sound shockingly experimental. Doesn’t work for you? You could always check out her hypnotic take on “Fade Into You.” Or skip the singing and just watch her respond to charges that she deletes negative comments about her singing. Brave’s videos recently earned her a spot on Cordless Records, a branch of Warner Bros. Records. No word on a release date.
Probably the biggest problem with all these karaoke tracks is instrumentation. Due to obvious technical restraints, amateurs like Denters and Brave rely on horrible backing tracks. In step YouTube musicians. The most famous YouTube instrumentalists tend to be stunt acts, like seven-year-old speed drummers and Funtwo, the teenager best known for his arena rock cover of “Canon Rock.” But search hard on YouTube, and you can find a surprisingly large number of palatable, highly-gifted musicians.
David Sides, a California pianist, started posting piano covers in April. Since then, his view counts have soared into the half-a-million range. Sides plays all his songs by ear, always staying true to the original. Recently, due to his YouTube success, Sides started selling compilations of his pop covers for $8 online. Sides’ best works tend to demonstrate the beauty of the original melodies; in other words, they’ll also appeal to your mom. Perhaps his most impressive work is this gorgeous take on “Umbrella.”
But Sides isn’t the only noteworthy pop pianist. Early this year, Marrina—an “award-winning” concert pianist whose credits include the Super Bowl and Face/Off—tried the same concept. But rather than sticking to the original melodies, Marrina adds her own flourishes. She even gives her compositions classy titles, like “Sweet Escape Suite” and “Runaway Love Concerto.”
Look even harder on YouTube and you’ll come across original composers, too. One of YouTube’s most famous videos is “everyday,” a project by twentysomething Noah Kalina. Kalina took daily photos of himself for six years. In 2006, he combined the results with an original piece by Carly Comando. Comando’s touching composition fits well with Kalina’s slowly aging face. Kalina’s experiment landed him in the New York Times and on VH1. More importantly, it also led to a photography session with Paris Hilton.
Other experimental videographers have found success via YouTube, too. In May 2006, Lasse Gjertsen posted “Hyperactivity,” a sound collage created via video. Gjertsen created the piece by recording his own beatbox-like sound effects. Then, he edited the sounds together, creating a visually-arresting and aurally-generic experience, ten million views, and advertisement offers…even with the haircut.
So, to recap, YouTube can land you on VH1. It can get you a record deal. And it can lead to conversations with Justin Timberlake. So what the hell are you waiting for?
By: Chris Boeckmann
Published on: 2007-08-08