Playlist of the Month: YouTube Superstars

Back in the early 2000s, we thought American Idol was going to change the way artists broke into the music business. It seemed so democratic – WE could pick the next singing sensation instead of waiting for music execs to tell us! We didn’t see the bigger change on the horizon. Since YouTube was founded in 2005, anybody with a camera and an internet connection can exhibit their talent to a potential audience of millions. The result: some of today’s top artists first gained worldwide exposure without even leaving their living rooms. With a mix of signed musicians and the more internet-famous, here are some of the best YouTube-made artists (*that we actually know about – there’s a whole YouTube culture out there and frankly, we’re not hip to it).

Traci’s Picks

Karmin

Amy and Nick met while attending Berklee and posted covers of songs on YouTube, including this one of Look at Me Now by Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. Busta Rhymes, who’s known for his mile a minute raps. And she clearly kills it. It went viral and even caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who brought them on her show and all the exposure led them to a record deal. Their Look at Me Now vid has over 101 million views and they went on to find success with their subsequent album, including my jam off their Hello album – Brokenhearted. Not brokenhearted – Amy and Nick. They got married earlier this year.

Troye Sivan

If you don’t know who Troye Sivan, just ask your 20 year old cousin or intern at work. Troye is 21, which means he grew up posting covers of himself singing on YouTube, and he soon transitioned to being a vlogger, which is how he helped accrue his over 4 million subscribers and more than 243 million views. One of his vids even won him a Teen Choice Award. For real. A few years ago, he made a coming out video which gained a lot of traction, and next thing you know, he was named one of the 25 Most Influential Teens by Time magazine. He focused back on music and last year he released his first full studio album, with electropop jams like Wild and Youth. Seriously, y’all – he’s kind of a big deal.

Carly Rae Jepsen

Ok, so Carly found fame in Canada before this video went viral (see: Canadian Idol, third place season five), but she became a worldwide sensation after Justin Bieber posted this “star-studded” lip sync video. Not only is Ashley Tisdale in it, but Jelena stans were going crazy that their fave couple was showing off publicly. As we all know, Call Me Maybe became THE song of the summer, and one of the greatest pop hits of this decade. And now Carly Rae is a Pop Queen, and if you disagree, I implore you to listen to her latest album, E•MO•TION in its entirety and dare to argue with me afterwards.

Lennon and Maisy

We wrote about Lennon and Maisy when this blog was just a baby, because we were two of the millions of people who fell in love with these siblings’ covers on YouTube. Their videos also caught the attention of the folks over at Nashville (the show) and they moved to Nashville (the city) to star in the series, which they’ve been recurring characters for the past four seasons. And their harmonies are as on point as ever.

Justin Bieber

We all know Bieber’s story. I thought he was cute when I first saw these vids years ago. Then he went through some troubling times, and if we’re being honest, now I’m a Belieber. Sorry is still my boo, and you can’t convince me otherwise. Also, if you want to feel some emotions (no matter your views on Bieber), here’s Usher surprising the crowd at JB’s recent Atlanta tour to sing U Got It Bad.

Molly’s Picks

Postmodern Jukebox

Before YouTube, people performing covers – even creative, beautifully arranged covers – were confined mostly to open mike nights or coffeehouse gigs. Now a wider audience can see that covers aren’t just someone else’s song: they’re a way to reimagine lyrics and melody to create something completely new. Enter Postmodern Jukebox. Their tagline is “today’s hits, yesterday” and they perform modern, popular songs in a way they might have sounded at a juke joint 60 years ago.

Chloe and Halle

They’ve been dubbed the “first superstars of the Beyonce Generation” – gaining fame on YouTube, landing a guest spot on Ellen, visiting the White House and ultimately appearing in Lemonade and performing at the BET Awards. These sisters are also talented, sweet, and the recipients of some seriously top-shelf genes. Nice generation, B.

Alessia Cara

Before Alessia’s ‘can’t I just stay home’ anthem (Here) was all over the airwaves, she made her name performing YouTube covers from her Canadian home. In just a few years she went from this one cover of Sweater Weather that everyone was sharing to supporting Coldplay on tour and winning a Juno.

Leroy Sanchez

Couldn’t resist going Double YouTube on this one. Leroy Sanchez is a YouTuber from Spain, and while he usually sings in English, Bieber’s Sorry sounds even better in Spanish.

Nick Pitera

Like Postmodern Jukebox, I like that this artist offers something that you wouldn’t hear on the radio. Namely: covering both the male and female parts in songs in a way that’s almost superhuman. It’s almost impossible to listen to one of his medleys without smiling. Guys. He even covered that song from Home Alone and Adele’s Hello in three octaves.

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Playlist of the Month: Songs I Liked Before They Got Overplayed

We’ll never learn. We hear a new single on the radio, declare that it’s really amazing, and maybe even tell all of our friends about it. Within a few months the song is completely overplayed, we can’t stand to listen to it, and we’re frankly embarrassed that we liked it in the first place. But since there are no secrets on the blog, we’re confessing all today: at one time, these tunes were music to our ears. Now, years after they came out, we STILL change the station when we hear the opening chords.

Molly’s Picks

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s

Ten years ago this March, both of us were traipsing across Europe on our semester abroad. Meanwhile, my suitemates back home had a replacement roommate (who ended up becoming our friend, so that worked out great)! Anyway, she introduced everyone to this catchy new song that wasn’t even on the radio yet: Hey There Delilah. I even remember someone asking over IM whether I had heard it (hey there, 2006). I had not. Cut to over a year later, the single reached number one and I was very, very sick of it.

Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer

I was in junior high, it was featured on both Dawson’s Creek AND She’s All That, and that’s no excuse. I had a head start on this song thanks to the W.B.’s heavy music marketing, so by the time it was on the radio I was already done. I mean, just kiss someplace normal.

Daughters by John Mayer

To this day, I cannot make it all the way through this song. To this very DAY. But Heavier Things was one of the defining albums of my high school years (lest anyone think I’m at all cool), and there was a time when I’d get very excited every time I heard my favorite fake-sensitive acoustic-rock guy on the radio. That all died with Daughters, as the more (and more… and MORE) I heard it, the more insipid it became.

Sugar We’re Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Because no list of songs that sounded really good before you listened to them 100+ times would be complete without something from the Fall Out Boy/ The Killers / Panic At The Disco / Kings Of Leon neighborhood.

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

“Have you heard of The Lumineers? They only play them on the indie station now but I think they’re going to get really popular!” – This idiot, c. 2012.

Traci’s Picks

Kiss From a Rose by Seal

It was the summer of 1995. I was 9 years old, Michael Keaton was Batman, not Birdman. It was a different time back then. After featuring on the Batman Forever soundtrack, the song basically launched Seal into a global superstar when the song skyrocketed constant radio rotation. It’s a good, haunting song that is perfect for Seal, but it go to the point that I heard it so much on the radio (because in 1995 we didn’t have Spotify or SiriusXM, kids) that I would demand the station be changed from the backseat of my parents’ car. It was like hearing nails on a chalkboard for me.

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

I, like many others, were introduced to this song via Justin Bieber’s rather brilliant homemade music video with his then-GF Selena and her BFF Ashley Tisdale. I couldn’t resist the catchiness of the song and played it on my own personal rotation constantly. And then it became popular on the radio, people started doing covers of it, and the rest is history. In defense of Carly Rae, this may be the song she’s best known for, but she’s got other great hits too. I.E. her entire album, E MO TION, which is hands down, one of the best pop albums I’ve ever heard. Get on it.

Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

Remember when this song blew up in 2011? And how no one knew how to pronounce his name if they saw it on paper? And how we don’t know what’s happened to Gotye since?

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

Like Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, I had an adverse reaction to this after day number 410 of the song being played on repeat in 1997. To Americans, Natalie was a new artist who had a one-hit wonder with Torn and her memorable music video in an apartment that never changed settings. To Australians, she was and still is top actress who happened to have a hit song around the world. Fun fact: Natalie’s version is actually a cover of American alternative rock band Ednaswap, who featured Torn on their 1995 album.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.

Before all the legal battles and misogyny, this was a good song. In fact, I was fan of Robin’s from his other tracks like Lost Without U and The Sweetest Love, so when he came out with this tune I was excited. Then it went downhill from there.

Playlist of the Month: Beat the Winter Blahs

After months of snow and cold, are you struggling to shake a case of the winter blahs? Well, consider the blahs beaten – today is the first day of Spring! In honor of the change of seasons, we decided to create a playlist for sunny days and warmer temperatures.

Okay, that isn’t entirely true. During our blog planning meeting – months ago, might I add – we never really came up with a playlist theme for March. We came up with a date – the first day of Spring – and I guess must have slapped “beat the winter blahs” down as a title, but neither of us can remember why. Seriously. We have no clue what we meant by it. Like, why did we put “winter” in the title, when winter is officially over? But that’s our playlist title and we’re sticking to it, so, um… here are ten songs. Happy spring?

{Enjoy the whole playlist on Spotify!}

Molly’s Picks

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Theme Song

In case you’re late to the game, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is pure, tv sunshine. And by the time you’re three episodes in, you will not be able to get the theme song – a play on those autotune-remixed news reports – out of your head. Besides, after emerging from months of brutal winter, doesn’t it almost feel like the Greek Chorus should be proclaiming “they alive, dammit! It’s a miracle?”

All Star – the Kidz Bop Kidz

Remember in the late 90s and early 2000s, every time a commercial or movie trailer wanted to evoke “summertime fun” they’d use the song All Star by Smashmouth? It is like the musical version of a waterpark ad. So here, here it is. And to make it even worse, I’m giving you the Kidz Bop version, because why the hell not. [Feel free to substitute Sugar Ray’s I Just Wanna Fly. It’s the same thing.]

Springtime For Hitler – The Producers

It says Spring. What else do you people want?

Rockin’ Robin – Bobby Day

Spring. Robins. Yes? Yes. This is what happens when we choose nebulous playlist themes. Tweet tweet tweet, y’all.

Sunshine Day by The Brady Bunch Kids

Okay, in our modern age warm-weather songs are all like “it’s so warm, I need to take off all of my clothes. Let’s rhyme party with Bacardi, etc.” But in the early 70s, when the temps started heating up, people were all “groovy, let’s listen to some children sing about taking a walk.” On second thought, that’s probably less because it was a more innocent time and more because people used the scary kinds of drugs that will break your brain.

Traci’s Picks

Steal My Sunshine by Len

Fun fact: Len is Canadian. And I thought that was cool. 90% sure I loved this song so much in 1999 that I bought the CD single. What happened to Len, BTW? Just one peppy spring/summer single and they’re gone? Or did they become famous in Canada?

I Really Like You by Carly Rae Jepsen

Whatever. I like this song. It makes me happy and also, Tom Hanks.

Drip Drop by Yazz and Serayah McNeill (from the Empire soundtrack)

GUYS EMPIRE THO. DRIP DROP LIKE SPRINGTIME SHOWERS, BUT ALSO, HAKEEM. (#TeamJamal. #TeamCookie. #TeamPORSHA)

Beautiful Day by U2

Let U2 tell you what kind of day it is. They already control your iTunes purchases.

Totally Fucked from Spring Awakening

Because, spring. Also baby Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff. Gosh, I love this musical. Not exactly a happy springtime show, but at least this song is upbeat!