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.

#ThrowbackThursday: Those Shoes Are Mine Betch

In 2006, my friend told me to watch this video on the YouTube. If you can recall back to nine years ago, YouTube was just getting started, so watching a video on this platform was next level EBaumsWorld. I sat there in awe of the video she just made me watch, thinking, ‘What THE FUCK did I just witness, am I on drugs right now?’ The answer is, ‘IDK’ and ‘no’. This was the video in question:

*Upon rewatching this, I realized for the first time that they filmed a portion of the shopping montage literally outside my current office.

Soon enough, it became one of the first viral sensations on YouTube to my recollection, and became a constant quoted vid amongst my college-aged peers. Then, this guy released more humorous vids, such as Let Me Borrow That Top:

And Text Message Breakup (hi Margaret Cho):

And maybe my favorite, Muffins. I still say ‘blueburry’ and all other ‘berries’ like him from time to time.

Bonus: Where Do You Think You’re Going In That, with a special cameo appearance by Emma Stone, who plays the photographer!

All these videos were made by the guy featured with the blonde wig (Kelly)/grandma wig (Mother Grandma), Liam Kyle Sullivan, or Liam Show. After his string of video hits, he became one of the first YouTube stars (watch out Tyler Oakley). In 2008, he even won a People’s Choice Award for Shoes in the user-generated category and even opened for his pal Margaret Cho for her Beautiful tour that same year. Soon, Kelly’s viral appeal went away and we didn’t hear as much from Liam as we had before. Unless you followed him constantly on YouTube. So where is he now? I did some deep web research so you didn’t have to.

Before he even gained popularity with Shoes et. al, Liam had been working as an actor in random shows like That’s Life (with Orange County Housewife Heather Dubrow), 8 Simple Rules, VH1’s I Hate My 30s, and our personal fave, Gilmore Girls (The photographer in Wedding Bell Blues – ‘Can we get another shot in?’).

Photo Aug 05, 11 09 26 PM

Liam continued to act in small roles in various shorts, TV movies and TV shows, before focusing more on producing and directing. In 2009, he wrote and produced a short called Keller and Sullivan, described as a film in which “The Miracle and her miracle worker join forces to fight crime: A silly romp through the true crime film genre told through the eyes of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.”

In 2011, he directed Thugs, The Musical, a faux-documentary about a “‘non-urban’ black actor in Hollywood. That same year, he celebrated the fifth anniversary of Shoes, and decided to make a commentary video for his life-changing project.

In 2013, Liam focused on directing a documentary called Ian Harvie Superhero, which follows groundbreaking transgender comedian, Ian Harvie. The movie touches on his own personal journey while also unveiling his first-ever live standup comedy set for film.

As for his personal life, Liam married writer/actress Ilana Cohn in August 2009. That’s right they just celebrated their six year anniversary.

Two years ago, they created a super cute kid named Tali. Like really cute. Like, I’m not just saying she’s cute, cute. IDK why I feel weird posting it, so just click on Ilana’s Insta. Anyways, Liam and Ilana also work together on various projects, and just this past January, they worked on this video of Nickelodeon.

You can still view his videos on his YouTube page and follow him on Twitter here (even though he doesn’t update that often!)

Who Even ARE You? : Teen Choice Awards Edition

Back in my day, the Teen Choice Awards were all about the best in music, movies and TV, with only 16 categories and Britney Spears won all the surfboards. Now there are like 90+ and there’s an entire category dedicated to web stars. Before you say, ‘Now Traci, you sound so curmudgeonly, like the adults who complained when the internet first came out’ and I KNOW THIS. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a good Vine or entertaining YouTube video, but good LAWD there are so many of them.

But I can’t say I’m surprised. A recent study showed that YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream stars among teenagers. That means some dudes named Smosh are technically more popular than Jennifer Lawrence and TBH IDK what to do with that kind of information. It leads into a whole other discussion that I find fascinating – the fact that not only are celebrities so much more accessible than they were even 10 years ago, but that literally anyone can be a celebrity, and both are perpetuated by social media.

I guess it’s just a different world than a decade ago – which brings me to my ultimate point – we are old. We are old, and not the target demographic for the Teen Choice Awards anymore. Which explains why I don’t know who a lot of the internet nominees are, and it doesn’t even matter that I don’t. Despite the fact I consider myself to be fairly knowledgable with pop culture, this is a whole other world of the internet that is completely beyond me. So to make the rest of you feel just as old as I do, here are just some of the folks that either won or were nominated for TCAs this year – and are infinitely more popular than you are and ever will be.

*Um, I feel like I should write a disclaimer reminding anyone reading this under the age of 18 that I am a 28 year OLD lady so please no trolling. Save that for your YouTubes and your Vines and your Tumblrs. Okay. Go on.

Cameron Dallas

{Winner, Choice Male Viner}

This dude apparently has more than 5 million subscribers on Vine. He also got butt hurt when he found out that the TCAs are rigged. I mean, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but, this is the Teen Choice Awards. Tell any adult this and they won’t be surprised.

The Janoskians

{Presenters}

Okay, so I had definitely heard of this group in my internet travels, but as I was doing research for this very post, I realized that I had been calling them by the wrong name in my head – the “Jankosians”. I honestly thought they were a group of like Armenian brothers who did stuff on YouTube HAHAHAHAHA In fact, they’re a bunch of Australian pranksters whose name is an acronym for Just Another Name Of Silly Kids In Another Nation, which honestly the Armenian backstory is more believable. They are made up of 5 guys between the ages of 18 and 21 (three of which are brothers), and have racked up over 108 million views on YouTube. They also sing and have a song legit called “This Freakin/Fuckin Song”. Oh and one of them dated (I think they broke up again?) Ariana Grande. Slash when they were on the blue carpet at the TCAs, one of them got up on one of the surfboards while the other dudes lifted him up and he ended up falling and needed a neck brace? I think it was a prank? But ugh.

Smosh

{Presenters}

Smosh is a comedy duo made of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla who are super famous on YouTube and have more than 18 million subscribers with over 3.4 billion views. They have eight Smosh related channels on YouTube and I didn’t even realize that the demand for more video content could be so high that they have to fill 8 channels. I can barely get people to watch one of my stupid videos.

Becky G

{Performer}

Becky G got famous the Justin Bieber way – by posting her own covers and remixes of pop songs. She’s gone on to collaborate with Cher Lloyd and Kesha, and has a song out called Shower, which I’m embarassed to say I heard before she performed it on the TCAs. Becky G was a last-minute replacement for Rita Ora, and my main takeaway from the first 45 seconds of her performance before I muted it was that it sounded like she came front the same training camp as Rebecca Black.

O2L (OurSecondLife)

{Winners, Web Star: Comedy}

O2L is the first “vlogger supergroup,”, which means they’re a group of boys from their mid to late teens who talk about their lives – or at least the interesting parts, i guess – on YouTube. Relatedly, do you guys remember the game Second Life? I had a friend that was super into it. And also, Dwight Schrute was into it too. Basically that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this “supergroup”.

Troye Sivan

{Winner, Web Collaboration}

Um I just got sidetracked for about 40 minutes watching videos of this kid on YouTube. So he won best Web Collaboration for this “Boyfriend Tag” video with (the seemingly divisive) Tyler Oakley and apparently they’re like one of the most popular OTPs out there in the internet (search the #Troyler tag). I got sucked in because Troye is actually this adorable Australian kid and he has an EP coming out soon because he’s also a singer. Now I understand how people can just watch these videos all day.

Jack & Jack

{Nominees, Choice Viner}

These two have been BFFs since they were practically babies and have amassed over 4 million followers on Vine. They also are a hip-hop duo, because apparently all internet celebrities are also musicians.

Zoe “Zoella” Sugg

{Winner, Web Star: Fashion/Beauty}

Zoe is a super adorable chick from the U.K. and I have major hair envy. When she first started vlogging her beauty tips, she worked at an interior design company, and now she’s one of Britain’s top social media influencers, and has even scored a book deal. She’s also dating this other famous YouTuber called Alfie and they’re a popular OTP too (#Zalfie). Oh internet. You are too much.

Gentleman Callers, Take Note: Best Proposal videos

I love weddings. And when they’re done right, I love marriage proposals even more. I have wasted minutes, nay hours, of my life watching the best and the worst the internet has to offer of two people in love taking the next step together. Here are some of my favorite proposals, that make me happy as opposed to hating my life and feeling forever alone. (jk i still feel that, but I’m probably 98% happy, maybe 2% jealous…90/10. 80% happy for Monica and Chandler)

tWitch and Allison

Two of my favorite dancers from So You Think You Can Dance recently got engaged, and for a creepy fan like me, I’m glad it was all caught on camera. Seriously though, this is like my dream proposal. I just need to find a dancer boyfriend (that’s not gay…).

tWitch Proposal To Allison Holker – Marry Me… by IdolxMuzic

Car Lip Dub

This made its rounds on social media last year, and brought tears to my eyes with all the friends and family involved. Also, I knew these folks had to be theater people, because they were way too into it to be just Bruno Mars fans.

“She thought we were dying and ended up with a ring”

I would personally hate this proposal, but it turned out awesome.

10 Things I Hate About You

I only wish Heath Ledger were alive to see this 😦 RIP

Movie Trailer

This was another one that made the rounds on the internet, and it was the first one I saw where someone came up with creating a trailer then showing up in the movie theater, so props to them.

One Direction

Besides incorporating 1D in this proposal, this guy has everything timed out perfectly. Like it’s scary how good it was. If this were to ever happen to me, I would need to find more friends.