Try leaving the Spotify bubble sometimes

Jan. 12, 2023, 9:14 p.m.

I’m a YouTube addict.

It’s not one of my most charming characteristics, but it is what it is. I think it started when I was 15 and found out about Good Mythical Morning and couldn’t stop watching them eat Skittles cereal or deep-fried sunglasses.

One of the few redeeming qualities of this disease is the fact that beyond the many layers of useless commentary videos and meme clippings, I’ve been able to come across some memorable displays of sheer talent.

 YouTube’s collection of music is exponentially wider than any music-only streaming service. There are so many more recordings for any one song than on Spotify/Apple Music, where there’s usually just one version (or many times, none at all). A certain subset of these includes some of the best and most innovative musical performances I’ve ever seen. The nature of some performances being either covers or live events means that they are not available on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. However, the quality of these songs is good enough for me to open and watch them an embarrassing number of times. Here are three of my favorites.

  1. NPR Tiny Desk: Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals 

When I was in 7th grade, I performed “Help” by The Beatles; I was on the drums and vocals while my best friend was on the piano. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. Anderson .Paak cannot relate one bit.

NPR Tiny Desk concerts are always brilliant, fun and a wonderful opportunity to watch all kinds of artists perform in an intimate setting. It is cruel for me to narrow down to one concert and call it the best one or the only one worth watching. If I had to choose a personal favorite, however, I would recommend checking out Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals.

As the music starts after a witty one-liner from Anderson .Paak, the viewer sees the drums of the funky tune being played by the singer and main spotlight of the show — Anderson .Paak himself. I cannot praise Anderson .Paak enough for drumming and singing at the same time. Playing hi-hats filled with swing and always on the beat is hard enough; to add singing to the mix is a whole new ballgame.

If I ever had to define the term “immaculate vibes” to anyone, I’d just play this video on full volume. The way the band uses probably one of the most standard band setups (drums, synth, guitar and bass) and elevates it to a groovy soundscape is beautiful to watch. You can see how much each member of The Free Nationals likes to perform with each other by noticing how each member is given ample space to improvise and enjoy themselves. If you needed any more proof of how well this band gels, they even go on to perform a completely new song sans practice (as was the rest of the setlist).

  1. Like A Version: Spacey Jane cover “Here Comes The Sun

In my opinion, performing covers of The Beatles is a mighty tough job to do. It’s always much easier to try and emulate the style of The Beatles than try something new, but it’s really hard to nail the group’s style exactly right. 

Spacey Jane brings a modern and fresh feel to an all-time Beatles classic. By performing “Here Comes The Sun” in the vibe of indie surf-rock, they advertise the band’s talent while also showcasing how versatile this song really is. As someone truly tired of listening to stripped-down acoustic covers of this track, this version was a lovely treat.

With two electric guitars dripping with chorus effects and a hard-hitting beat, it almost feels like this song could come out today and be a major hit. The group nails the Paul and John-esque vocal harmonies and classic Ringo drum fills, paying homage to the greats while simultaneously forging a novel sound.  

  1. Vulfpeck: Back Pocket (Live at Madison Square Garden)

Live concerts are weird to watch because after a point, you realize you will never really be a part of the true audience and can’t live the real atmosphere of the concert space. This performance by the popular funk ensemble Vulfpeck is so much different. The band’s performance at a fully packed Madison Square Garden is a spectacle that everyone deserves to watch at least once.

The performance starts with the audience performing a perfect three-part harmony with a band member beatboxing in the background. The audience is becoming the performer itself as you’re slowly immersed into this concert. The band performs an a cappella version of their song, Back Pocket, before moving to their respective instruments, and you’re gently brought into the world of pure funk. 

I really appreciate the effort of production behind the concert recording. The visual effects, grain filter and camera movement all elevate the watching experience more than you realize on your first watch.

This performance is one of the times I truly realized the importance of combining a visual image with audio. Watching the band members have fun and the audience lose themselves in the groove is really special. Sometimes, it’s important to be immersed in the musical performance and not do anything else. Watching a person or group become one with the music and deliver a performance of a lifetime is a blessing we often forget the value of. So I’d say maybe being a YouTube addict isn’t so bad after all.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

Aditeya Shukla '23 is the Managing Editor for the Arts & Life section. He enjoys making indie pop music and watching Formula 1. Contact The Daily’s Arts & Life section at arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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