The YouTube algorithm for recommended videos has gotten some heat lately, much of it deserved. It’s had a significant effect on political radicalization; the way the algorithm is set up allows curious people searching for innocuous news clips to plunge down an increasingly deranged alt-right rabbit hole. Furthermore, unsupervised children can end up watching disturbing, inappropriate, or just plain bizarre videos that tricked the algorithm into thinking they were kid-friendly.
But while the algorithm can be dangerous, it’s also an illustration of what a magnificent achievement YouTube, and by extension the Internet, really is. It’s a compendium of information, entertainment, and culture to rival the Library of Alexandria; while there’s a lot of bullshit to sift through it makes discovering new things easier and more exciting than ever.
Case in point: music. Depending on what sort of music you listen to, you’ll get different sorts of songs and albums popping up in your suggestions: Midori Takada’s Through the Looking Glass, Tycho’s Dive, Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses”. But if, like me, you listened to a lot of indie rock a few years ago, you’d end up with songs like “I Didn’t Know” by Skinshape, or “The Trip” by Still Corners: dreamy, hazy, lightly psychedelic indie rock, never boring but always comforting.
“I Do Too”, a lovely song by the British band Headclouds, reminds me of that sort of YouTube-core sound, and not just because David Dean Burkhart (whose videos featuring “I Didn’t Know” and “The Trip” accumulated millions of views) recently posted a video of it on his channel. It’s got all the sonic hallmarks you’d expect: misty Cocteau Twins-inspired guitar work, wordless backing vocals, a sense of wistful twilit romanticism. It would fit comfortably on most dream pop playlists, but it would be a mistake to treat it as background music. “I Do Too” isn’t content to surf on a good vibe until it’s over; instead, it uses its structure to enhance the mood.
The lyrics traffic in good-natured romantic cliches (stars in the sky reflecting in a girl’s eyes, the sun and the moon, so on), but the music is what puts them into context. “I Do Too”’s first verse, while quite pretty in its own right, builds up to a swooning, love-struck chorus that could soundtrack the climactic scene to any number of indie romance movies. We’re left wanting to hear that chorus again, but after the second verse it seems to slow down, not affording us another round of great catharsis.
Then, of course, the climax arrives. Building off of a sweet, distant piano, the rest of the band comes back in, and while they don’t repeat the chorus exactly as it first arrived (you can only have your first kiss once, after all), they give you a similar rush of nostalgic joy. It took a couple of twists and turns to get there, and the path to happiness is rarely straightforward on those late dusky nights, but it promises you that you’ll get there someday, even if it doesn’t spell it out. Count yourself lucky if this shows up in your YouTube suggestions.
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