In praise of YouTube comment sections on music videos
In an interesting article on A.V. Club, Clayton Purdom makes an argument for the cultural reflection that is the YouTube comments section on music videos. It's the one place, Purdom argues, where you can actually see how the general population thinks about music. Read the full article to find out why Purdom says the real gold is found in comment sections of video game soundtracks.This article originally appeared on A.V. Club
Westworld's opening credits (Screenshot: HBO)
Over at New York Magazine, writer Brian Feldman explores the connection between a song’s reappearance in pop culture and an uptick in terrific comments on its corresponding YouTube video. Feldman jumps off with the recent Black Mirror episode “San Junipero,” which prominently features Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.” The comments under the video, however, aren’t about Belinda Carlisle, Feldman finds; they’re about the Black Mirror episode—a pattern he notes is surprisingly common.
Feldman goes on to investigate the YouTube comment sections for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Radiohead’s “No Surprises”—both recently given player-piano renditions on Westworld—and finds the comments similarly full of musings on the TV show, not the songs themselves. Meanwhile, beneath Mark Romanek’s video for Johnny Cash’s “Hurt,” the conversation is about the new Wolverine movie Logan, and, below that, a head-butting competition about who the realest Johnny Cash fan is.
“Part of the reason for this YouTube swarm is that there really aren’t many good comment sections for music,” Feldman writes. “SoundCloud doesn’t host canonical popular music like ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth,’ and Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal don’t have comment sections underneath every song or album.” While this is true, I think Feldman doesn’t go far enough: YouTube comments on music videos may be good when a piece of popular culture points people toward them, but they’re also always good—or at least, instructive about the way people listen to and think about that music...
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