YouTube has been the catalyst for the biggest shift in the way we consume music. No longer are we satisfied with the sterile, nicely packaged singles and albums our favourite pop stars hand down to us – we want to see them up close and personal outside of their PR bubble. To that end we have put together a (in no way definitive!) list of the best music videos on YouTube. Enjoy…
Gnarls Barkley – ‘Reckoner’
There aren’t many bands with the confidence to cover Radiohead in front of a live audience. There are even fewer with the downright audacity to cover In Rainbows highlight ‘Reckoner’. In recognition of this, Cee-Lo’s face is a picture of absolute concentration and determination to do the song justice – which he does superbly. Proof that fortune really does favour the brave!
Radiohead – ‘No Surprises’
We searched long and hard for a video of Radiohead covering Gnarls Barkley, but to no avail. So we had to make do with this intimate performance of OK Computer’s ‘No Surprises’. Although the band perform a beautiful note-perfect rendition, this is all about Thom’s compelling stage presence and voice.
MIA vs New Order
Everyone loves a good mash-up, and this is one of the best. New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ turns out to be the perfect backing track to MIA’s early hit ‘Bucky Done Gun’ – who knew!?
The Verve – ‘On Your Own’
Forget the messy comebacks and faltering solo career and take a few moments to remember Wigan’s finest at their absolute best – when ego’s were kept in check and it was all about the music. Man. This has everything that made The Verve great – Ashcroft’s heartfelt and soulful vocals merging with McCabe’s virtuoso Wall of Sound guitar noodling. No-one’s done it better since.
The Smiths – ‘This Charming Man’
This just sums up why we all love YouTube. It makes rare old footage from the BBC archives available to everyone. Taken from revered music showcase The Old Grey Whistle Test, this catches The Smiths at their absolute best – still young and naive enough to actually enjoy themselves on-stage! It also reminds us just why they are still so adored.
Neil Young – ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’
What. A. Voice. A shy, slightly awkward bloke bumbles around the stage – looking out of place in front of such an audience. That is until he breaks into the first verse. Utterly spellbinding from start to finish.
Faithless – ‘Insomnia’
Sunset at Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage is always a magical time – the perfect time, in fact, for the tribal beats and out-of-body trance magic of Faithless’ biggest hit. Just watching the crowd go absolutely nuts would be a great video in itself, but combined with the sight of Maxi Jazz and Sister Bliss playing like their lives depend on it seals it for us.
Johnny Cash – ‘In My Life’
Not strictly a video, but its Johnny Cash singing The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’, so it gets a pass! Like all the covers the great man did before he left us, he brings new meaning and poetry to the lyrics with the sheer depth of his life experiences.
Arctic Monkeys – ‘Mardy Bum’
Another Pyramid stage performance, this time from Sheffield upstarts Arctic Monkeys. This was supposed to be the biggest and most nerve-wracking gig of their, at this point, fledgling career. Not that you’d guess. A completely assured and confident performance that cemented their place as the best new band in Britain.
Noel Gallagher – ‘Wonderwall’
Legend has it that Noel was getting sick of playing ‘Wonderwall’. Years of touring and keeping fans happy with the old favourites clearly taking its toll – until he was inspired by American singer-songwriter Ryan Adam’s version to approach the song from a different angle. The results are mesmerising and further testament to Noel’s ability both as a songwriter and performer – which bodes very well for his forthcoming solo material.