Every video has an equal and opposite reaction video

I’m not a big fan of reaction videos as a genre, but Glamour‘s second-order reaction video series You Sang My Song is an exception. A star watches YouTube1 covers of their hits, and then the people who made each cover watches the reaction video of the star watching their cover. The stars sometimes get genuinely excited. The YouTubers are often genuinely verklempt.2

There are recent musicians I’ve never heard of who have been around long enough that young musicians describe them as their biggest influences. YouTube has been around long enough that some of the pop stars got their start posting covers on-line.

Some of the covers in the videos are from years earlier, so the covering artist is noticeably older in the reaction. Some are still active but some others have moribund YouTube channels.

Since I’m working on the philosophy of cover songs, I guess this counts as research. The comments in the videos underscore two things about covers that often get overlooked. First, people doing covers often see themselves as responding to really great songwriting. Second, a good cover will often do things with a song that surprise the songwriter.

Together, these observations underscore the importance of songs in pop music. The ontology of musical works that was developed to handle classical compositions can’t really handle rock and pop songs. Following the work of Theodore Gracyk and others, it is typically assumed that the fully produced track is the only work of interest in rock and pop music.

Photo by Gerax Sotelo.
  1. sometimes TikTok
  2. One YouTuber actually responds by saying “I’m getting verklempt”, but the automatic transcript renders it as “I’m getting four clumps.”

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