Welcome to the YouTube Twilight Zone.
Happy 2020! With a new year comes resolutions, and if you’re anything like me, then one of your biggest goals this year is to listen to more music.
If you’re like me, you also might have a wide selection of recommended albums on Youtube courtesy of the almighty algorithm. You try to find these albums on your streaming service of choice, but alas, they aren’t there! These albums seem to exist on the fringes of the internet, free for mass consumption in their entirety, taking you to worlds of sound the likes of which your $9.99/mo isn’t granting. These albums can best be defined as a broad niche genre aptly named YouTube-Core.
Come with me, my friends, on a journey through your recommended videos, where cult fanbases run wild and the algorithm is law. Who knows, you might find your new favorite album along the way!
Ryo Fukui – Scenery (1976)
Ryo Fukui was 26 when Scenery came out, but he didn’t start playing piano until he was 22. You wouldn’t be able to tell though, because on Scenery he’s a well-oiled jazz piano machine! This album is so exciting, so fun, so gripping, and shows how you’re never too old to pick up a new passion, especially playing music. Whether you need to get locked into a groove, or you’re throwing a fancy-shmancy dinner party, Fukui and his backing band are the perfect soundtrack.
Of all the YT-Core I talk about here, this is the only album that has been added to streaming! Though Fukui passed away at 67 in 2016, his memory lives on via the internet. To quote YouTube user MC Silverstien: “This is the center of Youtube. All paths lead here. Enjoy your stay.”
Tatsuro Yamashita – For You (1982)
Tatsuro Yamashita is a Japanese city pop visionary. City pop is the Japanese take on American pop from the 80’s, and often revolves around themes of city life and romance, and nowhere is the genre on better display than on For You. Yamashita creates nostalgic visions of paradise, and is perfect for cruising down the road while the sun sets.
Yamashita is still active today, and while his music may not be up on streaming, his legacy lives on through YouTube, and his influence is common ground for a ton of future funk the likes of Yung Bae and Macross 82-99. This is the ultimate feel good album, and can make it feel like summertime regardless of the season.
The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World (2011)
If Yamashita can bring you to bright summer days, The Caretaker can drag you to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. An Empty Bliss Beyond This World is an ambient album full of reverb-laden samples of songs from the 1920’s and 1930’s, which gives the whole 52 minute record a ghastly, haunted feeling. The comments describe it best as “what being the last person on earth would feel like”, and “like a dinner party but all your relatives and friends left years ago”.
This album feels like one working record player, repeating a warbly record from the Titanic at the bottom of the sea. It’s a mesmerizing listen, equal parts spooky and beautiful. If you need some good contemplative tunes for studying or just need some (very) early Halloween ambience, give this album a shot!
This Heat – Deceit (1981)
This Heat made some pretty sick albums over their short tenure as a band. Deceit was one of them. Deceit scares me, but issa classic so it’s okay.
This Heat were only a band for 6 years but they laid the foundation for modern post-punk/post-rock with Deceit. James Murphy name-checked them first in “Losing My Edge”, so that’s how you know they’re legit. This album grooves, screams, and grinds along, and you can’t help but nod your head while you try your best to find some noticeable beat to dance to.
I love this album, a whole lot, and even though it’s regarded as a classic after it’s 90’s reissue, it still remains off streaming services! That honestly blows my mind, but YouTube is the perfect home for such a cult album. Commenter xTheOxx said it best: “How is anyone supposed to be considered original once you know this album exists?”
With a new year here, it’s the perfect time to take a chance on a genre or an album you’ve never heard before, and YouTube is the perfect place to find something new and exciting.
There’s no better time to get out of your comfort zone than right now. Next time you see an album or song you’ve never seen in your YouTube recommendations, check it out: it could be a fabled part of the YouTube-Core ethos!
Or it could just be a freakin’ sweet album. Either way, happy new year, and happy listening!