[On weekends I don't talk magic (although there is some magic here).]
I often get curious about quantifying things. And so today I decided to look at my 10 most viewed youtube videos (meaning the ones I myself have viewed the most), based on the play count on the videos I've downloaded. (If I haven't downloaded them, then I didn't watch them that much.)
#10 - Hands by The Raconteurs
Most people consider the Raconteurs to be Jack White's side project. In my opinion it's Brendan Benson's side project. He takes the lead on this song which is a perfect pop-rock number. But the video is what stands out to me. It's shot at a school for deaf girls (a real one, not like the school in Hot for a Teacher). I love exuberance so I adore the girls in this video. Dancing and singing along to a song they can't hear. The image of the girls sitting on the floor, feeling the rhythm coming off the bass drum head is one that always sticks with me.
And, more apropos for this site, Dynamo is inexplicably in the video. And he does my favorite card flourish where he spins the card out of the deck then kicks it back up into his hand. I'd pay good money to be able to do that with regularity, but I have a feeling it's the type of thing where you screw it up 20 times in a row before you get it right. Or at least it would be for me.
#9 - This Too Shall Pass by OK Go
I've spent a lot of time watching OK Go's one-shot masterpieces. But apparently this is the one that has garnered the most views from me. I bet magicians have an appreciation for Rube Goldberg machines that goes beyond that of the average person. I particularly like how the opening shot implies this is not the first time they tried this, so as you watch it unfold you can't help but imagine the process of putting it all back together to try again.
#8 - Torn by David Armand
I have no idea if this guy is really well known in England or just a minor figure or what. He's pretty much unknown here. I've definitely seen him on some British panel shows, but as far as I know he may be a total joke there. Like Carrot Top or something. All I know is this is one of the first youtube videos I ever saw and it made me really appreciate the idea of something stupid done with commitment.
#7 - When the World Comes to an End by The Dirty Projectors
The women in The Dirty Projectors have the most haunting, mesmerizing vocal harmonies. I find them hypnotizing. I've posted this video before but that's only because I love it so much. Check out Gun Has No Trigger for another example of their talent.
#6 - CollegeHumor's Lip Dub of Flagpole Sitta
I used to watch this a lot because it contained a number of friends of mine and other people I knew. If hipsters get you down, especially hipsters from 10 years ago, then you're not going to like it. These are the employees of the CollegeHumor website lip syncing the song Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger. This was the first "big" lip dub video that I know of. It's nowhere near as elaborate as the genre would become, but it's still pretty fun. Plus it taught me a life lesson I may one day share with you. And Flagpole Sitta is an all-time classic song.
#5 - Bonfire by Childish Gambino
One of my favorite songs by my favorite lyricist in rap today. You definitely will need Genius to uncover all the inside jokes and wordplay in essentially every line. The video is dope too.
#4 - Our Velocity by Maximo Park
The keyboardist for Maximo Park is a secret hero of mine. Keyboardists usually come off as fairly reserved musicians because they're tethered to their instrument. Hence the invention of the Keytar. But this guy goes just about as bonkers as you can while still being there to play the right notes. This is the attitude I try to attack life with.
#3 - Paul Harris' True Astonishments Promo
If this doesn't make you want to go out and perform magic for people then you simply have no desire to perform magic for people. Bro Gilbert was a revelation in this DVD set. His style of performance was a huge influence on the direction my style was going at the time. If you were one of those nutjobs complaining that Paul didn't perform the material on these DVDs, you're out of your mind. Paul is one of the best minds in magic, but his performances were always a long apology. They were dry and funny, but not good. Bro's energy and style were perfect for Paul's material.
#2 - Witch's Wand by Sloan
In 2008 I went to Canada to work on the video for this song by Sloan. While there I met and fell for one of the actresses who I would go on to date for the next couple years. I'm sure I watched this video once a day over that period of time as a tonic for the long-distance-relationship blues. But the relationship was worth it, and this video is still one of my favorites ever.
#1 - Gale Sayers - 18 Inches of Daylight
Traditional motivational videos don't resonate much with me. I don't find people talking about how you should be motivated to be motivating. In the same way I don't find someone talking about the biological mechanics of laughter to be funny. But this video of Gale Sayers, specifically the first few seconds, has become something of a motivational mantra of mine.
Since I was a kid I always believed I could work my way out of any situation. I believed this even before I had actually ever worked my way out of any tough situations. I thought of myself this way when I was 8. It's probably why I was drawn to Houdini as a kid.
In high school, my guidance counselor said to me, "I read somewhere that the only animal in the world that likes to be backed into a corner is the tasmanian devil. I used to believe that until I met you." I had a habit of getting myself into sketchy situations, academically or behaviorally, but then ultimately finding a way to work out of those situations. I wouldn't say I liked it. But I also wouldn't say I minded it.
There are certain qualities in life that you have as long as you believe you have them. I think the quality of being a real world escape artist is one of them.
I've always enjoyed watching Gale weave through defenders and juke them out of their jocks. And I probably like it the most because, on some subconscious level, I'm absorbing the symbolism of that. That you don't need your offensive line to open a gaping hole to get you to your goal. All you need is 18 inches of daylight.