So we all know YouTube is taking over the world, right? Google paid a whopping $1.65 billion for the social phenomenon in late 2006. Weve all taken part in the guilty pleasure. Did you see that Paul Potts, the cell-phone-salesman-turned-opera-singer (20 million views), turned up at the top of Time Magazines Top 10 Live Performances of 2007?
Amateur or professional, music videos are still a major force in the music industry and have been since the early days of MTV. Both independent and major label artists use YouTube directly or indirectly. For example, 80s rockers Van Halen recently reunited (kind of), and videos of the bands pre-tour rehearsals were leaked to YouTube to create pre-tour buzz.
So with all this hoopla and the overnight sensations created by YouTube, what kind of presence do Mormon music artists have on the site? Well, I spent some time recently searching through the good, the bad and the ugly of YouTube to see if I could find anything LDS on there (someones gotta do it, right?).
I first did a quick search of some of my LDS music-making friends. I then did kind of an every nth random search from a list of the 2007 Pearl Award winners sort of the Mormon version of The Grammys. While more than half came up not found, there were also a few hits. Theres a fun performance of Alex Boye doing "Anything Impossible" (and several other posts). The Mormon Tabernacle Choir even has its own rehearsal video of The Sound of Music and a bunch of clips lifted from television shows. And check out all the waving cell phones in this finale from a Peter Breinholt/Sam Payne/David Tolk concert at BYU-Idaho.
There were a few others. But still not much as far as actual artists go.
One trend I did notice was a number amateur inspirational or missionary-style slide shows with LDS music as the soundtrack (to be honest, Im not exactly sure of the legality of all this but isnt this sort of what YouTube is all about?). A few examples: Michael Mclean backing a slide show based on "I Cannot Find My Way" from "The Forgotten Carols," another featuring Kenneth Copes "Never a Better Hero" and another with music from Jenny Oaks Baker.
The other type of video I seemed to stumble across a lot of during these searches was musical comedies or parodies another favored genre on YouTube. This new-wavy offering of "Sunshine in Your Heart" from The Elders is a good example and worth a few wasted minutes of your life. Im not sure whether the soundtrack is original or not. Another one probably worth watching is The Ashley Park Wards Book of Mormon Teancum "Javelin Man done in the style of Robert Palmers Addicted to Love (the music part doesnt start until about half way through it). I think thats Jenny Jordan Frogley singing on the original track. And is that Senator Bob Bennett in there? If not, it sure looks like him!
There are new takes on old classics as well. For example, Mormon Rap (by The Walter Hayes Band), which probably started the whole LDS parody genre years ago, is still going strong today as the soundtrack for several YouTube posts, including this one by DJ RMP. But this version, of what looks like a Vancouver-Washingon-based youth conference, has had nearly 100,000 views. Not too shabby!
Speaking of classics, I havent looked at music posts by mainstream or major label LDS artists, but Donny Osmond makes an awesome cameo in Weird Als White & Nerdy. That link is actually an outtake that features a lot more of Donny than what appeared in the final cut (almost 3 million views). Donny deservers a knows-how-to-poke-fun-at-himself award for this performance.
Obviously, YouTube (and viral content in general) lends itself to the comedic and the quirky. It is part of the escape were looking for when we spend a couple of wasted minutes (or hours) on the web. But I think the other reason there are not many serious LDS music posts is that there just arent many outlets for LDS music video content, period. And the cost (time and money) to produce a post just for the web even with todays desktop video is still somewhat high for LDS artists. But sooner or later real video outlets may develop as the LDS market grows and these will in turn bleed over to places like YouTube.
So when you have a spare minute somewhere between your scripture study and Family Home Evening prep do a YouTube search for your favorite LDS music artist. If you find a gem, forward it to a friend. You never know what kind of a viral phenomenon you might start.
(Quint Randle was born and raised in Southern California and has been a music journalist and songwriter for more than 25 years. He is now a faculty member in the BYU Communications Department. He has co-written two No. 1 songs in the Christian-Country market and still moonlights as a member of the award-winning duo Joshua Creek. He founded Gig Magazine and has written for Mix Magazine, Recording Engineer/Producer and Guitar Player. He also co-authored the book "Making Money Making Music.")