Peter Zhang

Rabbit Holes: Ear Candy


My YouTube feed usually proliferates leeches, but sometimes it’ll spit out a gem. These gems are ideas, people, and art that inspire. Not like, weekly aphorisms from the Green brothers—usually, these just inspire me to keep eating my dinner—but maybe like the first time you read The Fault in Our Stars. I regularly dive into rabbit holes chasing those shiny treasures. These adventures take about 14 hours each week, according to spies at Apple.

With school starting up again, I have less free time and excess brain power to write creative, original posts. So, my new lazy series of posts, Rabbit Holes, will steal good art from other people that my past self worked to find. I’ll be writing about some of the YouTube videos that have given me motivation and appreciation throughout my adolescence. Today’s edition: three pieces of ear candy.

I know you’re wondering so I’ll say it upfront—yes, this article took about four times as long as planned because I got trapped in rabbit holes. I have poor foresight, I know.

1. Beatboxing

Competitive beatboxing is a real thing, and it’s even cooler than that guy from your high school acapella group. The pros can create and combine a huge range of sounds, and the best invent signature noises. In competitions, they face off against one another in two rounds of beatboxing, after which they’re judged on technique, musicality, and crowd control. Some of my favorite beatboxers are Codfish (who combines lyrical songs with bass), D-Low (who can sing dubstep), and Napom (who has a cool album titled “Lips”).

There are other events too. One of them is tag team, a 2v2 event. I root for Kotcha, but the winner of 2019’s championship was Uniteam. My favorite event is loopstation: beatboxers can record, layer, and mix their sounds live, which creates so many cool opportunities. My favorites are the ridiculous So-so, that one legendary beat drop by Saro, and the NME tracks that sound like Minecraft music.

2. Spoken Word Poetry

Wanna seem cultured but don’t wanna read poetry? Spoken word poetry is when is your pathway to enlightenment! In spoken word, the authors do the reading for you. It enables authors to communicate the feel of the text and combine them with performance. At competitions, poets perform live in front of a panel. Of course, the confining nature of conventional, written poetry is part of the beauty; I don’t think the two art forms are comparable (and I certainly don’t know enough to claim so). I will say that spoken word is a whole lot more easy to binge, and it can still make you seem sophisticated.

My favorite artists (and the favorite of the Youtube algorithm) is Rudy Francisco. His repertoire includes pieces on love, identity, and personal struggle; every single one is a banger. A few other favorites include Fish by Matt Coonan, People You May Know by Kevin Kantor, and OCD by Neil Hilborn.

There are also pieces that really showcase the potential of the artform. Lost Voices by Darius Simpson & Scout Bostley takes advantage of movement, Siri by Patrick Roche explores the power of voice, and Simon Says by Ashley Davis & Oompa involves impressive acting.

3. Barbershop Quartets

Yes, groups of four guys in striped suits. Perfection. Before I found barbershop, I thought singing in groups was a little stuffy and unexciting. Certainly not because of my chorus teacher, she was awesome. Singing dooms and dahs in the back of the chorus room just doesn’t have high baseline excitement. Stumbling on barbershop has revived my love for performance generally and singing bass specifically.

There’s actually huge variation in styles. Some classics include Signature’s Dance with my Father, a super moving performance, and Main Street’s Disney remixes. Of course, my favorite—and the fan favorite—is the self-deprecating New Fangled Four, with hilarious hits like Hello My Baby Through the Years, It Sucks to Be Me, Settle for Me, and Nine People’s Favorite Thing, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Give these a listen!

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