SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The best YouTube video I’ve ever seen.

Each Saturday, Jason spotlights one product or service or work of art he finds particularly amazing; the kinds of things that make you wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone have this?” (Read more at www. jasonrpeters.com.)

For the most part, I can’t stand YouTube. It’s like the worst aspects of television and the internet mixed into one, only without the benefit of real content like full-length television shows or movies.

That said, I do delve into the content wasteland for a few reasons. It’s a great place to learn intricate bossfights for World of Warcraft, for instance, so you don’t look an idiot when you first arrive. (#1 rule: Don’t stand in the fire.)

Beyond that, if a friend or relative recommends a video, I will grudgingly have a look. But only once have I ever been thrilled instead of annoyed by the time I actually watched the video.

This video by Sam Tsui was recommended to me by my wife, and I loved it.

Sam is a music student at Yale, and this is a video of him accompanying himself in a six-part a capella arrangement of a Michael Jackson medley.

First, be it known that I am a Michael Jackson fan. Back in the 80s when everyone else was, I wasn’t because I heard his song “Naked” and it offended my fragile sensibilities. When Jackson fell out of good graces with the public, it became okay for me to like him, because it was no longer trendy. (I just love to buck the status quo for any reason.)

Before Jackson’s death, co-workers made fun of me for jamming to “Bad” or “Beat It”. “Why?” I asked. “This guy was the man.

“Yeah,” they’d reply. “WAS.”

Well, art is timeless. Also, I can’t care much about Jackson’s personal life, because virtually none of the celebrities whose talents I enjoy lives a personal life I would ever emulate. And when people smell money, they’ll accuse you of anything.

Back to the video.

Sam begins with typical “background” vocals (non-lyrical oohs and aahs) as he opens up the slower, introspective pieces. This young man has a gorgeous voice; there’s no other way to put it.

Sam is accompanied only by Kurt Schneider, another Yale undergrad, who performs beat-box behind Sam (he’s the one on the far left of the video). Little information is available, but though the original songs were obviously written by Jackson, it seems this medley was arranged by these two students. That in itself would be an amazing feat.

The tune crescendos into “Man in the Mirror” and transitions into the up tempo intensity of “Beat It” (with haunting echoes), at which point Sam sings “Billy Jean” as counter melody.

From this, the vocals explode into all songs at once, brilliantly layered, beautifully sung, impossible to track all at the same time, yet blending unfailingly. It’s the end of the video which captivated me most. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it too.


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