What do these things all have in common? Sam Brooks loves 'em all.

My YouTube Party of Five: Sam Brooks

My YouTube Party of Five is a new series in which we invite people to share their five favourite YouTube videos, the ones hold closest in their heart, the ones they’ll play at 2am while drunk at a party. This week: Sam Brooks.

“Something bad, something good, or something funny?”

Whenever I’m hosting a gathering of friends at my house, this question inevitably comes up. We’re all sitting in front of the television, because it’s 70″ and wherever you sit in my house, you are sitting in front of the television. I’ll, quite obviously, throw up YouTube and ask this seemingly innocuous question.

The friends will then take turns picking videos. They’ll pick something good, something bad, or something funny. The categories are quite loose and, based on the audience, I can usually draw from my mental library of literally hundreds of YouTube videos to give them a good time. If I’ve got my straight best friend over, I’m not gonna play him Imelda Staunton belting out ‘Rose’s Turn’ from Gypsy. Likewise, if I’ve got some of my theatre queens over, I’m probably not going to play them my favourite parallel bars routine from the ’82 Olympics(I have shown both of these to both these audiences, so maybe that’s not a good example, but I digress.)

The prime time to do this is right around 2am. At this point, everybody’s a few wines down, the last packet of chips has been opened, and you’re close to nodding off. People might be ordering Ubers, or they might be down to keep the vibe going.

I have hundreds of these videos, but I reckon everybody has at least five that they can show somebody at 2am. They might be widely seen videos that are now lost to the mists of time, they might be videos that fewer than a hundred people have seen but you love deeply, or they might be the weirdest thing you’ve ever witnessed. Whatever is chosen, it’s a startling insight into someone’s soul.

Thus, The Spinoff introduces its new series, My YouTube Party of Five, and I’m proud to start it off with five of mine:

Jewel and Jessica Simpson singing ‘Who Will Save Your Soul’

Everything in this video is a beautiful time capsule for 2002. It’s from The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour, which dates from a time when Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were not only married, but were famous for being singers, and for being celebrities who deigned to do a reality show. Also, the chryon for “All New Alias.” What a time.

The real attraction of this video is how straight-up bonkers it is to watch Jessica Simpson, who does seem to truly love ‘Who Will Save Your Soul’ for whatever reason, try to mimic and then out-sing Jewel, who seems to just be having a quite nice time singing this song for what must’ve been the seven hundredth time.

It’s also a reminder that at one time Jessica Simpson was known as ‘that popstar who could actually sing’ rather than ‘that lady who makes jeans’. Also? She had a pretty noticeable underbite, and it’s been a long time since we had a celebrity with one of those. #justiceforunderbites

(A massive shoutout to my friend Richard for introducing me to this video. Much like Jewel, it has saved my soul.)

“Nicole Scherzinger’s Indecision Ends Rachel Crow’s Dreams”

The title of this video pretty much says it all. If you happened to be watching The X-Factor USA in 2011, you will remember this shocking elimination.

To recap: Rachel Crow was a tremendously talented 12 year old who was, for some reason, allowed to compete in a massive reality show singing competition in front of millions of people. She got to the top four, and then was put up for elimination alongside Marcus Canty, and this is the first time that name has been written in the past five years.

The elimination process goes like so: the judges vote on who should go home from the bottom two, unless it goes to deadlock, in which case the public vote takes over. Two judges vote for Marcus, one judge votes for Rachel. The final judge is dream ruiner and Pussycat Doll/Cats actress Nicole Scherzinger. She really doesn’t want to be the deciding vote, despite being paid a tremendous amount of money to literally do this job, so she allows it to go to deadlock, and to the public vote.

The public votes to send Rachel home.

Because she is 12, she loses her shit. It’s excruciating, it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on television, and it is magnetic. I think about this moment at least once a day, and will never forgive Nicole Scherzinger for doing it, and I’m sure as hell that Rachel Crow will hate Nicole Scherzinger for the rest of her now-cursed life.

“Actress playing Helen Keller falls off stage”

The genius of this video isn’t just someone falling off stage, it’s the fact that you can see it coming before it even happens. Also, she’s playing Helen Keller.

The true hero of this story is Lori Soares, who was playing Helen Keller and who uploaded this for everybody’s enjoyment. Thank you, Lori Soares. May you live forever with blessings.

“Eartha Kitt sings ‘Alone’ at The Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2008”

This isn’t a funny one, you guys. This one’s beautiful and sad.

Basically, this was the last gig of Eartha Kitt’s life, and this was the last song. It’s a medley of her own standard ‘Life Made Me Beautiful at Forty’, less a song and more a few sassy bon mots, and some newly composed lyrics that make up the chorus.

Even at 80, her voice was in great shape – its distinctive colour was intact and age only deepened her interpretative strength and phrasing. She turns this song, which is very much in the ‘I’m Still Here’ vein of a brassy lady making jokes, into a eulogy for herself. It becomes a bittersweet, beautiful ode to her own life.

And then she belts out that last chorus and finishes with the barely whispered line “I’m still standing here alone.”

This was the last song she ever sang, you guys! She was 80. She lived a life! She played Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove! Even just typing this I’m crying you guys, imagine what I’m like when I play somebody this at 2am while screaming at them, “EARTHA KITT DESERVED BETTER THAN THE WORLD!”

I digress.

NICKI MINAJ PLAYS RESIDENT EVIL 7!

This is the YouTube party equivalent of turning on all the lights, opening up the windows, and putting a face mask on. It clears the room immediately.

This is part of a series of videos where YouTuber Gia Katya does a far-too-believable impression of Nicki Minaj streaming video games. It’s full of in-jokes and references to Nicki Minaj’s feuds and beefs, while also being a very savvy run-through of horror games – Katya has also done full playthroughs of Outlast and Outlast 2 while staying fully in character.

These videos have a very small Venn diagram of overlapping interests. The kinds of people who are fully invested in Nicki Minaj’s life, career, and arguments are not necessarily the people who are also deeply steeped in gaming lore and logic.

Which is part of what makes YouTube great – it’s a place where you can find your video soulmate, or even five of them. The things that only appeal to you, the things that only you’ve heard of, and the things that only you can love. Whether that’s an actress falling off a stage, a 12 year old’s dream being shattered, an 80 year old icon singing her last, two blonde women struggling onstage or a YouTuber doing a great impression, you can find your internet soulmate.


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