Beware of the YouTube

YouTube has come up in these columns from time to time but, in keeping with my current theme of whether its possible to depend wholly on the Internet for one’s entertainment, I thought I’d mention it again, and issue issue a warning.

For those who haven’t yet encountered it, YouTube (www.youtube.com) is a video sharing site which allows anyone to upload video for the world to enjoy. The interesting YouTube blog (youtube-global.blogspot.com) gives a glimpse of how huge the site is.

Users are apparently adding to it at the rate of 20 hours of video every minute of every day. Throw into the mix a billion videos viewed every day by site visitors, and you have an entertainment phenomenon which is probably unparalleled in history.There is all sorts of stuff available ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it doesn’t take long to find stuff that interests you. The YouTube blog is a good starting point for looking for interesting things and, among much else, there is music of every description, shows, news, reviews and tutorials on a wide range of subjects.

I should probably warn you, however, that you need to be seriously careful when starting to use YouTube, because of its addictive nature. One example that happened to me recently was when I went along to look for a singer called Ivan Rebroff, who was referred to in an Internet radio program I listen to.

Once I got onto YouTube, I searched for Ivan and came up with a whole list of his recordings, including the JS Bach/Charles Gounod version of Ave Maria. I listened to it to get a sense of what he sounded like and it turns out that he had a really remarkable vocal range, from deep bass to soprano.

That was interesting enough, but what led to my undoing was the panel next to the video which lists other videos related to the one you’re looking at. This panel is the work of the devil because it will invariably list other versions of the song you’re looking at, and you’ll start to wonder if those versions are better or worse.

In the list, I noticed a version of Ave Maria by Charlotte Church, so I clicked on it and looked at that but, in the list of related videos next to it, I saw several other versions. At that point, I said goodbye to productivity and, before I knew what I was doing, I had looked at versions of the song by Celtic Woman, Pavarotti, Deanna Durbin, Mario Lanza, and quite a few others.

By this stage, it was getting towards the middle of the night and mad thoughts were entering my head along the lines of: “Why don’t I listen to every version of Ave Maria, so I can decide which is the best ever?”.

Things didn’t end there, unfortunately, because in the related videos list, I saw other songs by singers I had enjoyed, so I clicked on those too. By 3am, I was listening to German songstress Helene Fischer who I must say, has a helluva voice, even though I have no idea what she’s singing about.

Anyway, back to Ave Maria, and the thought that I might like to listen to all the versions on YouTube to decide which I like the most. The YouTube search facility brings up 4100 mentions of the song, which is a problem, because I’ll either have to listen to them all, or never know which is the best version.

So far, I’d have to vote for Mario Lanza as the best and, as the most interesting, one by Bobby McFerrin (Don’t Worry, Be Happy) in which he does the orchestral bit with his voice, and gets his audience to do the vocals.

Like I say, YouTube should be used with caution.

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