I grew up in a country where it was forbidden to listen to certain types of music. I always loved music and was trained in classical piano. I secretly listened to Nirvana and “New Age” Enya, both genres too radical for the society that I was raised in. Eminem was the most famous rapper at the time, and Tiger Woods beat every previously held record in golf. Times were changing and with technology transforming the world right before our eyes, so did the music.
My highschool friends declared a “theme song for the year” with the start of each new grade. Our final year carried the lyrics of Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life, appropriate for a somewhat oppressed young adult needing to find her place in the world. An insatiable fascination with the stories, the musicians, their place in history and how music shaped the world only grew as I started my tertiary studies.
One of the most popular types of videos online today is reaction videos. The premise is for a reactor (video host) to watch or listen to something that they’ve never seen before, something that’s trending or just mind-blowing and then react to it in real-time. How can music reaction videos change the world? Let’s take a look at these five examples:
We are more alike than we are different.
The most viewed reaction videos are from people who are not familiar with a particular type of musical genre. For example, people who grew up listening to rap and hip-hop are recording reactions to Dolly Parton and Metallica. There is an authentic human resonance in their responses. It would best be described that we all share the same suffering, values and misunderstanding. Themes like heartache, politics and loss are universal with a different set of instruments, but it all beats the same in our hearts.
Music is a universal language
Music can be scary, happy, uplifting, soulful or energizing. When we listen to music, we don’t just listen to the words of the song, which by themselves can be very powerful, but we also connect an emotion to the melody. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, a great salsa will make your body want to dance. Memories are engraved in certain songs that bring us closer to ourselves. Reaction videos can tap into that universal language and make us all feel part of the larger collective. Knowing music history is also positive when reacting to a video. It gives us an insight into societal norms, ways of thinking, and how that shaped their world. It’s a great way to understand the environment through the universal language of music.
Focus on skills.
Drum and guitar solos, rapid-fire raps that end careers or that high, sustained falsetto acapella, these are all skills that require a standing ovation. Appreciation for ability breaks down barriers and clears a path for a genuine expression of awe. As a viewer, when you’ve listened to a song on repeat for the last year and your favourite reactor chooses that song, and you know the significant part is about to start, it’s like fireworks at an award show! We want the reactor to be as enthralled by the artist’s skill set as we are. The reaction video to the music takes it to the next level, a recognition of excellence.
Stories unite us, they are us. The best music is the ones that include subtext into their verses. Those songs are the ones that will withstand the test of time - and technology. Layering is a specific technique used in all creative forms and with reason, it makes people think. Occasionally the reactor interprets the song in their own way. Active listening is also dependent on leaving the bias behind. Clearing out any preconceptions that we have about music or the genre or even the people who listen to those types of music (the Michael Bolton character in Office Space). Words carry meaning and allow us to explore new ideas, concepts and become more open to expanding our views.
Burst the bubble.
Reading the comments is also indicative of how people perceive the videos. They continuously recommend new videos for the reactor to react to, thus including them in their space. Instinctively we want others to share in the great music that we love. We extend an invitation to a part of ourselves that we love, thereby genuinely connecting with another person.
Music transports us through history or launches us into a new direction for the future. Music can be a masterpiece that empowers unity.
What theme song will you choose for your year?
Keep Journaling, Keep Growing.