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Published: Sunday, 7/30/2006

Music video fans have million reasons to like YouTube.com

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo band We Are The Fury is on YouTube.com. Lead singer Jeremy Lublin, right, says he thinks having the music is good for fans. Toledo band We Are The Fury is on YouTube.com. Lead singer Jeremy Lublin, right, says he thinks having the music is good for fans.
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There are more than a million music-related videos, concert performances, and performance pieces on www.YouTube.com.

One million.

To a music fan, it's a bottomless archive of footage that ranges from the kind of music videos they used to play on MTV - back when the music video station actually played music videos - to the visual equivalent of bootlegs, with audience members uploading raw digital footage they recorded at concerts.

The breadth, and depth, of material on the free site is both awesome and a little intimidating. There's material that ranges from classic '70s TV shows featuring bands that broke up a long time ago to current groups like Panic! At the Disco, and OK Go that use the site as a marketing tool to sell their latest songs.

We Are The Fury, a Toledo band that is on the Warped tour and that has a new disc due in September, is on the site with an interview that was recorded at the influential South by Southwest music festival earlier this year. There also are short live clips of the band posted on the site.

"It's kind of neat," Jeremy Lublin, the band's lead singer, said in a phone interview from the tour.

"You get to see a performance, kind of like a new kind of bootleg recording. I think bands understand they're done on cameras without the band's permission, but I think they're important to fans. It's just another way to see a band you really love."

Not every artist is crazy about it, though.

Rob Suchan, a Sylvania native whose band Koufax has its video to the song "Isabelle" on the site along with a few performance clips, said he likes the idea that fans can watch the video, which has never aired in the U.S.

His problem with the site, though, is that the artists have no control over what's posted, which allows it to play to culture's more "voyeuristic" elements.

"Fans and mainly music lovers have access to so much information and it's kind of terrifying because if it's a [bad] performance by me or a [bad] performance by the band, I can't control the content that's put up there," he said.

In addition to the new content, there are hours of old-school clips that make for fascinating viewing. Just a few examples:

  • Annie Lennox and David Bowie performing "Under Pressure" for a Freddie Mercury tribute in which Lennox, replete in a beautiful hoop skirt and racoon-like eye makeup, practically mauls Bowie at the end of the song.

  • 50-Cent's entries include a few anti-50 Cent videos in which he is dissed relentlessly by non-fans for everything from his taste in shoes to his lack of street cred. There's even a video clip that purports to show him performing at teenage girl's Bat Mitzvah party, which, if it's true, is about as un-gangsta as you could imagine.

  • Remember Bruce Springsteen's painfully awkward "Dancing in the Dark" video? Well, there's a rehearsal clip of him practicing for it that is quite possibly the most embarrassing dance routine a big-name artist has ever had committed to video. You picture Springsteen's kids rolling on the floor in paroxysms of laughter at seeing the old man cop some very '80s poses.

  • For a person who came of age listening to music in the '70s, the site's an endless source of fascination. There are old clips of KISS on the Tom Snyder show, great stuff of the J. Geils Band in their prime on the British show "The Old Grey Whistle Test," and lots of vintage Bob Dylan pieces, including a neat film of him and Johnny Cash playing "One Too Many Mornings" in the studio.

    The downside of YouTube.com is in the wildly varying quality - both audio and video - of the material. The fan-produced shots from concerts often are fuzzy and the sound is horrible, as if the band is playing through a tin can.

    Also, you need a high-speed Internet connection or the pleasure of popping up the various clips quickly fades while you're waiting around for videos to load.

    The site allows you to search by artist name and create your own list of favorites that is available to you when you log-on. With a million entries and growing, that's a pretty handy feature.

    Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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