uTunes: Dry September, “Back to Birmingham”

January 21, 2008

Review: One of my friends introduced me to this LA band called “Dry September.” You can visit their MySpace page here and download their music for free. You can also buy the entire CD here.

I love their music. Lead singer, David Tokaji, has a killer voice. The video below contains their original song, “Back to Birmingham.”  There’s also a “One” cover video, but the audio is not as clear.

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If you like the music, visit Dry September’s MySpace page (download the music for free) and email the link to your friends.  Thanks! 


uTunes: Ingrid Michaelson “The Way I Am” on YouTube

November 2, 2007

I love this singer. Ingrid Michaelson, who is more of a presence on MySpace, is really fantastic — I can’t believe a major label hasn’t signed her yet! What are they waiting for?

Her music has been included in an Old Navy commercial and on Grey’s Anatomy. Her music sells, pretty well, on iTunes. She keeps 2/3 of the $.99 for each download, much more than she would get if under contract with a music label. You can listen to an NPR interview of Ingrid here.


uTunes music Monday: Bobby Thompson, “Ireland”

September 24, 2007

News: I will be making a more concerted effort (no pun intended) to feature talented amateur musicians. I’ve been doing this already (in my posts called uTunes), but I will try to make it a regular Monday feature (maybe every other week, if not weekly). To be honest, it’s been hard to find a steady crop of talented singers on YouTube after Terra Naomi and Esmee. I will keep trying, though.

Today’s featured artist is Bobby Thompson. He just joined YouTube and just posted his original song, “Ireland.”

Analysis: So far, male amateur artists have not hit it as big from YouTube as the women. I like the tone of this guy’s voice. Very clear, and a catchy, lyrical tune.


Wall Street Journal exposes YouTube singer Marie Digby as already signed Disney artist

September 6, 2007

News:  The Wall Street Journal has a front page article exposing YouTube singer Marie Digby as a fake of sorts.   She is a fake amateur. 

The WSJ uncovered the fact that Digby had a recording contract with Disney’s Hollywood Records back in 2005.  Digby, however, never revealed her professional status on her YouTube channel or MySpace page, nor did Hollywood Records on its YouTube channel.

Analysis:  Being accused of being a “fake amateur” singer–wow, now that’s interesting.  I guess it’s better to be an amateur on YouTube than a professional singer. 

This is much different from the “lonelygirl” incident where the question was whether the person was real or fictitious.  Here, there’s no doubt Marie Digby is a singer and a real person, so I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Why is the Wall Street Journal spending front page coverage to this story?  It’s only helping spread publicity for Marie Digby (which seems counter to the thrust of the WSJ article).

UPDATE:  I answer in another post whether Marie Digby did anything wrong.


uTunes: The Bec and Ross show on YouTube

June 21, 2007

Two drama students in Singapore: Rebecca (“Bec,” her real name is Rebecca Louise Burch) and Rossalina (“Ross” for Rossalina Nasir). The best amateur duet I’ve heard so far on YouTube. They haven’t posted on YouTube in a while, but here are their videos. Their most popular song is this fantastic cover of Torn.

UPDATE: The more I listen to this duo, the more amazing I think they are.  Great voices, but they are controlled and never over-sing.  Some label should sign them!  (Where’s Justin Timberlake?) Here’s a moving rendition of Linger, sung with some friends before graduation, and a soft, sweet duet of Leaving on a Jet Plane. If you live in Singapore, you can see The Bec and Ross show weekly on Wednesday at a bar called “Hideout” at 31b Circular Road and other places. If you don’t live in Singapore, they say that they’ll be back posting on YouTube soon.


Blake Lewis saves American Idol (+ The Utube Blog)

May 17, 2007

I’ve been grading law school exams, so it’s a good time to grade myself (and take a slight diversion from YouTube). Back in February (see here), I made my predictions for the Top 5 Finalists on American Idol out of 24 contestants. It’s sort of an annual guessing game I play in trying to predict who will win Idol months before the winner is selected and usually after only seeing the contestants once. This year, from the final 24, I correctly predicted 4 of the eventual Top 6. That’s not bad.

But, unfortunately, the two that I didn’t pick were the last two women standing, Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks. I admit I made a big mistake in not selecting Jordin (I selected the one-hit wonder Stephanie Edwards instead). I never quite understood the fascination, though, with Melinda, the media’s and the judges’ absolute favorite this year. Yesterday, Melinda was booted in what the media called a “shocker.” I was only shocked that she lasted this long.

Truthfully, this year of American Idol has been pretty forgettable. Some have called it the worst Idol ever. That’s probably true. The guy who has made it halfway interesting is Blake Lewis, who can “beat box” (for those of you who don’t know, it’s basically making sounds like a record scratching and other hip hop/house music noises) in the middle of his singing. Blake’s beat box version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” (also here) was the most creative thing ever on Idol.

Blake Lewis also salvaged my predictions this year, since I had him in the Final 2. That keeps my string of predicting at least one of the final 2 contestants going, now for 5 years and running. I goofed up, though, in predicting the winner, since my girl (Lakisha Jones) is already out. I’m definitely slipping. Oh well.


Esmee Denters recording in Sweden + Philly

May 9, 2007

I am Esmee Denters, part 2: “press”

April 14, 2007

Esmee Denters plays piano on YouTube, with better equipment

March 11, 2007

So here’s what Esmee Denters sounds like playing the piano on YouTube, recorded with better sound equipment. All I can say is wow. I knew she was good, but she’s even better than I thought. Amazing. This is the best video Esmee has made so far, by far.

For all of The Utube Blog’s posts on Esmee, visit here.


uTunes: Is Gina Moffit the next YouTube idol?

March 5, 2007

By now, most YouTube followers have heard of Esmee Denters and Mia Rose, two of the most popular wannabe singers on YouTube today. (And, of course, Terra Naomi is sort of in her own league.)

But you may not have heard of Gina Moffit. At least, not yet. You will. Here’s one of her original songs, “Waiting Game.” Even though her webcam was experiencing some audio problems (you’ll have to turn up the volume), you should be able to hear Gina’s sweet voice.  The tone of her voice is so pleasant to listen to, but what I really love is the occasional edge to her voice.  I’m not sure that’s the correct technical term, but you can hear it at 1:11, 1:05, :53, :32, :19, and :14 seconds left on the video.  More of Gina’s videos are here.


The Esmee Denters interviews

March 4, 2007

News: TV stations in the Netherlands have been lining up to interview Esmee Denters. In the past week, she’s already had four interviews. She must be becoming something of a national celebrity in the Netherlands.

1. Video of Esmee Denters interview (3 minutes)

2. Video of Esmee Denters interview, with family (6 minutes)

3. Video of Esmee Denters interview, with her singing (9 minutes)

4.  Video of Esmee Denters interview, discussing her trip to US to negotiate record deals (5 minutes) 

Analysis: One of the best parts of the first 2 interviews is the behind-the-scenes look at how Esmee Denters “records” her YouTube videos. It’s quite simple: sit in front of webcam with karaoke music and hit record. That’s it. That’s what’s great about being discovered on YouTube. It’s pretty cheap.  The fourth interview talks more about Esmee’s negotiations with U.S. record labels; she hopes to secure the best deal that allows her the opportunity to write her own songs and call her own shots.  She also says that she wants to continute to post on YouTube.

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Billboard/Reuters article on Esmee Denters and U.S. record labels — will she sign or won’t she?

March 3, 2007

News: Antony Bruno has written an article featuring Esmee Denters, the 18-year-old YouTube singing sensation. It is feutured in this week’s Billboard magazine, with Esmee partially on the cover. It’s also published online for Reuters. The article, titled “YouTube stars don’t always welcome record deals, describes how U.S. record labels have been pursuing Esmee — basically like a pack of high school boys pursuing the prom queen — to sign her to a record label. You can find all of Esmee’s YouTube videos here. Atlantic Records called a local hotel in the small Dutch village where Esmee lives and had the hotel rep track down every single Denters in the phone book. Atlantic Records then called each one of the listings until the employee got Esmee’s surprised mother. According to the article, “Denters has since traveled to the United States and met a veritable who’s who of the music industry’s leading executives, from Jason Flom to Antonio “L.A.” Reid to Tommy Motolla. She has recorded demo tracks with Kelly Rowland and is fielding TV deals with Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

But, so far, Esmee wants to stay on her own. “We may decide not to get together with a label. We may try new stuff. I’ve already accomplished so much on my own, we’d like to see what we can do with that.”

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Esmee Denters reports back about NY meeting w/ music people

February 19, 2007

Fan site promotes Mia Rose

February 8, 2007

Someone named “Fajita” has set up a YouTube account and even a blog, devoted entirely to the 18-year-old singer Mia Rose. Based on all the videos and photos, it appears that “Fajita” was a friend or acquaintance of Mia Rose. One of Fajita’s comments makes it sound like Fajita feels a bit left out in the cold, though: “Because Mia Rose shut down previous Fajita family members, there are only just a few Fajitas left.”


Esmee Denters coming to U.S. to record her music

February 8, 2007

On a blog post on January 22, I predicted “it won’t be long before Esmee [Denters] signs her first recording contract.” Well, Esmee revealed today she’s coming to the U.S. to record music with people who have worked with some great artists. She credits her success to YouTube and her subscribers.


Mia Rose: I’m “the most viewed person ever” on YouTube

January 31, 2007

News:  “I’m YouTube’s Biggest Hit” details the story of teen singer Mia Rose from London.  She’s being represented by Damien Estrich, who runs the channel on YouTube called YourTubeNews.  It’s suggested in the article that Mia Rose may sign with Atlantic Records.

Mia Rose stated, “I can’t believe everything has happened so quickly. I was six when I started singing and I haven’t stopped since.  My passion has always been singing and a couple of my friends told me about YouTube. They said the YouTube community was fantastic and uploading videos would be a great way to promote my music.  Within a matter of weeks I became the most viewed person ever on the site. Next thing I had record companies offering me contracts.  It’s such a fairytale, to think just a month or so ago I was singing on YouTube and now I could be joining artists such as James Blunt and Craig David at one of the biggest record companies in the world.  I can’t wait to introduce the world to my music and I’m itching to get into the studio to start recording.”

Analysis: It’s great to see YouTube discover unknown talent.  I wonder, though, who told Mia Rose that she was “the most viewed person ever.”  I doubt that’s accurate.


uTunes: Mia Rose takes YouTube by storm

January 14, 2007

Here’s Mia Rose singing her original song “Husband to Be.” She’s 18, from London, and can really play the guitar. (Her YouTube videos are here.) She just launched her own website. Within a matter of 3 weeks, Mia Rose has somehow become the No.1 most subscribed singer on YouTube, with over 21,000 subscribers. (There already are some conspiracy theories by Esmee Denters fans.)


Video of the week: the floating umbrella song (by ortopilotmusic)

January 12, 2007

Say it’s possible (on YouTube), by Terra Naomi

January 1, 2007

To start off the New Year, I thought it would be fitting to write about hope and possibility. Terra Naomi is a singer and songwriter whose success provides hope to all wannabe singers and musicians hoping to be discovered on YouTube. (Esmee Denters, are you listening?) Not too long ago, Terra, too, was undiscovered. But then Terra performed her original song, aptly titled “Say It’s Possible,” on YouTube on June 16, 2006. Later that month, YouTube stuck it on its homepage as its featured video. The video now has over 1 million views, and, the rest is, shall we say, history. Just this past month, Terra signed a recording contract with music label Island Records (who produce The Killers, Hoobastank, Melissa Etheridge, Bon Jovi, and others).

But what’s great about Terra Naomi — besides her amazing, angelic voice — is that she has shared her song with other YouTube users, allowing them to cover it and even teaching them how to play the chords in this video. And many, many people from all parts of the world have. Here’s one of the more endearing covers:

That’s not all. Even with her success, Terra makes videos and stays a part of the YouTube community. She made a video of her trip to YouTube’s offices, where she gave an “unplugged” performance of sorts. She also just made a new “official” video of “Say it’s possible,” which she put together from videos sent in to her by YouTubers who answered her question in 3 words or less, “What would you do/want if anything were possible?” Here’s the new video, just posted yesterday — Enjoy:


Esmee Denters hits front page of YouTube

December 28, 2006

So Esmee Denters is starting to hit it big, at least on YouTube. Today, YouTube selected Esmee’s new video of her original song as its top-of-the-page featured video. Unfortunately, the video quality is pretty shoddy, and it appears to stop every few seconds at least on my computer. (The video didn’t run smoothly for me, so I have no opinion on her latest song.) Hopefully, the New Year will bring better technology for Esmee’s music career.

UPDATE: According to one user of YouTube (who posted a video), the huge number of hits and comments on Esmee’s video on the front page of YouTube today shortly after YouTube posted it caused YouTube’s servers to become overloaded (even causing the site to go down for 5 minutes). I haven’t verified this claim, but I did see the message posted by YouTube this afternoon that some functions were temporarily unavailable (which is unusual for a weekday afternoon — most maintenance takes place late at night). And the views on Esmee’s video did go from 50,000 plus when posted to 236,000 plus right now, so there certainly was a lot of traffic to the video. But the even bigger story may be that it appears that a number of YouTube users are making videos of Esmee and her videos. Now that’s buzz, if not a bit overboard.


What Esmee Denters really sounds like

December 27, 2006

Esmee Denters, the YouTube singing sensation from the Netherlands, posts videos of herself singing on her low tech webcam. The sound quality on the webcam leaves a lot to be desired, so you can never really tell just how good Esmee is.

Well, now — finally!!– there are two new videos of Esmee singing parts of her original song, “Figure it out,” on professional equipment. The sound quality is worlds better. Esmee’s never had singing lessons, so just imagine her potential.

Video 1 of Esmee singing on Dutch radio

Video 2 of Esmee singing on Dutch TV


2006: The Year of You

December 11, 2006

News: Jon Pareles has written an article in today’s New York Times titled “2006, Brought to You by You.” In it he analyzes the growing phenomenon of YouTube, MySpace, and other sites that allow users to create content of their own, sometimes mixed in and mashed up with the content of others. This is the so-called “user created” content or peer production. Pareles goes with the classic First Amendment description: “self-expression.” I like that.

Analysis: Hands down, this is the best news article I have read about the YouTube phenomenon. The article deserves several readings. I will try to write several posts about this article over the next few weeks. Today’s post will focus on this wonderfully written paragraph of Pareles:

“It’s often inept, but every so often it’s inspired, or at least worth a mouse click. It has made stars, at least momentarily, of characters like the video diarist Lonelygirl (who turned out to be a fictional creation) and the power-pop band OK Go (whose treadmill choreography earned far more plays than its albums). And now that Web entrepreneurs have recognized the potential for profit, it’s also a sweet deal: amateurs, and some calculating professionals, supply the raw material free. Private individuals aren’t private anymore; everyone wants to preen.”

I think Pareles is exactly right. Most of the “user created” content on YouTube probably would not make anyone’s Top 1,000 list of favorite material, or Top 100,000 list, for that matter. Many of the videos are silly, bordering on inane. But creativity should not always or usually be expected to produce gems. Once in a while, it does. And that’s when you hope that someone in a position to do so can find the “gems” on YouTube or MySpace, and shine the light of public attention on them. Undiscovered talent becomes discovered, all through the Internet.


Lonelygirl15, Jessica Rose, wins VH1 “Big Web Hit” award

December 5, 2006

News:  Internet actress Jessica Rose, who plays lonelygirl15, won the “Big Web Hit of 2006” award on VH1 last night.  Jessica beat out the following competition:

1. OK Go, Here it goes again (cool treadmill video)

2. Fergie, London Bridge

Analysis:  I find it odd to be comparing music videos to a fictional movie-like vlog –they’re apples and oranges.  Given the category, lonelygirl15, no doubt, deserved the award.


Esmee Denters explains herself

November 24, 2006

I’ve already blogged once about Esmee Denters, the 18-year-old singer from the Netherlands with an amazing, soulful voice. Here’s an endearing video of Esmee explaining a little bit about herself. She seems very sweet — she wants to go into social work to help people and, though feeling awkward about talking about herself on video, made this video to respond to her fan emails. One thing I want to know: Do people really say “ya’ll” in the Netherlands?

Related post

For all of The Utube Blog’s articles about Esmee Denters, visit here


Is Esmee Denters the next YouTube idol?

November 20, 2006

Imagine this: an 18-year-old girl in the Netherlands sitting in front of her karaoke machine and singing fearlessly into her low quality webcam. Within just two months, she’s posted 37 videos so far that have drawn over 1.5 million views on YouTube. Each video draws tens of thousands of views within the week it’s posted.

Her name is Esmee Denters (“Ez-May”), and she may well be the most talented, undiscovered singer on YouTube today. Her webcam is pretty shoddy, both in the visual and audio, but her voice is soulful and sweet. You can judge for yourself, Esmee’s latest video clip.

(All videos of Esmee Denters are here.)

Related posts

1.  Esmee Denters explains herself

2.  Esmee Denters’ original song, “Figure it out”


YouTube Underground report: it’s hard to find talent

November 5, 2006

News:  YouTube and Cingular are sponsoring a contest to find unknown musical talent.  It’s called “YouTube Underground.”  You can vote through November 17.

Analysis: This is a great idea, but I’ve been underwhelmed by what’s transpired so far.  First, I’ve found it very difficult even to find the music videos for the contest on YouTube.  You can find them here.  But once you get there, the 2,264 videos appear to be in no particular order and apparently are not searchable at all except by number.  Basically, you have to scroll through and find a title or thumb nail photo that catches your eye.

Well, I did this for the better part of 40 minutes.  But I had little luck in finding any music worth discussing here.  I don’t want to sound like Simon Cowell, but let’s just say there’s a lot of bad music out there.  (My condolences to the judges who have to sit through all 2,264 videos!) 

I did find one video worth mentioning:  Inside Out by the New Orleans band called The Hush.


Free Hug Guy and Sick Puppies on YouTube

September 28, 2006

News:  In Sydney, Australia, a guy named Juan Mann goes around the Pitt Street mall with a sign saying “Free Hugs.”  It may sound a little wacky, but apparently it became a small hit until reportedly police shut it down.  Mann organized a petition getting the necessary 10,000 signatures to continue the dispensing of free hugs to the public. 

This week, a video of the hug fest was posted on YouTube and it quickly became a huge sensation.  As of 10 a.m. today, the video had 849,691 hits and 6,149 comments. Yesterday, it was even shown on Good Morning, America.  The clip is quite slick, and synched with music from the band Sick Puppies, who authorized the use (to promote their music?).  (More from the Sydney Morning Herald

Analysis:  At first, the “Free Hug” guy sounded a little creepy to me.  After watching the video, though, I was won over.  First, it’s a slick production and that always help.  Second, when you see the interaction of the guy with all these different strangers who appear to be happy hugging with smiles on their faces, that can’t be a bad thing.  Of course, I’m assuming that what’s on the video is all a true story!