The Scourge of Vine Cover Artists

by Helen Holmes

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The most popular Vine vertical, by far, is the comedy page, wherein inexplicably famous mostly male young people produce inexplicably adored six-second clips of themselves rehashing inexplicably popular memes in order to make a quick (and massive) buck. Some of these Vines are barely tolerable, and some of them are very bad. But the worst Vines, aside from the ones featuring a man peeing into his own mouth or white kids spewing actual hate speech, are singing Vines. At least selfies are silent.

YouTube, whose oft-successful manner of musical content production — wherein people with good voices attempt to crowdsource fame (see: Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly) — spawned this behavior, is the perfect arena for discovering blossoming Grammy winners before they blow up. Listening to Tori Kelly is like listening to a flawless Disney Princess with a little bit of twang, and she can play the guitar with a deftness that’s impressive to anyone who picked up the instrument for five minutes in high school but quickly got frustrated (guilty). She’s adorable, and has just released a crop of original songs that sound nowhere near as good as she does, alone in her bedroom, belting Michael Jackson.

But can you imagine anything worse than a pitchy Mariah imitation on a six-second infinite loop, repeating until the sun explodes?

To trace the origins of the most unbearable singers on Vine, it’s necessary to revisit Karmin, a boyfriend-girlfriend duo who first took the Internet by storm four years ago with their cover of Busta Rhymes’ “Look At Me Now,” which currently has just over ninety-seven million views. Seated behind an electric keyboard, Amy Heidemann, the female half of Karmin, adopts a nasally tone as she sings the song’s complete set of lyrics off of cue cards. I’m ashamed to say that I was enamored with this video when I first saw it: There was something intoxicating about seeing a beautiful, impeccably made-up white woman nail every syllable of an extremely complicated rap. For reasons that are all too obvious to me now, I remember thinking: I could totally do that.

Time passed, and Amy bleached her hair, and Karmin released a crop of modestly successful, highly produced pop fare (“Brokenhearted” is actually a pretty decent jam). Most recently, the heterosexual pair can be found talking about how eager they are to get married. “I want our wedding to be a gay wedding. Gay weddings are more fun than straight weddings,” Heidemann said. Their success, one of the purest indications of the power of internet popularity, is almost directly responsible for the insipid crap now circulating in droves on Vine under the hashtag #6secondcover.

The six-second cover, an idea which has since exploded to include everyone with a Vine account compelled to croon a few bars, is, both formally interesting and troublesome. Filming in the safety of home makes doing an acoustic or acapella cover of any song very simple, and this opportunity has compelled hundreds of thousands of musicians, primarily white ones, to use social media to broadcast their knowledge of “Ignition (Remix)” and the like. As Judnick Mayard recently put it: “Being black is the coolest thing because it is currently (and always has been) the most dangerous thing to be in this country.”

Us the Duo, the faulty grammar of which burns me to my core, are the worst. In the mold first hewn by Karmin, the band consists of a pair of good looking white heterosexual adults breaking their backs to cover Top 40 hits as soon as they come out.Vine Wiki has a concise and helpful explanation of Us the Duo’s career:

Us the Duo posted their first vine under the hashtag #6secondscover. The vines they posted were covers of Destiny Child and The Neighbourhood. The account gained over 1M followers within 30 days of their first post. Following major success on Vine, Republic Records signed Us The Duo with them and released their first studio album “No Matter Where You Are”. The album became #9th on the Itunes Pop Album Chart and Top 30 in the overall Album Charts. The group have been to various interviews and shows from Oprah to Good Morning America.”

Vine’s format makes them infinitely more infuriating. Seated close together behind, yes, an electric keyboard, the two cram their mouths into the iPhone camera’s tiny frame as they beatbox and harmonize their way through classics such as Fall Out Boy’s “Uma Thurman” and “I Don’t Like It, I Love It” by Flo Rida (Ft. Robin Thicke). Since this is Vine, these twee clips of course loop endlessly.

I hate you, Us the Duo. Go bother your miserable extended families at Christmas with this garbage. In conclusion, Zayn saved my life.