There are few things more intoxicating than introducing someone to a band you know they'll love. The YouTube channel TwinsTheNewTrend is that experience distilled.
Friday, "Jolene" was trending on Twitter, and not for anything in particular that Dolly Parton has said or done. People on Twitter were simply charmed by Tim and Fred Williams, two black men in their early twenties from Gary, Indiana who post reaction videos of them hearing particular songs for the first time. Their reaction to hearing "Jolene" for the first time is adorable. Dolly you got it indeed!
Today they posted a reaction to Phil Collins's "In The Air Tonight," which had me waiting on the edge of my seat until they got to the drums. Spoiler alert: they love the drums.
The thing about Tim and Fred is that they are so earnest. It's beautiful, and extremely refreshing. Despite reaching over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube—both twins proudly posted their silver play buttons on Instagram when they received them—the Williams' twins don't seem to have fallen prey to the irony plague that is so pervasive to the online experience. These are two people who have stayed true to the promise of YouTube at its inception. They make low-fi videos with minimal to no editing, offering just a small snapshot into their lives. It's intimate, it feels genuine, and nothing about their opinions or choices of songs to react to make it feel like you're watching people who have relentlessly harnessed their brand.
Young black people have become the tastemakers of the internet. Part of it is because young black people are simply the biggest drivers of online culture, even if their contributions are often uncredited and unrecognized. They made Vine the cultural juggernaut that it was, they're the ones who determine the new slang, the new dances and raise one hit wonders to the level of real, sustained success. Seeing two young black men have such a positive reaction to "Jolene" is like taking a hit of adrenaline—yes, the kids also like the things I like! Dolly Parton doesn't need any help, but there's no clearer sign that her music has stood the test of time than seeing these twins enjoy it.
The world of reaction videos, especially ones made by black men, has not changed so much since the beginning of YouTube. It's one of the few places on the platform that does not feel like it's ten seconds away from a life ending flame war. The content is low effort, but that's the point. The form is about capturing a genuine emotion, a real human experience, rather than telling an exaggerated story with a wink and a nudge for "Story Time" video title, or rambling for hours over unedited video game footage about another YouTuber you don't like.
The channel TwinsTheNewTrend isn't exactly free of politics (why is it so interesting to us that these young black men enjoy rock music?), but it is free of posturing. Tim and Fred are open about what they know and don't know, and they always thank their followers for showing them something new they enjoy. Finding people who are open about not knowing things is rare on the internet as a whole. Tim and Fred remind us all of the joy of learning new things, having new experiences, and not pretending that our journey as seekers of knowledge ended the minute we got a Twitter account.
It's been months since I could ask for the aux cord and show a friend their new favorite song. Tim and Fred Williams are now filling that space for me, one where sharing knowledge is more exciting than proving what you already know.