Seeking happiness amongst the world’s biggest #content dump
Youtube isn’t just the place that everyone goes to watch literally anything that can be uploaded and/or slip though their content copyright detection system. It’s also the world’s second biggest search engine in terms of the volume of searches and time spent searching, although of course, it only searches Youtube content, and not the wider web.
Youtube processes over three billion searches a month, and while a large proportion of them are #teens simply finding the latest #content from Youtubers complaining at narcissistic length about how unfair it is that they are being demonetised, surely most people are simply searching for stuff that makes them happy.
One of the more unfortunate quirks of Youtube is the way that the keywords that algorithms recognise have bled over into the titles of the video - resulting in the Youtube snake eating its own tail and people now produce low-grade, shock-filled videos for kids with content that is designed to fit the titles... which have been generated by an algorithm to attract the attention of viewers.
Thus, children are now treated to videos with titles like "Bad Kids & Learn Colors Giant Watermelon Finger Family Song Nursery Rhymes | Learning Video For Kids.” and we are slowly being programmed to search for things in ways that mimic how the algorithm thinks, and not the other way around.
But if you wanted to find something that made you happy on Youtube, what happens when you simply started with than the word… “happy”? MONTAG wanted to know if some simple searches for happiness actually made us feel happier. So we typed in some basic happiness-seeking search terms, filtered the results by Play Count, and investigated further.
Youtube Search Term: “Happy”
NOTES: This is the simplest starting point. What is happier than “happy”?
Ranking: 1 - Pharrell Williams - Happy (Official Music Video) - 5Bn views
Of course the utterly inescapable “Happy” tops this search term. It’s been played enough - a ludicrous five billion times - to suggest that people like playing it a lot and that these people feel happier as a result. The video is filled with people who genuinely look as if they are overflowing with joy as they dance along to a song that is essentially weaponised happiness. Pharrell, dressed at one point as a sort of Happiness Boy Scout, bludgeons the viewer into a pleasure coma with a melody and lyric so simple and so effective, it’s hard to believe there was a time when it did not exist. MONTAG was not immune and felt approximately 200% happier after watching this video - and it’s not even Pharrell’s best song, either.
Ranking: 2 - Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines ft. T.I., Pharrell - 568M views
Astonishingly, Pharrell features in the second-highest-viewed “Happy” video too, making him the World’s Happiest Man. Sadly, he features in a video with the World’s Sleaziest Man, Robin Thicke, in a video that reduces women to beautiful ornaments and thus is possibly The World’s Most Demeaning Video.
It’s a good song, but all happiness is drained by Thicke’s presence. However, help is at hand: the song was legally proven to have been *extremely similar* to Got To Give lt Up by Marvin Gaye, which is a) a better song and b) guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Ranking: 4 - Pharrell Williams - Happy (Official Music Video) - 414M views
Pharrell must have accidentally uploaded the video to ‘Happy” twice by mistake, and thus garnered another ½ Bn views on a different account. Bad SEO, but still a big glut o’ happy.
Ranking: 8 - If You're Happy | Super Simple Songs - 324M views
This song and video manages to simplify the song "If You're Happy And You Know It” and claims to allow kids to “practice the emotions happy, angry, scared, and sleepy with this super fun song.” MONTAG wonders whether sleepiness is a legit emotion to include in this list when it could actually be an indicator of Thyroid disease, but there’s no doubt that this video represents a Happiness Dichotomy: while small children will take lots of happiness from repeatedly singing along to this video, their long-suffering parents will soon start to lose their minds.
Ranking: 9 - Ed Sheeran - Happier (Official Video) - 268M views
STATUS UPDATE: MONTAG Happiness Levels report a sudden 200% drop and a simultaneous 250% increase in dreariness. Emergency action required.
Ranking: 17 - Thomas Rhett - Die A Happy Man - 180M views
OK, we’re done here.
Youtube Search Term: “Make me happy”
NOTES: These darn Millennials are such navel-gazers, they would surely DEMAND it from their default thought-leader, Youtube, right?
Ranking: 1 - Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You - 539M views
Nothing to see here, move along please: this song and video are pure, uncut, happiness-inducing Xmas Fayre that has caused spontaneous singing, drinking, hugging and dancing at Christmas parties every December since 1994. It’s one of humanity’s greatest net happiness contributors, and is unimpeachable. Don’t even try to disagree.
Ranking: 6 - You are my Sunshine - 31M views
Surely, this is one of the most charming quirks of circumstance on Youtube. Back in 2008, Youtube user DjRoguefire uploaded folk singer Elizabeth Mitchell’s version of classic feel-good ditty You Are My Sunshine, and accompanied it with various stock images of sunsets and smily faces as a cheesy love-tribute to his girlfriend Erica. And then it somehow got played 31 million times. In 11 years, DjRoguefire has uploaded a total of five videos, and the second highest play count is, at 17,000 plays, not quite as popular.
You Are My Sunshine is a song that has been covered by about a million artists since it was written in 1939, and is a classic feel-good song. Coupled with the cute backstory, this might be the Last Pure Happy Corner Of Youtube. Score: 10/10.
Ranking 7 - Things That Make Me Happy - 27M views
Is MONTAG immediately cynical about a video titled “Things That Make Me Happy”, complete with a thumbnail of someone pulling Youtube Face, uploaded by WASSABI (sic) Productions and featuring “humorous skits” performed by two self-obsessed baby-faced try-hards who equate “funny” with “making loud noises”? Yes.
Was MONTAG right to be cynical? Yes.
Did it make us happy? *smash cut to wildly gurning 19-year-old’s face with “NO, LOL” written on it in Magic Marker*
Ranking 19 - 99% CHANCE that these BABIES Will MAKE YOU LAUGH! - Funny KIDS videos - 9M views
Thankfully, content-scraping supremos BabiezTV has scoured the internet for all the #content that they don’t own the copyright to and successfully flood our eyeballs with totez adorbz content featuring toddlers doing loveably funny stuff, proving that even content aggregation farms can spark joy.
Youtube Search Term: “Am am so happy”
NOTES: Maybe we can find inspirational videos of people who are so happy that they simply had to share their unique moment of joy with the world!
Ranking: 1, 3, 4 and 8 - Pharrell Williams - Happy - billions and billions and billions of views
Christ, Pharrell, give everyone else a chance, will you? Take the day off or something. Read a book.
Ranking: 2 - Nirvana - “Lithium” - 157M views
Erm, right. I mean, fair enough, the first lyric in this song is “I’m so happy…” but it also refers to possibly killing the subject of the lyric. Lithium is used as a drug to treat people with Major Depressive Disorder. Plus, it’s Nirvana, who were not noted for their knock-about larks and jaunty happiness, despite grinning like loons in a surprising percentage of their photographs.
Ranking: 14 - Brain Breaks - Action Songs for Children - Happy Dance - Kids Songs by The Learning Station - 4.7M views
This video features a bunch of grinning #teens dancing along with an extremely jovial older gentleman, and dancing a cheerful dance. MONTAG tried the dance moves out and can confirm that they do immediately induce a rush of happiness and rosy-cheeked giggling. It feels like our brains were somehow hacked by a kindly grandad. Recommended.
Ranking: 15 - Reacting to MARBLE MACHINE COVERS - This made me so happy! - 4M views
MONTAG is utterly conflicted. On one hand, we continue to love the Wintergaten marble machine. On the other, this is a *Reaction Video* - AKA the lowest form of video #content available in humanity’s most conniving toolbox. Yet, this is the only video that has fulfilled our aim of finding someone sharing their own happiness in a video.
Martin, the hirsute Marble Machine guy, bobs his head and grins as he and we watch a bunch of people cover the song from his original Wintergaten video. Happiness is indeed infectious, but sometimes the net increase is in the fractions of a percentage. A very qualified success.
Ranking: 18 - Sting - I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying - 2.3M views
And lo, in one fell swoop, Sting, sporting the most completely ridiculous haircut in his long career of sporting ridiculous haircuts, destroys all the happiness we built up on our quest in one three-minute pop video in which he rides a shimmering silver horse through a small town and sings a song that is so M.O.R., it has a white stripe all the way along it.
At one point Sting ascends to heaven, holding his arms out, Jesus-like, before returning to earth on his f*cking horse to interrupt a barn dance attended by a mixture of rednecks and bug-eyed alien Greys. When the song ended, Youtube autoplayed “Englishman in New York.” Everything is awful.
MONTAG’s Learning: when it comes to happiness, Youtube giveth, and Youtube taketh away; and is aided and abetted by Sting.