I waste a lot of time on YouTube, mostly watching music videos. I often search for covers of songs that I've loved for years - it's fun to hear a fresh take on something familiar and to think about all the ways in which it's better or worse than the original.
I love this cover of It's a Sin by a band called Metric. The piano line is elegantly simple and the vocals are as close to the original's coolness as one could probably get without the upscale British accent. I remember asking friends in the 1980s, back in school, where they really did teach me how to be "so pure in thought and word and deed", what the hell could the phrase "Pet Shop Boys" possibly mean. I assumed it was an idiomatic expression that I didn't know.
Of all the other Metric songs that YouTube suggested to me once it figured out that I liked their Pet Shop Boys cover, this one was the best.
I've loved Frente!'s cover of Bizarre Love Triangle ever since it came out more than 20 years ago. I wouldn't say that I love this Nouvelle Vague version of it, but it was enough to pique my interest in Nouvelle Vague. Here's a song by Mélanie Pain, one of their singers. Except for the cheap particle-board books and CDs case in the corner of the room, everything in that video is perfect: Mélanie's cute turtle-like face, her regal air and pose, the vocals, the piano, the editing. This guitar version, with the same guy, is only slightly worse.
The second singer in Nouvelle Vague's Bizarre Love Triangle video above is a Cuban-American woman named Liset Alea. This and this are pretty good.
Getting back to Frente!, I really enjoyed this song by Angie Hart. She's aged really well and the accent is adorable.
Here's a good cover of one of the coolest Weezer songs ever, The World Has Turned and Left Me Here. And here's the original.
I'm interested in nerdiness as a subject. Not all nerds are. The best lyrical evocation of nerdiness that I know of is contained in this Weezer song: "In the garage I feel safe, no one cares about my ways. In the garage, where I belong, no one hears me sing this song."
My favorite Weezer song is The Good Life though. And my favorite thing of theirs that I first heard on YouTube, as opposed to a cassette or CD that I bought, is this live version of Pork and Beans.
Switching gears completely, I love This I Love by G n' R. This is a weird thing to say, but those vocals made me think of captain Jack Aubrey. It's the combination of earnestness and a vague piratical quality.
Recently I stumbled on this Go-Go's concert video from 1981. Every MTV victim from the 1990s, and I presume the 1980s too, would recognize it as the source of the official We Got the Beat video, but I've never seen the whole show until YouTube.
My favorite part of it is the tiny snippet of a song called Fading Fast which starts a little after the 15:55 mark and then recurs twice after the 16:43 mark. "You can talk about old times (yesterday is gone), they don't mean a thing to me", but it's not the lyrics of course that make that great, but Belinda's and Jane's tones of voice, especially Jane's. It's a magical moment.
This makes me think of great snippets of songs in general. Throughout my adolescence my favorite such thing was the 0:38 to 0:49 part of the Beatles' When I'm Sixty-Four, which recurs from 1:34 to 1:46 with a variation. It's the cozy, sad and sober cuteness of it.
Later, and for many years, my favorite song snippet was the 2:01 to 2:22 portion of the Cranberries' Disappointment, the second half of it more than the first. As with all music, you have to hear it a handful of times to start appreciating it properly.
Moving back to the Go-Go's concert video, a song called Automatic is very good, as is Lust to Love and many others. All the Go-Go's were cute in their own ways, except for Charlotte, who was probably the best musician. Belinda was the most beautiful one though, and a great performer. I love the choruses in this post-Go-Go's song which Charlotte wrote for her.