Their genuine and endearing reactions hit the right nerve with other music fans on the internet.
Twin brothers Tim and Fred Williams can now proudly say that they played some part in driving Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" back into the music charts nearly 40 years after its release. The 22-year-old YouTubers recently filmed themselves listening to Collins' 1981 single for the first time and were absolutely blown away by the artist's genius. Their genuine and endearing reactions — dropped jaws, head bobbing, rapt attention to the beats, and dumbstruck smiles — are so relatable that it hit the right nerve with other music fans on the internet.
If you are feeling especially bummed out, fully exhausted by the contents of your home or your own mind, take a moment to watch the 21-year-old twins Tim and Fred Williams listen to Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight,” from 1981. https://t.co/2fAfxZZ8yo— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) August 9, 2020
"Hold on, I didn’t prepare for this. I have to prepare," Tim says at one point, pretending to put on an imaginary seatbelt. However, his fictional seatbelt failed to serve its purpose when the brothers heard the pounding drum break. Their bodies slammed back in their black leather computer chairs as they at each other in shock, in complete awe of Collins' mastery. "That was cold!" Fred exclaims. "I ain't ever see nobody drop a beat three minutes in a song!" Since being uploaded to YouTube late last month, their video has been viewed over six million times, contributing to the song's return to popularity.
According to CNN, the siblings from Gary, Indiana, often film themselves listening to classic artists for the first time and share the clips on YouTube. Previously they've reacted to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," and Dolly Parton's "Jolene," which reached Parton's eyes earlier this month. No point in begging… Jolene already stole these two, she tweeted at the time. However, it was their reaction to Collins' slow-burning single that served as their big break on YouTube.
Phil Collins has reached #2 on the iTunes Charts with his 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight.” pic.twitter.com/GaAkzsqef8— Travis Akers (@travisakers) August 11, 2020
Meanwhile, according to The New York Times, reaction videos to music have become quite popular on social media in recent times. While some show people reacting to genres of music unfamiliar to them, others feature older people reacting to more modern songs. Although the reactions sometimes tend to be staged for dramatic effect, the Williams twins say theirs are honest. Explaining why younger generations aren't as familiar with golden oldies, Ebro Darden, the global head of hip-hop and R&B at Apple Music, said, "The algorithm is built around user behavior. As more consumption options became available for music lovers, platforms got narrower and more targeted."
Phil Collins' song "In the Air Tonight" is back on the music charts nearly 40 years after its release, thanks to a viral YouTube video. https://t.co/McforQkaoM— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 16, 2020
"You are beholden to a platform, whether it is a radio station or a streaming service, whether it is a human curation or an algorithmic curation, but you can go into these services and start looking around," he added. "People will have to do a little digging," chimed Ray Heigemeir, the public services librarian for music at the Stanford Music Library. "Today, people want to pick something and have it done for them."
A video of 21-year-old twins listening and reacting to Phil Collins’s 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight” for the first time has reverberated around the internet this week. Here’s what their popularity tells us about music discovery in the age of streaming. https://t.co/RgVB4FE72L— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 13, 2020
"The more you use the app the more personalized the app becomes for you," explained Lizzy Szabo, a Spotify playlist editor. "The personalization is trying to serve you things you might have a connection with but it takes the effort of the listener to decide what they want out of Spotify." Speaking of the Williams twins, Christopher Washburne — a Grammy-award-winning professor of music at Columbia University — likens them to a modern version of a fanzine.
Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight" back on the charts after 40 years!? Okay, 2020 👏🏼 finally some good news. https://t.co/B727mkisSG— SoundHound (@SoundHound) August 13, 2020
"They are turning on their peers to music of their parents’ generation and showing them how and what to appreciate," said Washburne. "They are emotional guides giving us instruction and how to feel." He explained that the twins, who are fans of rap and hip-hop, are also getting history lessons about their favorite genres through their reaction videos. "They are actually listening to the roots and history of their own music because many of the songs that they listen to are sampled in hip-hop songs," he said. "The white artists they listen to are often performing music co-opted by white people. In some ways, what they are doing is co-opting the music right back."