Looking to learn something new? Whether it’s science, history, music theory, or a new hobby, YouTube has you covered.
While they’re best known for their Crash Course History series– the best friend of every AP World History student in the nation– this educational channel started by none other than the “Vlogbrothers” Hank and John Green (yes, the John Green, who’s proven his talents extend beyond his writing) offers ‘courses’ in Biology, Chemistry, Literature, Astronomy, Economics, Computer Science, Film Criticism…well, if you can name it, it’s likely Crash Course has a series on it. The fast-paced and humorous breakdown of various subjects will entertain students and non-students alike, and if you’re looking to cram information for any reason, there’s few ways to do it this comprehensively.
12Tone is a music theory channel, but it also unpacks various aspects of contemporary pop culture as they relate to music composition. Of course, one of the channel’s recent videos bears the tongue-in-cheek title “You Don’t Need Music Theory”, so let that serve as an example of how 12Tone is far from boring in their analysis of what makes a compelling piece of music. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned expert or know little about how music is read or written; you’ll come for the answers to questions like “why do we love ‘Toto’ by Africa so much?” and stay for thoughtful explanations of rhythm, tempo, motifs, melodies, and notation.
Video essays have exploded as a form of media criticism in recent years, but few people are making them as deftly as Lindsay Ellis, a movie critic armed with a MFA in film studies and a love for renaissance-era animated Disney films. Her videos go into great detail about everything from early-2000s protest music to the cultural influence of Michael Bay’s Transformers series (seriously; she created an entire series which approached film studies through Transformers, and it’s as wild and entertaining a ride as it sounds. She also discusses the process of book publishing, having written the 2020 science fiction novel Axiom’s End.
Techmoan, the moniker taken by blogger and YouTube creator Matthew Taylor, can be described as a “consumer tech reviewer”, but if his over one million subscribers are any indication, his videos go above and beyond your standard technology rundowns. Most of his videos examine vintage audio and communication equipment and explain what went wrong in the case of obscure media formats that never quite made it to market popularity. He published a 45-minute tribute to the Minidisc format, for instance, which failed to take hold in the US but was iconic for a brief several years in Taylor’s side of the Atlantic (he lives in the UK, but as his viewers can attest, his friendly and informational videos appeal to everyone, everywhere, who’s fascinated by technology of both yesteryear and today.)
While UK-based YouTuber and stage actress Abigail Thorn went to school to receive a philosophy degree, her channel’s tagline states, “I’m giving away a philosophy degree for free!” Following the hiking prices of university tuition fees, she decided to start a YouTube channel that seeks to bring classic philosophy teachings from the likes of Hegel, Kant, Descartes, and Plato together with contemporary theory and pop culture, making philosophy accessible to everyone. This is not to say Philosophy Tube is nothing but dead serious; the channel’s 2019 April Fool’s video is called “The Philosophy of Anime” (do with this information what you will.)