Much like the classic mixtape, a new art form has emerged from the ashes of the much-loved video platform
Most of us have pretty much never lived our adult lives without the internet. It’s affected us in innumerable ways – some good, some very bad – and despite not really knowing what a world without it looks like, it still continues to surprise us. In our Extremely Online series, we explore the apps, trends, subcultures, and all the other weird stuff the internet continues to offer.
Cruelly neglected by its sugar daddy Twitter, the short-form video platform Vine shut down for good January 17 2017, much to the disappointment of fans of excessive bass boosting and Spongebob Squarepants. Mourning the loss of fresh, high concept, whip-sharp fast comedy, most turned to YouTube, where people were already archiving the most iconic, face-hurtingly funny of Vines. These YouTube compilations, generally created while Vine was still alive and well, were 10-minute selections from about a given month of uploads on the app. They were heavily monetised and bookended by obnoxious movie editor stock intros and crap music. This was the digital petri dish from which the bacteria of vlogger Nash Grier and the Paul brothers festered and spread. With Vine shutting off the tap as it were, these styles of videos stopped appearing for the most part, and Vine’s breakout stars jumped ship to create their own longer form YouTube content.
But if the algorithm, FBI agent, or reptilian globalist behind your browsing habits is anything like mine, you’ll have seen another type of Vine comp in the YouTube recommended section. Videos with deadpan, cumbersome titles like “Underrated and overrated Vines that redeem me” and “Vines that get me friggin jazzed”. For the most part, the awkwardly preplanned “skits” that plagued Vine’s comedy section are gone, and instead, these compilations celebrate the head scratching, esoteric underbelly of Vine that was always there. Like obsessive DJs scouring record shops for old overlooked 12”s, introducing oddities to mainstream audiences and recontextualising classics, these uploaders have turned the Vine compilation into a different beast, unique from the platform itself, a kind of midway point between internet art and mixtape.
Similar to constructing a decent mixtape for a friend or crush, there’s a few things you should bear in mind if you want to create a fire Vine compilation to share with the world. Hold on to your croissants.
COMPILATION TITLES MUST BE UNFATHOMABLY NICHE, DRIPPING IN IRONY
If you want to get some traffic rolling in, you’ll need to pick your title wisely. It’s difficult to describe the tone you should try to emulate, but it’s essentially a kind of sleepy post-irony – just scan some @dril tweets to get a flavour. There’s also a soothing familiarity and repetition to these videos, and some of the titles speak to that self-care utility, referencing how they might help assuage symptoms of anxiety or depression. If you’re struggling, here’s some I made earlier:
‘Vines that really boil my hot dog’
‘good Vines if you’re going thru tough times’
‘rare Vines that saved my soul from the devil’s clutches’
‘okay, good, and underrated Vines compilation’
‘Vines that cleared my acne’
VINE-MINING IS VITAL
The market has been flooded in the past six months, so if you want your comp to really slap and do big numbers, you’ll have to study the competition, and do some Vine-mining of your own. The app is still running as an archive-cum-memorial of saved Vines, so if you dig hard enough, you can still find some hidden gems that no-one has seen before. Who knows? You might discover the next Peanut Butter-Slathered Toddler.
CRAFT THE PERFECT RUNNING ORDER
This is an essential rule for most collections of art – how do your Vines fit together? Do you want to hit them with a few classics at the start to ease them in before the weird shit? Do you want your compilation to tell a story? Could there be a thematic link between the Shetland Pony tip toein’ in his Jordans and the old dudes in the playground yelling “I’m a cowboy, baby!”? Recording and visual artists think hard about the movement of their work before releasing an album or presenting a collection: you should too. It occurs to me now that I may be overthinking something that defies satisfactory analysis, but we’ve come this far, and you’re still reading, so let’s just power through, shall we?
HONING IN ON THE PERFECT VINE COMP LENGTH
Shooting straight from the hip here, just so you don’t have to: I watch Vine compilations when I’m sitting on the toilet. It’s okay. We all do. It struck me during one of these trips to the WC that the length of the average bowel movement is actually a decent yardstick to consider when you’re figuring out how long to make your compilation. Generally, over five minutes so it feels substantial, but any more than 10 and you run the very real risk of leg cramps – sorry, boredom.
PULL OUT THE BIG VINE GUNS SPARINGLY
Unless you’re mad boring or a Tory or something, you don’t go out to a nightclub to listen exclusively to songs you’ve already heard before. Ideally you want a decent mix of new shit and classics to keep you excited if you’re flagging. Alcohol and drugs will probably push the ratio heavily towards classics but my point still stands. Here are some examples of heavy-hitter vines from my forthcoming selection Now! That’s What I Call Classic Vines: