Since Netflix got the modern world used to binge watching, it’s gotten harder to wait for new TV episodes, films, books, and video games. To compensate for the void between seasons of Doctor Who and Sherlock, the nine-year gap between the last two Potterverse films, and the unpredictable schedule slips of video game sequels, some fans have taken it upon themselves to give the masses something to enjoy. Add this to the influx of out of work musical theater grads, and we’ve wound up with inevitable new head canons, which become head canons specifically because we can’t get their songs out of our heads. So let’s take a look at five of the best YouTube musical parody channels to keep us singing while we wait for our next obsessions to dance back into our lives.
5. Not Literally
The team behind musical parody channel Not Literally lost a lot of momentum after cofounder Ginny DiGuiseppi left in 2014 and haven’t posted a video in the past year, but they were so good back in the day that they get to be on this list anyway. Unlike the other channels on this list, they mostly did fandom-themed parodies of preexisting songs, including three Harry Potter themed parodies to tunes by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha. Their cosplay was always on point, and Ginny DiGuiseppi and Dana Ritterbusch’s voices were smoother than Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor sharing a chocolate mousse.
And speaking of Sherlock and The Doctor…
AVbyte was everywhere a couple of years ago, filming one-shot musical parodies and social commentaries in various locations around New York City. While they’re still around, they update more sporadically these days, with their most recent music video having been released four months ago. The team of NYU alumni occasionally collaborated with other channels such as Honest Trailers and Miranda Sings, but they shined the most when recording original tributes to pop culture, including Doctor Who, Sherlock, and the entire Disney Princess franchise. With spot on characterizations and voices to make their alma mater proud, it’s worth spending a weekend binge watching their channel.
Now that the one-shot channels are out of the way, let’s look at ones providing larger musical projects, starting with…
3. Undertale the Musical
Can you believe it’s been a whole three articles since I’ve mentioned indie RPG Undertale? I’ve already featured an interview with Alex Beckham, the Man on the Internet and brains behind Undertale the Musical on this site, but it’s such an epic project that it deserves repeating here. Unlike most parody musicals which take the existing source material and poke gentle fun at it, the Undertale the Musical team has taken a serious musical theater approach to Undertale, taking the main pacifist story line and game creator Toby Fox’s original score and turning it into a full-fledged theater script. It’s at #3 because the videos, as of yet, are only audio recordings (sung by a large group of perfectly cast voice actors) accompanied by artwork. But the project is still a must-see for every self-identifying Undertale Trash.
And while we’re on the subject of video game musicals…
2: Random Encounters
Random Encounters is yet another channel I’ve featured on this site before, albeit in a lesser capacity than Man on the Internet. Featuring a central cast of actors and writers as well as a rotating cast of featured YouTubers (Markiplier in particular can carry a tune surprisingly well for someone known mainly for yelling at video games on webcam), their musicals tend to be only loosely based on the original source material, including not-so-scary reinterpretations of indie horror game Five Nights at Freddy’s (see above) and Resident Evil. Catchy, creative, and hilariously sung and acted, their channel is worth a listen for game enthusiasts and passing fans alike (and yes, they do have an Undertale tribute).
And if you want even funnier fan musicals loosely based on source material, check out our number one channel…
Many of you probably knew Starkid would end up on this list at some point. How could they not? They’re practically the codifier of fan musicals, with the cast and crew appearing in packed panels at conventions and launching the career of Glee and Broadway actor Darren Criss. To date, the University of Michigan alumni have done fully staged parodies of Star Wars, Aladdin, and Oregon Trail among others as well as two original musicals called Me and My Dick and Starship, the latter of which won the Best New Work award at the 2011 Broadway World Chicago Awards. However, their best known work is still the three-part series that made them true star kids, their hilarious and meme-tastic take on the Harry Potter franchise, A Very Potter Musical, A Very Potter Sequel, and A Very Potter Senior Year. Bonus points if you walk away shipping Quirrelmort and quoting Umbridge’s delightfully hammy, “You have to be more than a man. You have to be a WOMAN!”