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Bill Wurtz, in one of his trademark videos.

"I don't remember why I first saw the mountains, but they've always been there. Now that I see them, I'm wondering why they're there. But they're here. I can't climb them."
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Bill Wurtz is an American musician and video creator; his works are distinct in their use of musical jingles and surreal colorful visuals. He initially focused on Vine videos with songs intermingled and had some success there, but eventually expressed a desire to create longer unrestricted videos on his YouTube channel. The result of this was history of japan, which swiftly went viral. After working 11 months on it, he presented the follow up, history of the entire world, i guess.

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His videos provide examples of:

  • Absurdism: Many of his videos are just one or two-word jingles with text flashing on the screen and no real meaning other than to make them.
  • all lowercase letters: Used most of the time in the text of his videos, as well as for his own name.
  • Alphabet Song: He had his own take with "alphabet shuffle", which mixes in his own brand of humor.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Bill's initial videos were relatively simple, consisting of more toned down fonts, colors and graphics. Over time his videos have gained more layers of filters and colors, and more recent videos have incorporated edited real life footage, blue screens and heavily involved mixing.
    • Starting with "here comes the sun", Bill's videos have included 3D graphics and animation in his usual style, owed to him taking a two-year hiatus from making videos in order to learn how to use Blender.
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  • An Aesop: "ball & stick" ends with one about violence being bad, referring to the titular stick bouncing the ball on the wall.
  • Anti-Love Song: One verse of "i like" has this tone.
  • Author Appeal: Love frequently is brought up, as well as the idea of going home or being where you belong. Marijuana and the concept of getting high (both for drugs and in a literal sense) also pop up at times. The concept of being okay, occasionally because of being wealthy, also appears often.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Some videos run on this.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Plastic.
    It tastes really good, and it's real special!note 
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: From "history of japan":
    knock knock. it's the United States, with huge boats (with guns). (gunboats)
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Bill's videos are filled with nonsense lyrics and quirky takes. Then he actually adds music and shows that he's a gifted singer and multi-instrumentalist (playing at least the guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and piccolo). history of japan and history of the entire world, i guess demonstrates he's able to preserve these traits while providing more-or-less accurate history lessons.
    • Music analysts and theorists tend to note Bill has a fairly advanced knowledge of music structure and composition in addition to playing, frequently pointing out songs like "La de da de da de da de day oh".
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Physics lesson: Don't fall down.
    • What's a note? This.
  • Call-Back: "Mount St. Helens" has this when it features bits from "a Play" and "movie star" in the blimp segment.
  • Catchphrase: im just trying to be reasonable,
  • Cheesy Moon: "the Moon is made of Cheese (but i can't taste it), of course.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Calling Bill this would be an understatement.
  • Dada Ad: Possibly. It has been pointed out that the titular characters in "ball and stick" look very similar to Patreon's logo, especially at the beginning of the video when they're bouncing into each other. The narration over this scene can also be interpreted as an extremely veiled hint:
    Yes, I think you can see the significance of this!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Runs throughout his works, like here.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "soap tips" has this when listing the qualities of two bars of soap ("soapy", "soap-like", "very soapy", "soap flavored", "has a soapy texture", "soapesque"). The fact it's pondering combining two bars of soap would also likely fall under this.
  • Deranged Animation: Perhaps a bit softer than most examples, but Bill's animation style is a lo-fi, surreal kind of chaos. In any given video, expect a mixture of bright serif text, vaporwave-esque geometry and transitions, crude stick figures drawings, stock clipart, low-polygon 3D landscapes, and live-action footage of himself performing. Don't always expect there to be a strict rhyme or reason to them.
  • Drugs Are Good: Getting high is a frequent theme in his works. "i can play" is possibly more Drugs Are Bad, with "gonna spend it all on drugs" immediately leading into "there's no more joy or pleasure in anything".
  • Easter Egg: On his website's questions page, inputting "How do you type with boxing gloves on?" pulls up a unique page of keyboard-smashing.
    • For a while after his history videos dropped, clicking on the green "q" on the questions page lead to an updated FAQ list. This has since been removed.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": "steve" has to point out when answering a letter that isn't actually his name, but he doesn't care and he hasn't given his real name.
  • First-Name Basis: On his questions page, Bill has expressed a dislike for being referred to as "Mr. Wurtz" and "Mr. Bill", preferring just Bill.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
  • Genre Shift: After "history of the entire world, i guess", Bill shifted focus from short-form skits to music videos.
  • "I Want" Song: "i wanna be a movie star"... sort of. The chorus explicitly states it, though the verses expand on different sentiments than being a movie star. According to Bill the song is about "feelings, hopes and dreams, and the human experience in general".
  • Jump Scare: "the dot video"
  • Last Note Nightmare: "la de da".
  • Literal-Minded: Something of a Running Gag on the questions page, where Bill indulges in wordplay that evokes this trope. When asked about pet peeves, his response is always "i prefer not to keep peeves as pets. i believe peeves should run wild, and free".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: His lyrics tend to not convey a lot of coherent meaning, but regardless, he tends to ignore some of their potentially dark implications. One example being an upbeat ditty called "Mount St. Helens is about to Blow Up", whose tonal dissonance is intentional to a degree.
    "It's a good songwriting technique to write about something bad with a good-sounding melody, because if you can get people to feel good about something bad, then you're bulletproof in life."
  • Made of Explodium: The punchline to Ol' Macdonald had a farm, in which the farm immediately explodes after being introduced.
  • Mickey Mousing: Shows up quite often in his videos, with his "history of" videos featuring lots of synthetic noodling among his narration, occasionally bursting out of nowhere into little melodic jingles.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Bill makes a song out of the alphabet.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: "steve"'s song after climbing the mountain is interrupted by some sort of mailbird.
  • Noodle Incident: The song "i just did a bad thing" begins with Wurtz singing about him having done a bad thing and regretting it. The song never explains what was the bad thing he did.
  • Overly Long Gag:
  • Phrase Salad Lyrics: Most of his song lyrics are built of phrases that are perfectly coherent on their own, but when put together as a song, they don't always form a proper narrative or consistent meaning to them (and no, Bill doesn't intend there to be). Take this excerpt from "La de da de da de da de day oh" as an example:
    I went down to the mall, then they closed down the mall
    Guess they don't want me goin' to the mall, cause I'm just too small (too small for the mall!)
    Then I built some trains, and I'm travelin' somewhere new
    It's a wonderful world, but still no you
    It's a wonderful world for two
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: Most of his videos were created for Vine. Even as he's moved away from it following the site's collapse, it's been a staple of his.
  • Ruder and Cruder: His videos are generally profanity-free, except his two long history videos history of japan and history of the entire world, i guess, which each contain a few scattered instances of profanity, whilst "new canaan" begins with a Precision F-Strikenote .
  • Running Gag: Has a few of these on the questions page of his website, responding to similar questions with lines like "i was going to say no but now that i think about it yes", "let me perform some calculations", "holy insert phrase here, you are very friendly" for compliments, and "oh that would explain a lot" for questions along the lines of "are you human/alive/etc".
  • Scatting: "La de da de da de da de day oh" naturally features a lot of this.
  • Self-Deprecation: Pops up at times, like advice to young musicians, i'm a loser and i hate myself.
  • Serial Escalation: After history of japan went viral he followed it up with history of the entire world, i guess, which aside from the broadened scope is nearly twice as long.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Bill almost always has upbeat, jazzy and catchy jingles underneath bizarre, snarky or negative messages, like here.
  • Take That!: His unboxing video is one of these towards unboxing videos and a few staples of YouTube videos.
  • Take a Third Option: Again, on the questions page. People frequently ask Bill classic puzzlers like "is cereal a soup", and he likes answering them with things like "cereal is nothing" or "could be a sandwich".
  • This Is a Song: Inverted with this is not a song.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • "i wanna be a movie star" goes all over the place with this. Much of it is in the already-uncommon 9/4 time, but each verse briefly shifts the meter, all of them asymmetrical and always in flux (sometimes switching to 12/4 or 13/4, and the bridge is in 9 measures of 3/4).
    • The ending to "slow down" is in 7/4 time as well.
    • The "violence. don't do it" jingle at the end of "ball and stick" is in 13/16.
    • The verses of "more than a dream" are in 7/4 time.
  • Unreliable Narrator: hi, i'm steve basically starts with the titular character admitting that his name isn't actually Steve. He brings this fact up again later. Then he ends the video saying "bye, i'm steve".
  • Visual Pun: In the video for the song "outside", the lyrics "I'm leavin' on a different plane" are accompanied with the image of both an airliner and a Cartesian plane.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?:
    • Fruit? no
    • Bread? no
    • Fruit and bread? probably not
    • Is it a conversation?note  NOT LOVE
    • Is it a fruitful sales deal? YES!note  NO!note 
    • Is it a hearty breakfast?note  mmm, my favorite brand
    • Is it a four-lettered word you can use in various ways that are mostly positive?note  Hell Yeah.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Bill Wurtz

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history of japan

Commodore Matthew Perry sails to Japan on a "diplomatic" mission to open its ports to trade with the United States. And by diplomatic, it involved threats to bombard Edo (now Tokyo) with their modernized fleet if the shogunate refuses to end their "sakoku" policy. Russia and the United Kingdom were also allowed to trade with Japan as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (28 votes)

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Main / GunboatDiplomacy

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