5 YouTube Spirals I Hope You Don’t Fall Into Right Now

Because I’ve fallen and I can’t get up

10.10.17

Traditionally, October is one of the scarier months on the calendar, making it a fitting time to talk about scary things. I’m pretty ambivalent about clowns, so my scary pop culture topic of choice for this October morning will be YouTube spirals and their propensity for killing TIME (plot twist!!!).

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a YouTube spiral, I highly envy you and will now direct your attention to this Broad City clip, which demonstrates a similar consequence of falling into one. In short, a YouTube spiral (sometimes referred to as a YouTube Black Hole) is the very scary place you fall into upon innocently viewing one video like a regular human, then naively clicking on related video after related video like a monster until you’ve lost all track of time and space and probably forgot to do something important.

What makes these spirals especially scary is 1.) they’re usually unsuspecting and 2.) you may not even notice you’re in one until it’s too late. Now, I can assure you you’re not in one right now if you’re reading this with your eyes. So in attempt to warn the masses of the former issue, I will now reveal the five spirals that tend to trap me on a regular basis. Yes, they’re fun, but like a lot of fun things, they are also incredibly dangerous. I’d argue that even exposing you to the below content is somewhat irresponsible on a Tuesday morning, but I’m rationalizing it because how else will you know what to avoid?! Proceed with caution, and I sincerely hope you’re not somewhere important like in class or at work like I most definitely am right now.

1. The Covers Spiral

First of all: How great are covers? An artist you already know and love covering a song you already know and love, making said song feel simultaneously familiar and new!? It’s like karaoke except everyone is not-that-drunk and actually good at it!!!! <– See, now that’s your first mistake: letting your guard down so easily. The next thing you know, you’re 25 videos deep on Like a Version or BBC Live Lounge’s YouTube Channel, ads and all.

Thankfully, this is the “safest” of all the YouTube spirals. As long as you have 20+ other tabs open, this spiral can be just as innocuous as listening to Spotify while you do something productive with your time/attention/life, except instead of Drake-Drake, it’s the Arctic Monkeys covering Drake, Paramore covering Drake and Shawn Mendes covering Drake(!).

2. The Choreography Spiral

Oh lordy, good look getting out of this mess! Few things make me wish MTV would resurrect MADE like a good choreo video. And they’re almost ALL good. Is this why America’s Best Dance Crew made it for eight whole seasons? Is this what the new TRL should strictly consist of? Should I be worried that my Instagram discover feed is now full of these videos? Probably, yes and definitely. Factor in the stylish athleisure babies who are also featured in these (anyone under the age of 12 is a baby to me) and there is little to no hope that you’re reemerging in under an hour.

I mean:


Nice knowin’ ya!

3. The Vine Spiral

What are you doing here? What am I doing here? I honestly have no idea. Vine doesn’t even exist anymore so the fact that we’re resorting to watching these six second clips of absurdity on a completely different platform in 5 minute chunks is a bit bleak. Does that not defeat the purpose of Vine’s short-lived life? What were Vines, really? Just gifs and memes with sound? Should I just watch gifs all day? I think I’m already doing that. Is this what we were doing from 2012-2016? Who am I? Am I still at work right now? I feel an existential crisis coming on. Shut it down.

4. The Animals Doing Things Spiral

Animals are hilarious. It’s why we let cats take over the internet once upon a time. They’re still holding strong, but we now have a lot more to contend with from the animal kingdom (goats, baby goats, raccoons, really fat raccoons, sloths, giraffes!) which makes this spiral all the more harrowing. The possibilities are endless and there’s no telling where you may end up once you come to. Godspeed.

5. The SNL Digital Shorts Spiral

Honest question: Is this one just my weird friends and me? I can recall a number of social situations with three or more people and alcohol present that resulted in us spiraling deep, deep down into Lonely Island’s repertoire, from the club bangers like “Jizz In My Pants” to OG Digital Shorts like Natalie Portman rapping, instead of heading out to our super fun destination on time. But more on that later — I just remembered Ras Trent exists.


I personally had to stop at five spirals in order to finally finish this story, so feel free to reveal the black holes you tend to fall into below. (I can investigate immediately now that I’m done writing this!)

Photo by Susan Schiff Faludi/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Get more Pop Culture ?
  • Ashley Hamilton

    The dancing babies will kill me I swear.

  • Joanna Glogaza

    One word (well, it’s actually 4) – ASMR.

  • Maggie Baker

    Beauty reviews and makeup challenges!

  • Ash

    My brother introduced me to Good Mythical Morning’s “Will It…?” videos. A few weeks ago my SO and I watched HOURS of them. We emerged slightly before dinner wondering what had happened and why we wasted away the day watching two grown men eat gross things…

    See also, Buzzfeed videos…makeup tutorials/reviews…and of course, dogs doing dog things…that we watch with our dogs.

  • Cristina

    Uhh my spiral is beauty tutorials which do their job because it’s almost immediately followed by a trip to Sephora and $100 less in my bank account. ::sigh::

  • Saskia

    YEEESSSSSS Jack Sparrow!! I got my entire office hooked on that song a few weeks ago. Now, during every silence that lasts more than 10 minutes someone bursts out into song.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    Wow your spirals makes mine seem really weird by comparison. Here’s some of my go-to’s:

    RISD/Parsons Accepted Art Portfolios (I know nothing about art, mind you)
    Cat Marnell/Drew Barrymore/Courtney Love Interviews (luv my cray binches!!)
    Woodworking (preferably with enya music in the background)
    Movie trailers (I will probably watch none of these in theatre)
    All my old youtube crushes (charlieissocoollike, philip de franco, dave days–basically every emo-looking white guy on youtube in the early 2000s)

    • ihaveacooch

      omg do you ever watch like b movie trailers on YT? so good

      • Imaiya Ravichandran

        yes!! as far as i can tell, tara reid’s career is still thriving.

    • Was SO close to adding movie trailers but I kept getting so g-damn DISTRACTED.

  • Autumn

    Choreography spiral – OMG YES! (I’ve watched the same ones dozens of times and now follow a couple of the dancers on Instagramm who I comment-stalked to figure out their names).
    Also Jimmy Fallon hashtags, WIRED’s autocomplete interviews and Buzzfeed’s Try Guys.

  • Kristi Ellis

    Way way way too familiar with the choreography spiral

  • late night celeb talk show interviews are my jammmm

  • JB

    This rings so true. Mine are typically makeup tutorials/reviews, late night talk show interviews (Graham Norton is my favorite), slime videos (I’m 34 years old but these are sooo relaxing), and choreography videos!!

  • Allegra

    The Voice blind auditions spiral. I don’t even watch the show but I love the YT clips of those auditions and initial judge responses!

    There is also a show on YT called Hot Ones that features celebs eating increasingly spicy hot wings while they do a fun press interview. Highly recommend – hard to watch just one

    • My little brother just told me about Hot Ones, you’re so hip!!!

    • Cheryl

      I just got into my first Voice blind audition spiral today. I’ve never seen the show before.

  • Teresa

    i do too many covers spirals!! but what about talk show interviews like Graham Norton and James Corden, those can be deeeeep spirals

    • YES, GRAHAM NORTON SPIRALS. I’ve managed to stay away but it’s only a matter of time.

      • gracesface

        The Bill Murray/Matt Damon episode is great, and Robin Williams is priceless!! Oh and I used to have a clip of Graham Norton as ringtones!! from his bit about baboons (amazing) and some hilarious interview with Orlando Bloom! I’m a dork.

      • Lucinda Bayly

        If I have had an unproductive day at work, a Graham Norton spiral is 100% the reason. No debate. Ob. Sessed.

      • Eliza

        These are actually some of my favorite spirals. Graham Norton is the best and almost all of the interviews are no holds barred. Spiral on down.

  • Alex Bate

    What about conspiracy theory video spirals?!?!

  • Ana

    Film music/theme tune covers with ridicilous instruments (there are more than you think and they are hilarious)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KolfEhV-KiA

  • Jourdan

    Beyonce spiral. Must include her rehearsing 1+1 before American Idol, Love on Top from the VMAs, and Run the World at the Billboard Awards.

    • Do you ever re-watch her Super Bowl Halftime dance-off with Bruno Mars? I once spiraled into a mini spiral of just that one video on loop, it was weird and I’m probably going to go do that now Happy Friday!

  • Emily M

    I kid you not I have fallen into ALL OF THESE spirals within the past week and a half. Especially the freakin’ Vine and Covers spirals. Also, not at all connected I’m sure, I have bags under my eyes from a lack of sleep and a crick in my neck from the late-night hunching. Ooomph.

  • My guilty pleasure is FailArmy, but I also love the CineFix channel! I feel like I’m learning culture stuff when I watch it. “Look at me! I can be a film buff now!”

  • A Local Honey

    A very fun sector of the internets is reserved for “Irish People Try…” wherein Irish people try American food and drink. They’re appalled, they laugh, they talk funny, I laugh – what more could I need?

    • gracesface

      Yes!!! I love these! It’s how I learned how to say Irish names also.

  • I am so much the choreography spiral! My friend and I will watch these for ours whenever she comes over and comment on their clothes. Trending dancewear is SOOO interesting.

  • mariahg

    Live Lounge spirals are the best spirals. AND WHY CAN’T I BUY ANY OF THESE!! I need them on my iTunes.

  • gracesface

    Omg yes to cover spirals!! I can drool over those alllllllll day. Plus BBC Radio1’s Phil Taggart is my musical guru. Sunday Support Club is the best!

    Oh and seeing as we don’t have a lot of access to British shows, the TRAVEL MAN spiral! Richard Ayoade <3.

  • Just this weekend I fell into a spiral of watching video montages of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s friendship and IT WAS AMAZING. Then fell into a spiral of Celine Dion videos. Also amazing. Highly recommend if you need to waste, like, two hours of your life.

  • Estelle

    Thank GOD someone else has those SNL spirals

    • Amelia

      RAS TRENT

      • Estelle

        I revisit him more often than i care to admit

  • bingo star

    RASTAFARIANISM

  • I have the worst musician interview spirals re their upcoming albums I’m anticipating. For some reason I also find Youtube vegan bloggers weirdly fascinating, (even though I’m not vegan) mainly because their followings seem cultish and creepy to me. And lately I’ve been super deep diving with diy perfume/candle recipes and essential oils.

  • Abby

    “what i ate in a day” videos 😐

  • Maurissa Dahms

    Binging with Babish!! He makes food from movies and TV shows and it’s truly amazing!

  • Lina María

    jimmy fallon, then jimmy kimmel, then james corden, etc until I’ve spent hours watching every interview and game and whatever… also the Dr pimplepopper stuff, #sorrynotsorry. The good thing is, if a really nasty video does come up, that’s the end of the spiral.

  • Lina María

    Also, Ava (you know, the little girl with Charlene and boss lady.. ufff)

  • Tiny Desk Concert Spiral… along with as people have already mentioned the movie trailer spiral. Otherwise, you were spot on with the five spirals!

    • Also, did the cat video kill anyone else? I was laughing SO HARD.

  • Marianna

    haha love all Lonely Island SNL’s. One of those embarrassing guilty pleasures! So glad someone on MR also shares this addiction 🙂 Just re-watched Ras Trent.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • David Dobrik and Liza Koshy aswell

  • Emily

    why did vine have to go away…. we need that lighthearted six second absurdity in 2017

  • Katis Trends

    I’m so glad Graham Norton was mentioned and show interviews anyway (my latest favourite is Alison Hammond with Ryan G. and Harrison Ford at “This morning” omg it’s so funny..) , it’s so nice being in a club, we’re all sharing the same black holes!! I’m a trailer junky too esp. sciFis and horrors I’d NEVER watch at the cinema. AND features about the quantum theory…

  • Catherine

    Award show acceptance speech spirals. So long, so deep

  • kforkarli

    I end up watching One Direction’s first auditions. I don’t know who I am.

  • Rachel

    fell into a hardcore lonely island spiral, so thank you! IMHO if you don’t like lonely island you’re probably a boring person…

  • Clairebear

    My spirals are much more gross, like Dr. Pimple Popper and ear wax extractions.