For about the first 15 seconds of Bob and Bev Holwager’s rendition of “Blank Space,” you figure you’re watching a pretty ordinary fan-made Taylor Swift video. The background graphics are pretty trippy, yes, but you’ve seen weirder. Then the squished-up sports car drives past the ancient ruins and a rose-hued mushroom cloud rises on the horizon.
Bob and Bev Holwager, so far as I can tell, are a karaoke-loving middle-aged couple from New Castle, Indiana. They’ve uploaded 318 videos across two separate channels in their five years on YouTube, and nearly all of them feature Bob and Bev—accompanied by the occasional guest singing popular songs with varying degrees of comprehensibility. The couple’s taste in music is wide—they sing Robin Thicke and Shania Twain and Nickelback and Rammstein—but the videos are unified by an uncanny visual aesthetic: green screens, Bob ‘n Bev avatars multiplied several times over, gradually shifting backgrounds, Sega Dreamcast-era CGI. In other words, this is just the sort of low-budget oddness that you are by now used to seeing parodied on Tim & Eric Awesome Show and Portlandia and Tumblr and YouTube itself—except that this appears to be the genuine article, whatever that means.
I first came across Bob and Bev when a redditor posted their “Tik Tok” video to the site’s “delusionalartists” board, a self-described “collection of awful work produced by artists that fail to realize that they lack any measurable talent.” I don’t think they fit in with the self-aggrandizing hacks that the forum is meant to skewer, though. They obviously don’t take themselves very seriously, for one thing, and while their animations won’t win Oscars, they’re more impressive than anything you or I could pull off. It’s easy to laugh at their videos—and they are very funny—but there’s some sweetness there too. Try not to get choked up when Bev wishes Bob a happy anniversary in the intro to their insane version of “SexyBack,” or when she dedicates Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” to Brownie, her deceased German Shepherd.
“Royals” - Lorde
“SexyBack” - Justin Timberlake
“Blurred Lines” - Robin Thicke
“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” - Green Day
“Kryptonite” - 3 Doors Down
(No green screen on this one)