Lately, it feels like the news is becoming quite suffocating, to say the least. So it’s no surprise that we’ve been delving into new ways to take our minds off the weight of the world through media.
Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and the rest of the bunch of online streaming services are great and all, but sometimes you simply want to watch something a bit more casual. Something with less of a production-y vibe and instead more something DIY in nature. When we’re in the mood to watch this desired content, which has been pretty much every day lately, we always turn to YouTube. The best YouTube channels can provide education, distraction, a laugh, or an uncomfortable combination of each.
YouTube’s been around since 2005, meaning a big chunk of us had the honor to grow as it did. The platform went from a place where you and your buddies could upload low-quality music videos like the ones performed from OG YouTuber’s like Smosh to a place where thousands of creators are uploading videos of various dimensions from makeup tutorials to true crime stories to travel videos. There is so much content on YouTube that it’s estimated that 300 hours of video are uploaded every single minute and almost 5 billion videos are watched on the site every single day. Now that is bonkers.
With that being said, all of us on the SPY team are huge fans of the video creation platform. From staying busy throughout the workday to deep diving into random video rabbit holes late at night, all of us are using the platform to watch specific channels. Check out some of the best YouTube channels of 2020 to subscribe to now, directly from the preferences of the folks on the SPY team.
Hey, maybe you’ll find your newest YouTube obsession.
The Best YouTube Channels To Follow in 2020
Up first, we have a couple of awesome picks from our Managing Editor, Tim Werth. From live-streams to magic tricks to storm chasing, the guy’s got a wide range of interests when it comes to what he binges on YouTube. Check out his current go-to’s below:
1. Marine Mammal Rescue Centre — Baby Otter Livestream
Ever since I discovered this lovable baby otter, I’ve been obsessed. Joey is a little furball that lost his mom, and Vancouver’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre’s live-stream lets you keep an eye on Joey. It’s a great thing to keep on in the background as you go about your day. You can watch him take naps, play with his toys, get groomed and take lots of baths. If you have a soft spot for adorable marine animals, this YouTube channel is a delightful antidote to the 24/7 news cycle of doom.
2. David Blaine
I realize that most people think magicians are kind of a joke (“They’re not tricks Michael, they’re illusions!”), but I think David Blaine is an actual wizard. Just watch his recent trick with Margot Robbie, where he blows her mind into a million beautiful pieces. His YouTube channel is full of insane magic tricks and stunts, including his recent Ascension stunt, which was live-streamed on YouTube.
3. Pecos Hank
I don’t know much about Pecos Hank, except that he really likes chasing tornadoes. His feed is full of beautiful 4K videos of huge storms, lightning strikes and animal friends. If you have a big 65-inch TV and love gorgeous videos of Mother Nature, you should definitely follow this channel.
Up next, we’re heading onto our Copy Editor and inhouse music connoisseur, James Schiff. Here are two picks that have been on his radar as of lately:
4. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
From philosophy to crazy sci-fi ideas to even random things like ants, Kurzgesagt covers just about everything you’ve ever wondered about. What makes them different from the myriad other learning channels on YouTube is their production value. Each video is meticulously animated and condensed into a 10 to 15min clip. They’re easy to share, easy to consume and honestly, fun to watch. If you want a great way to kill an afternoon, this is it. While all of their videos are fun to watch, I really enjoyed one of their most recent ones that describe what alien civilisations might look like.
Ask any of my friends, coworkers or casual acquaintances, I LOVE music. For the most part, I search out my own music, not trusting SPOTIFY’s recommendations. I like the hunt and find nothing more satisfying than discovering the next great artist. However, as a true music snob, I can say COLORS gets it right. The only pick rising talent and they rarely miss. What’s more, if you already know the artist featured, you get a sweet, paired down live version of some of your favorite tracks. If you love music and you don’t subscribe to COLORS already, I seriously questions you dedication to the game. Peep this recent video from Irish rapper Kojaque that completely slaps.
Assistant Editor and social media extraordinaire, Taylor Galla, is quite the YouTube fan. She’s on the platform as if it is her second job and will occasionally even sneak in a video or two during her lunch break. Here are two fun picks she will never stop watching:
6. The East Fam
Shawn Johnson and her husband Andrew East run a great vlog channel all about their growing family. They’re super authentic, sincere and fun to watch. They’re very honest in terms of their struggles and triumphs as a couple, as individuals and as parents. I find it refreshing to see that from such talented and accomplished individuals. I find this video so much fun, because who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt?
7. First We Feast — Hot Ones
This is mostly for their show Hot Ones, another favorite of mine. Hot Ones is an interview talk show where the host, Sean Evans, interviews celebrity guests, and with each question they have to eat a spicy chicken wing. As the interview progresses the wings get hotter and hotter. It’s a genius premise that disrupts the standard sterilized interview format, as these shiny, perfect celebrities are sweating their makeup off and forced to succumb to vulnerability through spice. The questions are entertaining and in-depth, and the reactions are hilarious. I love Margot Robbie and I’m really impressed with how she handled herself in her interview. I know I’d never be able to do it, so kudos, girl!
Next up, we’ve got our E-commerce Editor, Tyler Schoeber. Tyler’s a big true crime and reality TV nerd when it comes to his YouTube pleasures. So, buckle on up, here are his picks for the best YouTube channels to follow in 2020.
8. Kendall Rae
Though I watch, like, eight different true crime YouTubers, Kendall Rae is a superstar when it comes to the true crime community. Her content is super serious and she always makes it her top priority to talk on cases regarding people of color as well as other cases that don’t get as much media attention as they should. She does a lot for families of cases she covers and she is currently selling t-shirts to go to the family of US Army solder Vanessa Guillén, who was recently brutally murdered inside a Fort Hood armory by another soldier. If you haven’t yet heard of the case, it is an astonishing and incredibly sad one that was hidden from the general public for way too long. Vanessa deserved better from the US Army. Please watch the video and contribute if you can.
9. Bailey Sarian
While we’re still on the topic of true crime, Bailey Sarian is another one of my favorite true crime YouTubers who holds a Mystery & Makeup series that airs every monday. Well, not every monday — our queen is occasionally a mess and forgets every once in a while, but we love her regardless. Plus, everyone needs a mental health day every so often. Her crime cases vary, but recently she’s been covering a lot more older cases regarding serial muders and cannibals. You know, casual stuff. She has a really light and airy way of speaking about true crime and watching her videos makes it feel like you’re having a fun conversation with your friend. I really enjoyed one of her recent videos about a man in Florida (of course) that fell in love with a cam girl from Bulgaria and essentially gave her every dollar to his name. The case becomes a bit more wild than that though and involves multiple tragic murders, but I don’t want to spoil too much. Go watch for yourself!
10. Bachelor Fantake
I completely understand if you scroll right past this one, but I am completely obsessed with The Bachelor franchise. I don’t even know why. Like, why do I enjoy watching people go through heartbreak over and over again? I don’t even know. Nonetheless, Bachelor Fantake is easily my favorite Bachelor commentator. He is hysterical and does an episode review per each episode of the show. Which to me, it’s like, I already watched the episode, so why do I feel the need to watch it again through the narrative of this man who’s face I’ve never seen? Again, I don’t know, but I love him and I’d like to be his friend. The Bachelorette is set to air this October which I’m completely stoked for, and there is already so much tea involving this upcoming season. If you’re interested, check it out below.
Onto one of our newer members of the group, we have our SEO Specialist, Vita Savenko’s picks for the best YouTube channels of 2020. Vita’s really into skincare, and although the rest of us have tried our best to stay out of the news, she’s been all over it. Check out what she can’t stop watching:
11. Dr. Dray
I’m huge when it comes to taking care of my skin, and I’m always looking for ways to add new products to my regimen. Finding accurate skincare information online is super hard. It’s impossible to trust any influencer recommending random, otherwise unheard about facial creams because realistically speaking, they’re being paid big bucks just to make the Instagram post. Dr. Dray is one of my favorite YouTubers because she is real and it feels like she really cares and wants the best for her audience. What I love about her is that she is an actual doctor, so the information she’s giving, I feel I can totally trust. One of my favorite videos on her YouTube channel is this video rating the best and worst drugstore anti-aging products. It really goes to show that sometimes, you don’t need all the money in the world to take care of your skin!
12. PBS NewsHour
Although 2020 has proven that the world is in shambles, PBS NewsHour is blasting around my apartment every second of the day. I do blame my nosy boyfriend for this one though — he needs to know everything that’s going on in the world at all times. Nonetheless, I find it good to have on while I’m working from home so I can stay informed. Also, I find that PBS is also one of the most unbiased ways to receive my news, too, since it seems they keep the political opinions to the minimum and solely stick to providing information. Whenever I hear something really interesting or breaking, my ears perk up to tune in no matter what. PBS NewsHour posts so many times throughout the day and has a multitude of ongoing live streams, but here is one of their full episodes from the other day.
Last but not least, our brand new Tech Editor, Adrian Covert has recently been obsessed with immaculately wild recipes that should not exist and… well… one of the most interesting YouTube niches we’ve ever come across — the ranking of wild animals in our world — but evaluated as if our world were a video game. Is it? Now we’re confused and scared. Without further ado, check out his top YouTube channel picks:
13. J. Kenji López-Alt
If you’ve ever read Kenji’s Food Lab column on Serious Eats you might assume his videos would be full of recipes calling for obscure ingredients and hyper-precise measurements. Instead, his YouTube channel is a chill cooking world full of recipes that are just as interesting but where it’s OK to substitute the next best ingredient in your pantry (or just disregard it entirely). It’s also just an outlet for him to indulge his late-night degenerate cooking desires. Don’t get it twisted, however: Watching Kenji’s vids will unquestionably raise your cooking IQ by 50 points… most of the time.
TierZoo is what happens when you cross Planet Earth with Overwatch, Frankensteining nature and e-sports into an unexpectedly glorious monster. Watch TierZoo for an hour, and soon every other thought from your mutant brain will revolve around random OP occurrences in your life taking over the apartment server and bodying the leisure meta. Does it help to have a baseline knowledge of wild animals and gaming to appreciate these vids? Maybe. Is it mandatory? Absolutely not.