These twins reacting to classic music on YouTube is a joy - who are Fred and Tim Williams?

21 September 2020, 12:18

Fred and Tim Williams
Fred and Tim Williams. Picture: YouTube/Twinsthenewtrend

By Tom Eames

A video of two twins reacting as they listened to 'In the Air Tonight' by Phil Collins for the first time has seen the classic track return to the charts.

Twins Fred and Tim Williams have been reacting to classic songs by Phil Collins, Dolly Parton, Queen, ABBA and more on YouTube for some time, and it's an addictive and wholesome joy to watch.

'In the Air Tonight' has rocketed up to number two on iTunes, after the Williams brothers reacted to the song on their YouTube channel, Twinsthenewtread.

Read more: The Story of... 'In the Air Tonight'

Last week, the eight-minute video sees Tim Williams and his twin brother, Fred, sitting by their computer as they hit play on Phil Collins' 1981 classic, which they had never heard before.

"It sounds like a rain entrance or something," Tim said, before the pair nod their heads to the beat.

Halfway into the video, we all know what's coming. That amazing rush when you hear Phil's incredible drum solo for the first time. Tim and Fred are shocked and thrilled, and they start dancing in their chairs before pausing the video to discuss what they've heard.

"I have never seen nobody drop a beat three minutes in the song!" Fred says.

There's some kind of wistful joy upon watching these reaction videos, which are nothing new. People have been reacting to classic songs for years. When Bohemian Rhapsody came out at the cinemas, YouTube was full of people supposedly hearing the title track and other Queen classics for the very first time, whether you believed them or not.

But from watching the Williams twins' other videos, you get a certain sense that their reactions are not only genuine, but they are simply loving hearing these songs for the first time, and then want to discuss and analyse the tracks.

Who are Fred and Tim Williams?

Tim told CNN that he had no idea the Phil Collins video had become such a success until a friend told him.

"We do so many videos a day." In fact, the pair had uploaded five other songs the same day as Phil, including 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder'.

"When we do videos, I don't be thinking nothing of it because I be thinking, 'Oh, we gotta do that next video,' " Tim said.

"We wasn't thinking this was gonna hit," Fred added.

Tim and Fred are 22 years old, and are from Gary, Indiana. They have been uploading reaction videos for a year.

They had a difficult upbringing, as their mother Tiffany spent two years in jail on drug charges. “I’m so proud of my sons because they’ve channeled their energies into doing something positive and not fallen into gangs, having babies or drugs,” she told The Sun.

On her release from prison, she turned her life around, and has now been drug-free for 11 years. She was determined that the twins had an education, and both boys became students at Indiana State University to study criminal justice.

However, a year ago, Tim stopped his education: “He came home and told me he had this idea of creating a YouTube channel where people would watch him listening to various songs for the first time,” Tiffany said.

“But he was absolutely determined. I told him: ‘OK, you can do this for a year and see if it works out but if it doesn’t, you’re going back to college again.”

Fred has stayed at college, and joined the channel's output while at home during the pandemic.

At first, they stuck to mainly rap music, but after someone requested Frank Sinatra's 'I've Got You Under My Skin', their channel changed somewhat.

They also made a fan out of Dolly Parton, who tweeted about her love of their reaction video to 'Jolene'.

The success to their videos is the nostalgic feeling it evokes from people who love the songs they are reacting to, and people can remember their own first time hearing these songs.

When asked why they think their videos have done so well in particular, Fred said: "Because we're black."

"We're black, and they don't expect us to listen to that type of music."

"We're young, too," Tim added. "It's just rare to see people open these days. People don't open to step outside their comfort zone and just react to music they don't know."

Other reaction videos include Prince's 'Purple Rain', 'Dance with My Father' by Luther Vandross, Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car', ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' and Culture Club's 'Karma Chameleon'.

The boys now plan to keep going, in order to bring joy to people's lives: "For that two, three minutes - however long the video is - we just want to just have fun, just together. We just smile, laugh together and everything," Tim said.

"You could be having a bad day, and watch one of our videos and be uplifted," Fred added.