Who are Fred and Tim Williams? YouTube twins go viral for their 'first time listens' of music hits

The 22-year-old twins have sent songs back to the top of the charts thanks to their enthusiastic first-time reviews

It you were looking for proof that 2020 hasn't been quite the horror show it appears to be, look no further than the YouTube channel Twinsthenewtrend.

The channel is the brainchild of US twin brothers, Tim and Fred Williams, who have proved to be a much-needed light in the darkness of this year. The duo have gone viral for their show in which they listen to classic songs, from the 1960s up to the present day, and give their enthusiastic thoughts and opinions.

The 22-year-old twins from Gary, Indiana, have racked up millions of views and won stacks of celebrity fans for their open-minded approach to all types of music, including Adele, Phil Collins, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Whitney Houston, Johnny Cash, Meatloaf, Nirvana, Luciano Pavarotti, Al Green and more. And fans have been queueing up to offer suggestions of songs the twins should listen to.

Who are the twins and what inspired them?

If you needed more evidence that you should be enjoying a daily dose of sunshine on Twinsthenewtrend, none other than Barack Obama surprised the pair last month, appearing via video, after they critiqued a song from the former president's recommended playlist – Bob Dylan's The Times They Are  Changing.

After revealing that they respected the 79-year-old folk singer for speaking “facts", Obama then appeared and asked the pair what inspired them to start their own channel.

"Just by the love and passion for music we have," Tim told the former president. "As we were growing up, we lived in a religious home so we were unable to listen to different genres. But as we got older we started to explore more music and we started to be like: 'Oh, what was that?' Then somebody requested Frank Sinatra's Under My Skin, and that's how we all got started."

Finding viral fame and influence

One of the twins' most-watched videos is of them listening to Phil Collins's 1981 track, In the Air Tonight, which has so far racked up more than eight million views on YouTube. The publicity their video generated caused the song to become the fourth biggest-selling song of the week ending August 8, up from number 185 the week before. And it reached No 2 on iTunes on August 18 and 19.

Their listens to Dolly Parton's Jolene ("I love the storytelling behind the song"), The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams ("That chorus was legendary") and Alicia Keys's Fallin' ("That's giving me goosebumps already") all prompted reactions from the stars themselves, and celebrities have been lining up to sing their praises.

“I came across something the other day … and I was delighted by it,” revealed talk show host David Letterman. “It’s two twins … and they listen to music for the first time – music that for me, and I think probably for you, was typical growing-up music we’re all aware of. But these kids, because of their age, had never heard of it, and they listened to it for the first time and then they react to it. And I found these two guys to be so, just sweet and lovely, and their reaction to this music is delightful.”

From poverty to fan favourites

Although the Phil Collins’s first listen was the video which cemented the twins’ internet fame, the pair have rated many other songs, including by Radiohead, Oasis, Queen, Boyz II Men and more. And their positive approach to all kinds of music is what led them out of what Fred calls the “war zone” of poverty and violence in their neighbourhood.

"From my own experiences, I've taught Tim and Fred how important it is to have a voice," their mother, Tiffany King-Richardson, told People. "I want them to do something in life that they love, and that's music."

Their mother has spent time in prison for offences in connection with drug addiction and worked at Indiana’s Edgewater Health helping people dealing with substance abuse. Both Tim and Fred have also worked there.

And the success they’ve found in 2020 has led the family to be able to move to Indianapolis, with Fred saying: “We’re in a better opportunity.”

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Read more:

Barack Obama shares his top films, TV shows, songs and books of 2020

The pros and cons of streaming: 10 ways digital technology has disrupted the music industry

Who is Logan Paul? Everything you need to know about the controversial vlogger ahead of Floyd Mayweather fight

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