For every problem, there is a YouTube video. Dog won’t stop barking? There’s a video. Pastel goth beauty tutorial? There’s a video. Turning spiders into a snack? There’s a video. If you’re constipated and need musical assistance to empty your bowels? There’s a whole subgenre of YouTube videos dedicated to that.
“Poop music” on YouTube — not to be confused with the meta video remixes called “YouTube Poop” — encompasses everything from easy listening toilet tunes to club adjacent stool synth. These music videos seek to help you go to the bathroom, and while they sometimes touch on popular YouTube genres like lofi beats for the bathroom, they all have the same mission: offering music that encourages bowel movements, whether with a gentle touch or an aggressive throttle. For every toilet user, there is a piece of YouTube poop music for you.
The prospect of poop music raises a lot of questions. Does it work? Are these musicians making this music to help? Or is this all a joke? After some anecdotal research involving listening to such music while on my own toilet (the results were inconclusive), I reached out to a few top creators in the genre to understand more.
Barcelona-based artists Jordi and Abel, of the channel Binaural System, have been making new age music since 2015 and have one of the more successful poop music videos: November 2018’s “Música Para Hacer Caca” (“Music to Make You Poop”), a 35-minute ambient song with more than 800,000 views that spawned an English and Portuguese iteration.
Their approach to music harnesses scientifically dubious frequencies called binaural waves that supposedly help calm anxiety. They see their work as utilitarian, sounds with “everyday purposes such as music for piles [and] music for peeing.” They create with MIDI keyboards and synthesizers as well as items like the Native American flute, pan flute and guitar. Their aim with this music — as with their non-bathroom-related music — is to create calm and make listeners feel better. “Music is a universal language,” they tell me. “Our purpose is to help with relaxation, and this is what reaches thousands of people who let us know every day with their messages.”
In a vastly different artistic camp to Jordi and Abel is a wildly popular, decidedly un-soothing form of poop music that could easily be mistaken for noise. YouTuber Sounds You Need and their “Music That Makes You Poop 2.0” best exemplifies this: Their song is over 10 minutes of gurgles and burbles that feel like a soundcheck for SOPHIE, yet has more than 1.2 million views.
Sounds You Need has at least seven poop songs and specializes in troll-friendly songs like “Music That Gives You Brain Injury” and the absolute bop “I Messed My Pants.” According to a note the artist wrote on their video, their poop song was made to help: “When I was young, I wanted to become a doctor to help people out there… Please subscribe, like and share, so I can upload more stuff to help people out there in emergencies!” The comments section reveals a zone where internet sillies meet collective human need: “Everyone here at the toilet pushing hard”; “I’m pooping right now. Who else is with me?”; and “Can someone explain why this helped?”
In expanding the search for answers beyond YouTube, you find this variety of poop music appearing on sites like SoundCloud. One creator, Overkill, offers his thoughts based on his own poop music creation, “Music That Makes You Violently Diarrhea (Music That Makes You Poop Metal Cover).” “The reason these songs sometimes work is due to the instrumentation,” Overkill explains, positing that synths sound like an upset stomach. “I mostly don’t believe they make you poop, but I do think that they definitely help.”
Unlike Binaural System, his song is a joke: He was recommended the popular “Music That Makes You Poop” and made a metal cover, since most of his music is made after memes. And memes may be the key here, as incontinent truths skid into internet humor. “Memes can shape people’s music tastes,” Overkill explains, offering “Megalovania” from Undertale as an example. This song sparked a major meme, yielding remixes and covers of the video game ditty. One could even make the connection between “Music That Makes You Poop” with the “Megalovania” beat, although maybe this is just synthetic speculation.
Whether by binaural frequencies or synth poundings, the core claim of poop music is to help people poop. This may be the true root of its popularity, rather than any actual musical quality — at least, that’s the belief of Miranda A.L. van Tilburg, who studies the relationship between psychology and gastrointestinal disorders and is a professor at Campbell University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Washington in Seattle. “Some people have such a hard time with constipation,” she says. “If people have tried everything, they’ll try the next crazy idea out there.” Constipation is a very real problem for some people and desperation can lead to inventive solutions. If that means listening to an hour of pulsing poop music, so be it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any credence to our sense of sound aiding our bowels — our bodies are much more complicated than that. “The brain and the gut are highly interconnected,” van Tilburg says. She calls the bowels the “second brain,” the source of butterflies in the stomach and the need “to go” when nervous. Relaxation can help constipation, but sadly for Binaural Systems, music can only do so much to calm. Therapy can help there, van Tilburg explains, but much of our pooping habits have to do with conditioning, or associating bathroom activity with an outside stimulus. This could be eating certain foods, waking up at a certain time or listening to specific sounds that you follow by going to the bathroom. This creates a sort of Pavlovian response, the lesson learned being, “I did this, now I need to poop.”
But can music ultimately help your bowels? “I’ve never heard of this,” van Tilburg says. “It’s probably conditioning. Or people thinking it’s funny.”