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  • Cognition #37: You'll see storytelling (and YouTube videos) differently after this issue

Cognition #37: You'll see storytelling (and YouTube videos) differently after this issue

Breaking down the storytelling in one of the most loved videos on the internet

I wanted to write about this for sooooooooo long. I think like four months or something.

The video I am going to show you now is, in my opinion, one of the best storytelling performances.

I will break down the video and tell you how narratives can literally hack hormones.

So first step: watch the video below.

I am sure you’ll watch it more than twice because it’s too beautiful. Once you’re done vibing with the song, I’ll break down the storytelling behind it.

Too cute, isn’t it?

This is one of my favourite videos, and I can’t help but notice and break down the kid’s brilliant storytelling.

I don’t know if it’s scripted or intentional. But it’s just BRILLIANT.

Before we get into it…

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Back to the Break Down:

I’ll pick up different lines from the video and explain to you my theory behind it. I need you to read the line and watch that particular part of the video (you don’t have to watch the video if the video is already registered in your mind.)

Ready? Let’s go!!

“My name is Henry Gallagher, and I am 12 years old”

Most of us find kids cute. Even if you think kids are annoying, there is something adorable that makes you smile when you see them act all innocent. Especially from a distance.

Apart from Henry’s sweet voice and lovable outfit, I think he’s done great by mentioning his age in his introduction.

It just made everyone go, “Aweee you’re just 12 and you’re here on stage, performing!!”

If it was a kids-only show, the reaction might not be as heartwarming as it was—because the audience had seen many kids come and perform. But Britain’s Got Talent has performers of different ages, making this kid look like a kid (if that makes sense.)

You can hear the awe from the crowd. It’s a good start.

“There’s everyone, my mom, my dad… they are all really supportive; they’re all really loving.”

This little 30-second conversation calmed the audience. They went from high awe to a normal, stable state, where Henry had their complete attention.

They’re interested in what’s coming next.
They’re looking for their next dose of dopamine.

“I wrote it myself. It’s called lightning.”

What does he do now? He sets up the context.

He is not going to sing a popular song. He wrote his own song and is up and ready for an original performance.

Now it’s only natural for the human curiosity to ask, ‘what’s the song about?’

You know what the judge asked.

“It’s about a girl [pauses]”

Again, I don’t know if this is intentional or scripted. Or the kid is aware of what he’s doing. But the pause did the trick.

If he had told about his feelings for the girl, it would have been too direct.

His pause made the audience interpret the obvious.

“…that I’d really like to be my girlfriend one day.”

Everybody felt the child’s innocence. It was familiar. All of us had crushes in our school, and we knew how beautiful the initial butterflies felt.

That’s why we all went awee, again.

“I don’t think she even knows me.”

This is where he sets up the listeners. It’s one of the most crucial dialogues of the entire narrative.

Henry explains how he crushes on a girl who doesn’t even know of Henry’s existence.

There is a boy who likes a girl—he wishes she becomes his girlfriend one day—she doesn’t even know who he is—but this boy is awestruck by the girl, so much so he decides to write, compose, and sing a song for her.

You feel how beautiful (and in many ways, innocent and adorable) this story is, right?

It’s exactly what every listener was feeling.

Immediately, they played the parents’ Audio-Visual, which captures Henry’s practice and purpose behind the song. When asked what he would hope from this song, he replied, “She might go out with me.”

“I don’t think she’s ever heard my song.”

The narrative made it clear she doesn’t know Henry, and it’s obvious to assume that she never heard his song.

But… This is where he adds this tiny detail: “It’s just about how I felt when the first time I saw her.”

As an audience, you have an entire scene set in front of you.


The Performance!

The opening lyric is a payoff for the story setup.

A guy liked a girl.
He wrote a song for her.
She doesn’t know him.
He wants her to listen to this song and hopefully go out with him.
The song is about the first time he ever saw her.

With all this in context, notice how it begins.

The song starts with: “I saw her from a distance,” and it goes all the way to “She’s the prettiest girl I have seen…”

The first line made the audience feel, ‘Ohhh, this is what he has been talking about all this time!!’ The story and the song matched here.

But I believe the soul of the song and the entire story paid off and connected to the audience when the lyrics went:

“I hope you notice me some time,
I hope you’ll be with me, be mine.
You’re everything
You’re my sunshine.”

At this point, every single person in the auditorium is rooting for Henry’s date, and they all want him to be noticed by this girl.

The song just takes off from here because everyone is on the same frequency.

Everyone is living the same story. The Henry’s Story.

Henry’s song in itself is beautiful, but I believe the story and storytelling formed a connection that made the performance memorable even after the listeners left the auditorium.


This is not a breakdown of my work, and it’s different from usual Cognition issues, but I want to create content like this to show how I analyze and learn from different content.

My theory might be completely wrong and nothing but a biased assumption. But I am investing my thinking energy, which helps me dive deeper into storytelling + might even make me a better storyteller.

That is a purpose fulfilled.

Non-Technical aka Fun Segment

Geez, been a while.

From a book I am reading currently

I don’t have a favourite line to recall, but I am reading No Rules Rules. It’s about how and why Netflix built its culture the way it is right now.

The book is good, I really love the way they’re treating their employees. I have my doubts about how these policies are implemented, but these sure sound good.

I have also picked up The Great Mental Models as a part of The Hyderabad Book Club’s October read. I’ve been looking forward to reading this. More on this soon.

Movies/Shows I watched recently

It’s been a while, so there is a big list. Giving my opinion on each one of them might make the newsletter long.

I’ll just list the names. The movies/shows bolded are must-watch IMO.

  1. Your Name

  2. Romantics

  3. The Terminal

  4. Aakhri Sach

  5. Knowing

  6. Rocky aur Rani kii Prem Kahani

  7. Naruto: The Lost Tower

  8. Death Note

  9. Miss Shetty, Mr Polishetty

  10. Hostel Daze, Season 4

  11. OMG 2

  12. Naruto: The Blood Prison

  13. Silence of the Lambs

Peek into my Personal Life:

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(Trust me when I say this is growing faster than Cognition)

YouTube video I loved

I don’t call it a must-watch video, but it’s a good watch without getting bored if you’re into history like me.

Only watch this if you don’t have anything on your list.

Song I am listening to on a loop

hehe thanks to reels

That’s all from this issue. If you have liked it, please share it on your socials or to your friends.

Take care, stay safe, and break down videos!!

Love and hugs,