Celebrate 15 Years of Amoeba Music’s What’s In My Bag? With These 10 Videos

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Celebrate 15 Years of Amoeba Music’s What’s In My Bag? With These 10 Videos

Fifteen years ago, a lucky staffer at Amoeba Music, the California record store chain with three locations that boasts an enormous stock of new and used music and movies, armed with a camcorder stopped “Weird Al” Yankovic on his way out the door to quiz the comedy pop legend on what he had purchased that day. The answer: some CDs to listen to with his daughter and a Blu-ray of Cars.

Thus began What’s In My Bag?, the fantastic video series — part marketing tool and part music geek out — that has become one of the most reliably entertaining ways to kill a little time on YouTube. In each edition, an artist or members of a band or another pop culture figure spend some time digging through the vast shelves, grabbing LPs or DVDs as they go, and discuss their selections on camera. Usually it’s a shopping spree to help pad out their personal collection but often they use these clips as a chance to talk about the albums and films that influenced their careers.

As a result, each installment of the series is edifying and entertaining, even when it’s an artist that you may otherwise scoff at. I have never willingly played any music by Insane Clown Posse, but got a kick out of watching Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J (in full clown makeup, natch) pay proper tribute to Public Enemy, KRS-One and N.W.A. via the CDs they had stuffed in their tote bags.

If you’ve never spent any time with the many What’s In My Bag? videos available, what follows is a list of some of the best clips in the series — a starter pack to help send you down the wormhole of Amoeba Music’s YouTube channel and maybe direct you to your own local record shop to fill up your own shopping cart.

”Weird Al” Yankovic

Start your journey with the OG video in this series. Yankovic looks a little shook and a lot bemused about being accosted by an excitable Amoeba employee and being asked to explain away the choices in the familiar yellow plastic bag that he was about to carry out the door. His picks that day included a tie-in comp for the film Ratatouille that included, of all things, a cover of one of Yankovic’s parody tunes, and the aforementioned copy of the 2006 Pixar film in spite of the fact that, at the time, he didn’t own a Blu-ray player. Stay until the end for the appearance of another unexpected guest who happened to be visiting Amoeba that fateful day.


Future pop dynamo Robyn stopped by Amoeba Hollywood back in 2009, pulling a handful of CDs off the shelves and quizzing the shop’s ultra-knowledgeable staff about an early ’90s electronic tune that had been eluding her. (They said it was Black Box, but she really wanted to hear a song by New Jersey house music ensemble Ruffneck.) In addition, the Swedish singer/songwriter took home work by some equally innovative female artists and an underappreciated album from early in Prince’s career.


No surprise that the Roots drummer and Tonight Show bandleader would make some killer selections during his 2011 shopping trip at Amoeba Hollywood, including a pair of dark films on DVD and a boxed set of production work by the late, great J Dilla, nor is it a shock that his discussion of his choices would run deep into the minutiae of each artist. But what further elevates the clip is his embarrassing admission that he cleaned out the store of its copies of a rare Roots CD and, in the beginning, the shopper in the background who gets caught gawking at the famous musician being interviewed.

Thomas Lennon & Ben Garant

Folks who work in the comedy world are often responsible for some of the more entertaining What’s In My Bag? videos. Case in point is this 2011 clip featuring screenwriters and Reno 911 co-creators Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant. Between cracking wise about holding the interview in the jazz room (“Since we started filming, two gentlemen have passed away in the jazz section…”) and making some goofball selections (Slam Dunk Ernest, a Lord of the Rings doll), they make some endearing and earnest choices that unveils their particular pop culture obsessions.

Flea & Amy-Jo Albany

However you may feel about the music of Red Hot Chili Peppers, what is never in question is that the group’s bassist Flea is a serious music head who fosters some deep emotional connections to the sounds that he loves. In what has now become one of the more famous moments in the What’s In My Bag? series, Flea is reduced to tears as the memory of listening to J Dilla’s Ruff Draft while on a hike along Big Sur. It’s a beautiful and affecting reminder of how something as seemingly simple as a piece of music can seep into our souls and change us irrevocably.

Sebastian Bach

Unlike most Bag clips where the interview subject is questioned in what looks like the Amoeba Music break room, Sebastian Bach’s appearance in this series finds the camera crew following his every step throughout the store as he provides a running commentary on what he’s after. The former Skid Row front man turns out to be a regular shopper at Amoeba with a regular route he takes in the L.A. store. As he searches for rare KISS and Neil Young albums, grabs Ray Davies’ memoir and extols the virtues of cleaning records with wood glue, he reveals an impressive amount about his past and present. And he takes some time to chide his then-label for not keeping his own music in stock.


The delights of a Bag video are often the surprise picks that an artist or members of a band will choose — unexpected selections that add fascinating new layers to their music and personality. This 2017 clip featuring the experimental hip-hop trio Clipping, on the other hand, is the definition of #onbrand. Each member of the group grabs exactly what you would expect. Vocalist Daveed Diggs goes for some rap faves (Freestyle Fellowship, Mac Dre) and jazz. Producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes dig deep to uncover challenging experimental work and film soundtracks.


Another group that sticks right in their chosen lane with their Amoeba selections is HAIM. The three sisters go for the pop and indie stuff and visual fare you would anticipate — Titanic, Ace of Base, Shania Twain. But the reason to tune into this clip is to enjoy the comfortable banter and charming memories that the family band engage in. It will make you long for a similar sibling relationship or at least to have the chance to hang out with the Haim sisters someday.

The Magnetic Fields

With their stores closed due to the pandemic, Amoeba Music still found a way to produce fresh What’s In My Bag? videos by having the artists film themselves talking about records from their own collections. The majority stuck to their homes or offices, but Magnetic Fields leader Stephin Merritt took the show on the road. He filmed his 2020 clip at a mini golf course where, between putts, he pulled albums by Half Japanese, Elke Sommer and Bessie Smith from his tote bag.

Rick Astley

Rick Astley, and Amoeba, would have been forgiven for Rickrolling us and walking away. Instead, the U.K. popster goes long on an eclectic batch of records, each one with a personal connection. Astley talks up his friends in Foo Fighters, gives a nod to an ex-girlfriend for introducing him to ’80s post-punk group Japan, remembers having his mind blown by prog rockers Genesis and being reduced to tears by a song from the Scottish group Biffy Clyro.

Dry Cleaning

Finish out your initial journey into the world of What’s In My Bag? with this recent video featuring the members of band Dry Cleaning. Almost none of their selections suggests anything close to what their music sounds like. But like so many modern artists, these four musicians are culling from an enormous array of influences to generate their off-kilter take on post-punk. That translates into left field purchases like a Barry Manilow live album, some heavy dub, the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas and an unsettling album called The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults.

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