Sunday, June 23, 2013

Youtube Killed the Video Star.

I can't remember the first video clip I ever saw.

I do remember watching Madonna writhing on the road in Burning Up and Michael Jackson making the floor light up with every precious step in the clip for Billie Jean and I remember bouncing on the couch until it broke while watching Mick Jagger sing Start Me Up on Countdown.  But... I don't remember my first ever video clip.  Video may have killed the radio star but I was in favour of this kind of cold blooded murder.  I couldn't get enough of watching music on the TV and though I was never really given free reign over the remote I found a way to watch Countdown in between breaks on the nightly news.

When I was a teenager, as most Australian teenagers do I started watching Rage - a music video program that ran all night on the weekends. In fact, I approached this venture in most nerdological (made up word) fashion by taping each overnight show and then watching them in full the next day. I was fascinated by what musical artists picked as their favourite video clips and took note of the artists they sighted as influences for their own music.  If I liked that musical artist I'd make it my business to explore their musical tastes.  It fascinated me that Trent Reznor listened to Erykah Badu and that Perry Farrell was partial to The Geraldine Fibbers.  I explored these connections and I drew musical family trees in my head that remain intact to this day.

I've always wanted to program Rage for a night.  I guess the beauty of owning a blog and having access to YouTube means you can kind of program your own 

So, here you go, my favourite video clips.

Okay, this is by far my favourite clip of all time. It's a masterpiece of popular culture.  It's funny.  It's vibrant.  The song is just brilliant.  The album this song comes from is one of my favourites and I can never watch it just once.
Buddy Holly - Weezer

Chris Cornell has the voice of an angel.  That is, if the angel was screaming his head off.  I remember when this video clip came out.  I happened to be into surrealist art at the time and this video clip fit right into my idea of what was beautiful and meaningful. It was on high rotation in my household until it drove everyone nuts.  Love the creepy Stepford wife feel of it.  The song stands the test of time.  Soundgarden rock.
Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden

Laurie Anderson is a crackpot.  I pick this video because it's hypnotic and beautiful in a performance art kind of way.  Conceptual performance-artist cracker jacks need love too you know. You have to admire a woman who is going to go completely left field with her art.  She totally makes this work.  Who knows what the fuck it's about?  Who cares?  It's great.
O Superman - Laurie Anderson

Oh Billie Jean.  For many years I dreamt of a house where I could have tiles that lit up when I stepped on them.  I asked for it numerous times but my parents weren't buying it.  I'm still dirty on the fact that it never happened.  I practised doing the moonwalk up and down the corridor until my legs hurt.  This video clip is marvelous.  The song is even better.  I love everything about it.
Billie Jean - Michael Jackson

I love Deborah Harry. She's both crazy and beautiful.  What a combination in a woman.  I love the jazz hands in this video.  In fact I pick the video based purely on the jazz hands.  Looking at this now, it seems like it's very dated but somehow it still works.  Even the very, very VERY bad attempt at rap is absolutely awesome.  Thus is the power of Blondie; they can make bad rap sound brilliant.
Rapture - Blondie

When this clip came out it was the talk of the town.  It's still funny.  Not sure if I still love the song but the clip is great.
Praise You - Fatboy Slim

I've been sitting here for a while trying to think of something coherent to say about this song and this clip.  It's difficult because there was (and is) such controversy about Courtney Love, her famed drug habit, her accused Yoko Ono type role in the demise of Kurt/Nirvana.  Although Courtney Love was one of the greatest train wrecks of the 90s you can't take your eyes off her in this clip.  It's beautifully shot and I think really typifies the grungy aesthetic typical of that time - and particularly of Hole.  The lyric - I want to be the girl with the most cake...  I mean, wow.  It's a beautiful song.  Great clip.
Doll Parts - Hole

I love a bit of a musical war.  You can't miss the intent in his video clip.  If Chris Cornell is the most angelic male screamer then Kat Bjelland is his female counterpart.  She is flawless in her anger.  Apparently she's quite a soft spoken sweet woman in real life but you'd never know from her music.  I love how blatantly obvious this clip is.  Basically... eat shit Courtney?  Would that be fair to say?  I love Babes in Toyland.  They were a great band.
Bruise Violet - Babes in  Toyland
Click for Clip

This isn't my favourite Sonic Youth song (that honour goes to Teenage Riot) but this is definitely up there.  Kim Gordon is truly one of the best women in rock and I love Kathleen Hanna's guest role in this clip.  Are they poking fun at Hole?  Looks like we'll never know.  Kim Gordon produced Hole's first record and Kathleen Hanna hated Courtney with a passion (likewise Courtney).  It's a little awkward when your friends hate your friends, eh?  Love this song but I love the video clip more.
Bull in the Heather - Sonic Youth

Yes, we all wish would could be as cool as Kim Deal but it looks as though Kim Deal wanted to be as cool as Kim Gordon and sought her out especially to direct this film clip (alongside Spike Jonze) for The Breeders.  I remember listening to this song ad nauseam when it came out.  It's STILL EXCELLENT.  Love the Cannonball rolling down the street.  I hope no one got hurt.  Love it.
Cannonball - The Breeders

He ambles along.  He bumps into people.  He sings stony faced.  What's not to love?
Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve

Ahhh Kurt.  What can I say? What a beautiful, troubled man.  All Nirvana's songs are gorgeous but mostly full of pain.  How can they not be?  Sure this song is no exception but you have to smile when watching the clip.  I get a big kick out of the retro variety show vibe.
In Bloom - Nirvana

This song is uncomfortable to listen to.  We've all sung it, (mostly drunk) but have you really listened to it?  It's not exactly ...flattering.  Although he's cleaned up his act now and looks more like an ad for healthy living than as the skinny coke head that wrote Closer, Trent Reznor was truly a force during those "Downward Spiral" days.  He's still remarkable of course. This video clip is confronting and magnificent on many levels.  Why should things be comfortable and G-rated all the time? I'd much rather see this kind of perversion than an under-age Miley Cyrus writhing on my screen any day.  Let's get serious.  This is a masterpiece and a beautiful, disturbing, horrifying visual feast.
Closer - NIN

It's the dance.  The dance is brilliant.
Thriller - Michael Jackson

I was still a 10 year old Catholic when this clip came out.  It rocked my world.  If anyone could bring a saint to life it was Madonna in a black slip dancing in front of flaming crucifixes.  The controversy this clip produced was mammoth at the time.  Condemned by the Vatican!  That basically means it's awesome.
Like A Prayer - Madonna

Love it when a video clip tells a story.  This is gorgeous.  The song is magnificent and the clip is like a mini movie.  Kate Bush was inspired by a memoir written by Peter Reich about cloudbusting (rain making) with his father Wilhelm Reich.  It's a hypnotic clip.  Kate Bush plays the son and Donald Sutherland plays Wilhelm. A beautiful creation.
Cloudbusting - Kate Bush

Sometimes you come across a video clip that is so absolutely perfect for the song.  This is it.  Love the slightly chaotic camera work.  It sets the perfect mood for teenage hedonism.
1979 - Smashing Pumpkins

Every. single. lyric. is pure joy.  Love the Bobby Brown references.  Jimmy Fallon has got some moves.
Idiot Boyfriend - Jimmy Fallon

Okay, so this is not exactly an official video clip but I just love it.  Sesame Street is so clever with the play on words here.  Love it how the U keeps attacking and groping Smokey.  It's a little creepy, but what's not to love?
U Really Got a Hold on Me - Smokey Robinson (Sesame Street Version)

Generally speaking TWS make great video clips but this is my favourite and perhaps even my favourite song of theirs.  How long must it have taken to create such a lego-tastic delight?  Love the colours and the fun of it.
Fell in Love with a Girl - The White Stripes

Ohhhh, how I love this video clip.  It's sad, it's funny, it's sweet.  How can you not fall in love with the anthropomorphic dog-man?  It's beautifully shot and after all that rejection you just want him to get together with that lovely girl.  Alas, not to be.  *sob*
Da Funk - Daft Punk

If Buddy Holly is my favourite video clip this would have to be a very close second.  Everything about it is flawless.  Love the Starsky and Hutch feel of it.  The song is incredible and the action is riveting. Is there anything that Spike Jonze can't do?  He's a master in under 4 minutes.
Sabotage - Beastie Boys

Simple.  The lyrics are masterful (it's Bob, duh) and when you have good lyrics you just need to write them down and the point is made.  Yep.
Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan
Click for Clip

Best choreography since Thriller.
Here it Goes Again - OK Go

This clip is just weird.  Love the spasmodic clapping and dancing.  The ending is a true WTF moment.  That's what I like in a video clip!
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga

The song is brilliant but the clip just adds that extra dimension of crazy.  It's funny and creepy at the same time.  I laughed my head off the first time I saw the pregnant man put a pineapple up his wahoo.  As for the disco dancing down the supermarket isles... Genius!
Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction

Speaking of genius.  Foofighters always had it (Big Me, anyone?) but Everlong takes the cake as one of the strangest "funny videos" of all time.  Love it when Dave Grohl goes back into the dream and emerges with the lady log legs.  You'll see what I mean when you watch the clip.
Everlong - Foofighters

I love a bit of politics in my music and this is pretty fearless as far as promoting a message.  Directed by Michael Moore, this clip caused the NY Stock Exchange to lock its doors, fearing they would be stormed by angry rioters. Splicing the clip with images from the "Millionaire" game show highlight the division between rich and poor.  What is art if not a reflection of life?
Sleep Now in the Fire - Rage Against the Machine

Does having a baby momma who is an airhead undercut how hauntingly beautiful this clip is?  Yeah, it kind of does.  ...but it's a great clip.
Runaway - Kanye West

Why can't this happen to me?  Take note Mr Darcy.
Take on Me - A ha

I was a big Queen fan growing up (still am) - Freddie Mercury is masterful in this video clip. There is no hint of irony here. He is splendid in pink and the song is glorious.  Just another suburban day waiting to dawn where a humdrum domestic goddess dreams of a better life. Don't we all?
I Want to Break Free - Queen  

Jarvis Cocker is sublime in everything he does.  This clip is no exception - garish and stark.  The song is funny and tragic all rolled into one.  Love the lyrics. Love Jarvis.
Common People - Pulp

From the moment the opening lyric excuse me but can I be you for a while is uttered you know it's going to be a goodie. It's heart-wrenching and beautiful.  I love the image of the little girl climbing over the piano and Tori in a box.  The clip has an 'experimental' feel to is and Tori seems kind of awkward.  This of course adds to the brilliance.
Silent All These Years - Tori Amos

If Freddie Mercury showed us how to be a domestic goddess from one side this is the story from the other side of the tracks.  This clip is no  "Sabotage" with its punchy action. Instead it meanders gently from scene to scene like a neverending flowing stream - as Badu does, from room to room ...on and on.  It's worth the 5 minute investment you'll make.  Brilliant song.  Thoughtful clip
On and On - Erykah Badu

Et vous?

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