“I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black…”
When you think of Nirvana in terms of music videos, there’s some pretty obvious imagery that comes to mind. The janitor, the anarchic cheerleaders, the laugh-face-into-serious-face, the Ed Sullivan ripoff. But how many of you think of a crucifixion? A little girl in a white cape? A huge woman with all of her organs showing? Not many of you, I suspect. And yet, these are all clear images in my head – especially on a day like today, in which we take a look at my favourite Nirvana video; as well as potentially my favourite Nirvana song. A winning combination indeed.
Working with Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, the extensively detailed and occasionally disturbing video treatment – as created by Kurt Cobain himself – came to life in a way that few outside of that immediate circle could have expected. Yes, there were throwaway performance moments tied in, but it was the 90s. It was the thing. Authenticity and all that. Actually playing the song and what have you. That’s not the important part – the important parts come with the dark and confounding imagery that surrounds the clip. It’s almost like an entryway into someone’s nightmare, particularly when staring down that freaky Jesus. Another interesting aspect is the girl in the Klansman outfit, who spends part of the second verse leaping to grab a plastic baby that’s growing on a tree. You remember what was on the cover of Nevermind, right? A stinging (albeit subtle) jab at the corporatisation of the grunge movement, if I ever saw one.
While the Heart-Shaped Box director’s cut was made available on Corbijn’s DVD awhile back, it’s only dropped online very recently in anticipation for the blockbuster In Utero reissue. If you haven’t checked that bad boy out yet, I strongly recommend doing so. Anyways, this is an interesting take on what could have been. You won’t see any new footage in the first verse and chorus, so feel free to skip ahead. With this cut of the clip, a tense relationship begins to develop between the girl and the organs woman. I wish it had more time to play out, personally. Maybe stretched out into another verse. Also, in doing this, it manages to cut one of my favourite moments from the whole clip, in which bassit Kirst Novoselic puts his arm around Dave Grohl and the two embrace for the entirety of the third verse as Kurt sings in the foreground. I don’t know why, but I always found that part so sweet – it was a moment of peace and warmth in such a disturbing environment.
It’s worth emphasising that neither version is “better” than the other. It’s two sides of the same coin. It’s a methodical type of madness from the mind of a guy who thrived off such things.
“I’ll take you all the way, stay another song…”
Y’know, there is one way to make me feel like I haven’t achieved anything, and that’s to show me the successes that others have had when they were my age. For instance, Sophie Ellis Bextor – the focus of today’s lesson – was 22 (indeed, the age I am now) when she had her first worldwide solo hit. A top-five hit in eighteen countries at 22! Jesus. Ms. EB is 34 now and has three kids, but there was a period where she was probably the hottest woman in pop music – I’m talking both figuratively and aesthetically here. Although her only major hit over here – excluding Groovejet by Spiller, on which she provided the vocals – she’s managed to keep up a fairly respectable profile in the UK, consistently releasing albums and accumulating a strong following among the pop geeks.
That’s all well and good, yes, but today we’re here to hone in on what was the most-played song on European radio throughout 2002. This inescapable early-2000s floor-filler had enough going for it without any form of visual accompaniment – there’s a hook every seven seconds (pop geeks will get this), the production is flawless and SEB’s vocals are chic and stylish. With that said: Holy hell, the video made a difference. If one was to ever properly answer how to improve on perfection, they’d surely point to a clip like this. It remains one of my absolute favourite clips of the 2000s, pop or otherwise. And why? Because it’s so delightfully bitchy.
I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the representation of the ego within pop videos – the males going for boastful and brawny; while the females tend to be more snide and vindictive. It’s more or less about asserting status, and this is very much achieved in the Murder on the Dancefloor video. Yes, it’s clearly a bit of a send-up and a parody of the ego representation, but it plays it straight enough that it could fall either way – especially to a younger audience.
A dance competition is happening, and the heat is on for SEB and her partner. She shows full intent on winning the thing from the very beginning, and cuts some pretty severe corners in order to do so. The cast of characters surrounding SEB are hilarious enough on their own, but their reactions when she manages to cut them out of the comp make them even better. There clearly wasn’t much of a budget for the video – perhaps there wasn’t much faith in her as a solo artist? – but it doesn’t take a genius cinematographer to make SEB look resplendent; nor a genius choreographer to make her look fantastic in the throes of the dance.
Really, we’re all winners at the end of this one. What a glorious bit of fun this one is. I wish I could have enjoyed it more at the time – at 11/12, I was too busy trying to convince people I was a heterosexual to have time for this. Only later did I appreciate the true beauty of Murder. With that came the silent envy over her young achievements, but it’s a double-edged sword I’m willing to wield.
“It’s the beat that my heart skips when I’m with you…”
So, after years of neither one of them visiting Australia, both Knowles sisters are coming to Australia. This is good. This is very, very good. Solange, who kicked a lot of arse last year with her gorgeous video for Losin’ You, will be here in December for Falls Festival. Roughly a month and change beforehand, though, we’re getting an arena tour from the one and only Beyonce. This is my first time seeing Queen B in action, and I am expecting something that’s nothing short of exhilarating. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with for a big show like this one.
I wasn’t always such a gushing queer over Bee, y’know. Back when I was a mad alternative triple j we love music kid, I was never allowed to like Beyonce. That was for GIRLS. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. That was, of course, before this ditty came around. Sure, I didn’t appreciate it at first – girl germs, rnb “not reel music” etc. But it was probably around 2007 that I snapped and realised I was holding back my enjoyment of this superwoman and her music for no real reason at all. So, I stopped being a fuckhead and immersed myself in all things Beyonce.
This video, in particular, has stood the test of time for me as one of the definitive moments in her career – not only voted as the greatest song of the 2000s, but a glistening and all-out video that made everything else stop dead in its tracks. Even though Wikipedia itself admitted that “the video is essentially plotless,” you have to ask yourself: Who’s watching Beyonce videos for the PLOT? There are insane chunks of choreography! Fast cars! Jay-Z just being a flat out dude! I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where this isn’t awesome. I don’t want to be there anymore. I’m in a safe – and far, far better – place now. Now, SHAKE!
“Thank God for Mom and Dad for stickin’ two together, ’cause we don’t know how…”
I’m, admittedly, pretty insufferable with my “can you believe this is ten years old?!?” schtick sometimes. Especially this year, where I get to go all crazy nostalgic on my twelve/thirteen year old self. But please, you will just have to forgive me for this one. We’re about to take a look at one of the defining videos of the 2000s, the visual accompaniment to what is regarded as one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Yes, friends, we’re tuning up the band for OutKast‘s video for Hey Ya!
Although the song wouldn’t majorly dent the charts until 2004, it was around this time ten years ago that we were introduced to The Love Below - the frenzy-inducing superstar pop band, comprised entirely of versions of Andre 3000. Big Boi makes a cameo at the beginning of the video as the band’s manager, which I loved. The two would always appear in one another’s videos for the duration of the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below promotional cycle, and I remember really digging that – even though these were solo records, it was still being presented under the OutKast name and there was never any rivalry between the two.
Once we get to the actual performance – that’s Benjamin Andre, Possum Jenkins, Johnny Vulture, Ice Cold 3000 and Dookie, not to mention the three backing vocalists known as The Love Haters – it’s magical stuff. It captures the kind of utter madness that would ensue when popular bands would play the Ed Sullivan show or some kind of equivalent. I remember this video so vividly, I barely had to watch it again to write about it. Benjamin’s cheeky little smile after he finds some girls in the audience lusting after the shy one; Dookie glaring directly into the camera while hitting the snare drum during the song’s breakdown, not to mention Ice Cold’s wild dancing.
I love this video as much now as I did back then – it captures one’s imagination and sends you directly into what makes the whole song so magic. Even the old dad watching from home can’t stop himself when this song comes on. No doubt you’ll be the same when you watch this again.
“I never really thought of Heaven much, ’til we put him in the ground…”
I first discovered the music of Bright Eyes around the age of 14, which is statistically the best time to discover Bright Eyes pretty much ever. His words and music connected with me the exact way they’re supposed to hit a confused, weird little kid like myself. Of all of the material that came out around this time, however – namely, the I’m Wide Awake and Digital Ash records – I remember this video the most vividly.
Yes, of course, First Day of My Life is the best-known track from this era. With that said, I always have such fond memories of this song – the last song on Digital Ash – and its simple yet incredibly fascinating video. In it, Conor Oberst enters a room, writes the words “DID IT ALL GET REAL?” on the wall – seemingly doing mirror writing so that we, the audience, can see it – before detailing the entire song’s lyrics in a very creative and clever way.
I’m not much of an artist, but this affected what art I was creating at the time substantially – I’d be doing visual interpretations of songs and their lyrics for years and years after this clip came out. Hell, if I’m bored on a train and have a notebook handy, I’ll probably even do one now. I often don’t rememeber doing them, but the sentiment and the idea still remains. Easy/Lucky/Free definitely takes the concept of a lyric video to the next level. I’ll always love this clip for what it did to my brain.
“They lowered a tow, that stuck in his neck to the gills…”
Here’s a ten-year anniversary that kicked me in the dick this week: The Mars Volta‘s debut album, De-Loused in the Comatorium. For all the flack that the band received in their later years, even leading up to the band’s demise back in January, a sold amount of said detractors can all agree that this record was – and still is – more or less untouchable. I mean, what a dream team! Rick Rubin producing. Flea playing bass. Jon Theodore on drums. Isaiah Ikey-Owens on keys. Need I say more? The album is an absolute punisher, the closest to perfection that the band ever got.
Only 2 singles were released from the album: Inertiatic ESP and this. The Inertiatic video was super-fun for its trippy take on the band’s extreme live shows, but I was always drawn to the subdued majesty of the Televators video. A mostly-animated affair, the video takes in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic city. The surrounds have been taken over by animals and something grand is forming… something bigger than you or I. That’s both metaphorical and physical, I should mention. The atmosphere of this clip is nothing short of incredible. For one of the more quiet moments of the album, it certainly knows how to delve into great levels of intensity. A remarkable visual interpretation, that serves as a souvenir of this iconic LP. Throw it on sometime this week if you get the chance. It sure as shit doesn’t sound like 2003. It sounds like the distant future.
“Come back into bed, babe, turn off the phone…”
I have no idea why this one came to me the other day, but it somehow ended up in my head for an entire day so I had to go and seek out the video. Kate Ceberano, for those of you playing at home, was a teen pop star in the 80s through her work in the band I’m Talking. She had a handful of hits as a solo act, but the timing of my birth meant I missed most of them. This one landed at just the right time, though. It’s fascinating that it became such a hit for her, given she was in her thirties at the time of release – by no means old, but if you’re a teen musician then it’s certainly considered “past your prime.”
Perhaps Kate was pre-empting the whole cougar thing? Who knows. All I knew was this video was sexy as hell when I was watching it growing up. The single-entendre sexuality of the song hadn’t quite sunk it yet – I genuinely thought the bed in that lyric posted above was just for sleeping. Still, I was immersed in this world of extreme close-ups, cool suits and a brassy, bold woman who wasn’t going into her thirties without a fight.
“Shut down, turn around, don’t look that way anymore…”
Yeah yeah, the Hottest 20 happened over the weekend. Blah, blah, blah. More self-congratulating and lamenting corpesfuckery. Songs by dudes and for dudes. Only one GLBT artist, less than 10% women. So obviously, Kylie Minogue was a shoe-in, right? …right, fellas? Anyway, today I thought we’d talk about Our Kylie again. You know, a lot of people don’t know this about me, but I think Impossible Princess is Kylie’s best record; and remains one of the more underrated pop records of the 90s. It came at a very peculiar time, where she was caught between rock and a hard place. Yeah, literally as in rock music – as showcased here.
A lot of people think the Come Into My World video was the first time several Kylies had appeared on screen at the same time, but trek back five years prior to its release and you’ll find this gem of a clip. Considering the woman has had roughly as many reinventions as Madonna, it was only fitting that several of her personalities came out to play in the Did It Again video. The four Kylies are Cute Kylie, Dance Kylie, Indie Kylie (naturally, my favourite) and Sex Kylie. All four of them try to dominate the screen in the verses, which was a fairly playful – if not excessively blatant – stab at the conflicts that have come with the changing of the times and the style development. Eventually, it looked like Dance Kylie won out: the lead single of the next album was Spinning Around, the video for which is another story for another time. Still, we’ll always have 1997. We’ll always have this wonderful, bizarre time. We’ll always have the Impossible Princess. Kiss the tiara.
“You thought that we would rock, and knock it up a notch…”
We’ve talked about Local H before, namely their mammoth single Bound to the Floor. Truth be told, that was not my first experience with the band. No, it came around 8 or 9 years old, where I saw this video, for their less-successful track All the Kids Are Right. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought the single – which, funnily enough, had Bound to the Floor as an acoustic B-side. So, was I just merely infatuated by the rockin’ tune itself? Upon review, I’m gonna go with “not quite.”
Y’see, this is a really, really clever video. I might not have even realised it fully when I watched it the first time around, but it may have set in subliminally. The video takes place at a venue where a Local H show is happening. The twist is that Local H themselves are the only people that are there. No, seriously! Everyone in the audience, the guys doing the sound, the merch guys, the security, the scalper out the front – all of them are played by either vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas or drummer Joe Daniels, who left the band about a year later. It’s brilliantly edited for something that came out 15 years ago. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it again all those years later. Those clever bastards!
“You carry protection, but your heart will go on like Celine Deon…”
Another insight into my childhood comes with this turn-of-the-century banger from one of the most wondrous of one-hit-wonder groups, Bomfunk MCs. Freestyler was at the top of the charts in – according to Wikipedia – Sweden, Germany, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. That’s a worldwide fucking hit, people. Nought to be sneezed at. Even with this in mind, I can’t help but feel it wouldn’t have quite gotten there were it not for this absolute smash of a music video. Often imitated, never duplicated.
If you were engaged with music on any level in 1999, I don’t have to run through the finer details of the clip. For those of you out of the loop, though, it’s set in a Helsinki train station and follows the adventures of a precocious 15 year old that just happens to have a magical remote given to him. This can only go well, right? The clip feels, at times, like a complete time capsule – I mean, look at the fashion! The dancing! The glasses! The hair! Sure, it was all in Finland; but these people were certainly not uncool looking in 1999. In fact, they’d have looked pretty boss, all things considered.
The video is also a commentary on abuse of power, believe it or not. If you can see that through all the choreography, you’re far more observant than I was when I first saw the video all those years ago. I just wanted to be that badass little kid. Fuck, even in 2013, I still kinda want to be that kid; and he’s probably pushing 30 now. Anyway, reminisce with me – or, better yet, experience for the first time.