“Pop culture was an art, now art’s a pop culture in me…”
Has there ever been a more conflicted relationship than between Lady Gaga and Yes, We’ve Got a Video!? Man, not even Perez Hilton can match our bad blood. There was a time when Mother Monster was creating some truly awesome videos. She even took out the #1 position in our inaugural Top 30 Videos of the Year list back in 2010 for the inimitable Telephone. After that, things began to sour. The video for Alejandro was dreary and confusing, the video for Judas even more so. And the video for The Edge of Glory was fucking atrocious. I don’t recall even bothering with the video for Marry the Night.
I was done. Then, I saw her live on the Born This Way Ball last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. She’s an entertainer, I thought. Can’t take that away from her. Look at this spectacle. It’s all eyes on her. Maybe her inevitable comeback will recapture some of that magic that made me a fan to begin with. Who knows? Well, here we are. The video for the already-underwhelming single Applause is here. I genuinely didn’t think there could be a bigger mess of a video after the Edge of Glory debacle; but even this is giving it a substantial run for its money. The effects are lazy, the imagery borders on desperate – seriously, Gaga’s head on a fucking swan?!? – and even the choreography is substantially lacking. The fact that it treads much closer water to her “Weird Al” Yankovic parody video, Perform This Way, says a lot about how far down the rabbit hole things have gotten. This, friends, does not bode well for the rest of 2013 in GagaLand. Proceed at own risk.
“Wrap it in a blanket, like you would a severed horse head…”
Way to keep up productivity, dudes! It’s not raining with The Uncluded – it’s pouring! Not long after announcing the title, artwork and tracklist for Hokey Fright, the debut collaborative LP from Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson; the duo have released not one, not two, but three videos. We previously saw the oddly playful Earthquake here on Y,WGAV!, and I recommend checking out the Scissorhands clip for its immaculate nail artwork depicting both Aesop and Kimya. However, this is not only the best clip of the three, it’s one of the best videos either artist have ever put their names to.
Delicate Cycle is, for all intents and purposes, a celebration of the freaks. The weirdos. The people and things that don’t quite fit in anywhere. The square pegs in round holes. There are disabled dogs, filthy hippys, prosthetic limbs, introverted and imaginative children – and, of course, our heroes in Aesop and Kimya. The video takes a handful of subplots and brings them all together to rejoice in a world of batshit weirdness. Each story ends on a high note, culminating in warmth and empowerment. After awhile, it becomes clear: It’s not just two people who are the Uncluded. It can’t be. We all are, in our own way. Unclude yourself today.
“Her body is gone, but her soul is here to stay…”
There are few things I love more than an odd couple, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that there aren’t that many couples quite as odd as anti-folk troubadour Kimya Dawson and hyper-literate rap fiend Aesop Rock. Talk of their collaborative album has been going around as early as 2011, but only last week was their album officially announced. It’s called Hokey Fright; and the two of them together are officially known as The Uncluded. If that wasn’t enough to whet one’s appetite, how about a new video to go along with it?
Neither artist are strangers to clever or sweet videos – hell, Kimya’s video for Solid and Strong was one of the most adorable clips of 2012 – so it’s no surprise that their first video as The Uncluded is a simple delight of the senses. Located entirely within a bedroom – perhaps the bedroom of Kimya’s kid Panda? – the two play around with toys, keyboards, acoustic guitars and even a swing. I especially adore the sequence during Aesop’s rap in which they dive onto a stuffed-toy shark on the bed. They’re having a world of fun, so why on earth aren’t you? Get uncluded.
“I don’t mark my time with dates, holidays, faded wisdom, locked karma holders…”
I thought it was all over. Last year, I lost my all-time favourite band, R.E.M. After 31 years and over a dozen albums, the Athens indie-rock pioneers decided to depart. We got a greatest hits package and three more songs, and that was it. Just over a year on from that announcement, however, a bizarre footnote has arisen. It’s for the band’s final ever video, for the last song on their last ever album. I don’t think it can get anymore definitive than that, now, do you?
Actor and occasional eccentric James Franco is in the director’s chair for this one, bringing the song’s distorted poetry and swaying rhythm to life in an unsettling but intensely fascinating style. Neither Franco nor any members of R.E.M. appear in the video. Rather, we take a slew of handheld footage taken from Hollywood streets and hotspots, blurring in and out of grainy old footage from unknown times and places. Oh, and there’s a Lindsay Lohan photoshoot in there somewhere, too. It almost feels like a descent into madness, particularly when paired with the lyrics. Is any of it real? What has this city done to you/me/them/it/us? Is this all as beautiful as it seems? These questions are left hanging as the song fades away. They’ll probably never be answered.
“Said your love is known, I’m standing up on it…”
The album cycle for Bon Iver, Bon Iver, the wildly successful second studio album for Justin Vernon, aka – you guessed it – Bon Iver, is nearly complete. We’ve seen a helluva lot go on in that time – sell-out world tours, Grammy wins, Saturday Night Live parodies and a young lady by the name of Birdy taking one of Vernon’s tracks and becoming an adult-contemporary sensation on the back of it. For the intents and purposes of this blog, it’s also absolutely worth mentioning that the album also gave us some truly fantastic videos, including Calgary, Towers and Holocene – the last of those three even cracking my top 10 in the top 30 best videos of 2011! So, how does it all end for BI,BI? There’s one more video.
It’s for the last song on the album, a gorgeous late-night easy-listen with glassy synths and a sax solo. In other words, it’s quite a stretch away from what had been established about Bon Iver’s sound. In turn, the video for Beth/Rest sees Vernon and co. move away significantly from previous video efforts. In fact, I’d wager that this is unlike any other video that you’ll see this year. It’s a gorgeously bright parallel universe, full of blinding light and onesies that turn up out of nowhere and then are never seen again. It’s like a mix of an alien movie, that Harvest Moon game and arthouse cinema. Am I mad in that I genuinely want to know what the fuck is going on in this video? Does it matter? It’s fantastic, regardless.
“I found that comment quite funny, ROFLMAO…”
Gotta be honest, I’ve wanted to write about these dudes for awhile. What can I tell you about the seemingly-unstoppable force of positivity and pop-rock that is Milhouse? They’ve had a decidedly killer year, putting on show-stopping sets at Black Wire Records, opening for The Smith Street Band in Sydney and playing the Poison City Weekender back in September. Although they’re pushing a new EP, Thrillhouse, at the moment, their debut video is for a track from last year’s Everything’s Coming Up… as part of a competition the band won through triple j Unearthed.
Teaming up with a crew over at NIDA, the trio got to bring their tongue-in-cheek frustrations with teen-speak to life as they literally headed back to school. Although the band’s (exceptionally handsome and mega-cool) bassist, Dave Drayton, confessed to me that they didn’t think they were much chop at acting, it’s this that makes the video all the more adorable. Drayton, guitarist/vocalist Tom Elder and drummer Chris Costin are three high-school kids who are sitting an exam. Everyone else is trying to learn, but Costin is busy day-dreaming the entire exam away. These dream sequences, admittedly, are pretty damn awesome – hey, they beat sitting any boring old exam, right? A huge congrats to all involved with this one – a fantastic initiative from Unearthed and just another feather in the super-posi cap of Milhouse! Won’t be long until these guys are the big wheels down at the cracker factory, just you wait…
“You don’t speak the language, you don’t read my signs…”
Technically, this blog post shouldn’t even exist. If you know what Y,WGAV! is all about, then you know one indisputable fact: Kimbra is a goddess, an ambivalent deity that cannot be touched. Look at her credentials! Top 20 position for the best videos of 2010! Top 5 positions for the best videos of 2011 – yeah, she was in TWO! She’s one of the most-featured acts in this blog’s history. She is… she’s perfect. I LOVE Kimbra.
This is essentially a victory lap of my love, as she takes on a track from the US edition of Vows, her debut, with director Guy Franklin who also did the Cameo Lover clip. Here, we get to see Kimbra going batshit – and I mean that in the most delightful way possible. It’s flat-out disturbing to watch at times, as she bounds about the white room and does a far more convincing job of being crazy than bloody Ricki-Lee and her last piece-of-shit video. Watch out for the scalpel near the end, that’s all I’m gonna say. Do you need more convincing? Shit, are you even still reading this? Go! Scroll down!
“All the dead ends and disappointments were fading from your memory…”
This does my heart good. The success of Gotye, all tall poppy syndrom aside, is wholly inspiring and so incredibly well-deserved. He’s one of the biggest stars in the world now, but is still constantly creating and making great art. The slew of videos that have come out in support of Making Mirrors are a reflection of that – it’s no secret that the Somebody video was/is kind of a big deal, taking out the top spot in our top 30 videos of 2011 countdown and getting nearly 300 million views on YouTube. Although this is a more understated effort – as well as a more understated song, really – it’s still quite a beautiful effort, for one of the best tracks from the album.
For Save Me, Wally de Backer has teamed up with animator extraordinaire Peter Lowey, who was last seen on this site with Art vs. Science‘s great video for With Thoughts video. In it, an animated Wally (presumably) begins as little more than wires and atoms. Over the time of the video, he slowly evolves and develops, growing more of his anatomy slowly but surely. He is growing into a fully-formed human. But something is still missing. It’s a painfully accurate reflection of the song’s ideas and emotions, gorgeously drawn and meticulously created. I think Lowey did an absolutely wonderful job with this – and if that’s the last we hear of Making Mirrors, then it’s a wonderful note to end on.