“We can cry tomorrow, watching It’s A Wonderful Life…”
Should get this out of the way up top: DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY INTO JOHN TRAVOLTA‘S EYES IN THE ABOVE PHOTO. HE WILL TAKE YOUR SOUL, AND SECURITY WON’T LET YOU GET IT BACK.
Alright, now let’s focus here. Eyes down here, friends. We’re talking the horrific reunion of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John today – specifically for a truly nightmarish Christmas album, imaginatively titled This Christmas. No doubt you’ve already seen some of the wreckage that this record has left in its wake, but it’s almost a given that nothing has been quite as glaringly evil and notoriously awful than the music video that the twosome put together for one of the songs from the record. Proceed with extreme caution.
Something I noted from the outset: Both of these guys are millionaires. Not quite in the same league – Travolta averaging about 160 mill, while ONJ is somewhere closer to 40 – but millionaires all the same. Why, then, did they decide to put aside maybe 20 dollars to make this video? Seriously, if you can afford a plane, you can afford a half-decent video. Hell, if you can afford the kind of heavy-duty hair dye that John is using on himself these days, you can surely afford a fucking half-decent video.
Anyway, this poorly-acted and plotless affair essentially revolves around John and Olivia getting back together for Christmas, as well as a stack of other families for no apparent reason. They just seem to be kind of tacked on in the second verse. I dunno. It’s all got this very artificial and creepy vibe to it, like they’re all part of a cult or something. I dunno, might be the Scientology wiping off on me. The dance scene near the end is particularly fucked. Maybe they all turn into aliens in the director’s cut? Who knows? All I can say is that it’s truly a Christmas nightmare we’ve got on our hands. Enjoy the fuck out of it.
Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you’ve been having an amazing time with the new year, and that you had a fun and safe Christmas. I’ve been at Peats Ridge once again, having a blast. Have just had an amazing week of gigs, too. But no rest for the wicked – this time next week, I’ll be jetting to Melbourne for a week for my first-ever visit there! How exciting! Anyway, prior to our official full-time return in February, here are the best 30 videos from last year. There’s some fun, some sadness, some beauty and a few unexpected gems. Let’s dig in!
With apologies to: Beastie Boys, Ball Park Music, Wavves, Beyonce, R.E.M., Jebediah, Seeker Lover Keeper, Fishing, Alpine, Snakadaktal, The Black Keys, Unkle and Is Tropical.
30. The National – Conversation 16
Directed by Scott Jacobson
Deep down, don’t we all want to live in a world where Kristen freaking Schaal gets to be President? No? Just me? Anyway, this was a peculiar choice for the final single to be lifted from 2010’s excellent High Violet record – but it resulted in possibly the best video the band have ever done. An unrequited love story between Schaal and Mad Men‘s John Slattery, this is a fantastically done video which plays out more like a silent movie – the expressions on the faces, as well as the music itself, explains it all. Truly one of the best bands in the world, giving us a great way to kick off the countdown.
Read my original blog on Conversation 16 here.
29. Fireworks – Arrows
Directed by Thom Glunt
Gospel, the outstanding second record from Detroit pop-punkers Fireworks, was easily one of my favourite albums of the year. Not to sound discriminatory or anything like that, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the band to add a video of the year contender with the clip for the album’s lead track and lead single. Have I simply come to suspect that all pop-punk bands do is tour footage montages? Anyway, the band themselves are nowhere to be seen in this video – instead, they leave the dirty work to a particularly sadistic arch-villian. He’s hell-bent on eliminating a family, one by one – but not in the way you’d expect, and certainly not with the motive you would expect, either. Oh, the suspense!
Read my original blog on Arrows here.
28. Snow Patrol – Called Out in the Dark
Directed by Brett Simon
If you take a cliche and twist it slightly, what does it become? Original, or just a counter-cliche? Whatever the case, consider this old chestnut: a music video inside a music video. You’ve seen it done, from Jack Johnson to Fall Out Boy and back again. It can still be clever, but you’ll be damned if it’s not cliche. Consider this curveball, though: What if you, the creator of the music, were not allowed to star in your own video (within a video)? This is what happens to Gary Lightbody, as he attempts to weave his way back onto camera and win over the director (played by Boston Legal‘s Tara Summers). For a band that have often been dismissed as too serious or glum, this is certainly a surprising turn – and one you can be grateful they have taken, if it leads to more great videos like this. As far as counter-cliches go, this isn’t too shabby at all.
Read my original blog on Called Out in the Dark here.
27. They Might Be Giants – Can’t Keep Johnny Down (video contest winner version)
Directed by Mohit Jaswal
This one might cause a little bit of controversy. As much as I liked the concept of the official Can’t Keep Johnny Down video, which features Rip Torn doing what he does best (kick arse), I couldn’t help but be drawn to the charms of the video contest the band held to make a video for the song. Some great entries came forth, but I’m of the firm belief that not only was the winner the most deserving, but also the best video for Johnny that has been made. It begins with underpants on the ground in the forest. It ends with a frustrated man in the office. In-between, there are pools, coupons, motorbikes and a variety of other slow-motion escapades. How does it all come together? Fucking beautifully. So watch for yourself.
26. Mamas Gun – Reconnection
Directed by James Stoneley
A delightfully unexpected nugget of gold came in the form of this little winner from up-and-coming London groovers Mamas Gun, who I had never heard of before getting recommended this clip through the blog’s email address. It only took one viewing for me to completely fall for its charm, and I can only assume it will do the very same for you. The brightly-coloured adventure takes its queues mostly from Alice in Wonderland, but it’s by no means a direct rip. All things considered, it’s quite inventive – I love the multiple camera effects and the costume changes, as well as the fact that every band member plays something different. A joy to watch every single time.
Read my original blog on Reconnection here.
That’s it, gang! Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you for part 2 of 5 this time next week! In the meantime, feel free to submit your own favourites or comments on these in the comment section below, or over at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sound good? Great!
“Harrison Ford is a quarter Jewish – not too shabby!”
Why should Christmas get all the fun? Way back when Adam Sandler was actually funny (if you were born after 1992, you may have trouble remembering this), he penned a Hannukah carol to celebrate the Jewish festivities in the only way he knew how. It’s turned into a mini-anthem of its own, and a couple of years ago Cherry Cherry himself Neil Diamond decided to have a crack at it.
This adorably cheesy video clip is the result of said cover, and although Diamond plays it straight in his cover, he still keeps the humour intact. There’s a lot to like about this – it’s family friendly, it’s cute, and for all of its dagginess it doesn’t make me want to skull-drag innocent children along dirt roads the way that many a Christmas carol tends to do. L’chaim, bitches!
“There was Santa, jammin’ on a guitar! He was really rockin’!”
Merry fucking Christmas, video fans. Did you miss me? Yeah, didn’t think so. Just before you all get pissed and eat ham, though, I thought we could have a little Christmas lunch of our own over here on Yes, We’ve Got a Video! – after all, this is the last you guys will hear from me in 2011 apart from a little end-of-year newsletter thing I’ll post next week. We should celebrate this little bit together, shouldn’t we?
Anyway, I thought I’d torture you kids with some videos that really bring out the Christmas cheer in all of us. Let’s start with a smash from Jan Terri. If you’ve ever trawled the web for the worst videos ever made – and don’t act like you haven’t – there’s a very good chance that you will have come across Jan’s VHS brilliance that is Losing You. Seriously, go watch that and come back; I’ll wait… dude! Hilar, right? Anyways, this choice cut from her second album sees her come across Santa – yep, your mate and mine, Santa – just shredding on a guitar. As you do. She then suddenly becomes an elf, and some weird shit goes down. She dances around for a bit, there’s some creepy humans-as-toys and some busting out of the chorus as some ducks swim by.
This is a masterpiece of so-bad-it’s-good music video. It’s so horrendous that you’ll probably fall in love with it. I can’t offer anything more than that, now, can I?
“Wake up the happiness, shake up the happiness, it’s Christmas time…”
Didn’t think the whole “Train are back and there’s nothing you can do about it” situation could get a whole lot worse? Man, you just weren’t thinking hard enough, were you? They’ve now taken Coca Cola’s Open Happiness song and turned it into a fucking pop-reggae Christmas song. Let’s just let that sentence itself marinate for just a few seconds…and now onto the video.
It starts out the front of a Train gig with lead leatherface Pat Monaghan saying “ho ho ho” – creepy on the best of days, right? It then sees Santa fuck everything up with his crystal ball that apparently shifts the dynamics of earth itself when it’s shaken. Cute girl in need of tickets falls into cute boy with spare ticket. People outside the “sold out” show – shyeah, right! – have the gate knocked over so they can crash the gig. It’s all sickly sweet and the exact kindof self-grandeurising shit that both Train and Coca-Cola would be into. Sadly no subliminal advertising, but I’m sure you get the idea.
“Just add flour, salt, a little red wine and don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang…”
Paul Kelly is a man of many unofficial titles to me. He is (unofficially) Australia’s greatest living writer next to Gareth Liddiard, he has many contenders for the (unofficial) anthem of Australia and this track in particular, the timeless How to Make Gravy, is a treasured Christmas carol…unofficial, of course, but you can’t help but dream.
In typical Aussie fashion, the only available YouTube clip of How to Make Gravy‘s official video is a rip from a taping of rage – fittingly, just a few days ago on the 21st of December; the date referenced. Paul and his band are jamming out the sound on the rooftop with some pretty nice coastal views. It all looks very much like a vintage Australian summer – right down to the band’s incredibly daggy shirts – and you can’t help but whip up some nostalgia whilst watching this one…if you’re old enough, of course.
“I don’t think I remember a taste as sweet as this December…”
It’s been just over a year since this (just in time for) Christmas single dropped from quite possibly the worst band to come out of Australia in the past twenty years – Short Stack. Okay, so it doesn’t technically deal with Christmas, though what else could Shaun Diviney be moaning about when he whines lyrics like “I’m coming home/to be your sweet December.” I’m Coming Home for Christmas, anyone?
Anyway, the symbolism goes a bit further when they burn a fucking Christmas tree in the video for some fucktarded reason. The band prims and poses like the inbred hicks that they are, and the world begrudgingly keeps turning. See how long you can watch this video without the following exact though springing into your head: “…fuck it. Someone needs to die.” Your time starts…now.
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…”
Happy Christmas eve, gang! Let’s get into the festivities with one of the most truly cringeworthy Christmas singles of all time – George Michael and The Other Dude That No-one Remembers, better known collectively as Wham!
In this thrilling little escapade, George brings a girl to a ski lodge – shyeah right, George! -and they, as well as a bunch of friends, go skiing and set up the tree and bring in firewood and shit. Also at this party is George’s ex-girl – again, shyeah right! – and they exchange a few forlorn glances at one another. General frollicking about in the snow follows.
All in all, a pretty boring video, but a few things stick out about it that qualify it for The Cringe. Firstly, the scene where everyone is having fun with a snowball fight while George is brooding…in a parka. How in fuck do you BROOD in a PARKA? It just doesn’t click – the parka is so warm and lovely and happy! Bloody hell, George. Also, the fashion here is just awful – the colours are blinding, the hair is atrocious, it’s an eighties affair in the very very worst possible way. How this was ever considered cool or heartfelt – not to mention how George was ever considered a “ladies man” – is one of life’s greatest enigmas…
Just wanted to wish you a very happy, safe and fun Christmas. Tomorrow, you’re getting nothing but the best (and, of course, worst) Christmas videos. Let’s have some fun and eat too much ham and chocolate!