|the man behind some of the awesomest innovations in music videos and film: michel gondry|
So as promised, here's the second installment - the ten music videos i believe defined the visual medium from 1980 to 1999:
A ha: Take on Me (1984)
By the time director Steve Barron took on Norwegian band a-Ha's hit, "Take On Me," he'd already been responsible for helming the iconic "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson and "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits. But this arguably represents his peak (especially when you bear in mind he would direct the feature-length Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Notable for using the pencil-sketch animation / live-action combo called rotoscoping (whereby real footage is traced-over), "Take On Me" wasn't just groundbreaking but genuinely nerve-wracking. The young woman in the café reading a comic book (who was actually lead singer Morten Harket's girlfriend at the time) literally gets dragged into a dangerous motorcycle race and becomes part of the story.
Dont Come Around Here No More (1985)
Run DMC - Walk This Way (1985)
It's difficult to think of a more obvious metaphor for the divide between rock and hip-hop then the one in this video: it's literally a brick wall (one, by the way, that doesn't appear to be very stable). In 1986, Run-DMC were an Adidas-rocking rap group on their way up; Aerosmith a quickly fading rock band that had achieved its peak in the mid to late 70s (and they looked it — honestly, they still do). Originally recorded for 1975's Toys in the Attic, the song "Walk This Way" had a fantastic, jagged guitar lick. A little more than a decade later, Run-DMC blindly sampled it, discovered where it came from, and got in touch with Aerosmith. A genre-smashing video was born. The concept is straightforward: the two bands practice in adjacent studios. Their music is different, but their servitude to the power of the beat is the same. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler busts through that wall and a new partnership is formed.
Peter gabriel - SledgeHammer (1986)
Those horns kick in and we're transported into breathtaking music video territory. Stop-motion animation was the name of this new game, with Peter Gabriel allowing himself to lie under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming "Sledgehammer" one frame at a time. Director Stephen R. Johnson is clearly having the time of his life, matching up the lyrics to the images — Gabriel sings about "a bumper car bumping" and that's what happens to our hapless star. It's one of MTV's most important ever videos: not only did it win nine Video Music Awards in 1987 (a feat still unsurpassed) but it's the most played clip in the history of the channel. As for the people who provided the claymation, pixilation, and stop-motion animation, they were called Aardman Animations. What became of them? They would go on to make a certain Oscar-winning series of shorts about Wallace and Gromit.Maddonna - Express Yourself (1989)
this multi-million dollar video for "Express Yourself" generated the most praise. Shamelessly ripping off the 1920's Fritz Lang classic, Metropolis (the epigraph of the clip, "Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind," paraphrases a recurring mantra of the movie), a young director by the name of David Fincher expressed himself by harnessing all of Madge's signature leif motifs (the blonde hair! Her outfits! Naked men! A running metaphor to do with a cat!). The video is as powerful to watch as the star herself.
Nine Inch Nails - Closer (1994)
THE MOTHER OF ALL DISTURBINGLY MORBIDLY ARTISTIC ROCK VIDEOS!!!!
For Nine Inch Nails' menacing ode to finding God through S&M-tinged devotion, director Mark Romanek stages tableaux vivants from a horror movie, or perhaps a documentary about a forgotten wing of the Mütter Museum: its film stock aged and distressed, its palette thick with dust and spores. A disembodied heart pulsates on a chair, a pig's head whirls on a spike, Trent Reznor hangs from a chain in black leather. Skulls and roaches everywhere. Even the "Scene Missing" inserts (largely intended to conceal a comely minotaur's breasts, which are by far the least disturbing things about the video) add to the insinuation of latent terror and unthinkable perversion. David Fincher borrowed a remix of the song and the video's chamber-of-horrors air the following year for the opening credits of his film Seven, whose God-lovin' serial killer would have been right at home at the House of "Closer."
The Beastie Boys - Sabotage (1994)
A FAKE TV SHOW STARTING CREDITS MUSIC VIDEO - yes seriously!!!!
The mischievous humor and anarchic energy of Spike Jonze's videos were essential ingredients of 1990s MTV (and later of MTV's Jackass), and he pulled off one of his most thrilling stunts for the punk-funk lark "Sabotage," a '70s goof that cast the Beastie Boys as roof-jumping, suspect-beating, mean-street-sprinting, mustache-rocking hero cops. It will not spoil the video's fun to note its impressive technical precision — the edits are perfectly syncopated to the song's ragged beats, and the donut-eating breakdown is sublime in its pacing. But regardless of execution, the concept is foolproof: the Beastie Boys stage the credit sequence for a Starsky & Hutch-like police show that never was — likely because it was too unbearably awesome to exist.
Jamiroquai - Virtual insanity (1997)
This writer once made a documentary series about music video directors, during which Jonathan Glazer said that if he had a pound for every time he'd been asked how he did "Virtual Insanity," he'd be able to retire. The short answer is that the walls move, not the floor. Yet with all the visual trickery in the world, the video simply wouldn't work without lead singer Jay Kay's effortless dancing (which he cleverly tried to recreate at that year's MTV Music Video Awards). And it's that combination of human creativity (on the part of both Kay and Glazer) and technical flourishes that still make "Virtual Insanity" so compelling to watch.
Pulp - this Is Hardcore (1998)
Pulp's six-and-a-half-minute pop dirge is a lament for blowing out your serotonin pathways with too much sex, drugs and idolatry. A literal-minded video might have riffed amusingly on Boogie Nights or revisited the softcore anhedonia of Fiona Apple's "Criminal" promo. But director Doug Nichol goes a more expressionist route with a glittering daisy chain of set pieces: a noir interlude in a private investigator's office, luscious simulacra of midcentury Hollywood melodramas, a fistfight amid Danish-modern furniture at a swank cocktail party, plus a trip to a Busby Berkeley afterlife. What makes the images cohere is their impeccable fakeness: this is life and art experienced from an icy distance at conspicuous expense, conjuring the song's ambience of hollow, corrupted glamour.
Blur - Coffee and TV (1999)
A MILLION ADS WERE SPEWED OUT OF THIS TECHNIQUE!!!!!!!!
How should we read "Coffee & TV"? As an indictment of the then-problems of Blur at the time, whose guitarist Graham Coxen, it has been said, couldn't take working with lead singer Damon Albarn? Or is it just a cool clip of an animated white milk carton who falls in love with an animated strawberry milk carton? Perhaps it's a bit of both. The Hammer & Tongs (the pseudonym of director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith) video follows said carton on the search for Coxon (his 'Missing' image is on the side). Happily for Milky (yes, he even had a name), he finds Coxon playing the track with his bandmates. Coxon leaves the band to return home and only Albarn notices (this is why we like theory no. 1). As for this video, make sure you watch right to the very end, otherwise you'll miss the happiest ending on this entire list. The blending of a genuinely engaging plot (the whole milk, if you will) with the crafty and cute animation (the semi-skimmed) makes "Coffee & TV" an undoubted triumph.SPECIAL MENTION:
the Chemical brothers - let forever be (1999)
There are quite possibly more ideas contained within Michel Gondry's "Let Forever Be" video for the Chemical Brothers than you see in many movies (including some of Gondry's own). A lofty claim? Come back here in 3 minutes and 42 seconds. Did you watch it? Pretty impressive, right? It puts you at the heart of a young lady's recurring nightmare (or is it really happening?) which starts as her alarm clock makes her late for work at a department store. The clip then alternates between an homage, via dancing women, to Busby Berkeley, features a homeless drummer and is either shot on beautiful film or a grainy hand-hand camera (the Spike Jonze directed "Praise You" for Fatboy Slim from the same year employed the inexpensive cameras too. Must have been a 1999 thing). By the time the video has ended, you'll be hiding behind your sofa out of fear that the same thing might happen to you.
all views expressed belong to an opinionated dickhead called Pushkaraj Shirke. If you have differing views, feel free to share them or visit www.go-fuck-yourself.com