The Music Video Strikes Back

 

Neon Outline of People

I was watching the VMA’s the other day and realized something: I absolutely love music videos. I think it has to do with the “visual freedom” of the medium, the way that a music video can capture the feel or energy of music through film. There’s more flexiibilty than with a movie because there isn’t a story to tell; instead, there’s a “feeling” to capture. It also helps that I’m a sucker for interesting animation. And while the old adage is certainly true that “a great video depends on a great song,” there’s something to be said for quality filmmaking. A great video makes a great song better. The best videos in history are something more than just a choreographed dance number set to music (think Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Daft Punk’s “Da Funk“).

 

Paranoid Android Music Video Screenshot

 

I used to think music videos were a dying art form. There were two forces at play. First, several of the most visionary music video directors–Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek and (to a lesser extent) Michel Gondry–had made the transition into directing feature films. Okay, maybe I’m overstating the importance of a handful of famous directors slowing down their output. There were some quality videos made in the last, say, five years or so.

The bigger problem was that great videos that were made didn’t get the exposure they deserved. MTV and VH1 spurned music videos in favor of reality television, so finding new music videos took some effort on the part of the viewer. Sure, you could watch them on the Internet. But broadband connections weren’t as ubiquitous as today, so streaming videos online was unpleasant and annoying, a constant trade-off between quality, frame rate and loading time.

 

Fell In Love With A Girl Music Video Screenshot Capture Gondry

 

Both of those phenomena combined to spell the end of the music video. Of course, it didn’t happen. Streaming video is relatively easy now. Music videos (like music itself) just made the transition onto the Internet. Thanks, YouTube. Music videos aren’t going anywhere.

But it’s easy to make a bad, predictable video. How many rap videos are nothing more than the rapper looking tough and throwing up money in front of expensive cars and bikini-clad women? It’s hard to do something different, something nobody’s ever seen before. That’s why the following two videos are favorites of mine. They challenge the conventions of what a music video can be.

The first video is for Steve Aoki’s new single “I’m in the House” feat [[[Zuper Blahq]]]. Here’s a great example of something that can’t be done in a feature film. It’s a three-minute swirl of color and fun; it captures the energy of the song as well as any video I’ve seen.

 

 

 

This next video is for Miike Snow’s “Burial.” It looks like what would happen if someone found the footage for a Paul Thomas Anderson movie and edited down the most beautiful scenes. The cinematography is abslolutely fantastic. If MTV gave an award for “Video Most Likely to Make You Cry,” this one would win. This music video is, in a word, perfect.

 

 

 

Like I said above, a great video makes a great song better. Here are the MP3s.

 

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Steve Aoki – I’m in the House (feat. [[[zuper blahq]]])

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Miike Snow – Burial

The Proxy and Beetroots Wreck The Reality of Music

There is a range of musical taste in which things tend to stay within the reaches of what we tend to consider “normal.” This range typically spans a great deal of territory, beginning on the leftmost side at “soft” and “gentle”– an ambiance typified by artists like Sigur Ros and The Album Leaf–and progresses to the right, all the while becoming louder and heavier, until it culminates at a point where many people (generally those above a certain cutoff age) see fit to classify it simply as “noise.”

Now this scale is one that composers and producers try with all their might to fit in to, largely due to the fact that each point on the scale has its own respective crowd (or if you will, “scene”) which it corresponds to, and that making music to please a certain “scene” is a surefire way to pull a hit out of the hat. As such, this electronic world with which we associate ourselves is full of remixes and collaborations who’s authors’ styles balance each other nicely, and cause the final result to rest neatly within the scale of acceptance.

The Bloody Beetroots

Let’s say the scale is a pretty boring one, and goes from 1 to 10. That puts a few of the most eminent acts at the moment (to name a very small number of them) at:

  • Kid Sister: 5
  • Rusko: 8
  • Dj Mehdi: 5
  • Boys Noize: 9
  • Miike Snow: 3
  • Royksopp: 4
  • MSTRKRFT: 8
  • Soulwax: 7
  • Simian Mobile Disco: 7
  • The Bloody Beetroots: 9
  • Tiga: 6

Now, when these guys decide to remix each other or work together, they usually tend to be pretty complimentary styles. Let’s take a look:

Simian Mobile Disco & Kid Sister – Pro Nails
Heavier electronic combined with milder, peppier hip hop
Result: 6

Boys Noize and Tiga – Move My Body
Tiga track with a solid beat, given the Boys Noize treating yields a pretty heavy mix.
Result: 9

Rusko & Kid Sister – Pro Nails
Kid Sister earns some wild dubstep bass.
Result: A grimy 7

Miike Snow & DJ Mehdi – Burial
Mehdi’s househop links up with a mellow pop tune.
Result:4

I suppose you probably get the idea by now. The results are usually within reason; That is, two differing styles and melded together to yield a new tune that falls somewhere else within reason on the scale. I must however, encourage a large amount of weight to be placed on the word “usually”, for due to an event not dissimilar to what I expect the apocalypse to feel like, the laws of reason and logic by which I had previously lived my life were beaten (and in particular, kicked) into nonexistence.

the proxy

What happened you ask? I suppose you could say curiosity got the best of the cat; That is, the disco world finally grew tired of the predictable results of combining two different points on the scale, and decided to see what would happen not only when two very similar parts were combined, but pushing insanity even further, to see what would happen when two artists, both of whom are nearly bursting off the top end of the scale already, combine their power. The result:

The Proxy (nearly a perfect ten himself) & The Bloody Beetroots

The Proxy & The Bloody Beetroots

Never before in my life have I encountered the kind of anger and abrasive noise. Naturally, the track entitled “Who Are You” (though I would have deemed it more appropriate to call it “What Are You”) cannot be contained within the boundaries of our precious scale, but seeing as the track is so deafening so as to pose the potential risk of opening a rift in the space time continuum, to analyze just how far off the end it travels would be reckless foolishness.

Get your ear plugs ready.

Proxy – Who are You (The Bloody Beetroots Remix)

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SMASH YOUR STEREO | Who Are You (The Bloody Beetroots Remix) – Proxy from WeHeartHouse on Vimeo.

The Snowy World of Miike Snow

Little did you know, Miike Snow is not, in fact, the name of an individual, and though they do, in fact, meet the criteria that most would find suitable to deem them a “band,” I feel that labeling them as such would only serve to strip them of the audible colors that truly define them. See, the double ‘i’ says it all (and for those of you who are new to the name, go ahead, recheck it for the repeated letter you missed last time); Rather than existing as the result of a sticky keyboard (as was the case in The Faint‘s “Fasciinatiion,” for example), I feel that this particular repeated character could only have been added in an attempt to exemplify the beautifully unique, yet masterfully disguised subtleties that let this Norwegian collective stand apart from the rest of the world. And yes, I am aware of how needlessly confusing my language is, but before you give up on me, (as it would be among the truest of shames to let the tunes below go unheard) let me explain.

Miike Snow

I think it’s fair to say that the blogosphere thrives on what we like to call electronic music. The mere fact that you’re reading this text surely attests to that. However, what isn’t fair is that because of the relentless use of the word “dance” as a synonym for “electronic” we’ve all but closed our minds to the notion that electronic music might otherwise be home to an entire world of sub genre’s, many of which do not impose the “all songs must start with a minimum eight bars of empty drums to allow for conduciveness to dj’ing” rule. In such a scene, it’s often quite easy to forget that everything from Beck, to RJD2, to Justin Timberlake could be considered electronic by the truest definition of the word, and while I do agree that such artists would, in most cases, struggle to fit in among the eighties revival hipsters of our time, closing our minds to everything lacking a four on the floor beet is an undeniable mistake, and it is this mistake that Miike Snow succeeds in bringing to the attention our surprisingly stubborn scene. Where the flow chart documenting the mentality of all too many modern electronic artist starts at “make music,” and proceeds onward to, “make edited dj version of that music” –> “spin this version at gig” –> “chicks like me,” Miike Snow‘s version both starts and stops at “make music,” a philosophy which is embodied by a peculiar reluctance to tour, or even show their faces.

Like I said, they threw in the extra “i” on purpose; That is, much in the way that the name has a subtle, but noticeable difference to it, the music they put forth has a certain meaning and beauty to it that often requires more than a quick listen to fully grasp. However, once one knows it’s there, its impossible to forget.

Miike Snow – Animal

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Miike Snow – A Horse Is Not a Home

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Miike Snow – In Search Of

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For Those Insatiable Appetites

Despite what it would seem, I do realize there are indeed times that seem to scream for the energy of a packed dance floor, and I suppose it would be rather cruel to leave the winged creatures of the night with nowhere to fly, so rather then leave you to hit your head on the ceiling, I figure I should probably include a couple of the more energy draining heavy hitters as of late. I should advise you to be careful, however: with the wondrously attractive melodies of Miike Snow, as well as the power consuming tunes to follow at your disposal, there’s a good chance you might forget that food is also a necessity for life. It’d be a shame to end up like that World of Warcraft kid now…

Simian Mobile Disco – Audacity of Huge

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George Lenton – Cold Rocker

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