This week’s category takes its calls from the most primitive and basic yet occasionally most powerful form of music video – the live performance. Here aere some of my favourite moments in the history of the cheapest option.
5. Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
“Don’t believe the ‘ype,” said Alex Turner in his accented drawl before he and his band, Arctic Monkeys, tore through a spot-on version of the song that I ended up enjoying more than the studio version. It’s raw, off-kilter and a display of precocious talent that was less than a year away from exploding the world over. Why the hell not?
4. R.E.M. – So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)
Interesting bit of trivia: for the early part of R.E.M.’s videography, singer Michael Stipe was totally adverse to lip-syncing in the band’s videos to the point where he would flat refuse to make videos if he had to do so. To compromise this, the band’s label, I.R.S. records let the rest of the band mime along to the original instrumental recording, but Stipe was given live vocals. He would later change his position, but at the time this was probably the finest of the videos made with this bizarre set up.
3. Neil Young – The Needle and The Damage Done
Performing live on The Johnny Cash Show back in the seventies, Young simply sat alone on the middle of the stage, mumbled a bit of the song’s context and played. Stunned silence, and then a standing ovation. Surely you need no more proof of the power of Neil Young’s music, especially when the man himself is presenting them in their rawest, most honest form? Phenomenal stuff.
2. The Strokes – Last Nite
Another last-minute option when the band themselves didn’t particularly feel like making a video. An iconic video from the early 2000s, the band reeked cool and that ultimate couldn’t-give-a-fuck attitude as they swaggered their way through what is arguably the biggest hit of their career. Watch out for the hilarious accident near the end in which drummer Fab Moretti‘s drum mics both topple over, as well as the random shots of arcade video games and Albert Hammond, Jr.’s bitching solo. Rock & roll done 21st century stylee, this is a classic performance video.
1. Nine Inch Nails – March of The Pigs
One take. One camera. White background. A spur of the moment creation that ended up being one of the most terrifying videos Trent Reznor has ever put his name to, even without any crucified monkeys directly involved in the process. Not just my favourite performance video – to me, it defines exactly what a great performance video is all about. Truly a brilliant creation of music video.