Monthly Archives: June, 2011

Old Favourites: Bruce Springsteen – “Dancing in the Dark”

“I ain’t nothing but tired, man I’m just tired and bored with myself…”

I said yesterday when I was writing about Lady Gaga‘s new video for The Edge of Glory that I would pay proper tribute to the legend of the Big Man, Bruce Springsteen‘s right-hand man Clarence Clemons, who tragically died last week after complications during surgery. I figured there was no better way to do this than with what’s quite possibly my favourite Springsteen video.

This comes to you from what is probably Springsteen’s commercial peak. Born in the U.S.A. is the album, and the singles are coming thick and fast. This one sees the E-Street Band in their environment, as a guitar-less Springsteen cheerfully dances about without a care in the world. Clarence is also a major stand-out here – the one thing you could never take away from the E-Street Band was just how big a character he was. Even when he wasn’t playing a sax part, he’d always have the crowd’s attention, and he’d be completely immersed in the music, dancing and clapping along. You could just tell it meant the world to him, and that’s what I admire so much about Clarence.

Of course, the video is also well known for being the first major acting break for a young Courteney Cox. Never been a big fan of hers by any stretch, but she does a great job as the lucky dancing fan here. This is a feel-good video at its essence, and it reminds me of the greatness of Springsteen, Clarence – the whole band, really – every time I watch it. Embrace it. And dance.

R.I.P., Big Man.

Old Favourites: Van Halen – “Hot for Teacher”

“I think of all the education that I missed…”

The 80s is a fucking insane era of videos. Truth be told, I’d barely know where to start if I was to rattle off my favourite videos from this period – there’s some brilliant defining moments of pop culture locked into that era, from the epic Thriller to the unforgettable (for  different reason) Never Gonna Give You Up. One thing’s for sure, though – there is no way said hypothetical list would go past this deadset classic from Van Halen, where school couldn’t be cooler and the teachers couldn’t be hotter.

Let’s go back to 1984. David Lee Roth is an international sex symbol, Eddie Van Halen is the reigning guitar god and they’ve unleashed the mammoth 1984 album. How do you truly hit a home run when shit is this good? Simple: Create a defining video of both your genre and your decade. Join sweet little Waldo on his escapades back to school, as the new teachers parade about like super-models, mini-DLR rules the classroom and the real EVH does a motherfucking guitar solo while walking on top of the library tables. It’s cheesy as hell, and its legend was slightly tarnished when scenecore fucks Escape the Fate tried to copy it. But it’s a video that has stuck with me for years since I first saw it, and never fails to capture my imagination. CLASS DISMISSED!

Watch This If You Dare: LMFAO feat. Natalia Kills – “Champagne Showers”

“We’re gonna make you sweat, a night you won’t forget…”

OK, before we get started on anything else, can we please just discuss just who the fuck thought it was a good idea to name a band LMFAO? Well, apparently, a dude in his mid-thirties that has gone out of his way to smear his family name (his father founded fucking Motown Records) and roped his nephew into nasty, loud and downright shitty crunk/pop/rnb/whatever. They’re going for a big grandiose concept on their latest videos, and I appreciate that it’s all meant to be tongue in cheek, but this whole thing is just getting out of hand. That, and it’s painful to watch.

This video picks up where the video for Party Rock Anthem left off, a video that pissed me off so royally that I genuinely forgot to blog about it on here. Essentially, the whole world is doing this shuffling thing, and everyone’s partying and yadda yadda yadda. This whole video is just utter wank, complete with all the moronic “in da clubbbb” video cliches you could ask for. They can’t do funny, they can’t do sexy, they can’t do entertaining…literally nothing works in this video. It’s frustrating me just thinking about this shit, so I’ll just leave you with it.

Watch This Now: Coldplay – “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”

“I shut the world outside, ’til the lights come on…”

For as long as it’s been naff, uncool – and, some 40 Year Old Virgin fans would argue, downright gay – to be a Coldplay fan, I’ve been one. I’m totally fine with that, too, btw – I maintain that each of their albums contains some truly fantastic songs, and some even better videos to go along with them. I mean Yellow, Don’t Panic, The Scientist, The Hardest Part, Strawberry Swing…some defining videos of the decade, and definitely some of my personal favourites. Right now, they’re onto a whole new bag of tricks, as they experiment with motion photography and ridiculously bright colour schemes – and it’s working pretty damn well for them, if you ask me.

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall contains relatively little video footage, but instead uses a series of photographs for each scene, as the band takes over little places of the underground with their crazy paintings and wild graffiti. Watching the band perform while their backgrounds change rapidly is no trick – a team of artists has actually gone in there and DONE all of that. Visually, at the very least, this is a feast for the eyes. I love the positivity and energy in this video, and I really am taken aback by it all. This will probably be dismissed as utterly, utterly gay by the band’s legion of naysayers, but bring it on. I didn’t care back when I professed my love for the Yellow video, and I sure as hell am not going to care now!

Watch This If You Dare: Lady Gaga – “The Edge of Glory”

“It’s hard to feel the rush, don’t push the dangerous…”

Pigs are flying, Hell has frozen over and Lady Gaga has made a shit video. Like, unforgivably shit. Worse than Judas, which was probably her worst video prior to this one but certainly not bad, per se. This is just…well, it’s a mess. A complete and utter mess. This is either entirely Gaga’s fault or not her fault at all – you see, the word is that Gaga had a huge falling out with the original director of this video, and would subsequently have to direct the video herself.  According to Wikipedia, his idea was much, much cooler:

E! News managed to get a casting call notice for the video. The casting notice asks for a “Puerto Rican or Dominican type badass” who “must be willing to kiss Lady Gaga”, “Couture Doctors” who will wear smocks and black gloves”, a “male or female on-air reporter”, and a group of military men to hold M16 rifles.”[36] The original concept, which included the people in the casting notice, as well as other New York City sets, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, was scrapped after Gaga’s feud with Kahn.[39]

So, what was Gaga left with? One costume, a fire exit and a New York street. That’s about it, really. Now, I can commend Gaga for attempting to go for a much simpler concept than her previous videos. With that said, can I just emphasise how fucking boring this video is? The editing job is atrocious, the choreography is weak and roughly zero things of interest happen in the entire video. It’s so poorly thought out that one really does have to wonder why she couldn’t have just bit her lip and gone along with Kahn’s awesome concept.

One cameo of note, however, is the late, great Clarence Clemons, best known as the saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. The video was his last ever, and The Edge of Glory the last thing he ever worked on. I never got a chance to pay proper tribute to Clarence, one of my favourite and most memorable musicians, so I’m doing it in the here and now and will be paying further tribute tomorrow. If only dear Clarence didn’t have to go out on such a low note…

Old Favourites: The Red Paintings – “Walls”

“Haven’t been this sick for days, eating nothing but my head…”

Would someone be so kind as to tell me where the fuck The Red Paintings are? It’s literally been about three or four years since they did anything, and only scarce information has arisen about their long-awaited debut album, The Revolution is Never Coming. Frontman – and apparently only member left – Trash McSweeney posted about the album being done after recording in L.A. around 2009, but that’s the last I heard. The band is M.I.A. – and it actually pisses me off a fair deal, especially when I remember how much I loved them.

When you watch this video, take into consideration I would have been all of fourteen or fifteen when I first saw this. I’d never seen anything quite like it before, and found it a little bit astounding that something so confronting and aggressive could also be so strangely beautiful. Pretty stunning stuff. I love the locations and the costuming especially – if there was one thing you could say about TRP, it was that they were never short on some imaginative imagery throughout both their music and their aesthetics. Their world was a dark and twisted fairytale, and it’s one that has stuck in my mind as of late. Trash, where the hell ARE you? If anyone has any leads – anything at all – please get in contact! I want to know if I’ll ever see this band again.

Watch This Now: Britney Spears – “I Wanna Go”

“Shame on me, to need release…”

Britney Spears has had a couple of good videos in the past few years – including the multiple costumes of Womanizer and the robo-craziness of Hold It Against Me – but hasn’t made something truly ass-kickingly awesome that could come into the league of her last truly great video, Toxic back in around 2003, maybe 2004. The time has come – a time of change, a time of awesome Britney videos. The time has come for I Wanna Go, the third single from Brit’s Femme Fatale album which has given us a video that’s not only her best of the three videos she’s done for FF, but her best post-Toxic video period.

After getting pissed off at a press conference, MegaBritney goes off on a spree of destruction involving titties, children losing innocence, swinging microphones and a particularly strange getaway scene. You’ll even see some classic references to The Terminator and Michael Jackson‘s classic Thriller video. Normally, I’d be writing like crazy about how much I fucking love this video – and don’t get me wrong, I do love it. I really, really do. I just want everyone to experience it for themselves and have the same fucking blast that I did. This is pure tongue-in-cheek craziness, Britney dropping her self-serious pop goddess stature for once and just having a bit of fun! See what you think.

Watch This If You Dare: Rise Against – “Make It Stop (September’s Children)”

“Bang bang from the closet walls, the schoolhouse halls, the shotgun’s loaded…”

Jesus fucking Christ. Honest to god, I did not expect any video to make me as downright pissed off and disgusted in the artist behind it as I was back a few months ago, when Pink  released her abhorrent video for Fuckin’ Perfect. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. But here comes one that may have just aggravated me just a little bit further, on account of it hitting a little closer to home. I am talking about Chicago band Rise Against, an act I have followed and supported since the release of their third album, Siren Song for the Counter Culture, back in 2004. They have an impressive live show, and in my opinion made one of the most important videos of the 2000s in their 2006 clip, Ready to Fall. This, however, is something that I just cannot believe they have done.

Rise Against have cashed in on the deaths of GLBT youth. Yeah, I fucking said it and I’ll say it again: this band has been out of touch with their political roots ever since Bush got out of office – not that the two are connected, just using it as a time marker – and I feel that their later political works within their music are forced and contrived. This, from May’s Endgame, is a perfect example of it. In light of an epidemic of GLBT youth suicide within the U.S., and the It Gets Better project that arose in the light of it, Rise Against have tacked on their shameless “me-too”-ism to the issue with absolutely no connection to it whatsoever. A big, shiny pop-rock tune with a fucking children’s choir does absolutely nothing to help the cause, but a big shiny fucking video to go with it as well does even less.

In this video, three kids get bullied in the most generic, sub-Nelson Muntz way possible. Fucking KEEP-AWAY? Who does that anymore? The three kids then all go off and position themselves in the most cliched suicide spots possible – one goes to shoot herself, the other to hang himself, the other to jump off a bridge. Could this be any more of a scripted Hollywood melodrama? Rise Against have taken a real, serious and important political issue and turned it into a fucking soap opera. You know what really pisses me off, though? When Tim McIlrath sits in the middle of an empty classroom and rattles off the names of the teens. That is just downright pathetic to me, especially considering McIlrath couldn’t look more like a bored celebrity spokesperson if he tried.

The whole thing is meant to come across as “look how deep and meaningful we are. We truly care about this social issue.” What it does come across as, however, is the band skimming a newspaper, writing a song in 15 minutes, Googling the names of the kids and smacking a stadium rock chorus on top. Add in the glossy “life is hard” video and they’re really no fucking better than Pink at the end of the day. If anything, they’re worse.

I’d like to point out that I am a GLBT youth. This song and video are supposed to speak to me and send me an important message. So, Rise Against, exactly why do I not feel a fucking thing except anger when I watch this video? You know what makes the It Gets Better project so great? It’s videos of non-celebrities, strangers, everyday workers who are sharing their stories and continuing to recieve love and support within their GLBT communities. Why would I choose to listen to some rockstar millionaire try and preach down at me with this bullshit when I could listen to someone intelligent like Dan Savage or Councilman Joel Burns? REAL GLBT people with REAL, beautiful stories? As far as I’m concerned, Rise Against’s politics in the here and now don’t last beyond a website link and a newspaper headline.

You really want to show you care about gay suicide? Don’t make a fucking million-dollar video. Write to Congress if you’re in the States. Make a donation. Make a video (an amateur one, mind) or write about your own experiences with GLBT bullying. Don’t just put on a serious face and sit in an empty classroom pretending that you care. That’s the worst fucking thing you could do. It proves nothing. SAYING that something should be done and actually DOING something are completely different things.

Fuck you, Rise Against. Fuck you in the face.

Watch This if You Dare: The Living End – “The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating”

“We are the wounded soldiers, we are the refugees…”

Without wanting to risk hyperbole, a part of my childhood has died with this video. You see, The Living End were the first rock band I ever heard, apart from maybe The Beatles. I remember being completely blown away by Prisoner of Society at the ripe old age of seven years old, and becoming completely obsessed and enamoured with the music. Anti-authoritarianism? I didn’t even know what it meant. All I knew is that this band was playing rock music and I wanted more. Sadly, however, I’ve seen them go from respected veteran warhorses of Aussie rock to mild, MOR Triple M-ready corporate rock. This video demonstrates this perfectly.

Firstly, what the hell is up with having the whole “all different kinds of people can be oppressed” angle mixed in with footage of the band? Isn’t that the exact same premise as the John Butler Trio video for Revolution that came out not even six months ago? I think you’ll find that it is literally the same video, except this one isn’t in black and white. Also, could they have picked anything more cliche than the grandfather clock ticking in reverse in time to Andy Strachan‘s bass drum? I’m sure they’re going for some kind of grandiose concept here, but it falls completely flat. I’m not sold on this at all – I can’t believe Craig Finn from The Hold Steady put his name to this shit, even if it was just a co-write. So much for Prisoner of Society – TLE sound like they have a major label telling them exactly what to do, and the fire in their bellies is long gone.

Watch This if You Dare: The Patience Project – “Lipstick Cabaret”

“You’re my heroin, heart-attack…”

Oh dear. Let’s brief, and I’ll give you a blow-by-blow report on the video, so press play and wait for it to load. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Got it? Okay. See that dude with the curly hair and the guyliner strutting down the street like he’s hot shit? That’s Lee Harding. Yep, as in the Wasabi guy. Loser from Australian Idol. Good Charlotte wannabe. That guy. Who’s the chick? No freaking idea. Apparently she’s modelled for ZOO Magazine or some shit. The rest of the douchebags that make up the band are apparently ex-Kid Courageous and a bunch of other failed bands. That’s the idea they’ve gone for here – they’ve all failed miserably before and now they’re trying to sell their music again to an audience that either has no idea who they are or have since long forgotten up until this point.

Now that you’ve discovered who they are – how fucking appalling is this video and song? Like, it’s hilarious on one level, but when you realise that they’re serious it all becomes just a little fucked in the head. The dodgy garage, the cliche city-street walking, the random Asian rapper who makes the most inappropriate rap verse since Friday…this is truly rage-headache worthy. Y’know, this is probably the most famous they’re going to get – just like Lee’s last failed project, Rock City, this one is going to go nowhere fast. Still, at least it’s hilarious for now.

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