In light of the band’s recent (read: fantastic) performance at the 2012 Brit Awards, as well as the announcement of a massive Hyde Park show alongside The Specials and New Order in August, I thought there was no better place than here and no better time than now to celebrate the illustrious Britpop career that was – and is – Blur. Here are my five favourite videos from the band, with a couple of hits and maybe a few unexpected inclusions amongst the lot. Let’s take a look.
5. Country House
What’s not to love about this charmer of a clip? Even with Blur at the height of their financial success, they still couldn’t help but bite their thumb at the rich and wealthy in this hilarious romp. Keith Allen – probably known to you younger readers as Lily‘s dad – plays the lead character in the song, dancing about the place with reckless abandon and tongue firmly in cheek. There’s so much going on in this video that it’s honestly hard to keep up at times. My personal highlights include the cute-as-a-button face Alex James makes after taking the pills handed to him in the book, the Bohemian Rhapsody video reference… and, of course, watching Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame chase around models, Benny Hill style. Booya.
4. Song 2
In my view, one of the ultimate rock performance videos – not just of the nineties, but of any era. It’s hard to quite describe the impression this video left on a rock-hungry preteen such as myself way back when. Everything about this is pure intensity, basically for the entire 2 minutes. Even when that riff hasn’t kicked in, there’s still an edginess – and, even, a downright scariness – to Damon Albarn’s face as he glares straight down the barrel through the darkness. When all hell breaks loose, I have to credit guitarist Graham Coxon for pretty much being the man of the match. I don’t think the imagery of Coxon leaping against that wall or shredding in that wind machine will ever leave my brain. And I don’t think I want it to, either.
3. Boys and Girls
Potentially the coolest uncool video ever made. The boys really hammed it up for this one, from the cheesy green-screens and the various shots of the lads and lasses in swimming pools to the t-shirts depicting lyrics from the song. For all its efforts to be kitschy and dorky, however, Blur proved themselves to be majorly ahead of the curve with this one. It’s in the little things, too – you can argue that Alex James basically invented hipster dancing with his little fringe flicking in this clip. Many other bands have attempted to try clips in this style, too, and yet they simply don’t come close. This right here is the original and the best – still as uncool as it ever was, and remarkably proud of it.
2. Out of Time
The video for Out of Time comes from a particularly dark patch in Blur’s career, lifted from the 2003 Think Tank record, the only album Blur has ever recorded without Graham Coxon. As a result, it’s a startling and confrontingly dark video, shot on board a nameless navy vessel and following the mundane every day tasks. Despite its seemingly boring nature, one cannot help but be engaged by this harsh reality, shot as plainly as possible on what looks like surveilance cameras. Things particularly get quite interesting when the lead character reveals an inner dialogue via subtitles during the song’s guitar solo. It’s definitely not a popular Blur clip, but it still cuts to my very core with every view.
1. Coffee and TV
Of course we were going to end with this one. It’s not just a Blur clip. It’s the Blur clip. Since its 1999 release, countless people have fallen in love with the ever-endearing tale of Milky, the animated milk carton that decides to cheer up the family he has been assigned to by finding their missing son, played by Graham Coxon. Milky’s big city adventure is one of love, fear, paranoia and small fish in very big ponds. It’s cute and funny, but can also make you seriously think about life from a completely different perspective than you normally would have. It’s a great song, but it almost feels secondary to this brilliantly-plotted clip, a highlight of the directorial duo Hammer & Tongs‘ career. For all the accolades it has received over the years – countless awards, list toppings et al. – nothing quite beats that first reaction. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll cheer. What other video has ever done that with a bloody milk carton?