“Bits of yellow paper, addressed from you to me…”
Here’s another example of when a performance-based video can score themselves a hall pass here at Y,WGAV! Perhaps you’re familiar with Michel Gondry; the legendary French director behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and countless classic music videos for Bjork, Steriogram, Foo Fighters, The White Stripes, Kylie… just to name a few. It’s pretty safe to say that the guy is one of my heroes, whose work has shaped the blog’s motives for even existing.
When I found out that Love Letters would be his first music video in three years – following a Bjork clip from back in 2011 – I couldn’t have clicked fast enough. Although it quite literally centres around the band performing the song, I knew that there would be more to it. It’s Gondry, after all. He manages to find a way. After a few views, I was completely taken – it’s not what’s happening in the confines of the performance, it’s the scenery that surrounds it. As the camera spins, it takes us to a different, beautifully-painted backdrop. The concept is so simple, but it adds so much to the song. Dammit, Gondry, you’ve done it again!
“But if I was to say I regret it, would it change a thing?”
Sometimes, you just gotta break the rules. I’m usually pretty stringent on not including “performance” videos unless it’s an extreme circumstance. Yesterday, this video came out. I’d consider it pretty fucking extreme circumstances – Haim, the sisters doing it for themselves, have delivered one of the coolest looking pop videos in a damn long time. Like, the thing looks spectacular. And all eyes, naturally, are on them.
Yes, there are some simple performance shots, but that’s not what you’re watching for. Check out when the three are stripped of their instruments and deliver the song with some truly slick choreography as provided by one Fatima Robinson. That name may not seem all that familiar, but perhaps the videos for As Long as You Love Me by the Backstreet Boys and Try Again by the late, great Aaliyah do? That’s Fatima’s work. She brings a vintage style to the clip, all rhythm and popping limbs; while director Warren Fu (Daft Punk, The Killers, The Strokes) adds a sheen and a few well-tapped filters; as well as some sharp camera cuts. The best thing about If I Could Change Your Mind, overall, is the fact it’s a glossy pop video that looks fantastic and doesn’t include a single product placement. We’re kicking it old school here, and that’s exactly what fits.
“A Nobel prize, a piece of string, you know what’s awesome? Everything!”
Hi, everyone! I’ve got good news and bad news. Do you want to hear the bad news first? It will make the good news even more good. Y’sure? Okay, bad news first: The LEGO Movie isn’t out in Australia until April. Because we CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, APPARENTLY. Still, there is some good news – until that fateful day when it’s finally here, we have the lead single from the soundtrack. It’s a combination of two of my favourite acts in the whole entire world: the delightful Tegan & Sara and the perennial friends-of-the-blog known as The Lonely Island. Hoo-fucking-ray! Ooh, wait. Sorry. Kids might be reading. Hoo-flipping-ray! That’s better.
Now, admittedly, the soundtrack music video can be a little lazy. After all, half the work is done for you when you’re taking footage from the movie – or, even more lazily, the trailer. Thankfully, some real Lego is involved with a video idea created by six-year-old Markus Jolly. It all blends together wonderfully – I’m particularly fond of the building montages. Reminds me of the joy that is Lego building. Sometimes, I completely forget about how cool it can be. How awesome, if you will. The wait may be longer for Aussies to get the movie, but it will make our popcorn-gnawing joy all the more fulfilling when it’s finally here. Word to awesome possums everywhere!
I’ll decide in a moment’s time, to turn away, leave it all behind…”
The contrast between the last two videos released from Moby‘s new album Innocents could not be greater. The Perfect Life, a collaboration between the big M and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, was as extravagant as you’d expect – all rooftop parties and mariachi outfits. This time around, however, we’re dealing with a much more lush and blissed-out song, featuring the dreamy vocals of Damien Jurado. It only fits that we’re dealing with a much more subdued and simple clip – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a wonderful thing in its own right.
Almost Home follows the adventures of a stuffed rabbit and his travels across the country. It’s filmed on super-8, Moby himself cameos as a limo driver and the whole thing apparently had a budget of roughly 10 bucks. It’s a very basic clip, interspersed with footage of Jurado busting it out somewhere completely unrelated to the story. I am simply warmed by its utter charm – Moby doesn’t do videos like this one very often. They serve as a strong reminder of not only how goddamn underrated Moby is, but how sometimes a little rabbit and some steady handheld work is all you need to win the heart of a music video blogger.
“People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window…”
2013 saw the inimitable St. Vincent finish her touring duties for Love This Giant, the exceptional collaboration album between her and David Byrne, and return to her solo work. Although, can you really quit David? Even though he’s nowhere to be seen in this new song and video, his presence is most definitely felt. Not only via the very Byrne-esque vocal lilts during the verses, but also through this delightfully Talking Heads-y video. Note that this is far from a complaint – in fact, it’s a credit to Annie that she’s managed to take this guidance in such a bold direction.
The video for Digital Witness is all about the colour and the rhythm. Let’s focus in on part one: The thing looks amazing. From Clark’s dyed-grey hair to the striking primary colours that blend and contrast in the clip’s environment, director Chino Moya (Bertie Blackman, Ladytron) really knows how to catch your eye. Which leads us to the second part: Every head nod, pencil roll and marching troupe is in sync down to the second. The pacing and the repetition recall the videos for Road to Nowhere and Burning Down the House especially, without managing to be a pastiche or a flat-out rip. It’s a fine line between influence and inspiration, and that has certainly been struck here.
Above all else, it’s just great to have St. fucking Vincent back in the game. Wait until you guys hear the new self-titled album that’s dropping in a few weeks – you’ll crap ya dacks!
“He said that beard accessories were no longer necessities…”
It’s a rough time to be a bearded traveller. For whatever reason, the collective performing visas of The Beards were recently denied by US immigration; forcing the band to cancel their run of North American dates. Heartbreaking stuff – bloody shutdown! What’s going on over there? Apparently a few other bands have had similar issues recently. Regardless, it seems as fitting a time as ever to share with you guys the most sombre tale ever told by the band – which looks to be their last little bit of promo for the Having a Beard is the New Not Having a Beard album.
The band’s fearless frontman, who also works as their keytarist and saxophonist on the side (busy guy!), Johann Beardraven, begins to tell the tale of The Beard Accessory Store in three separate places – the local pub, around the fireplace with the fellow members of the band; and (perhaps most frighteningly of all) in a child’s bedroom. Although they are fairly different circumstances for one to tell a story, he doesn’t change his intensity levels for any of them – he grabs collars, smashes randomly-placed acoustic guitars and pours Jack Daniels into his beer. It’s a pretty full-on story, so probably avoid watching this if you’re beardless or easily frightened. If you’re up for a punishing gut-wrencher of a laugh, though, have we got a surprise for you.
“But if you change your mind, you know where to find me…”
I’ve officially been caught out. Every bit of detail about a music video’s plot, special effects, audience engagement, cinematography, choreography etc. etc. etc. can officially be disregarded. Why? Because I have a new favourite video of the year, and it’s for Girls/Girls/Boys; the third single from Panic! At the Disco‘s outstanding new album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!
So what was it about this video that astounded, arrested and captivated me? Was it the fast-pacing and cultural highjacking, a la my #1 video of 2010, Telephone? How about the striking contrasts and raw emotions, a la my #1 video of 2011, Somebody That I Used to Know? Maybe some deep, shocking moments and devastating plotline, ala my #1 video of 2012, Hey Jane?
Nah. Brendon Urie‘s abs.
Yep, this is a purely indulgent eye-candy fest as P!ATD’s fearless leader does a shot-for-shot remake of D’Angelo‘s classic slow-jam video for Untitled (How Does it Feel). Sexy times clearly call for sexy measures – and things get pretty sexy here, people. Watch out for those lower torso shots, the hair flick and those eyes. If Brendon wasn’t one of your major crushes circa 2005/6, then he’s sure as shit going to make up for lost time here. Let’s call it a guilty pleasure. Guilty as sin.
Hiya, folks! So, you may have notice we’ve been a little lax on the updates. I’ve been ridiculously busy with other projects that I’ve barely had time for Y,WGAV! Don’t worry, honey, it’s not you – it’s me! Thankfully, we’re back as of tomorrow. But, before we tell you THOSE stories, we have to tell you THESE stories. Here are some of the best videos that have dropped in our absence. And there might be a few more yet to come!
Major Lazer feat. Peaches & Timberlee – Scare Me
Awaken the Major! Following on from their fantastic Eric Wareheim-helmed video for Bubble Butt, the futurista warriors bring their mascot to life in potentially the most awesome way possible – that’s right, kids, this is not a drill. That’s Terry Crews as the Major himself! Hell yeah! Throw in the wonderful Blake Anderson and Nick Kroll to round out an already-awesome cast; matching the high-speed romp to an already-bounding track.
Anika – In the City
Okay, so I know absolutely nothing about this band; where they’ve come from, what they’re doing or even if this is from an album or an EP. Truth be told, I can’t even remember how I was linked to this. All I know is that this is one of the most ridiculously watchable videos of the year. Couldn’t tell you what was going on for the life of me – essentially, I’m like Donkey after watching the DuLoc tourism puppet show in the first Shrek movie. “Wow… let’s do that again!”
Just Blaze and Baauer feat. Jay-Z – Higher
Here’s one out of left-field – an absolute banger from the power trio of Just Blaze, Jay-Z and the one-shake wonder himself, Baauer; set to one of the year’s darkest and most confronting videos. Described as a “short film,” we’re taken into the jungle and into a dangerous, sinister underbelly in which children begin playing with fire; not realising how burnt they will soon become. Pristine cinematography and some genuinely chilling moments. Stellar.
Josh Pyke – Warm in Winter
The reliably-lovely Pykey has given us some very sweet videos over the years, particularly from his second studio album Chimney’s Afire which sported the distant dreaming of The Summer and the motherfuckin’ guitar boat of Make You Happy. Here, JP soundtracks a blossoming friendship between a homeless girl and a homeless… wolfman? It’s got a human body and a cartoon wolf head. You do the maths on that one. They don’t say a word between them, but the way it plays out says it all.
Avril Lavigne – Rock & Roll
Damn you to Hell, Chris Marrs Piliero! This guys has to be the best pop video director around – he’s managed to not only elevate average songs into flat-out awesome ones with his clips (see: Britney Spears‘ I Wanna Go); but he also manages to make clips that make allies out of former Y,WGAV! enemies (see: Ke$ha‘s brilliant video for Blow). This time around, he’s giving the treatment to longtime frenemy of the blog Avril Lavigne, throwing her into a Tank Girl-esque action parody that borrows from MCR, GnR and plenty of other three-letter acronyms. Like RnR! Heh? See what I did there?
TV on the Radio – Million Miles
Here’s a blissful and serene clip from one of my all-time favourite bands, getting back to nature in the most endorphin-releasing sort of way. A gardening show filming goes awry, leaving one of the hosts to go Kanye on the whole thing as they go off-script and head to the soapbox. When the host is removed, she decides to bring the entire crew along with her for the ride. Weird and wonderful, the exact kind of concoction that has made this band one of my most beloved over the past few years or so.
Crayon Pop – Bar Bar Bar
This. Shit. RULES.
More later today!