“I’ll take you all the way, stay another song…”
Y’know, there is one way to make me feel like I haven’t achieved anything, and that’s to show me the successes that others have had when they were my age. For instance, Sophie Ellis Bextor – the focus of today’s lesson – was 22 (indeed, the age I am now) when she had her first worldwide solo hit. A top-five hit in eighteen countries at 22! Jesus. Ms. EB is 34 now and has three kids, but there was a period where she was probably the hottest woman in pop music – I’m talking both figuratively and aesthetically here. Although her only major hit over here – excluding Groovejet by Spiller, on which she provided the vocals – she’s managed to keep up a fairly respectable profile in the UK, consistently releasing albums and accumulating a strong following among the pop geeks.
That’s all well and good, yes, but today we’re here to hone in on what was the most-played song on European radio throughout 2002. This inescapable early-2000s floor-filler had enough going for it without any form of visual accompaniment – there’s a hook every seven seconds (pop geeks will get this), the production is flawless and SEB’s vocals are chic and stylish. With that said: Holy hell, the video made a difference. If one was to ever properly answer how to improve on perfection, they’d surely point to a clip like this. It remains one of my absolute favourite clips of the 2000s, pop or otherwise. And why? Because it’s so delightfully bitchy.
I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the representation of the ego within pop videos – the males going for boastful and brawny; while the females tend to be more snide and vindictive. It’s more or less about asserting status, and this is very much achieved in the Murder on the Dancefloor video. Yes, it’s clearly a bit of a send-up and a parody of the ego representation, but it plays it straight enough that it could fall either way – especially to a younger audience.
A dance competition is happening, and the heat is on for SEB and her partner. She shows full intent on winning the thing from the very beginning, and cuts some pretty severe corners in order to do so. The cast of characters surrounding SEB are hilarious enough on their own, but their reactions when she manages to cut them out of the comp make them even better. There clearly wasn’t much of a budget for the video – perhaps there wasn’t much faith in her as a solo artist? – but it doesn’t take a genius cinematographer to make SEB look resplendent; nor a genius choreographer to make her look fantastic in the throes of the dance.
Really, we’re all winners at the end of this one. What a glorious bit of fun this one is. I wish I could have enjoyed it more at the time – at 11/12, I was too busy trying to convince people I was a heterosexual to have time for this. Only later did I appreciate the true beauty of Murder. With that came the silent envy over her young achievements, but it’s a double-edged sword I’m willing to wield.
“It’s the beat that my heart skips when I’m with you…”
So, after years of neither one of them visiting Australia, both Knowles sisters are coming to Australia. This is good. This is very, very good. Solange, who kicked a lot of arse last year with her gorgeous video for Losin’ You, will be here in December for Falls Festival. Roughly a month and change beforehand, though, we’re getting an arena tour from the one and only Beyonce. This is my first time seeing Queen B in action, and I am expecting something that’s nothing short of exhilarating. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with for a big show like this one.
I wasn’t always such a gushing queer over Bee, y’know. Back when I was a mad alternative triple j we love music kid, I was never allowed to like Beyonce. That was for GIRLS. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. That was, of course, before this ditty came around. Sure, I didn’t appreciate it at first – girl germs, rnb “not reel music” etc. But it was probably around 2007 that I snapped and realised I was holding back my enjoyment of this superwoman and her music for no real reason at all. So, I stopped being a fuckhead and immersed myself in all things Beyonce.
This video, in particular, has stood the test of time for me as one of the definitive moments in her career – not only voted as the greatest song of the 2000s, but a glistening and all-out video that made everything else stop dead in its tracks. Even though Wikipedia itself admitted that “the video is essentially plotless,” you have to ask yourself: Who’s watching Beyonce videos for the PLOT? There are insane chunks of choreography! Fast cars! Jay-Z just being a flat out dude! I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where this isn’t awesome. I don’t want to be there anymore. I’m in a safe – and far, far better – place now. Now, SHAKE!
“Thank God for Mom and Dad for stickin’ two together, ’cause we don’t know how…”
I’m, admittedly, pretty insufferable with my “can you believe this is ten years old?!?” schtick sometimes. Especially this year, where I get to go all crazy nostalgic on my twelve/thirteen year old self. But please, you will just have to forgive me for this one. We’re about to take a look at one of the defining videos of the 2000s, the visual accompaniment to what is regarded as one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Yes, friends, we’re tuning up the band for OutKast‘s video for Hey Ya!
Although the song wouldn’t majorly dent the charts until 2004, it was around this time ten years ago that we were introduced to The Love Below – the frenzy-inducing superstar pop band, comprised entirely of versions of Andre 3000. Big Boi makes a cameo at the beginning of the video as the band’s manager, which I loved. The two would always appear in one another’s videos for the duration of the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below promotional cycle, and I remember really digging that – even though these were solo records, it was still being presented under the OutKast name and there was never any rivalry between the two.
Once we get to the actual performance – that’s Benjamin Andre, Possum Jenkins, Johnny Vulture, Ice Cold 3000 and Dookie, not to mention the three backing vocalists known as The Love Haters – it’s magical stuff. It captures the kind of utter madness that would ensue when popular bands would play the Ed Sullivan show or some kind of equivalent. I remember this video so vividly, I barely had to watch it again to write about it. Benjamin’s cheeky little smile after he finds some girls in the audience lusting after the shy one; Dookie glaring directly into the camera while hitting the snare drum during the song’s breakdown, not to mention Ice Cold’s wild dancing.
I love this video as much now as I did back then – it captures one’s imagination and sends you directly into what makes the whole song so magic. Even the old dad watching from home can’t stop himself when this song comes on. No doubt you’ll be the same when you watch this again.
“I never really thought of Heaven much, ’til we put him in the ground…”
I first discovered the music of Bright Eyes around the age of 14, which is statistically the best time to discover Bright Eyes pretty much ever. His words and music connected with me the exact way they’re supposed to hit a confused, weird little kid like myself. Of all of the material that came out around this time, however – namely, the I’m Wide Awake and Digital Ash records – I remember this video the most vividly.
Yes, of course, First Day of My Life is the best-known track from this era. With that said, I always have such fond memories of this song – the last song on Digital Ash – and its simple yet incredibly fascinating video. In it, Conor Oberst enters a room, writes the words “DID IT ALL GET REAL?” on the wall – seemingly doing mirror writing so that we, the audience, can see it – before detailing the entire song’s lyrics in a very creative and clever way.
I’m not much of an artist, but this affected what art I was creating at the time substantially – I’d be doing visual interpretations of songs and their lyrics for years and years after this clip came out. Hell, if I’m bored on a train and have a notebook handy, I’ll probably even do one now. I often don’t rememeber doing them, but the sentiment and the idea still remains. Easy/Lucky/Free definitely takes the concept of a lyric video to the next level. I’ll always love this clip for what it did to my brain.
“When I get fucked up, when I get half cut…”
2012 saw the glorious return of the Bloc Party boys, with what ended up being one of my favourite albums of the year in Four and one of my favourite songs of the year in Octopus. Earlier this year, my brother and I got to see them live in Sydney as well; which was a killer set. So, what does the rest of the year hold for these guys? Well, a non-album single has just been dropped; and with it comes a ripping new video from the band. Like, it’s really good. It’s one of the best Bloc Party videos ever. And the four of them didn’t even have to lift a finger… well, kind of, anyway.
They’ve already done the hard yards in making videos for songs like Helicopter, Hunting for Witches and the aforementioned Octopus. They’ve simply left them in the hands of that brilliant UK mind Cyriak, who was last seen around here working with Flying Lotus on the Putty Boy Strut video. Cyriak has taken these Bloc Party clips and created a monster – no, seriously! Things get so distorted and terrifying at times you won’t know where Kele Okereke ends and where he begins! I love this clever reinvention of what were mostly fairly straightforward performance videos. I’ll never look at them the same way again!
“Every time we kissed, I felt something that couldn’t exist…”
Yesterday, we discussed the 10-year anniversary of De-Loused in the Comatorium. We also happened to discuss the new March of the Real Fly video, which included some time at the good ol’ laundromat. Today, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of The Postal Service‘s only studio album, Give Up. Any self-respecting Death Cab or Dntel or electro-pop or good-taste fan has spent many, many moons with this record – so imagine the surprise and joy when the band reunited to re-release the record and head out on the road once again.
We also got to hear a song left on the cutting room floor from the original Give Up sessions, and said track has been given visual life thanks to the crew at AB/CD/CD. So, we mentioned the humble laundromat being the centre of focus here… and you’d better believe that we meant it! As soon as the load of clothes goes in, a serious lesson in perspective is given: What would happen if everything outside of the washing machine spun instead of the machine itself? Its surrealism reminds me a lot of various Flaming Lips videos, and even a little of the Battles video from last year for My Machines. Above all else, though, it makes me wish that there was more “new” Postal Service to give this kind of treatment to! A guy can dream. This will definitely suffice for now, of course. Just don’t get too dizzy.
“They lowered a tow, that stuck in his neck to the gills…”
Here’s a ten-year anniversary that kicked me in the dick this week: The Mars Volta‘s debut album, De-Loused in the Comatorium. For all the flack that the band received in their later years, even leading up to the band’s demise back in January, a sold amount of said detractors can all agree that this record was – and still is – more or less untouchable. I mean, what a dream team! Rick Rubin producing. Flea playing bass. Jon Theodore on drums. Isaiah Ikey-Owens on keys. Need I say more? The album is an absolute punisher, the closest to perfection that the band ever got.
Only 2 singles were released from the album: Inertiatic ESP and this. The Inertiatic video was super-fun for its trippy take on the band’s extreme live shows, but I was always drawn to the subdued majesty of the Televators video. A mostly-animated affair, the video takes in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic city. The surrounds have been taken over by animals and something grand is forming… something bigger than you or I. That’s both metaphorical and physical, I should mention. The atmosphere of this clip is nothing short of incredible. For one of the more quiet moments of the album, it certainly knows how to delve into great levels of intensity. A remarkable visual interpretation, that serves as a souvenir of this iconic LP. Throw it on sometime this week if you get the chance. It sure as shit doesn’t sound like 2003. It sounds like the distant future.