“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.
“You made the whole world want to dance, you bought yourself a second chance…”
Well, tonight’s the night. After fifteen years of being a fan, I’m finally going to see Garbage live. At a fucking casino of all places. Weird? Unbelievably. Still, it’s happening, so I may as well deal with it on my own terms. In the mean time, I’d thought I’d do some recollection regarding this here band. I’ve been on board since their 1998 album Version 2.0, when I was simply a young pop afficionado paying close attention to the charts. They’ve obviously come to mean a lot more to me than other chart-busters of the time – anyone remember K-Ci and JoJo? What about B*Witched? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Anyway, I think – at least, from a video perspective – that this one here was my most vivid memory of Garbage growing up. I’d have been eleven or maybe twelve at the time of its release, and I can still remember every last part. The invisible band, jamming out on keyboards and guitars. Shirley Manson, as alluring as ever, even when there is literally none of her there. The gender-bending strip tease towards the end has always stuck with me, even if I am admittedly just a sucker for toilet gags. Sure, it’s all a bit naff now. But I’ll be damned if this wasn’t just the perfect lure into the beautifulgarbage record – especially at my tender age. Now, let’s see if they can still rip it live. Report to follow!
“You can see it in my eyes, you can read it on my lips…”
Let’s talk about ageing gracefully. Recently, The Offspring skidmarked all over the comeback trail with two cringeworthy and awful videos – the horribly cliched Days Go By and the just plain horrible Cruising California (Bumpin’ in My Trunk). This, boys and girls, is NOT how you do it. The band look and sound about 100 years old, and a mercy killing is certainly imminent. So, what do the recently reformed No Doubt do differently, exactly? Click play on the new video for Settle Down and let’s take a look.
What you’ve got to remember to start off with is that No Doubt were about 100 when they released their last album, 2002’s Rock Steady. They have nothing to prove to anyone – hell, this reunion didn’t even need to happen, given the major success of Gwen Stefani‘s two solo records. This is a labour of love, and the band are clearly doing this because they want to, not because they have to. The video, in turn, is very bright and very upbeat – a mix of the wild partying of the Hey Baby video and the grittiness of the Hella Good video. The extended dance sequences are an absolute treat, and despite the excessive airbrushing they all look stunning. I would not say no to Gwen Stefani, people. Ever. And that’s a promise. Anyways, this is really fun – I hope the album is decent enough, too.
“The DJ can take a hike, cause we don’t need no chaperone tonight…”
The Cringe is back for the first time since Y,WGAV!’s return! Rejoice! What better way to start us off than some more truly outstandingly bad pop from right here at home? Here’s one from almost ten years ago, given to former Home and Away actress Bec Cartwright after none of the three female finalists of Popstars won the competition. True facts. This is a Popstars reject track – and a truly abysmal one at that. It gets so much better/worse, however, when it comes to the video.
Firstly, the fashion. I know I go on about this for any clip that’s older than half a decade, but holy shit there’s some bad stuff in here. Like, inexcusably bad. Oh yeah, Bec, I find few things in life more alluring than a banana-coloured midriff singlet. And your mates! How about those turquoise short-short boardies? Yes, please! I’m pretty sure one of them is wearing leg-warmers, too. Well, shit. How am I supposed to top that?
Special shout out to the goatee’d fellas who stand idly by as Bec and co. bust some moves in what appears to be some kind of attempt to seduce them. I think the clip can pretty much be summed up by roughly 1:42 – watch out for the goatee’d fella, who looks about 10 years older than the rest of them, crack the nastiest sex-pred smile that you’ve ever seen. A delight of the senses and something truly outstanding for all ages.
As for Bec? Well, she did this 10 years ago. Her album came out 9 years ago. She’s been doing little else apart from birthin’ young-uns and cheering Lleyton Hewitt from the sidelines since 2005. What a boring existance. Come back and make some more shit videos, dude! You’re still young! There’s so much more terrible music to make. Let’s do it!
“Y’know you really oughta move out of California…”
Earlier in the week, I had the honour of meeting Patrick Matthews when he was hanging out in Wollongong with the lovely Owl Eyes. In case you didn’t know, Patrick was the original bassist for The Vines before going on to Youth Group, and most recently The Jewel and the Falcon. I was happy to chat about the latter two, but one thing you should know about me is that I was OBSESSED with The Vines.
This band, at the ripe old age of 12, exposed me to a whole new world of rock and roll. A world of drugs and destruction and videos like this – Get Free was another one of those things that just completely blew me away the first time I saw it. It blew them away too – literally, the sight of Craig Nicholls flying off the face of the earth due to some explosive on the ground, to me, remains one of the iconic shots of 2000s rock videos.
I can’t really expand much more on how much this video freaked me out and excited me simultaneously as a child. I still love The Vines, but this was my peak of obsession – knowing every word to every song, wanting to be Craig, etc. You know the drill. Anyway, rock out to this one!