But wait! There’s more!
Oliver Clark – Atomic Thrust
He’s the man with the sexiest voice in comedy and suits that could make Paul F. Tompkins look like a hobo. Yes indeed, the housewives’ choice Oliver Clark is one for the ages. For the title track of his new album, he decided to put his pelvis to the test; subsequently delivering one of the flat-out funniest videos of the year.
Blood Orange – Chamakay
In which Devonte Hynes goes home. Well, in a traditional sense, anyway. Visiting Guyana for the first time ever, Dev makes his way around the beautiful area and connects with the townsfolk. Parallels can easily be drawn with frequent collaborator Solange‘s wonderful video for Losing You, but not even that can match the tender beauty of seeing Hynes meet and speak with his grandfather for the first time ever. Stunning.
They Might Be Giants – You’re on Fire
They’ve been getting weird since before you were born and they show absolutely zero signs of slowing their roll. Here, they give a spin to the opening track on their sixteenth(!) album, allowing some mince meat to take lead vocals while the gorgeous Lauren Lapkus from Orange is the New Black dances around the kitchen preparing to send it to its impending doom. Because of COURSE that’s what they would come up with.
Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
A lot of people have asked me about this one. Where do I stand? What do I make of it? Now, I’ll be the first to admit it needed an editor, and maybe some restraint on the more… shall we say… ‘out there’ moments. When she’s staring straight down the barrel of the camera, though? I simply cannot deny it. It’s gripping, and it’s honest, and it’s the most real that we’ve ever seen the girl born Destiny Hope Cyrus.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
What an exciting time to be an AF fan. As the band bravely venture into what may be their weirdest album to date, we’re treated to what may be their weirdest video to date for the album’s title track. Late-night roadtrippin’, mirror suits, giant paper-mache heads, tricked-out caskets… I mean, I’ll be damned if I know what it all means at this point. It looks pretty amazing, though; don’t you agree? What a thrilling video.
Fall Out Boy feat. Big Sean – The Mighty Fall
The saga continues. This year, Fall Out Boy have been releasing music videos for every song from their Save Rock & Roll LP; following a conceptual story about the four members and a secret briefcase which has contents only they (and the villains of the series) know about. There’s been aspects of Stockholm syndrome and Clockwork Orange-esque ultra-violence thus far, and the madness continues here with some all-new characters. Kudos for keeping them guessing, boys.
The Polyphonic Spree – Let Them Be
Following on from the parallel universe of the You Don’t Know Me video, the Spree get animated on the second video from their excellent Yes, It’s True. album. Director Ben Rowe takes the song into a lush dreamscape, enlisting the help of dozens of creepy-crawlies, frogs, aliens and what appears to be an avocado. No, really, it’ll all make sense once you’ve seen it. Well, okay, I won’t make any promises…
Moby feat. Wayne Coyne – The Perfect Life
Oh, come on! It’s Moby and Wayne Coyne in mariachi suits. What joy! What pure, unadulterated awesome have we found ourselves with? If you don’t get a smile out of this one, your heart is dead as dead can be. That’s all that can be said!
“You haven’t got my awkward silence, or my three ways of acting…”
I believe in Brendan Maclean. The same way Cher believes in life after love, or the way Harvey Dent believes in Harvey Dent. I’m sure I’ve explained our history far more eloquently and in far greater detail in one of the several other times he’s appeared here. All you need to know is that he’s back, on the attack, with a fellow Mac – Paul Mac, that is; who was also behind February’s Stupid. The guys behind that video have returned as well, namely directors Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston. To top it all off, this too is a single-shot video… yep, just like Stupid.
You might think I’m being back-handed here, but I’m actually quite excited that B-Mac has started properly carving his niche into this grandiose style of buzzing pop; with some truly awesome visuals to accompany it. As soon as you realise that we’re in the midst of a “backwards” video, more and more questions begin to arise – namely, how did Brendan end up in his underwear? What is he doing on a race track? Why is there glitter all over the field? Patience, young grasshopper. All will be revealed once we retrace our steps… well, most will be revealed, at least. Given this video focuses squarely on Maclean, it’s up to him and him alone to keep you entertained and intrigued for the entire runtime. In that regard: Sir, you’re a winner in our books.
“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 broke and shattered, to a million and one…”
Yeah, I’m gonna be completely honest here. There was absolutely no shitting way that I ever thought that She & Him – the musical project for M. Ward and perennial manic-pixie-dream-girl Zooey Deschanel – would ever appear on this blog in a positive light. I mean, they’re just so fucking twee and cutesy and blergh. I’ve gone off Deschanel something chronic lately – probably something to do with her awful New Girl show, which just got less and less funny as it got queasier and queasier. Not to mention all those Frankie girls spinning around the streets in their floral dresses, Instagramming their 35-dollar breakfasts and playing San Cisco on their iPod; all the while idolising their dearest Zooey.
So, with all of that in mind, how exactly in all of fuck did I end up grinning like an idiot at this video, the first in support of their imaginatively-titled third album, Volume 3? I’m personally blaming my enjoyment of I Could’ve Been Your Girl on two things. The first is the goddamn colour and choreography. I mean, you guys remember how much I gushed over the Cameo Lover video, right? This is exactly like that. Zooey is wearing a bright pink dress with baby blue frill and bright yellow shoes. I queered up the second I saw her in it. As for the dancing, it’s just remarkably camp and wonderful and sweet. I’m not supposed to be feeling this way, dammit!
And the second thing? Well, call me crazy, but I genuinely think that Zooey is taking the absolute piss out of herself and the whole MPDG movement. Look at the haphazard way she tries to spin her umbrella, or the fumbling of the beachball, or how awkward she is with the wooden duck. These might just be attempts to humanise her, but I’m seeing something else. I’m seeing Deschanel attempting to break the fourth wall to show anyone that will give her a chance that she’s more than aware she’s a stereotype. It’s as if she’s saying “Yeah, I know I’m a bit ridiculous. And so are all the people trying to be like me.” I dunno, should I let sleeping dogs lie on this one? I really like Ward’s guitar, Zooey’s not the worst singer, and this video cracked a grin out of me. Maybe I’ll listen to Volume 3… Jesus, what is happening to me?
“You carry protection, but your heart will go on like Celine Deon…”
Another insight into my childhood comes with this turn-of-the-century banger from one of the most wondrous of one-hit-wonder groups, Bomfunk MCs. Freestyler was at the top of the charts in – according to Wikipedia – Sweden, Germany, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. That’s a worldwide fucking hit, people. Nought to be sneezed at. Even with this in mind, I can’t help but feel it wouldn’t have quite gotten there were it not for this absolute smash of a music video. Often imitated, never duplicated.
If you were engaged with music on any level in 1999, I don’t have to run through the finer details of the clip. For those of you out of the loop, though, it’s set in a Helsinki train station and follows the adventures of a precocious 15 year old that just happens to have a magical remote given to him. This can only go well, right? The clip feels, at times, like a complete time capsule – I mean, look at the fashion! The dancing! The glasses! The hair! Sure, it was all in Finland; but these people were certainly not uncool looking in 1999. In fact, they’d have looked pretty boss, all things considered.
The video is also a commentary on abuse of power, believe it or not. If you can see that through all the choreography, you’re far more observant than I was when I first saw the video all those years ago. I just wanted to be that badass little kid. Fuck, even in 2013, I still kinda want to be that kid; and he’s probably pushing 30 now. Anyway, reminisce with me – or, better yet, experience for the first time.
“Yougun, pegi, tur, equa, machen, varriya…”
You seriously thought we were going to sleep on this one again? After the insanity of PSY passed by Y,WGAV! completely until he hit the top 5 of our best clips of 2012, there was no way we were going to let the all-important follow-up just go drifting on by. Here we are, 6-odd albums into old mate’s career and about a quarter past the peak of insanity that lead to Gangnam Style reaching one billion views. That statistic again: One. Billion. Views. (Dr. Evil pinky). Is Gentleman just a rehash? Is it funny? Is it worth another billion?
It’s taken me a few viewings, and I admittedly didn’t love it as much as my first views of Gangnam Style, but I’m officially on board with Gentleman. He’s once again playing up to a ridiculous character, a few of the familiar faces from Gangnam are back on board and there’s plenty of new antics to have fun with – this may well be the first time I’ve ever seen a fart dart in a music video. He manages to pack a great deal of action and fun into the video’s three minutes. The dance is far less complicated and pretty easy to get on board with; not to mention the great location shots and the choreography bringing it all together. As far as ridiculous pop videos go, it’s bang on. Can we get past the whole tall poppy syndrome and just be happy for the world’s most unlikely popstar? Have a ponder – while doing the dance, of course.
“I wanna thank your ma and pa, and anyone who made you who you are…”
Hey, check it out! It’s old mate Laura Imbruglia. No… Laura. C’mon, now, we’ve been through this. She’s the good one. She’s on our side. Anyway, it’s been awhile since she dropped The Lighter Side Of…, toured with Eels and not only gave us the fantastic I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend video, but even came on and guest-blogged about a so-bad-it’s-amazing Queen video. Ahh, memories. So, what’s been going on? Welp, Laura’s been passin’ the hat with a fun lil’ Kickstarter in order to make her new studio album, What a Treat! The campaign was a success, and we’ll hopefully be getting the record mid-year. Until then, however, we’ve got ourselves a new video! Aw yis!
Loz is dressed to the nines here, looking a little like Mojo Juju with her slick hair and badass suit. She’s trying to hunt down the ladykiller on the other side of the bar, but there’s just one problem – she’s a werewolf. Oh dudes, you were expecting a song called Awooh! to not have werewolves in it? There’s also a revolving cast of lovesick puppies throwing in a bit of slapstick for good measure – oh, and it all ends with a dance number! Oh, glory! Mad props to LI and the crew for putting this one together. I dig the l0w-budget-high-ambition feel going on here, and the song is one of her catchiest ever. Really, what more can you ask for in a situation like this? I’m stoked we still have this lady around, kickin’ starts and breakin’ hearts. Let’s sing another song, boys.
“These building tops, they connect the whole block…”
Feeling refreshed and excited after a week off, so let’s plow through some new releases. Up first this week, I’ve got a new clip from an adorable duo who have more brilliant clips than you’ve had hot dinners – hell, one of their videos literally contained a hot dinner; the food-fight party that was Yea Yeah. Since then they’ve become zombies, stripped in public, jammed in a taxi and played some seriously tricked-out basketball. You’d think after all the effort they’ve been putting in – just recently releasing a new album, Lightning, going on tour with blink-182 and planning their third Australian visit for the Groovin’ the Moo festival – they’d need a bit of a rest.
That’s what brings us to today’s visual delights – Matt and Kim in bed. N’aww, isn’t that sweet? Of course, the serenity doesn’t last long. It turns out that our favourite indie-pop couple are restless sleepers. So much so, they find themselves tossing and turning at the exact same time – yep, I think we may well be looking at the first-ever case of synchronised sleeping. What a world we live in, huh? Next time you feel like a nap, might I suggest throwing in a sneaky dance routine for good measure. If It’s Alright is anything to go by, you’ll be looking fabulous real quick like. I’ll be practicing my routine and saving it for their show in Sydney at the Oxford Art Factory on May 1st. Did I mention that tickets are on sale now? I did, didn’t I. Good good.
“But you work in an office, and you’ve got other offers…”
I’ve gone on before about how much I adore Brendan Maclean. He was the first-ever featured artist on this here blog, he’s had two videos in my top 10 clips of the year (2010 and 2011) and… well, shit, I just adore the little fucker. Can you blame me? He’s just so endearing and brave and interesting and funny – on and offline. It all really seems to be coming together for him now – at long last, we’re going to get an album from this son of a bitch, thanks to the support of his Pozible crew (which you should totally check out over here) and the wizardry of Paul Mac on the production knobs.
To celebrate, Brendan has just released his fifth music video. I missed out on the last two, OnlyOnly and Beat Me to It – the former because I pretty much have a “no performance videos” rule, and the latter because it was released during vacation time. Sorry, B-Mac! Hopefully, I can make up for it with a glowing review for this wonderful clip – potentially the best of the lot. Here, Brendan ends up as the only other person at a party. Rather than make things awkward, however, he decides to have a bit of a dance. Wait… a bit? A LOT of a dance might be a bit closer to the mark. Meanwhile, the girl who’s thrown the party (played by Eloise Winestock) decides that it’s her party and that she can bloody well cry if she wants to. She gets sadder and sadder as Brendan gets happier and happier. What a beautiful contrast it makes, too. If he keeps it up, not to mention with The Great Gatsby finally coming out this year, 2013 will be the year of the Mac. Get on board.
“I’m trying to keep my cool, but you’re looking so good…”
In 2010, I fell in love. With three different women. At the exact same time. I knew them only as The Lady Garden at the time, the three impeccably dressed and perfectly-harmonised backing vocalists of Clare Bowditch and the New Slang. It wasn’t until later on that I discovered my triple-threat crush to have another collective name – Aluka. The magic in their voices continues to flourish in their original material, and now they even have a gorgeous little video to go along with their new single. Perfection!
Keep My Cool was directed by Alice Glenn, who is no stranger to having her work featured on the blog. Her video with Otouto, the No Lights No Lycra collaboration W. Hilliar, was one of my favourite videos of 2010, placing at number 26 in my top 30. Here, she brings a jittery, aerobic style of choreography to Aluka, bringing a sweetness and charm to their song, mixed in with some great editing work and some very cute dresses. Can’t pick a fave among the three, and thus my triple-crush continues. Wanna get a smoothie sometime, you guys? I’m not mental, and I have an extensive knowledge of beards and indie rock from 2004. Surely that’s incentive…