It’s hard to imagine just one music video really encapsulating the experience of listening to a Yeasayer album, but the new video for “O.N.E.,” the second single off of Odd Blood, comes pretty damn close. Featuring crazy multi-colored early-‘9o’s-ish fashions, lasers, shape-shifting aliens and/or robots, dudes in fish tanks, some kind of space-age strategy game with triangles, choreographed Vanilla Ice-like dance routines, and a lip-synced performance from behind a chain-link fence courtesy of the band’s guitarist. It’s exactly the kind of weird/awesome thing that make Yeasayer so great and Odd Blood one of the year’s best albums.
Archive for the 'Music Video' Category
Ok Go have become something of an internet phenomenon since the mid ’00s, known more for their videos than their music. Returning from a lengthy hiatus, the band seemed to have switched gears somewhat with the release of Of The Blue Colour of the Sky, their best album to date (featuring what is by far their best song). The focus then, would seem to be on the music rather than the visual presentation; a notion which the video for WTF?, the album’s lead single, seemed to have confirmed. The video is interesting, if unexceptional. And while good, it seems more an afterthought to the song (which is also pretty good, by the way).
This is, of course, as it should be, and, for that matter, the way most bands typically do things. It is, however, in stark contrast to Ok Go’s previous work, which– purposefully or not– placed the focus more on the action onscreen. The songs, in those cases, seemed more akin to a soundtrack, added as a means to punch up the choreography rather than the video’s reason for being. Here, for example, is the video for “A Million Ways:”
And the video for “Here It Goes Again,” which was so goddamn ubiquitous it even won a Grammy:
And while these are excellent videos– simple, clever, and original– and they’ve garnered the band millions of Youtube hits, they’ve hardly done much for their reputation as musicians. And though it’s obviously brought them some new fans, the caprice of internet fame is surely no comparison to the quality fanbase that a solid, well-reviewed album and a good tour would bring.
I was initially impressed by Ok Go’s apparent decision to focus less on their video-making. The fifteen minutes of fame had passed, and– it seemed to me– no good could come by trying desperately to recreate past successes.
That was, of course, until I watched their newest video for the song “This Too Shall Pass” and I realized I was completely wrong. Clearly Ok Go have a gift for making brilliant and original music videos and must by all means continue to do so with fervor. They may be a good band, but clearly this is the medium where they truly shine. Not every band can be Radiohead. If you excel at video making (and clearly that is where Ok Go’s true skill set lies) then you must embrace that.
The video, which you can check out at the end of the post, features one of the most complex Rube Goldberg machines I’ve ever seen along with some very intricate camerawork and choreography from the band itself, all culminating in a pretty goddamn awesome climax. It’s a phenomenal achievement and must have taken dozens of takes, and painstaking resets, to get right. ‘Awe-inspiring’ is probably the word for it, though I prefer ‘kick-ass.’
The video– and perhaps even the song title itself– also takes a shot at the band’s past internet successes with a brief moment in which a TV playing the “Here It Goes Again” video is smashed ruthlessly by a sledgehammer; an apt description for what is, in all likelihood, once again headed the band’s way. They’ll be ready for it, let’s just hope it sells them some albums this time.
Of the Colour of the Blue Sky is out now via Capitol Records. Buy it. Or go create a Mr. Belvedere-related meme on 4chan.
Antidotes, the 2008 debut album from Foals, hinted at good things to come. And it looks like the Oxford band is primed to exceed any lofty expectations if “Spanish Sahara,” the first single off their follow-up album, is a good indication of what we can expect from Total Life Forever.
The song starts out spare and quiet, little more than a whisper. Slowly, torpidly the instrumentation builds: a modest guitar strum, a rising drum beat, a slight keyboard arrangement. It all builds into a crescendo before breaking out, cresting into a driving melody that leads back into the refrain: “I’m the ghost in the back of your head.”
The video, equally sparse and beautiful, boasts gorgeous cinematography and hypnotic visuals of expansive tundra and rolling waves of choppy broken ice. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the song, and without a doubt the best music video of the year thus far. Check it out.
Total Life Forever is out May 10th on Sub Pop.
Apparently when Ezra Koenig and co. aren’t busying themselves crafting effortless-sounding and expertly-crafted pop songs, they’re running with a famous– if mind-bogglingly disparate– crew.
The Brooklyn band’s new video features quite a few unlikely celebrity cameos, and some of the least realistic tennis scenes since the 2004 Kirsten Dunst vehicle, Wimbledon (ok, didn’t see it, I’m just assuming, but I mean they cast Paul Bettany as the lead in a rom-com, how accurate could things possibly be?).
The vid chronicles a tournament of sorts, held in a small white-washed room (tennis court aboard the Nostromo perhaps?), with VW “rockin’ out” to mid-tempo single “Giving Up the Gun” (Not one of Contra‘s highlights in this blogger’s opinion, but a quality song nonetheless).
The protagonist is a spunky young redheaded lass striving to outlast the competition- including a Jonas bro (Can’t tell which, probably the gay one), Jake Gyllenhaal, and even a cocky no-nonsense version of herself (Whhaaa?!!! Howdeydodat??? Thanks technology!) The vid also features the RZA (That’s right, the fucking RZA. In a Vampire Weekend video.) as the coolest/weirdest line judge in history. I should also mention that he’s decked out in full-on Morpheus gear, though I don’t think that’s part of the video, he probably just showed up to the shoot dressed that way. What else would you expect from a dude who’s directly quoted as saying:”Say you’re Bobby Digital, you’re RZA, and your girl fornicates on you—you feel like shit. ‘Who the fuck? How the fuck?’”
The final cameo is less of a head-scratcher (as he was name-dropped in a VW song), and arrives in the form of Lil Jon (dressed not unlike a nautically-inclined T-Pain with smaller hat) as redhead girl’s coach/mentor/inspiration (I mean he certainly inspired these young ladies to display their athletic prowess…salt-shaking FTW!).
Neither the video nor the cameos make a goddamn bit of sense, but it’s certainly never boring, so there’s that. I did have a hard time getting past the fact that the redhead check had clearly never swung a racket in her life, and the even more vexing fact that nearly every effing (i.e. fucking) shot is in slow motion (We get it, you like Wes Anderson, enough already, geez). But Jake Gyllenhaal is legitimately funny, displaying that comic timing that is sure to make Prince of Persia the smash comedy hit of the summer (A white Persian guy with a bad English accent, a mysterious hourglass and a low supply of shirts? Genius!) And props on the RZA cameo, those are usually reserved for Jim Jarmusch films and moderately disappointing Judd Apatow films. Honestly, never in my life did I expect to see the RZA lip-synching lyrics to a Vampire Weekend song. Fucking surreal. Now all that’s left is to wait and see if Lil Jon returns the favor and puts the lads of VW in his next video– they could throw money at exotic dancers in a manner which resembles precipitation! Huzzah!
For comparative purposes, check out VW at their very best with the video for “A-Punk.” It’s simple, infinitely entertaining, and fits the song perfectly: everything a great music video should be. Makes a body downright nostalgic for those good ‘ol days of 2008.
Contra is out now via XL Recordings. You should buy it. You can do that here.