Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vids on Parade

The other day I was looking out my back window, wearing multiple robes, stroking a non-existent beard, lemonade in one hand, pipe in the other, waxing nostalgic about Things Long Gone, like "mail," Arrested Development, and music videos.

In 2009, it's redundant to bemoan the extinction of the music video, or to lambast MTV for not playing any, or to wish that videos mattered again. Instead, on this YouTube Tuesday (editor's note: it's Wednesday), a brief homage to the time when videos did matter. Here's a handful that, more than the song itself, made me a fan.

Rage Against the Machine, "Bulls on Parade"

I remember being a middle-schooler post-pickup-game at the community center when I saw this on MTV. I had never heard RATM before. I had never even heard of RATM before. And this video showed tens of thousands in a full-scale and choreographed riot with the music. Where was this band from? Who were all these people? Was there a revolution on, and I'm late to it? What will tomorrow look like? I had to find out.

Pearl Jam, "Even Flow"
Click Here to Watch--embedding disabled by The Man.

My first introduction to Pearl Jam was hearing my brother sing "whoo-whoo" along with the "Jeremy" video. Later I'd realize that "Jeremy" was outstanding and its video arguably the best of the decade, but I was eight at the time. I only knew that my brother's "whoo's" were annoying, and that the video scared the crap out of me.

But "Even Flow" was everything I wanted: an insane live shooting, complete with hilarious anti-authority rants ("not a TV studio....JOSH!"), Stone Gossard's patented bowlegged-strut-dance-thing, a joyous but non-threatening audience of teenagers, and what can only be described as the best frontman histrionics ever recorded on film. It's easy to forget now--knowing what we do about Eddie--but the first time everyone saw the "Even Flow" video, they all thought the same thing: "No. Freaking. Way. What a horrifying badass." Every time you caught yourself wondering, "is this guy for real," he'd jump off a higher balcony, or swing across curtains, or hang from the scaffolding at Lollapalooza without any plan for getting down. And it all started with the "Even Flow" video.

Blur, "Song 2"

One of the only songs I can think of that got to MTV before 96X. As such, I knew the song first as a video, and I loved the song. The video itself offers nothing major to add, to I won't either. Just know that Christmas I asked for a tiny padded room, a giant fan, and a rock band. Guess which one I got.

Usher, "You Make Me Wanna"
Click Here to Watch--embedding disabled by Another Man.

For all the TigerBeat direction of this video, guys loved it, too. You'd think a bunch of 8th grade dudes would profess to hate the pretty-boy with his pretty-boy dance moves, but everyone loved Usher, without shame or guilt. And, even weirder, we were right. Just goes to show that a great hook (hey, remember those, R&B?) can go a long way. Doesn't hurt if the choreography involves Usher actually dancing out of his shoes. I don't care how snarky you think you are, that's awesome.

What are some of the videos that made you a fan?

Kings of Leon, "Sex on Fire"
Click Here to Watch--The Man's active today.

Kidding. Worst video ever. Seriously, watch it and think about how it could be any worse/make less sense/take itself more seriously/be more unintentionally funny. Brainstorm. You'll black out and wake up hours later, your worldview broken, your beliefs shaken. It's that bad/good.

Video killed the video star,

1 comment:

Mike said...

A few years earlier on the MTV, Bevis and Butthead introduced the masses to a few gems, White Zombie "Thunder Kiss '65" and Radiohead "Creep". Would they have both blown up without the show? Probably. A few "Huh huh"'s and "yeah... yeah!"'s couldn't have hurt.

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