The Lost Art of the Music Video.
It seems that the music video is becoming less relevant or less well-considered. In recent years, few memorable videos have been created. Whether fewer people view them; or the talent isn’t out there, one thing is clear: we need to make sure we do not lose them altogether…
SOMETHING rather worrying has been accompanying- as well as working in tandem with-
Music. There has been an overall decline in the standard of music, pretty much since the late-’90s/early-’00s. It is not entirely down to the musicians themselves; standards and tastes have changed; the greatest musical waves and periods have past- and music has stagnated somewhat. The acts I review on a weekly basis are exempt from my condemnation, yet they account for a tiny percentage of the overall market. If you think about it; turn on the radio; think about what music is out there at the moment, and ask: how much of it do you genuinely love? In the way that music is open to everyone, it has led to a decline in quality control. It is great that it is easy to make music (although not inexpensive), and there seems to be something for everyone. The downside is that amidst all of the new music, there seems to be few genuinely great acts. Established acts and the best on the market are working hard, yet one day their reign will be subject to entropy and a natural death. We always have to think ahead as to whom will replace the best and brightest when the inevitable day arrives. Everyone has their favourite new acts, and there are certainly a few new acts (aside from the ones I have reviewed) that I am excited about. In the larger sense, there are few that get me hot under the collar and compel me to write and perform my own stuff. Thinking about this, I have had a bit of a think. If the relative few wonderful acts are a precious commodity, then it seems that something has to be done with regards to the overall package. Since the music video for Bohemian Rhapsody arrived nearly 40 years ago, there has been excitement and attention with regards to the art of the music video. The form has developed and evolved, and all kinds of videos have been made. It has always been a vital part of a band or act’s mantle, and not just important with regards to individual songs. When you think about the personality of a particular act, there are few that really win you over. Today there are so many musicians and artists whom are infamous and laudable; the genuine everyman (and woman) are being silenced by the flashing glare of the paparazzi lens. I guess the music and the person (or people) behind it can be mutually exclusive, although I feel as long as the music is strong, then it is not overly-important if the artist is likeable- or appealing even. It means, however, that the music has to be that much stronger. The music video is a key element of a song, and is the visual representation of your work. When M.T.V. was starting out, it was easier for people to see music videos, and appealing for artists, as they had a widespread medium to have their songs seen and heard. Stations such as these have declined and sites such as YouTube have taken their place. I have been worried by the output of many acts and artists over the past decade or so. It seems that the quality of the music video hit its peak- or saw its last real influx- about 15 years ago, and there have been fewer truly memorable videos. I am not sure if it is the quality of music on offer or the lack of talented directors; yet it seems it may be both. As much as anything, attention spans and desires have changed. The video used to be a thing that can watched, studied and re-watched. Today- and over recent years- they have come to be seen as disposable and cliche. In so much as music is easy to make, so too is it easy to make a video. If you have a camera and know the right people, then you can pretty much make your own. This has meant- like the quality of music itself- the music video standard has dropped. I often look at an E.P. or album cover that an act has put out and sigh. Little thought is given to creating an image that is memorable, historical and fascinating. There are too many self-portraits; too many basic images and far too many stale and lifeless attempts. The likes of Nevermind and Sgt. Pepper seem like forgotten footnotes, and I cannot remember the last time I was mesmerised by an album cover. Similarly, I struggle to remember a music video that blew me away. Imagination, creativity and stunning intelligence mandated the scene at certain times, and the boldest and bravest directors came to play. The all-time great directors are gone- or slowing- and there are very little up-and-coming wonders. I hope that this is something that is rectified, as the music video is crucial. Every single needs one- or should- so it is no less crucial that attention and thought is put into them (videos). I am hampered by lack of funds (and am not a professional director), yet am already looking ahead to my first video (when my first song is released). My mind is often awash with ideas and scenes, and I have formulated at least half a dozen ideas I feel can rival some of the best. With the range of technologies, landscapes and possibilities, it is not difficult to conjure up a video that elevates (or makes) a track. I feel there is not a lack of money or impetus; merely a lack of bravery or forward-thinking and pioneering directors. Whether video directing is seen as second-best to film/T.V. directing, I am not sure; but the fact is this: even a medicore song can be made a classic by a wonderful video.
This got me thinking about what- for me- ‘makes’ a music video. I have seen many a crap track suddenly made wonderful by a great video. Conversely, a huge number of great songs have been let down by a boring or uninspiring video. The music video is a way of uniting actors and musicians; making mini films and fascinating stories; creating chances for up-and-coming directors- as well as making something that could be studied and dissected decades from now. It is important that fantastic videos are created, as we may live to see the day where none are made at all. I am depressed and sickened by the digital dominance which is putting record stores out of business. It is horrifying that the compact disc may be put to sleep. That means that album covers and music artwork will be replaced by fake digital imagery and intangible products. The physical release- the artwqork and disc- will be replaced by sterile and digitized replacements. It may mean that music videos will become obsolete, and more and more videos may be made online- negating and bypassing real life and actual filmmaking. I was thinking about my favourite music videos, and why particular ones stuck in my mind. Each of my five choices feature phenomenal musicians, and there is not a single video that represents a poor or overrated artist. Each one of the videos, too, has something unique and wonderful; a unique selling point- as well as qualities and merits that have not been replicated. The majority of the music videos were made during the ’90s, and considering that was the last truly great decade for music, it is hardly surprising. It has been 11 years since the last video (from my list) was made, which worries me a bit. I am hoping that there are a lot of keen directors and bold artists keen to keep the artform alive and burning, and I am sure everyone has their own favourite videos. Many musicians I know are making some great videos themselves, and considering their budgets are three or four-figured, it is an impressive feat. You do not need a tonne of money or years of music video-making experience to turn out a classic. If you have an imaginative brain and a pioneering approach, then you can create something truly memorable. Take a look at the below, and have a think about your own favourite videos, and ask me this: what makes them so special and incredible?
Blur- Coffee & TV (1999)
I am beginning with my all-time favourite. The music video was directed by Hammer & Tongs, A.K.A. Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith. The duo have created some of the most impressive and memorable music videos ever. They directed Radiohead’s Lotus Flower, where Thom Yorke danced his way into everyone’s hearts. They directed Pulp’s Help The Aged; Supergrass’ Pumping on Your Stereo, as well as Imitation of Life by R.E.M. The directing duo have worked in colour as well as black-and-white, worked with Muppet-like puppets (for Supergrass’ video), as well basic D.I.Y.-style concepts (see Radiohead’s Jigsaw Falling Into Place). The boys clearly are a mega talented duo, and it is hardly surprising that they produced such a mesmeric video for Blur back in 1999. Blur were in a bit of a career quandary in this period. The halcyon days of Parklife and Modern Life Is Rubbish had past, and the late-’90s was to see something transformative happen to the band. Graham Coxon was already starting to feel the strain, and would eventually leave the band during the recording of their follow-up Think Tank. The band’s self-titled album was well-received and contained some classic numbers; however their album 13 was not so celebrated. There seemed to be a sense of fatigue, and the group were clearly tired. Too much filler characterised the L.P., but there were glimmers of light. Tender was one of the greatest tracks they ever produced, and No Distance Left To Run is one of the most affecting and personal songs Damon Albarn has ever written. Nobody expected anything historic from Blur at this time, and a lot of critical attention was moving away from their shores, and towards newer acts. To my mind, Coffee and TV changed so much. It was a song penned by Coxon, and remains one of Blur’s best and most memorable songs. It has a huge sing along quality and its lyrics are enduring and timeless. The video, however, lifts this phenomenal song into something of sheer genius. The concept itself revolves around a carton of milk called Milky (made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop), in search of Coxon. Mr. Coxon is missing, and his family sit glumly around the breakfast table. The narrative of the video splits between the plight of Milky (as he searches for Coxon) and the band performing the song (in what looks like an abandoned building). Throughout the track, Milky passes dangers and strife. He falls in love with a cute milk carton- only to see her stomped on. Hitching lifts and asking favours, he eventually stumbles upon Blur performing; gleefully aware he has found the missing guitarist. Coxon then gets a bus back home, drinks from the carton, and is reunited with his family- as the milk carton floats up to heaven. The concept is brilliant, yet simple, but is the way that the video is made that is so brilliant. The idea of a milk carton going in search of someone has not been done before or since, and it is a charming and wonderful creation. The song itself is brilliant, yet I cannot listen to the song without the video- as they fit together perfectly. It is unsurprising that the video scooped awards, including best video at the N.M.E. Awards in 1999 and 2000. Many magazines have placed it in their ‘top 20’, yet few have ever crowned it as their number 1. I feel there is no finer video, as it scores a wonderful song, yet makes it better and more memorable as well. The concept is bold and stunning, and even 15 years after its creation, I still an enthralled by it. Blur’s existence may be in limbo (and there may or may not be another album in them), yet Coffee & TV remains one of the band’s best songs- and their greatest videos. It turned a rather unspectacular album into a treasure and clearly the band were having a blast filming the video. It is a template that directors should study closely, and I have not seen any video since that measures up to Coffee & TV‘s golden standard. Have a peek of the video, and I defy you to show me a better video. In fact if you don’t come away (from watching the video) you may be technically dead inside.
See the video (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’):
The White Stripes- The Hardest Button to Button (2003)
This is a video from the mind of a truly remarkable talent. Michel Gondry may be recognisable to many, as he directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Gondry, however, made his name in music videos, and has directed gems for the likes of Beck, Bjork and Kylie Minogue. Gondry is one of my favourite directors, because he has a childlike and wonderful imagination. Throughout his tenure directing Bjork, he has presented weird and wonderful scenes; with overgrown bears in woods; monkey dentists as well as weird late-night scenes. Gondry works on songs that may not be ‘commercially popular’ or familiar to all, but tracks that inspire the creative mind. Take the case of Sugar Water by Japanese duo Cibo Matto. I’ll admit that the song is not instantly memorable- or indeed durable- but the video is a bizarre work of wonder. It tracks a day in the life of the two girls, as they go about their days. It works in split screen, as one half charts one girl’s day in reverse, and the other in forward motion. At various points of the video the two halves overlap, and the girls interact. It is a sort of muder mystery mixed with strange thriller, and is mind-boggling to even comprehend. How Gondry managed to pull it off is testament to his talent and intelligence (watch the video and see if you can figure it out). Throughout his career, Gondry has pushed the envelope and defied gravity, logic and common sense with his bold brilliance and daring style. Although less prolific nowadays, Gondry is still directing and has amassed an impressive collection of work. I will be mentioning Gondry again later, so will not go into too much detail. One of the bands that Gondry worked with closely throughout the years is The White Stripes. As well as directing their songs Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground and The Denial Twist, Gondry created the celebrated video for Fell In Love With A Girl. In this video he used Lego figures of Jack and Meg White, of them performing the song and involved in various different scenes. It was the video for The Hardest Button to Button that I feel is his most memorable, and one of the best videos ever. It is one that demonstrates Gondry’s attention to detail, patience and imaginative flair. The video depicts Jack and Meg performing the song through the streets- and subway- of New York. Filmed over several days, it is a stop motion video that is arresting and stunning. The video follows the duo performing, but upon each guitar chord or drum beat, multiples the duo’s instruments- as they move along the street. You start off with one image of the drum or amp; a second passes and they are duplicated and so forth. Essentially every second or so another image of the duo’s equipment appears as they move through New York- from day to-night. It is impressive not only because of its originality, but it must have been a painstaking process to undertake. One take would have been filmed; ‘cut’ is called and then another filmed. It is like directing stop motion with figurines or puppets- but only with human beings. The concept and style of filmmaking was a rarity and it is something that was even rarer with regards to music videos. Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer did it brilliantly, yet few have done it since. The Hardest Button to Button was a track from the Detroit duo’s album Elephant– seen as their greatest album by most critics (I think their greatest is White Blood Cells). Although the album was a classic, there were better songs on the L.P. than T.H.B.T.B. I was impressed at how incredible the video is, as most would have struggled to conjure up anything spectacular when listening to the song. It is a great track, yet one that does not instantly whip up marvellous video ideas. As I mentioned with Coffee and TV, it is great to hear a great song, but if you can create a video that is even better than the song, then it makes the band (or artist) look even better. White himself claimed he had no idea what the video was about (when Gondry called him to explain its concept), and if anyone explained the concept to me at the time, I would have been baffled. You watch the finished product and can’t keep your eyes off of the action, as it moves at a break-neck pace. After watching you wonder how the hell it was made and how it was put together. It is a video that is probably unfamilar to most, but I implore everyone to watch it, as it is a visual feast and something that is original, wonderful and without many equals.
See the video (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’):
Lucas- Lucas with The Lid Off (1994)
Chances are, you have never heard of the artist- or the song itself. To be honest, neither had I this time last year. Having mentioned Mr. Gondry once already, you will not be surprised to see another of his videos on my list. Lucas is the moniker of Lucas Secon- a Grammy-winning rapper, producer and artist. Secon resides in London, but has managed to stay under the radar for most of his professional career. He began his recording career in 1993, and released his debut album Lucascentric the following year. It was an album that failed to spark commercial interest, and left many critics a little cold. In the midst of a muddled and underwhelming album comes its only single, Lucas With The Lid Off. In 1994, Michel Gondry was working with mainstream and established artists for the most part, making the paragon with Lucas all the more extraordinary. I am not sure as to how the two met or came to work with one another, yet this can be said: if they hadn’t then the video for Lucas With The Lid Off would be tripe. There was something within the song that sparked the imagination of Gondry, who turned out the greatest video of his directing career. It is not shocking that the song caused fevered excitement for the French director, as it is a stunning cut comprising stonking horns, catchy loops and a confident rap. Infused with a bolstered and propulsive beat, the track earns its stripes with its relentless pace and energy, coupled with Lucas’s proud and boastful rap. Even when you examine the song fully and dissect it, you would never imagine a video such as the one Gondry concocted. Most would take the song in a different direction; possibly create something that is a little generic, but gives our central artist plenty of room to shine. You would probably come away from watching the video pleased with the results- yet it would probably never linger in the memory. That would be the mark of a good director. The mark of a truly exceptional one, is those whom can take a song like this, and couple it to a video not only endlessly fascinating, but totally unexpected and original. It is not just the style of the video that captures you, but it is the technicalities and complexities that hit you hard. Like The Hardest Button to Button, it is another Gondry video that you can never figure out how he came about it, and how he pulled it off. It is an example of a video that outweighs and outshines the song it represents, and many magazines and music critics have rightly hailed it as one of the greatest videos of all time. Before I examine the video, I should mention that it is the inspiration for a video idea I have bene obsessed with. I have always had the idea of charting the embryonic stages of a musician’s career, through to its end- over the course of a video. It would be shot in colour, and would show our hero or heroine moving through the course of a day, month, year and decade. The camera would never stop moving, and the entire video would be a single shot. Scenes would include a recording studio, a cafe where song ideas are created; a music video stage where that video is shot; a radio station where the central figure is interviewed; a street scene, as well as a multitude of sets, situation and scenarios. Everything would be mounted on a huge Lazy Susan, and the musician would move from set to set within. When reaching the end of one Lazy Susan, another one would connect (like cogs in a watch) and move through that set. There would be a third one too, so by the time they reach the end of the third set, the first one would be used, and so forth. There would be no cuts and no separate takes- it would be one shot like a live theatre performance. Actors would dress off set, run around camera, and sets would be dressed and remounted rapidly. It is ambitious and I sure as hell want to do it: it is all thanks to Lucas With The Lid Off. The black-and-white video depicts the creative process of recording a song. The camera never cuts, and everything is one take. Gondry moves the camera throygh various sets; panning in and panning out, slowly tracking- yet never stopping the movement. The action moves from a recording studio, through a bedroom set; into a tube station; it goes into a cinema (with Lucas watching a film of himself), ending up back in the studio. Slant magazine surveyed it, thus: “Robert Altman and Orson Welles (in Touch of Evil and The Player, respectively) called attention to their film’s opening long takes, and Alfred Hitchcock went as far as to use clever camera tricks to give the illusion that his film Rope was shot in one continuous take. Lucas With The Lid Off represents a fascinating point of departure because Gondry’s goal is to call attention away from his remarkable technical achievement. In the video, Lucas plays a recording artist supervising his own creative process and subsequent success. Though the entire video was shot in one long take, the action presented in the video does not transpire in real-time. A series of numbered frames indicates where Gondry’s camera will need to stop before recording the next movement in the video’s action. More importantly, though, these stoppage points evoke passages in time and call attention to the very nature of the recording process. This rigorous, head-trippy experiment evokes the human mind’s own subjective ability to perceive and edit the world around it with as little as a blink of an eye“. It is a live performance. Lucas and the actors run around the back of camera and between sets; ensuring that they are in their mark before the camera comes back around. The entire video is a huge technical and creative achievement and the originality of the idea is a wonder. It is not shocking that it inspired me, and I am confident I could not create something nearly as good- but such is the effect of the video, I want to aim for it at least. No video in the ensuing 20 years has managed to pull of a technical feat such as this; nor grab your attention and mind in the same way. Gondry has been responsible for a great number of the best music videos of all time, and I feel that this is his absolute peak. The best videos are those which inspire- even 20 years after their inception- and force generations of directors and filmmakers to up their game, think outside the box and push themselves beyond their comfort zone. Part of the reason for my negative discourse, is the fact that there have been seldom attempts to make videos like Lucas With The Lid Off. There has been plenty of songs begging for it, yet no director with Gondry’s brain and imagination, up to the task of making it happen. This particular video is an example of a piece of work that gives directors and acts food for thought. It can inspire them to write music that calls for a treatment similar to that of Lucas’, and I’m sure is in the minds and ambitions of many young directors. It is also a video that did not demand a huge budget- it is something a lot of new acts could afford to stage. Its genius lies in its genius; and that, after all, is the best thing you can say about any music video.
See the video (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’):
Soundgarden- Black Hole Sun (1994)
They were one of the bastions of the grunge movement, and one of the first bands to challenge the genius of Nirvana. Soundgarden arrived on the scene a few yeasr after the Seattle legends, and were allows subject to fierce competition from Nirvana, as well as Pearl Jam. The trio of bands were synonymous with intelligent and nuanced grunge music- a far cry from most of the knuckle-dragging idiots trying to make similar sounds. From the confident strides of Badmotorfinger, the band (led by the huge-lunged Chris Cornell) moved onto Superunknown– one of the best albums of the ’90s. That album is in my top 5, and is a consistent and stunning L.P. It moves between genres, covers a multitude of a topics and barely drops its stride over the course of 15 tracks. Within the album’s gems lies one of its darkest and most reflective tracks, Black Hole Sun. The first time I encountered the song, was back in 1994- the year it was released. I was an 11-year-old, holidaying on the Greek island of Skopelos. One evening, my family and I were sitting in the evening heat outside a beach bar. Outside was a T.V. showing M.T.V. I remember watching various adverts; one of which was a bizarre advert for Sprite. It featured an Eskimo and an igloo and was something Bjork would have dreamt up. After the adverts had finished, the music video for Black Hole Sun came on. The fact that this moment has remained in my mind for all these years is that the video scared the bejesus out of me. Its scenes and sights dropped my jaw, and it was one of the most arresting and strangest things I had ever witnessed. The video was directed by Howard Greenhalgh, and represents a song with very clear ideals and origins. Cornell explains the son in these terms: “It’s just sort of surreal dreamscape, a weird, play-with-the-title kind of song. Lyrically it’s probably the closest to me just playing with words for words’ sake, of anything I’ve written. I guess it worked for a lot of people who heard it, but I have no idea how you’d begin to take that one literally. The chorus lyric is kind of beautiful and easy to remember. Other than that, I sure didn’t have an understanding of it after I wrote it. I was just sucked in by the music and I was painting a picture with the lyrics“. It arrived in a year where grunge’s forefather Kurt Cobain had committed suicide, and shocked the world of music. Grunge has lost its leader and there was a black veil across music’s landscape. The video itself can be described in these words: “The surreal and apocalyptic music video for Black Hole Sun was produced by Megan Hollister for Why Not Films (London, England), shot by Ivan Bartos, and features post-production work by 525 Post Production (Hollywood, California) and Soho 601 Effects (London). The video follows a suburban neighborhood and its inhabitants which are eventually swallowed up by a black hole, while the band performs the song somewhere in an open field. In an online chat, the band stated that the video “was entirely the director’s idea”, and added, “Our take on it was that at that point in making videos, we just wanted to pretend to play and not look that excited about it.” Kim Thayil said that the video was one of the few Soundgarden videos the band was satisfied with. The clip mocks and exaggerates our society’s search for truth in television and its gratuitous exploitation of the earth. Soon nature turns itself on the unsuspecting suburb. A tall, thin blonde bakes in the sun as a Barbie doll is scorched on a barbecue. For torturing a cockroach under a magnifying glass, two young boys are burnt under the giant lens of the Black Hole Sun. In the end, the town people’s distorted self-images and general arrogance becomes their end”. It is quite something to behold.
See the video (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’):
Radiohead- Street Spirit (Fade Out) (1996)
Radiohead are one of my favourite bands ever, and have been involved in some of the greatest music videos ever. Here is a group that require no video director to make them look great: their music does the talking. In spite of this, the band understand the importance of video making, and have an accompanying film to bring their singles to life. Their videos for Karma Police and No Surprises are two of the best videos of recent years, and they featured in constantly compelling videos. Their best video was for the best song, from their best album. It seems like a perfect storm, but it is just my opinion. The Bends was a bizarre ababerration of an L.P. The band’s debut album Pablo Honey, A.K.A. The-One-With-Creep-On-It was a sub-par debut. Nobody expected anything too superb from the follow-up. Creep was a Nirvana-inspired anthem, and there were many that felt any future albums would feature songs along the same lines. The Bends, for many reasons, was a pleasant surprise. It remains my favourite album because it is such a phenomenal leap forward. Bands such as Nirvana and Blur have pulled off similarly-impressive musical feats, yet it is Radiohead’s seismic shift that, to me, can be seen as the most impressive in music history. The likes of The Beatles and Bob Dylan had that potential from song one, yet Radiohead could not be considered future-legends on the basis of Pablo Honey. The Bends not only turned out to be the biggest leap forward imaginable, yet was the beginning of a staggering 1-2-3 that would see them produce two of the greatest albums of the ’90s/early-’00s (OK Computer and Kid A). In spite of The Bends being my favourite album, I still feel there are at least two ‘filler’ tracks. The opening track, Planet Telext is purely awful. If you have just produced a wonderment of an album, and need to win over an underwhelmed public, then you need to make sure the first song from the album captures you. Planet Telex was recorded after a drunken late-night meal at a Greek restaurant… and it shows. It is one of few songs from the Oxford boys that I care to repeat- I cannot for a second quote a lyric or tell you what it is about. The track listing seems odd to me, and that is no disrespect to John Leckie (who produced the album). The title track is the obvious opener, and if you want to include Planet Telex, it should have been buried in the middle of the album. Bones, too, comes across, as unimpressive, purely because it is a weaker brother of The Bends, Just and My Iron Lung. That trio of tracks was a solid set of harder-hitting rock tracks and Bones seems lightweight and disposable by comparison. Those are my only grumbles as the album is a stonewall masterpiece. Yorke’s voice is a staggering feat and entrances from the off; the songs are introspective yet staggering and the tracks are tight, focused and hugely accomplished. The boys ended the album with the finest track: Street Spirit (Fade Out). When coming up with a video to visualise the song, it was going to be a mighty task. The track is a dark and foreboding gem and Jonathan Glazer was equal to the task. Glazer has directed videos for Richard Ashcroft and Jamiroquai. His finest work was the black-and-white film for Street Spirit (Fade Out). Filmed over two nights in a desert outside of L.A. it was a pivotal moment for Glazer, whom knew that he had helped the band discover their voice. The video is notable for its open-ended interpretations as well as its filming technique. It was shot using a special camera that films slow motion- usually a camera used to film ballistic missiles. In single scenes it shows one member of the band in slow motion, and the other in normal speed. Various scenes are shown: Yorke falling from a Winnebago roof; Jonny Greenwood leaping into a Winnebago back- before he completes the movement. There are images of Yorke breaking panes of glass with a hammer; Yorke running away in slow motion, as a boy- carrying a chair- runs in the other direction (in normal speed). It is hypnotic and jaw-dropping as it seems to fit the track seamlessly. You may have your opinions on what the scenes represent, yet seem to marry perfectly the lyrics, which speak of dislocation, fear and dread. Whatever your view, the fact remains: it is a stunning masterpiece of a video.
See the video (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’):
Having watched and re-watched the five videos above, I have been compelled to seek out more videos and study them. They act as a representation of a song, and are an important visual aid. In the past, there has been huge attention paid to getting it right; making sure that the video is the best possible. It is not always the case, as there have been some terrible videos, and a lot that are just very ordinary. The artform really hit it stride- and peaked- in the ’90s and early-’00s. Honourable mentions go to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA) (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’)- consider by many to be the best video ever. It is almost a film in itself, boasts a wonderful concept, and is something that- once watched- is not forgotten. Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-9UvrLyj3k) (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’)gets a mention, due to Chris Cunningham’s ability to in grain image and frightening scenes into your mind. Final mention goes to the Michel Gondry-directed Hyperballad (by Bjork) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26sP2WsA5cY) (right-click on link and select ‘open in new tab’). It features Björk as a computer game character who runs through an obscure, two-dimensional landscape of pylons before throwing herself off a cliff. All of the videos I have mentioned were either made in the early-’00s or sooner. There is no less money in music, so I am wondering whether the quality of the music is not inspiring creative minds; or whether those minds aren’t out there at all. I always get excited when coming up with a music video idea, and hope that a chance will come when I can realise them. It is true that videos can be expensive to make, but if you see videos like Lucas With The Lid Off, The Hardest Button to Button and Street Spirit (Fade Out), these win their stripes by their creativity and originality. Directors like Gondry employ intelligence and a different way of thinking; one that is not reliant on a huge budget. I fear that less importance is being placed on music videos, and possibly even towards music itself. Everything seems to be turning towards a digital reality, and the solid product is in danger of becoming obsolete. I hate to think that album art and videos will be negated, in favour of something sterile, impersonal, unreal and computer-generated. It is vital that new music gets more ambitious and fearless, and in turn it will spike the minds of upcoming directors. It would be interesting to see who else has any particular favourites, as there are dozens of videos that capture your imagination and attention. Sometimes the music inspires something wonderful; occasionally bad songs can be made epic; classic songs can even be overshadowed by an even better music video. I am sure that everyone has an idea for a music video in their back pocket, so I am curious as to why so few memorable ones are being made currently. I hope my cynicism is premature, but I feel eager directors are favouring film and T.V. over music. That would be a shame, as personally the videos I have mentioned stick in my mind for so many reasons. I can name several dozen others (from the ’80s and ’90s) which stir something inside me, so I ask this:
WHEN will we see another classic music video again?