Amazing Music Videos: Praise you by Fatboy Slim

Another Fatboy Slim video made the cut. Funny, I’m much more of an indie type than a big beat type. And actually, I don’t really like the song, but the video is so daring and hilarious, yet so simple, that it deserves its spot on my Amazing Music Videos list! Moreover, it was directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malcovitch, Adaptation, etc.). I already posted about his wonderful “Weapon of choice” video, but, spoiler alert, you can expect to see even more of Jonze’s videos in this series.

This video is about a fictional amateur dance crew (led by Jonze himself, disguised with glasses) doing a little dancing guerilla-style in sweat pants and leggings, in front of people waiting in line to see a movie. At the beginning, the people look quite puzzled, but they eventually get into it, watching those strange awful yet somehow cool dance moves. In the end, they even boo the poor theater employee who has to turn the music off. This video cost nothing to produce, a few hundred box I believe, and yet, it won three MTV Music Awards and pops up often on best videos lists.

Ultimate best moment: Jones’ insane b-boy moves at 2:20.

Amazing Music Videos: Take on Me by A-ha

The ultimate 80’s flashback. Norvegian new-wave or “synth-pop” band A-ha had, if I recall correctly, two major hits in the 80’s: “Take on Me”, and “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. The songs aren’t too bad but they haven’t necessarily aged that well either: too much synth and too much pop, perhaps. But the “Take on Me” video, however, remains visually stunning even after 30 years. Actually, the “organic” pencil feel of the drawings is quite refreshing in this new millenium where computer generated images are a constant. Yes, fine, they can be mind-blowing at times (my mind did blow up watching Transformers… in a non-enjoyable way), but have we completely forgotten about soul? Star Wars episode 1 syndrom, people?

The romantic fantasy storyline behind this video is as 80’s as it gets. It’s about a girl at a café reading a (rather huge) comic book and, after getting an unsettling wink from the handsome main character, she litteraly gets drawn into it. They then get chased around by angry bikers (the main character is also a biker – he does have a leather jacket – but he looks like a sweet non-threathening wild-haired prince charming) and after running around for a while through the pages, they somehow end up both in the living world, as a cute happy loving couple. The end. No need to worry about the details, like who the heck is this cartoon guy and how did he… and why did she… and how come they…? And what about those strange norwegian bikers with helmets like a billiard ball?…

Better not go there. Let’s just enjoy the beautiful imagery this video has to offer.

The video won six MTV music awards in 1986. The mirror part is just amazing. Well done, Steve Baron (who, incidentally, is also behind Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean)!

 

Amazing Music Videos: the Genius of Björk and Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry is a French video and movie director (Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc.) who collaborated with Björk since her “Debut” album. The two of them have a fruitful partnership, which resulted in several amazing videos. I read somewhere that Gondry found Björk especially inspiring, leading him to trust his creative instinct more. Björk found an interesting interpretor in Gondry (they have a tight collaboration, however, and it seems Björk is very much involved in the process). I want to underline here the interest Gondy had in expressing Björk’s singularity through his concepts and visuals.

You will find below links to the beautiful and moving “Bachelorette”, with its incredible narrative illustrated by several “mises en abîmes”, frames within frames, stories within stories, that eventually come fill circle, when the first story finally reclaims the narrative. Indeed, as shown in his directing works, Gondry often seems more interested in promoting a narrative rather that promoting the artist per se, by putting him/her upfront and center. A certain balance needs to be found.

I invite you to also watch the visually stunning “Isobel”, and of course, the slightly bizarre yet very enjoyable “Human behaviour”, the video that started it all.

Amazing Movie Soundtracks: Pulp Fiction

I might have a few Tarantino movie soundtracks lined-up in this series, but I’ll start with the Pulp Fiction soundtrack which was an important record for the “teenage me” from 1994. This crazy movie became a cult-classic of the 90’s and its soundtrack is a strange but successful eclectic mix of rock, funk, soul, country, pop, and… instrumental surf music? Not to mention the snippets of conversation from the movie – why did they choose to insert the parts about the hash bars in Amsterdam, the quarter pounder with cheese, the “Dutch” habit of putting mayo on fries, and the fact that you can eat a pig with a guilt-free conscience because unlike dogs, they ain’t got a personality…? Who knows, but those definitely add to the atmosphere.

Pulp Fiction is a great movie with fun characters and a good plot. It is however, like other Tarantino movies, extremely violent. But the irony of having those bloody scenes coupled with random stupid conversations about fastfood or whatnot between those great characters somehow resulted in a very enjoyable 90’s style movie. If you think about it, movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s were often insanely violent, although we seem to have gotten used to it for some reason – some have even almost become “family classics” which play on TV all the time (like Die Hard, Robocop, or Total Recall – the “good” guy uses some poor random bystander as a shield for God’s sake!!). What is the world coming to?…

Back to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, every kid had that record in the mid-1990’s, including me (it was a nice change from the time when everyone was listening to the previous popular soundtrack, “Dirty Dancing”! I’m guilty as well, but I’ll forgive my 9 year-old self). The Pulp Fiction soundtrack was such an entertaining assortment of songs that I never would have listened to otherwise, like that hilarious country song “Flowers on the wall” or the wonderful surf music, which is as cool as it gets (I beg you, please listen to the 1963’s version of “Misirlou” available below if you only know “Pump it” by Black Eyed Peas!!).

Alright, let’s (jungle) boogie!