Music Video Monday
I never said I was a Photoshop genius. Videos after the jump!
Artist: Joell Ortiz
Track: “Never Sleep”
This video is comedy. Joell portrays a drug fiend and his wild-eyed, lip-smacking performance deserves kudos but mostly it just cracks me up. The images of Joell searching through a dumpster, wagging his tongue like a dog, or standing beside a ballpark in a wife beater and toque shivering his ass off, are straight up ridiculous. The video distinguishes Joell’s crackhead character from Joell the emcee/narrator with wardrobe, but it’s a weird choice as the crackhead dresses more like Joell in real life than the narrator does, who’s looking fresh in his trench pea and button-up. Wasn’t it Joell himself who once took emcees to task for embracing fashion and doing away with the hoodies and timbs? Amusing video, but not exactly successful.
Artist: Fever Ray
Track “When I Grow Up”
Director: Martin de Thurrah
This is a must watch. Singer Karin Dreijer Andersson is swathed in pseudo-tribal gear; she’s singing about growing up and the lyrics are full of childhood awe, a kid’s approximation of adulthood’s wonders like running in high heels, living by the sea being enamoured with seashells, but she’s perched on a diving board seemingly on the verge of suicide. The wardrobe and cinematography match Andersson’s haunting voice and the video works to the song’s benefit and vice versa.
Midway, she adds a drop of her bodily fluid to the pool which makes the water bubble and explode. A man watches her from inside the house, a father, a lover or a neighbour staring in awe and without comprehension, much like us, also behind a screen or window pane. It’s mysterious, both adolescent and sexual, and it builds and then just ends. If M. Night Shyamalan made a music video I’d imagine it would look somewhat this–de Thurrah shares a lot of the same visual vocabulary–but it wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Track: “3 AM”
Syndrome takes Eminem’s recurring alter-ego idea (Slim Shady vs. Marshall Mathers) and literalizes it with a deranged Eminem slaughtering the staff at a rehab centre and escaping to the woods, where Em regains lucidity and connects the dots between the blood on his hands proper and the blood on his hands figuratively. Sydrome’s visuals are cribbed from slasher flicks, and although they are tiresome they are amazingly detailed and authentic to the genre. You can pause any frame in this video and end up with a impeccably composed, disturbing photograph.
Despite an above-average performance from the usually bored looking Eminem, the vid isn’t nearly as creepy as it should be though, which is a shame because neither is the song. The clip could have elevated the music but instead it matches its blandness and goes shot-for-shot with it for missed opportunities. Why is Eminem bathing in blood treated like any other old blah setup? It easily could have been iconic, the definitive Eminem video shot (he doesn’t have one yet, surprisingly), like the bathtub images of Fiona Apple in “Criminal” except bloodier, but no, it’s just there. The editing hides it among the video’s other visuals, all of them cliched horror touchstones. The blood looks nice though, don’t it?
Artist: The Bloody Beatroots & Steve Aoki
Director: Francesco Calabrese
A clock is struck and we’re thrust into slow motion. At the end of the video we see the clock is still bouncing from the impact and we get what the video was, a few visual seconds stretched over the length of a song. The performers and extras convey simple, aggressive joys: jumping and screaming. It’s contagious. Calabrese also makes great use of Steve Aoki’s face (who along with sister Devon, has one of the most fascinating mugs around), eyes rolled back, grimacing, screaming, whatever. Aoki even spits on us.
The alls-falls-down ending is the perfect touch to give the video a personality, to prevent it from being just three minutes of visual cartwheels. And aside from all that, I love the black-suit Spiderman-mask.