Tag Archives: music video

Video Rundown: Creep / James Blake / Frank Ocean

Here are a trio of videos that start to fill in the blanks around buzzworthy – yet mysterious – artists.

With only one official release to their name (“Days”), it was difficult to pinpoint the sound of CREEP; it takes more than a single point to define an artist. But with the release of the video for “You,” the points are beginning to form a line.

The video for “You” is a study in duality, in the same way that the’s goth-tinged R&B balances light and dark. The stark, black and white clip intersperses images of both duos responsible for the song – CREEP and twin sister vocalists Nina Sky. CREEP is mostly shown in silhouette or out-of-focus, practically stalking Nina Sky down an otherworldy hallway. There is a sensuality to the clip that matches its eeriness; what’s with the stigmata imagery?

Somehow, the video for James Blake‘s “Lindisfarne” is creepier than Creep’s offering. The mellow, finger-picked song is accompanied by an uneasy, almost cultish video. Who are these misfit toys, with their strange rituals, both corporeal and metaphorical? I’m guessing most viewers will find the literal spit swapping gross, not nostalgic; this generation didn’t have the liberty of becoming blood brothers, or using any other bodily-fluid-swapping bonding. Still, the feelings of abuse and loss in a clip that – at first glance – could be out of a British coming of age film, are quite surprising.

Nothing about Frank Ocean or his associates in Odd Future is predictable, so when he released “Acura Integurl” as the lead video for Nostalgia, Ultra (instead of “Novacane”), no one should have been surprised. Despite not appearing on the mixtape version of the album, the piano ballad is quickly becoming a fan favorite.

The impossibly lush video features Ocean, lovelorn and driving an Acura down the highway. The video effects that obscure the rising heartthrob serve only to increase the mystery and allure that surround him. Nostalgia, Ultra is set to be re-released on May 31, after which he should be able to buy the video’s sports car.

http://vimeo.com/24092206

Music video revival: meet CANADA

During the 90s, the music video reached its pinnacle as an art form. Directors like Mark Romanek, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham established distinct visual styles, thanks to big budgets and bigger ideas. A successful career in music videos could even launch a film career, as it did for Jonze and Gondry; it was a great time to be a music video director! Inevitably, the bottom fell out: between MTV’s dwindling music video airtime and record company budget cutting, music videos went back underground.

Thankfully, the medium is too rich for something like “music industry collapse” to kill it. Just look at Barcelona’s CANADA: a trio of directors (Luis Cerveró, Nicolás Méndez & Lope Serrano) who are making some of the most innovative – and provocative – videos in over a decade.

Last year, the video for Spanish exotica artist El Guincho’s “Bombay” (directed by Méndez and produced by the collective) was a surprise hit. With El Guincho as Carl Sagan, the clip is a journey through the cosmos. A collage of found footage and surreal images, “Bombay” is teeming with sexual energy. While fleeting glimpses of breasts dominate the video (either painted, with sparklers, or au naturel), it’s more titillating than pornographic.

The brand new video for “Ice Cream” by math rockers Battles has the same vibrant style (on first viewing, I immediately thought of “Bombay”). Once again, CANADA goes for sexy, opening with a nude girl eating ice cream in a bath tub and including shots of girls licking things like pine cones. And don’t forget the climatic, ladies-only paint fight. The real fun in “Ice Cream” is found in CANADA’s playful use of double exposure. Watch out for a man cliff diving into a woman’s bikini, or a brilliantly choreographed sequence where a woman dances with herself.

CANADA is saving the music video, one clip at a time. Check out their gallery for more, but here is their effort for Scissor Sisters’ “Invisible Light:” another NSFW mind trip!

Video Rundown: Lykke Li / Buraka Som Sistema / Salem

Here are a trio of videos that have caught my eye, presented in order from most cinematic to least.

Lykke Li accompanied the video release for dream pop ballad “Sadness is a Blessing” with a poem, a brief message that the clip illustrates beautifully.

Father,
I know I Broke
Your heart, it was never
My intention, all I
Ever wanted was to
Dance…

Former graffiti artist Tarik Saleh, who also directed “I Follow Rivers,” brings the same Nordic restraint to this video. Stellan Skarsgård stands in for Lykke’s father; a bit of Swedish casting by number. Lykke is as charismatic as she is on the record, drinking vodka and finding her muse in a staid restaurant.

Buraka Som Sistema is back with babytalk kuduro banger “Hangover (BaBaBa).” The video features animation reminiscent of M.I.A.’s GIF-shifting promos for MAYA, matching the song’s jacked up energy factor with frenetic visuals. Throw in some daggering and hypercolored graphics and you’ve got yourself a video.

Saving the most disturbing for last, Salem returns with “Sick,” a video for one of the finest examples of goth trap house on King Night. A YouTube collage of gang fights, bedroom freaks, BMX riders, and the band’s own performances, the video doesn’t have the intensity of “Skullcrush.” Still, it keeps Salem knee deep in “some evil shit,” as the detuned rap by Jack Donoghue promises.

Revisiting "Fight for Your Right"

The Beastie Boys are masters of reinvention. They started as a NYC hardcore band in 1979 (!) before breaking through as party-starting rap rockers in the mid 80s. Since then, they’ve matured musically, and more significantly, personally. There isn’t a bigger 180 than trying to name your album Don’t Be a Faggot and then spearheading the free Tibet movement. Accordingly, the Beastie Boys have done everything they can (including publicly apologizing) to move beyond their early years.

Until now.

Finally embracing their “Hooligans of Hip Hop” stage, the Beastie Boys have struck comedic gold with the surreal short-film Fight for Your Right Revisted. Written and directed by Adam Yauch (the thankfully cancer-free MCA), the film picks up where 1986’s “Fight for Your Right” video left off. For reference, the original clip is required viewing. The MTV Era classic was loaded with cameos (Tabitha Soren, Rick Rubin, LL Cool J) and references (George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead).

Crawling out of that debauchery are the Beastie Boys, played by Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, and Elijah Wood. The lithe Wood is the only passable imitator, but that’s hardly the point. This cast was assembled for maximum hilarity; the dialogue has an ad-libbed feel, which isn’t tough to imagine, considering the comedic talents that took part. It’s a Who’s Who of blink-and-miss-it cameos, everyone film pros like Susan Sarandon to hipster favorites like Jason Schwartzman. It feels like a friends and family production that must have been a blast to produce.

The video is set to music from their eagerly awaited album Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2. “Make Some Noise” and “Say It” are spun, rewound, sped up, slowed down to match the video’s increasingly twisted antics. After doing whip-its and acid with switchblade-wielding metal chicks (played by Chloe Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst, and Maya Rudolph), the Beasties are met by a DeLorean from – where else? – the future.

Cue big reveal: the Future Beastie Boys, played by Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black. To settle this time traveling identity crisis, a b-boy competition (conflict resolution, 1986 style) is proposed. The climactic battle turns into a pissing contest – literally. The Beastie Boys’ opinions on this era of their history are less than subtle. After a bit of slow motion water sports, the cops (played by the real-life Beasties) shut it all down.

The self-referential, meta fest goes far beyond the Beastie Boys vs. Beastie Boys set-up. Will Ferrell, before showing up as a future Beastie, references his most famous SNL skit, cowbell in hand. David Cross appears as Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch’s lederhosened alter ego, and Will Arnett delivers a GOB-like “come on!” (while wearing what’s possibly a $5,000 suit). Like Arrested Development, the film rewards repeat viewings.

Fight for Your Right Revisited is fan service at its finest, answering the eternal question: who are the real Beastie Boys?

Video Rundown: Cubic Zirconia / Toddla T / Katey Red

In what might become a regular feature on Postcultural, I present my first Video Rundown. Nothing too complicated here, just a few new clips that are worth watching.

Cubic Zirconia have a knack for crafting pitch-perfect videos for their songs. The clip for “Night or Day” is no different. As she is on stage, Tiombe Lockhart is the focal point. The video is all close-ups and tantalizing glimpses of the beautiful artist, set to the hypnotic house vibes of the song’s club remix. If this is a typical night and day in New York, sign me up.

Toddla T’s latest video has a similar verite feel. The black and white clip for “Take It Back” does just what the title says, returning to an age of pirate radio and underground raves. The Dillon Francis moombahton remix of the song may be the hottest track in the world, but the original (and the video) are straight up old school. (Ed. note: video now available on Youtube)

Katey Red has run New Orleans’ sissy bounce scene for over a decade, so it’s certainly surprising that her first video is just being released now. The community-funded clip for “Where Da Melph At” is all booty, all the time. The highlight has to be the well-dressed supper club crowd getting in on the fun.