Tag Archives: music video

Top 5 – Björk

I watched Dancer in the Dark for the first time this weekend. I know, I know: I’m an über Björk fan and yet somehow I managed to go this long without seeing it?! Anyway, it was completely devastating and made me cry my eyes out.

But this is a music blog! And since the movie put me in the mood for my favorite Icelandic singer, I thought I’d do a little post about her. Specifically about my top 5 favorite Björk music videos! In no particular order, of course.

1) “Human Behaviour”

Spectacular. Just spectacular. Björk (and director Michel Gondry) set the bar so high with her very first music video. It’s very whimsical and childlike and sinister all at the same time. Like a five year-old’s fever dream or a Nick Jr show gone wrong. Björk fits very well into this world, and the sets and backgrounds are such a joy to observe. I wish I could climb inside this video and have a look around, though I think that might be a bit dangerous.

2) “Army of Me”

Another Michel Gondry joint venture and another thrill to watch. It’s got the same sort of design going on, just slightly more evolved. It’s got this very constructed feel to it, like you can tell it’s a set and it’s all make-believe, but it’s pulled off so well. The only way I can think of to describe it is that it feels punk-Seussian. It’s another set I might like to go poking around in, though I might be more creeped out in this one.

3) “It’s Oh So Quiet”

So much fun! This may be one of the best music video interpretations of a song ever! The way everyone and everything comes to life is just magical. The world becomes this open playground to interact with. The part where the mailbox comes to life and dances may just be my favorite part. It really is like a musical in every way, which is exactly where this song seems to belong. (Yes, I am aware it is a cover – of another cover, no less.)

4) “Hidden Place”

Compared to the others so far, this one is incredibly simple. Yet it’s so sensual and hypnotic, much like the song that goes with it. I really like how stripped down it is. There’s almost a feeling of unease associated with it, being so close to Björk’s face and watching this weird goo oozing in and out of her orifices. It’s almost too intimate. But that is what Vespertine was all about, really. Being intimate and sensual and physical.

5) “Bachelorette”

I know – another Michel Gondry production! But his most of his videos are my favorites. Of the worlds he created so far on this list, this one feels the most real, and perhaps that’s what makes it the most emotionally impactful. The play within a play within a play just gets to me somehow. It’s this tragic cycle that’s never going to end. And when it does end, it doesn’t end well. The dramatic music goes so well with the equally dramatic visuals.

So you may have noticed I left off a lot of Björk’s later work. I don’t know, I just feel like they don’t have as much oomph as her earlier work. Not that she doesn’t put as much effort into them, just that she’s doing something different with them. Maybe I’ll just have to rewatch all the post-Vespertine videos. Till then, these are my top 5 Björk music videos!

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Ride a White Horse

Last month, I wrote briefly about my general distaste for rock videos. I thought, then, that it would be a good idea to show exactly what I believe a music video can be by sharing one of my favorites, and that is Goldfrapp’s “Ride a White Horse.”

Why is it one of my favorites? Because it’s the opposite of you might expect a music video to be. Wait, what? I know what you’re thinking. After going on a mini rant about what a music video should be, I go on to praise a music video that defies that?

Well, sort of. I said that a music video is an art form to be explored. I think what some people might expect a music video to be is something glamorous and beautiful – After all, the artist is promoting themselves (and their song/single). Who wouldn’t want to look good?

But Goldfrapp chooses to be un-glamorous. Alison looks amazing, as always, but what’s the first image you see? A piece of toilet paper stuck to her heel. Very un-glamorous. Then she grabs a microphone made from a cardboard tube and wadded up tinfoil. How tawdry. A series of gross and disturbing images follows, including rotting food and dead fish. Later, she stomps on a dance floor made of cardboard and duct tape, eats a pizza topped with cigarette butts and bottle caps, and dances with dirt-smudged men who crawl out of a dumpster. SO UN-GLAMOROUS.

I generally don’t advise anyone to read YouTube comments, but I’ll share this little nugget of gold from roytheboy68 (I know) who proclaims:

This vid annoys me. Great song, she looks great and then she FUCKS IT UP with that imagery. Give me a break. It’s not “creative” or “edgy” it’s just annoying.

Exactly the point, dude. If this video makes your boner wilt like sad puppy dog’s tail, then Goldfrapp has succeeded. This video is not meant to turn anyone on – It’s meant to do the opposite. Yes, Goldfrapp looks GORGEOUS, but that is not the point. If you are distracted by worms in some kind of brownish juice and a man wrapped in toilet paper eating out of a garbage can – that IS the point.

The title of song refers to Bianca Jagger’s entrance into Studio 54 on a white horse, while the song itself is inspired by the disco era in general. Dancing at the disco (even in the modern sense) has a glamorous feeling to it, as one usually gets dressed and made up very fancy to go there. So Goldfrapp COULD have done a video that followed the theme if the song, but what fun would that be? That would be boring.

So to all the roytheboy68’s out there: I relish your disgust. And I’m sure Goldfrapp does too.

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Hard Out Here

So just about everyone’s talking about Lily Allen’s latest and long-overdue song “Hard Out Here”  – or more specifically they’re talking about the music video.

The song is pretty clear in its meaning: Women are objectified in pop culture and in the music industry and face a deluge of double standards in nearly every aspect of life. It’s pretty Feminism 101. Which is a good thing! People need to hear this constantly, need to fully understand it, and when it comes from a pop star, the message may actually have a chance of getting through to them because it’s someone they know and (possibly) like.

Unfortunately, as many, MANY people have already pointed out, the song and video fall both short of being what Rolling Stone has called “A feminist anthem through and through…” I mean, right after singing “Don’t need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain” she then goes on with “If I told you ’bout my sex life, you’d call me a slut.” So much for defeating the double standard.

I won’t say too much about the video that hasn’t already been said (Seriously, Google it.), but I will say that having read about it beforehand, I did feel uncomfortable watching parts of the video. Specifically parts that focused on her black background dancers pouring champagne on each others’ asses while twerking wildly. I get it, you’re trying to do a parody of rap videos, but it really, really fails as a parody. There’s nothing to signify those parts as parody other than the assumption that we’re just supposed to know, as apologists and defenders seem to be pointing out just about everywhere, via the lyric “And if you can’t detect the sarcasm, you’ve misunderstood.” Okay, but that doesn’t mean that it’s GOOD at sarcasm. It doesn’t help that Lily Allen basically pulled the old “I’m not racist – I have black friends!” card.

Okay, I said I wasn’t going to go on too long about the video and I feel like I have. Read the other articles! They all make really good points.

I will say this though: I love that she parodies the pop culture events that were Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s separate and then combined songs/performances. Especially Robin Thicke. That guy deserves every single criticism for his gateway misogynistic song. Stick it to him, Lily! (The reference to “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” is nice too.)

So how could she have succeeded? Aside from fixing a few lyrics, I think the video itself could have been better without changing too much. This fantastic Atlantic article suggests that the background singers could have joined Allen in dropping the act at the end. I think the video could have gone a step further. I realize this is going to be treading old ground, but just hear me out. What if they were literally all puppets of the patriarchal music industry? There were strings attached to them and her pervy old manager was the puppet master?

Yeah, I know, I know, ‘N Sync made pop culture history with a video that (basically) already did that. But it’s the first thing I thought of! And it’s a start. Lily and her dancers could still be twerking and acting like sexual objects, but maybe with blank, dead-eyed looks, without emotions or feelings. Sure, it’s a bit on the head, but so is the song itself. Let’s be honest, these lyrics aren’t going to incite the next wave of feminism, but hopefully they’ll get some more people talking and – more importantly – listening.

For a much better Lily Allen song that’s commentary on pop/consumer culture, I recommend “The Fear.” (Although I think even THAT video could be better too – Not that it’s problematic, because it really isn’t, but Lily looks like she’s having too much fun in a song that’s supposed to be morbidly serious.) Go check it out!

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