Video killed the radio star.
And I'm ok with it, too.
Sure, MTV had numerous drawbacks, collateral intellectual damage, and unintended consequences, but think of what it brought us. Before video, music was often a guy in a bushy beard sitting on stool and strumming an acoustic guitar while incense and bongo beats wafted in the background. Once in a while he might even look out at the audience.
Blessedly, music video did for that kind what Nirvana did to hair metal in the early 1990s.
I have given a great deal of thought to music video after a recent conversation I had on Facebook with the lovely Talia of I'm Having a Moment. It has led me to reflect on a few videos...both recent and eldritch...that I did not include in my previous post on the subject.
First up, Radiohead with "Paranoid Android." It's an animated short that showcases all manner of insanity. At the same time, I find it to be a rather accurate depiction of real life.
"When I am king you will be first against the wall."
Speaking of animation, behold Daft Punk with "Harder Better Faster Stronger." Push aside the "corporate ad" nature of the song's title and drink in the video. I'm aware that it's not a "video" in the strictest sense as it's a clip from the anime film, Interstella 555, but I'm including it anyway. The anime has no dialogue and the audio track is composed entirely of music...music recorded for the most part by Daft Punk (I think Barry Manilow might enter the mix as well since he's a big fan of techno. I'm serious.) Plus, even though the story takes place in a star system far far away, it would make a great theme song for the transhumanist movement.
Portishead made a short film called "To Kill a Dead Man." It's based around a political assassination but rapidly morphs into a fast series of weird, black and white existential visuals. Ingmar Bergman would be proud. Taking the short film approach, Portishead took video back to the artform it was intended to be.
"More Than This" is pure cheese from Roxy Music but I like it anyway.
You want more cheese? Check out "Space is the Place" by Sun Ra. Sun Ra was something of a jazz musician who professed that he was not from Earth but from Saturn. He wanted to lead enlightened people away from Earth and towards space which was "the place." Just watch this video unfold of him in a bizarre landscape with odontoid plantlife and mirror-faced beings.
David Bowie was always a video innovator. During the 1990s he teamed up with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (can you say, dream team for Jonny?) on a few songs, a tour, and this video. In it, Trent plays a deranged cab driver named "Jonny." That's right! Jonny. I couldn't have been happier when I saw it. Plus, just like David Bowie, "I'm Afraid of Americans."
If you're interested in reading any more of my thoughts regarding music video, check out my breakdown of the M83 trilogy.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets