As a self-professed anglophile and fiancee to one very cheeky Brit, I certainly appreciate the many aspects of our wry, Founding Fathers. From stodgy meals, statuesque cathedrals and sublime music, England is a nation enriched in all aspects: cuisine, culture and most importantly, creativity.
My most recent English example? Indie/blues/rock/soul/funk mash-up musicians known as The Heavy.
Hailing from Britain’s rain-sopped turf are The Heavy; four very talented lads who emerged onto the music scene circa early 2000s. Their most notable song, “How You Like Me Now?” has been featured in countless adverts, movies and video game trailers (and was the first tune that sparked my fan frenzy).
The Heavy reeks of rawness. They’re uncut and unparalleled artists who perform as well at gigs as they do on VEVO. I would know; I’ve frequented three of their concerts within the past two years, and have yet to be disappointed.
While The Heavy is relatively under-the-radar, their undeniable talent is worthy of high accolade. Take a peek at the ghoulish video for their new single, “Can’t Play Dead,” and let us know your take on this British, bass-heavy/bad-ass band.
While most kids ran around the park, scrapping elbows and playing Pirates, I sprawled out on my bed and copied the lyrics of my favorite Petula Clark song. My name is Melanie, and I am the oldest 25-year old that ever lived.
I was born with the heart of a 1960s hippie, twenty years too late. I blame my folks for this. My parents spent their youth as bell-bottomed teens with a penchant for the classics, particularly music birthed from Great Britain. In turn, they passed their “peace and love, man” ideals to yours truly. In middle school, I was the musically misplaced ‘oldies fanatic’ during ‘NSYNC mania. I hummed doo-wop songs before I even knew what ‘hip-hop’ was, and Justin Timberlake had nothing on a young Paul McCartney, bowl-cut and all. (To this day, I’m pretty sure I can belt out any Beatles tune if you ask nicely.)
What’s the point of this pretentious anecdote? To showcase the moment I nearly lost faith in contemporary music, upon stumbling across Justin Bieber’s “Baby” video on MTV. Once I had processed the mind-numbing chorus of: “Baby, baby, baby, oh // Like baby, baby, baby, no // Like baby, baby, baby, oh // I thought you’d always be mine, mine,” I could only sit on the sofa, absolutely dumbfounded. I felt as if I had just witnessed the decline of all human effort, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the only person in the world who would actively campaign to get his songwriter fired.
To my relief, Bieber soon went bye-bye and a new video emerged like a musical Godsend. A solo artist named Gary Clark, Jr. swooped in to restore my optimism in the modern music industry. For the next five minutes, I was in guitar-riff heaven; captivated by this musician who shredded his way into my heart with a classic Gibson ES335.
Brazenly referred to as the modern-day Jimi Hendrix, Gary Clark, Jr. is the Texas-based crooner making waves with his commanding “cool cat” persona and fuzzy guitar rhythms. Though he has gained some notoriety on the indie-blues rock scene, Gary Clark, Jr. is relatively under wraps. For someone who has harnessed old-school influences to produce a modern blues vibe, this is one artist truly deserving of global recognition.
Listen to his first single, “Bright Lights,” a song chronicling his journey of self-exploration in the unforgiven metropolis of NYC. What’s your take on this up-and-coming artist? Is Gary Clark, Jr. the reincarnation of old-school rock?
If only every relationship could end in an amicable music video.
Brooklyn-based couple Jonathan and Ivory are making viral headlines with their YouTube sensation song that chronicles their relationship’s demise in light of opposing views.
According to the song’s lyrics, Ivory takes an adamant stance against having children, in contrast to her pro-kid partner Jonathan who makes clear that he “wants to have babies.” After five years of dating, the couple have concluded their conflicting desires leave no other choice but the inevitable break-up.
The song delves further with its lyrics, assuring mutual friends that they “don’t have to choose” sides, “though it will be awkward, yes.” The ex-couple additionally requests invitations to friends’ parties, assuring they will still remain cordial: “No, don’t feel weird; we love all of you! After five whole years at each other’s sides, there’s just some things no relationship can survive.”
The YouTube video concludes with an eager Jonathan admitting he wants a couple of children, juxtaposed to a negating Ivory who simply shakes her head in disagreement.
What’s your take on this couple’s breakup rendition? Do you believe this civil break-up ballad ends on a musical note, or nonsensical approach?
It’s hard to believe MTV started as a hosting platform for music videos. Flash-forward some thirty years and the channel is a mere shell of its piloting concept. Reality TV now dominates the slots that were once intended for ‘music television,’ but given our generation’s lackluster videos it may have worked out for the better. In recent years, creativity has taken a back-burner to the generic glorification of riches, bitches and “YOLO” fever. With all the ways to showcase talent, I don’t understand why I see the same stock models rotated around for different videos.
I’m a believer that creative video concepts can amplify a musician’s appeal. Visionary artists who detour from the ordinary will often generate intrigue due to their avant-garde approach. Just take the London-based duo, Chase & Status, as a prime example.
Chase & Status are music producers who have created a fortune by navigating away from the norm. The eclectic pair won ‘Best Video’ for their song, “End Credits,” at the 2010 Q Awards, in addition to several nominations for their original and collaborative mixes. Their 2011 “Flashing Lights” video is now regarded as a sinister success; coupling macabre undertones with a buildup of dubstep, break-beat rhythms.
I found “Flashing Lights” to be the perfect blend of drama and drums, but what’s your opinion? Is this video the new wave of creative expression, or the projection of your nightmares?
When Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton teamed up with Todd Rundgren, Prairie Prince, and Kasim Sulton in 2005 and set out on the road (and, briefly, into the studio) under the name The New Cars, some fans were amused and entertained with the results, but most cried, “Blasphemy!” It’s not as though Ric Ocasek had decried the project – if you can trust Wikipedia, he actually gave his blessing, saying, “I want Elliot and Greg to be happy” – but, really, if the line-up of the band doesn’t feature Ocasek or the late Benjamin Orr, be it old or new, it simply isn’t The Cars.
In July 2010, however, something very surprising happened: out of nowhere, the official Facebook page for The Cars – not The New Cars, mind you, but The Cars – posted a photo of Ocasek, Easton, Hawkes, and even the previously-retired David Robinson back in the studio together.
By October, they’d posted a snippet of a new song entitled “Blue Tip,” and November brought the news that the band was recording an entire album and was toying with the idea of touring behind it. A few other snippets turned up here and there, along with confirmation that the new album would be entitled Move Like This. Now, at last, we have a video for the first single from the album.
You’d be hard pressed to ask for a track that sounds more like the classic Cars sound than “Sad Song,” and the video definitely tries to go for an ’80s feel with its odd visuals (hands pressing through walls, circus people, a mad scientist, weird lighting all around), but while there’s no question that the guys are taking this reunion very seriously, there’s one major element that’s missing from this thing: Mr. Ocasek. He used to be the star of the band’s videos, but if he’s in this thing at all, then it must be only the quickest of glimpses, because it didn’t even register.
Still, it’s a hell of a song. Can’t wait to hear the whole album.
We have never been what one could call on the cutting edge of country music, but this clip was too cute to pass up. Say what you want about country music, but there is one thing that they have steadfastly held on to, and that is a desire to see clean-cut girls on their charts. Those girl next door types…they just do something to us. Beats the hell out of the strippers dominating the pop charts, that’s for sure.
Say hello to Sarah Darling, who hails from Iowa and could easily pass for Jane Krakowski’s little sister. The clip for her single “Something to Do with Your Hands” is delightfully simple and sweet – she looks for excuses to have her man “fix” things for her – and the chorus is earworm central, with the “uh uh oh” part serving as the ellipses to the opening line, “If you need something to do with your hands…” Message received, loud and clear. And while that would sound dirty in the hands of a more provocative artist, Sarah somehow makes it sound sweet, even though her man is getting lucky tonight. Strange double standard, but there you go.
Lastly, how nice it is to hear singers that aren’t hung up on melisma and vocal runs. Hmmm, maybe we should start listening to country more often. Ooh, and she covers vintage Elton John, too? Score.
Four words: Daft Punk does disco, as in ’70s disco. Some might think ’70s disco is redundant, since that’s when disco was big, but the hip club kiddies know that there bands making disco music today. Hell, what’s Hercules and Love Affair if they’re not a disco band? (Answer: they’re totally a disco band.) Love the stop-motion photography. It reminds us of that video for Hilly Michaels’ “Calling All Girls,” and we can’t help but be happy whenever that song comes to mind.
It was not along ago that there were only a couple paths to the director’s chair on a studio lot. Many went to film school and did time toiling for Roger Corman, while others jumped over from another profession within the industry. (Joel Schumacher, for example, began as a costume designer.) In the ’80s, there suddenly was a new way to get into the game – use a music video as your calling card.
Now, of course, we’re at the point where people receive job offers after posting a clip to YouTube (Lasse Gjertsen, who made the live stop-motion clips “Hyperactive” and “Amateur,” has received several offers of employment, but has turned them all down), and the music video path is now a well-worn road. Indeed, there are two movies coming out in the next few weeks (“Never Let Me Go” and “The Social Network”) that were helmed by men who got their start telling rock stars to act like rock stars, which inspired us to take a look at the more prominent directors of the music video world and track their success. The lesson we learned: even when someone has so many small successes, it only takes one big disappointment to kill them. (Big, big shoutout to the good people at the Music Video Database for helping to clear the cob webs, as well as opening our eyes on just how prolific some of these directors were.)
You know it’s a Julien Temple video when: The entire piece looks like it was filmed in one giant tracking shot. (Look closer – the edits are there.) Breakout video: ABC’s “Poison Arrow,” and the short film “Mantrap” the band made in conjunction with their (spectacular) album The Lexicon of Love. Big screen debut: Temple is the only one on this list whose feature film debut came before his music video debut, though some would argue – and we wouldn’t disagree – that the movie in question, the Sex Pistols “documentary” “The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle,” is actually just a long-form music video. Best Temple video you never saw: Paul McCartney, “Beautiful Night,” from Macca’s Flaming Pie album. Gorgeous, and the tune is a good one, too.
You know it’s a Russell Mulcahy video when: Dozens of extras are wearing body paint, or when a prop nearly kills Simon Le Bon. In slow motion. Breakout video: Mulcahy was arguably the first “name” director of the music video world, helping clips for Ultravox, Kim Carnes and the Tubes – and, let us not forget, the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the first video MTV ever played – but it was the clip for Duran Duran’s“Hungry Like the Wolf,” along with the other videos he shot for the songs from Rio, that made him a household name…with music geeks like us, anyway. Big screen debut: “Razorback,” a monster movie about, yep, a bloodthirsty Australian pig. Mulcahy’s luck on the big screen changed two years later when he made the cult classic “Highlander”…then lost some luster when he made “Highlander II: The Quickening.” Best Mulcahy video you never saw: “The Flame,” the overlooked third single from Duran Duran spinoff group Arcadia. Le Bon is in full Barry Bostwick mode as he attends a fancy dinner party and the hosts try to kill him Agatha Christie-style.
Their new album Butterfly House is still one of the top ‘holy shit, we didn’t see that one coming’ moments of the year, and the love parade keeps rolling on with second single and Butterfly House opening track “More Than a Lover.” The video’s another ’60s-ish pastiche of quick cuts, backwards film, and silhouette shots of singer James Skelly against the mooon. And check out that chorus – does anyone else hear America when that comes up?