Tag Archives: music video

My Top 5 Music Videos of 2010

5. Arcade Fire – “We Used To Wait”

This is obviously on my list for its innovation and new level of fan interaction. (If you haven’t seen this before, it’s a collaboration with Google where you can put in your address and the video is customized with Google Maps footage.) Arcade Fire have always been good at crafting messages that are easy to make personal, so this really takes it to another level. Except when I tried to put in my address, I couldn’t see my house, which I was mildly disappointed in because I live very close to Google. (Fun fact: A guy I went to high school with had a summer job on the Google Maps helicopter photography team. That’s how you know you’re really from the Bay Area.)

4. Jay-Z – “On To The Next One”

I had never really spent very much time thinking about Jay-Z before watching this video. The aesthetic is just mind-blowing, stark and elegant, no excess. This has become my favorite song of the year. (I was unsure if it qualifies as a 2010 song, but it does according to my frantic Googling, so I’m going to go with that.)

3. Das Racist – “Who’s That? Brooown!”

This is another interactive one, as there’s also a game version. (I didn’t do very well on it, I’m pretty sure I let the band get eaten by sharks when I tried to play.) Done in an 8-bit animation style, this video isn’t exactly the height of visual refinement, but it still has a lot to offer. There are hoverboards, Kirsten “I’m suing Vampire Weekend for $2 million” Kennis as a villain, some light Sarah Palin mockery, and more!

2. Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up The Gun”

Obviously, I love this song. This is just a great combination of aesthetic purity, layers of cultural references, humor, and a reasonably compelling narrative. It actually sort of reminds me of “On To The Next One” with the way space is used. “Giving Up the Gun” got a decent amount of attention for its bizarre collection of cameos, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil Jon, RZA, and Joe Jonas. Even though this year has been such that the Joe Jonas appearance isn’t as funny now as it was when the video debuted in February, these guests add an ever-so-slightly surreal aspect to it.

Also, it’s hard to resist anything that involves people setting stuff on fire with their eyes.

1. Duck Sauce – “Barbra Streisand”

I have spent the past two-plus months pretty much wanting to live in this video. I mean, why wouldn’t you? This may not be a particularly ambitious promo in terms of telling a story, but you can’t beat that vibe. You could call the cameos gimmicky, but everyone’s legitimately connected somehow, and Kanye and Pharrell are just so undeniably cool that it shouldn’t even be a question. It’s kind of disappointing that this song never really took off in America the way it has in Europe. Its catchiness is out of control. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Alain and Armand.

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Watch/Listen/Read: Chromeo, Das Racist, Theophilus London, and more

Watch

Chromeo’s latest video for “Hot Mess.” Extended version of the song featuring La Roux to come.

Das Racist on Our Show with Elliot Aronow. You know you want to see a bunch of presumably drunk dudes talk about the Illuminati and Kindles.

Listen

Theophilus London – “Flying Overseas” ft. Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion) and Solange Knowles (free download at source)

Read

Check out Anand Wilder of Yeasayer’s open letter to Kanye West.

If you haven’t already read it, Nitsuh Abebe said everything I wanted to say about Kings of Leon, but couldn’t articulate nearly as well.

Why I dropped everything to watch the premiere of Kanye West’s short film even though I haven’t listened to a lot of his music

As you may have heard, Kanye West premiered a 35-minute film yesterday evening. Runaway tells the story of a phoenix, portrayed by model Selita Ebanks, and contains music from his next album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Even though I haven’t even heard any of his previous albums all the way through (shame on me), I made sure I was watching, because I knew it would be a game-changer. And it is–while the acting talents of West and Ebanks left much to be desired, Runaway demonstrated a clear artistic vision that is not often seen. It takes an artist of West’s stature to raise the bar for visual branding. Animal Collective’s film ODDSAC may have made indie headlines, but Runaway has the potential to revolutionize how major labels do marketing. Ultimately, such projects require deep pockets, especially if the production values are to be as high as Runaway‘s, as well as enough people who are sufficiently interested to at least pretend to pay attention for more than half an hour. Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video was already challenging enough to attention spans at nine and a half minutes. However, Runaway serves to promote the entire album, justifying the length, though admittedly the extended ballet sequence was a little too extended. What counts is the obvious amount of effort that went into the realization of this film, which not only shows West’s dedication to his craft, but it gets people talking, and that’s what counts.

Sometimes people you like do things you don’t like, We Are Scientists and Chromeo edition

We Are Scientists just released the video for their new single, “I Don’t Bite.”

“I Don’t Bite” is my favorite song off of Barbara. In typical WAS fashion, the video is pretty funny, showing Keith Murray and Chris Cain sitting in the back of a car and going through numerous costume changes. However, their use of a Native headdress as a prop is not exactly in good taste, especially considering how many of their songs revolve around alcohol. Fortunately, it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it thing and it’s not up to Ke$ha levels, but it was definitely a lapse in judgment.

Another thing I’ve been finding bothersome is the album art for Chromeo’s forthcoming album Business Casual.

Chromeo have used legs imagery before, but in those contexts, it seemed justifiable. It might have still not been the best idea, but it went along with the idea of “Fancy Footwork” and made some sense. However, to anyone with eyes, the Business Casual cover depicts some straight up good old-fashioned objectification. The woman shown is having a fun, sexy day at the office–and is reduced to just her bum and legs. She’s also making copies, the sort of menial task that the glass ceiling prevents women from rising above. Certainly, the idea of a sexy secretary is still highly prevalent, but couldn’t they have at least used a picture of a hot, fierce CEO kicking back in her corner office with her face showing? Sexuality is undeniably a defining element of the Chromeo package, but they could have handled this a different way. (Not judging an album by its cover, Business Casual is a damn fine record and you can listen to it here before it releases on September 14.)

Just because We Are Scientists and Chromeo have done these things doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop liking them. These two examples are pretty tame, considering what John Mayer fans went through. However, it’s still disappointing. They’re well-educated people, and they should know better.

Music Videos as Tributes to Films: Wes Anderson Edition

(Fig. 1) The Decemberists – “16 Military Wives”

(Fig. 2) Vampire Weekend – “Oxford Comma”

(Fig. 3) Jose Vanders – “Mother Theresa Can’t Dive”

I recently stumbled across the song “Mother Theresa Can’t Dive” by Jose Vanders. It’s a cute little indie-pop song with a cute little indie-pop video, which happens to be a very obvious ripoff of Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. There is some truth to the clichéd relationship between Anderson’s work and the independent music community–his style has undeniably influenced other prominent music videos of the past few years, albeit in different ways.

With its private school setting, the Decemberists’ “16 Military Wives” is visibly informed by Rushmore. (Colin Meloy’s plastic-framed glasses don’t hurt either, shared with Max Fischer’s distinctive look.) However, the crested blazers and Model U.N. are merely used as a jumping-off point for an original story about international relations, and the strict Anderson aesthetic is not thoroughly adhered to. In the subtitles used to describe the action, Anderson’s standard font Futura is noticeably absent, although it is a crucial component in his trademark look.

While Futura titles are used to distinguish “chapters” in Vampire Weekend’s “Oxford Comma” video, it is a technique that Anderson would be expected to use, rather than something he actually has done. (Rushmore is divided into acts of a play; The Royal Tenenbaums literally shows chapters of a book; time is denoted in The Life Aquatic with documentary footage.) However, the combination of the recognizable font with the literary influence still serves as an effective visual link. There are other subtle references to his style, such as the uniformed background characters and the lack of modern technology, but “Oxford Comma” shares more with Wes Anderson’s American Express commercial than any of his films, with its use of a single tracking shot.

“16 Military Wives” and “Oxford Comma” were clearly realized with Wes Anderson in mind, but that aesthetic was used as a starting point to flesh out original content. “Mother Theresa Can’t Dive” takes directly from the Anderson playbook, following The Life Aquatic‘s blue/yellow/red color palette with a pedantry almost worthy of the source of its inspiration. Red knit caps abound, and the video is an intern’s Glock away from being a perfect match. Sure, I love The Life Aquatic, but if I wanted to watch The Life Aquatic, I’d watch The Life Aquatic. Granted, Anderson’s own style is largely an amalgam of influences drawn from 60s directors, but he also clearly has a unique vision, rather than purely borrowing. While we are the product of that which we consume, it seems a bit lazy to regurgitate something whole like this.

Vampire Weekend “Holiday” video premiere

It’s technically Thursday on the East Coast, and Vampire Weekend’s video for “Holiday” has premiered at MTV.com. Plenty of anachronisms and SoCal culture are crammed into two minutes and eighteen seconds as the band cruises around in a classic convertible, In-N-Out and Starbucks in hand. The NME took a look behind the scenes, which you can see a scan of here.

My initial reaction consisted of little more than sudden extreme hunger, but I do like the idea that they’re satirizing the hipster vintage obsession by pushing it to an extreme level with the 18th century costuming. Paired with a scene featuring a variety of pastries, it seems like a clear nod to Marie Antoinette, another bog-standard indie fixation. There’s also the matter of the retro color palette and the Ray-Ban Wayfarers and Clubmasters, which are familiar to anyone who has ever perused posts on a hipster internet enclave. A faint stretch of the imagination connects the band’s spray-paint scrawls with Banksy and other anti-establishment street art, which, yes, hipsters are fond of. The Vampire Weekend guys probably do genuinely like these things, but they have always shown themselves to be adroit, up-to-date, and highly aware of both themselves and their surroundings. They’re one of Those Brooklyn Bands, and they must know that they are part of the Pitchfork collective consciousness. Regardless of whether or not the goal was to lampoon hipster stereotypes, it’s an entertaining video and Vampire Weekend obviously had a lot of fun making it. With the shot of frontman Ezra Koenig indelicately applying chapstick, I feel as if my musical taste has come full circle.

(Note: I say this as someone who does have at least some appreciation for vintage clothing, Marie Antoinette, Ray-Bans, and street art. While I fully acknowledge that I am categorically a hipster, I assure you that my hair is washed on a regular basis and that I do not smoke American Spirits.)

Also, check out a solid video of “Holiday” live at Radio 1’s Big Weekend:

Vampire Weekend “Holiday” video preview

As previously seen, Vampire Weekend’s next single off of Contra is “Holiday.” The video won’t be released until Thursday, but you can catch a sneak peek here @ MTV.com.

(No, I don’t understand what the point of releasing a 30-second preview for a video for a song that’s less than two-and-a-half minutes long is, either, but it’s still exciting!)

In this clip, the band eat some cake, go to a pool party, skateboard, make an In-N-Out run, and punch some surfers in the face, all while wearing French Revolution period costumes. It looks like a continuing representation of Contra‘s central themes of contradictions and conflict, as well as the album’s Californian inspiration. While “Holiday” has never really struck me as being automatic single material, it’s undeniably a good choice for this time of year. I’m still holding out for a “Diplomat’s Son” video with a meta cameo from M.I.A. (Jason Schwartzman would be welcome to join the party, too.)

Call it greedy, but I’m disappointed that their fall tour with Beach House isn’t coming anywhere near me, even though I’ve already seen both bands this year.

Leisure Reading: Sleigh Bells, Local Natives, Blur, Interpol, M.I.A., Cults, and Bored To Death

First things first: listen to Sleigh Bells’ debut album Treats and blow your eardrums out. Pretty much all of the dirty, fuzzy sound from the demos is maintained, except now it’s a crisper sort of dirty and fuzzy. That probably doesn’t make sense in words, so you should just go hear it for yourself. The new version of “Infinity Guitars” is a particular stand-out, becoming even punchier and out-of-control.


There’s a new video for Local Natives’ “World News,” which has preemptively been on my list of favorite songs of 2010 for quite some time now. It’s directed by the same guy who did Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is The Move,” and while there are no llamas present, it’s probably nothing like what you would have expected for this song. Watch it here. You can also check out a bootleg of one of their recent sold-out Bowery Ballroom shows here.

Blur haven’t ruled out the possibility of recording new material, so that’s something to celebrate. However, it could be quite some time, considering that Damon Albarn is one of those people who tries to be in every band ever.

Interpol’s new album is done, but Carlos D. has quit the band. Considering how much he’s contributed to the Interpol brand, it’ll be interesting to see where Mssrs. Banks, Kessler, and Fogarino go from here. Will the replacement be required to wear random gun holsters and grow Colonel Sanders facial hair? I have a feeling that no one will be able to suffice in comparison to the real deal.

In other new release news, M.I.A.’s new album will be called / \ / \ / \ Y / \ and will be released on July 13 instead of June 29. Considering that her people hired a blimp to advertise the release date during Jay-Z’s set at Coachella, something serious must have caused the switch. Surely the reaction to ginger genocide wasn’t that strong?

Cults have made a three-song 7″ available for free on Bandcamp. If you like layered vocals, glockenspiel, and lazy sunny days, this is for you.

Filming for season two of Bored To Death is still going. The first set the expectations high (in more ways than one), and we all need more Schwartzman, Galifianakis, and Danson in our lives. Considering that these pictures show the Zach Galifianakis character Ray apparently involved with a dog-walking service, this next season can only get better.

New Music Videos: We Are Scientists and Avi Buffalo

We Are Scientists – “Nice Guys”

This video is for the second single off of upcoming album Barbara, “Nice Guys.” True to Scientist form, this video will make you chuckle/chortle/giggle and features frontman Keith Murray riding a children’s scooter and falling over many, many times. He also eats a sandwich and hangs out with some squirrels. For those singing along, the lyrics are subtitled. Or are they?

Avi Buffalo – “What’s In It For?”

I can’t get enough of Avi Buffalo lately. The Long Beach babies’ self-titled debut album is perfect for these days as we shift into summer. The hazy, surreal video for “What’s In It For?” matches up perfectly, although the images of CGI neon aquatic life sprouting above ground are quite frankly kind of eerie, considering that middle Tennessee got over a foot of rain this weekend and is a federally-declared disaster area.

Download “What’s In It For?”

Vampire Weekend on “Holiday” video shoot

As previewed in the “Giving Up The Gun” video, Vampire Weekend’s next single off of sophomore album Contra will apparently be “Holiday.” Unfortunately, I can’t find any official confirmation, but are pics, so it apparently has happened.

As you can see, “Giving Up The Gun” has raised the bar of ridiculousness for their videos. After inviting RZA, Lil Jon, Joe Jonas, and Jake Gyllenhaal to play tennis, Vampire Weekend have brought out the breeches and powdered wigs for the sunny “Holiday,” which is apparently being taken in order to avoid the French Revolution. (Period costume fiend friends, please correct me if I’m wrong after you finish weeping tears of joy into your embroidered handkerchiefs.)

More photos:
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