9.2.14: The Last VJ’s Top 5 Music Videos of the Week
Welcome to The Last VJ, music fans! Do you like old people? Well, you better because one day you’ll be one, and this week we have a real doozy of a music video detailing what it means to grow old and regret. Plus, stop motion and traditional animation, and you’ll fall in love with a Korean songstress that can light fires with her singing. Let’s roll.
Butch Walker, “Coming Home”
One of the best things about watching the medium of music videos grow up is seeing the issues that they tackle. In the beginning, the visual was all about being young and what that meant. The elderly were seen as scary props meant to nudge kids into fast living with the knowledge that one day they’d grow old.
I think that all changed when Johnny Cash and director Mark Romanek did “Hurt”. It was such a powerful piece that it broke the mould and opened music videos up to really exploring life from an old person’s perspective in a positive way. Then last year I saw the amazing work Jem Garrard did with Young Galaxy’s “Privileged Poor”. And things got even better.
Director Olivier Agostini goes right for the feels on “Coming Home”, showing us an old but still full of life man trying to woo his attractive neighbor with cake and an impressive dinner. All around him, though, are the reminders of his dead wife, and as he imagines the evening it becomes more and more clear that despair is slowly eating him alive. This all comes to a heartbreaking ending that will have you in tears. Well done.
Matt Kivel, “End of Adventure”
Stop motion in music videos is almost as old as the music video itself, but it’s kind of a mixed bag. On one hand it can be a great tool like in Regina Spektor’s “Us” or the Tool videos, but a lot of hacks use it as a convenient way to mask boring action as surreal.
I like what Ben Elie did with Matt Kivel’s “End of Adventure”, though. In it we watch a man suddenly find meaning in music after seeing a face stare out at him in a record store poster. He goes on to stalk the man and break into his house, which somehow bizarrely ends in a warm embrace. It sounds simplistic and silly, but there’s an edge to the action that plays like a good Laetitia Colombani film.
Chad VanGaalen, “Monster”
Normally I abhor music videos that just literally interprets the lyrics on screen. There’s an exception to that rule, though; if it’s really funny or so ball-trippingly terrifying that it would be silly not to.
“Monster” is the latter. It’s an animated rendition of a man turning into some kind of living, breathing, puking nightmare, and it makes you deeply uncomfortable the whole time you’re watching it.
Oh, and it was apparently made with the support of the government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund). That’s right, the government looked at this cat and decided to give him tax money to improve their musical landscape. You need to step up, America.
Engineers, “Fight or Flight”
Admittedly, “Fight or Flight” made it onto the list this week based mostly on how much I like the song. The video does offer some poignant power, though, being intimately connected to the song’s message of being stuck in a loop rooted in nostalgia. It’s a pretty piece of pop poetry, with a visual element that matches well.
Having some trouble embedding the video, but it can be viewed here.
Shin Ji-hoon, “Crybaby”
Last on the list today is Shin Ji-hoon, a Korean figure skater, singer, and pop personality from some music game show. Well, they do a much better job with that sort of thing in Korea than we do in America, because “Crybaby” is awesome.
It starts out pretty dull… just a pretty girl is a white dress sitting on a bench and looking sad in an abandoned carnival. Hell, I know some people that call that a normal Tuesday. Then, out of nowhere and with no change in speed, tone, or approach everything catches on fire. Everything. Ji-hoon’s sad song continues and the world just burns around her. It’s not quite Tori Amos’ “Hey Jupiter”, but it’s not that far off.
How come Kelly Clarkson never sets carnivals on fire with her songs? Because she can’t, that’s why. Man, Ji-hoon makes even poignant ballads metal.
Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.