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9.9.14: The Last VJ’s Top 5 Music Videos of the Week

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Welcome to The Last VJ, music fans! This week it’s nothing but the weird. Headless rappers, imaginary friends, great white sharks and some kind of Cirque de Soleil madness are all in store, so put on your big girl panties and make sure that your preferred psychological counselor is in your health insurance network. This one is going to be darn loco.

clipping, “Inside Out”

Ladies and gentlemen and whoever may fall in between the two camps, this is simply put the greatest rap video of 2014. I simply can’t imagine anything topping it. It’s exciting, innovative, brilliant, and utterly without peer.

A headless man wanders an endless circular street, and within seconds of the song he begins to rap and his neck hole begins to spit out visual representations of the lyrics. They’re painfully literal sometimes, but there’s no arguing that the effect is really well done.

Director Carlos Lopez Estrada has an uncanny knack for timing his effects. The first time the chorus cycles and the man shoots lighting into the sky you’ll find yourself jumping and laughing at the same time. It’s very good stuff.

Paradise Fears, “You to Believe In”

You have to invest a little more of yourself in “You to Believe In” if you really want to get the most of out of the experience. Initially, it seems like little more than a standard indie pop performance vid with a slight romantic angle.

Slowly, though, as you watch you realize it’s a song and a video about people in their mid-20s coming to grips with the fact that we’ve blurred the line between childhood and adulthood in America pretty bad. Our hero is a somewhat lost and jaded guy with no religion, but who portrays what little faith he has into an imagination friend that is a Power Ranger. His counterpart is a girl living vicariously through an imaginary princess.

What a great commentary on modern life. Not only does it look at the arrested development that has become some internally troubling, but it makes a subtle dig at the impossible stereotypes of heroes that we try to live up to. Eventually our two heroes find each other after their Drop Dead Freds run away, and it’s a touching moment made even more insanely peppy by Paradise Fears’s near-contemporary Christian rock energy.

SiM, “Fallen Idols”

Have you ever clicked on a link to a porn video where the description was something you could not possibly believe that anyone would ever find sexy, and then found yourself utterly mesmerized by whatever the hell it ended up being? That’s what watching SiM’s “Fallen Idols” was like for me.

To describe the music… it’s Japanese narrative ska-metal. Half of it sounds like reggae, half like j-pop doom metal, and the whole thing is structured like a Richard O’Brien musical number between a hero and an antoginst.

Nominally, it’s a tale of two bands, one famous and one up and coming and both played by SiM. The up and comers meet their heroes and try to forge a relationship, only to be rebuffed by the cynical, indolent rock-ed stars (Their words, not mine). Eventually, of course, the plucky young band supplants their fallen idols, who beat their fists impotently in frustration.

It’s bizarre and silly, but you can’t help but revel in its sincerity.

Perfume Genius “Grid”

I haven’t had any less idea of what was going on in a music video since Tobacco’s “Streaker” gave me a week’s worth of nightmares. “Grid” isn’t quite so soul-rippingly dark, but it is still like a Cirque de Soleil act done by a smut director. We watch mike Hadreas serenade us on a box surrounded by dancers in silver gimp suits, only to transition over to an Alice in Wonderland tea party where everyone is food. Sometimes the best thing a journalist can do is know when something is beyond conventional description. Here’s one of those times.

TC, “Everything For a Reason”

Last this week is another bizarre one. In TC’s “Everything For a Reason” a man comes home to find that his wife or girlfriend has left him, and is reduced to sitting alone in an empty apartment watching Shark Week on TV eating a Hungry Man meal.  Frustrated, he takes a bath and slips beneath the water, where he is transported to a pool with a beautiful siren to play with.

Increasingly, he seeks to return to that world, but each attempt throws him further and further from home and return becomes difficult. Eventually he lands in the middle of the ocean where a great white shark begins to stalk him.

It’s a hard video to quantify. There’s something incredibly sad about it, but it’s also quite frightening. The idea seems to be that we are always in danger of drowning in our own ennui and despair, but making that point with a shark attack is a bit much. It’s artfully done, though.

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.