January 1st, 2011


Music Videos #28: In Which I Dust Off the Memes for New Year.

1) Brandon Flowers, 'Crossfire'
Director: Nash Edgerton
From the 2010 album Flamingo
Watch at YouTube

In an unusual twist on the 'damsel in distress' routine, our lead singer from The Killers is here tied to a chair and strung upside-down in a straightjacket. What he's done wrong, we may never know, but it certainly seems to involve a lot of ninjas dancing around and looking vaguely threatening. It also involves being rescued by a very tired-looking Charlize Theron (maybe she looks so tired because Brandon keeps getting kidnapped by ninjas?) Although she keeps busting through doors and Brandon keeps smiling with relief as she cuts the ties around his wrists and the pyrotechnics flail madly, there's a little bit of uncertainty going on here, especially in the look they give each other as they drive off into the sunset in a beaten-up pick-up truck. The song is also a little bit weird in this way: it should be a soaring emotion-driven piece that reminds us of why we liked The Killers, but buried in the back of it is a tiny quiet doubt that occasionally surfaces - are we doing the right thing? Are we talking to the right people? Are we pretty sure we'll be rescued?

2) Cosmo Jarvis, 'Gay Pirates'
Director: Cosmo Jarvis
Watch at YouTube

Okay, so our New Year's party revolved around this song, mostly because it's a good shanty with a massive drumbeat. You can stomp to it. But the video itself is brilliantly put together. It's partly because it's a one-take, partly because it's got some good man-on-man action (with two straight dudes, even!), but mostly because it's the right kind of poor theatre aesthetic that really pleases me. Everything about this song feels well-worn and comfortable. Jarvis stated that the song was partly written to get homophobes dancing along to something before they realise what it is they're dancing along to, beyond the point where they're able to stop themselves easily. It's right there in the video, too: this song is, without doubt, a tragedy. But it's sneaked away by the triumphant return of our pirate heros, somehow still alive after walking the plank. It feels... right, somehow. It's a song that will break your heart if you listen to it closely, with a video that'll pull you right back from the brink of depression, and it all feels perfectly put together.

3) Gob, 'I Hear You Calling'
Director: Unknown
From the 2001 album The World According to Gob
Watch at YouTube

Okay, seriously, screw Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. It consistently scores number one on lists of 'greatest music video of all time' (what, seriously? Being thirteen minutes long doesn't make it gob-smacking (sorry, that was awful) - just look at any Green Day video. In fact, the only thing that sets it apart is a wicked solo by Vincent Price, and Sir Ian McKellen just did a live performance with the Scissor Sisters, so it's beaten there too, I'm afraid. The worst thing that video has to answer for, though, is this one. 'I Hear You Calling' was the biggest hit this band had (in Canada), and it sounded in 2001 like the Foo Fighters did in 1994. This video retreads the boards of Michael Jackson's video with uncanny precision - bursting out of the ground? Check. 'Thriller' dance? Check. 'Twist' ending? Check. The only things it really adds are zombie cheerleaders, and zombie playing soccer. Yeah, that's right. The filming isn't half bad, but the effects, the song, the plot and everything else are appalling. You know what? Don't waste your time. Watch Dawn of the Dead instead.