Wednesday, March 31, 2021

7/100 Video - "Bittersweet Symphony” – The Verve (1997)

In the classic video for "Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve, lead singer Richard Ashcroft bumps into people as he walks down a crowded street in a shopping district in London. 

The vocalist/pedestrian is in his own world as the video continuously shows he is unfazed by the world around him. 

The video is also a commentary on life in general, how you can't let others derail you from accomplishing your goals, because many will try. 

It could also be a metaphor for how many people are unaware of how their actions affect others.

Several times he knocks people over and doesn't miss a step or stop, showing how many people will willingly step all over someone to get what they want. 

The concept was inspired by the video for Massive Attack's 1991 song "Unfinished Sympathy," which was showed the singer walking down a street in a similar manner. 

And the video has never been more relevant: we need to continue moving forward, no matter what obstacles or challenges are in our way.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

8/100 Video - "Angel" – Massive Attack (1998)

"Angel" by Massive Attack is one crackerjack track.

Starting with an ominous percussion, the song builds progressively as more instruments and layers are added. During the long bridge, a menacing guitar solo grinds away as the industrial beats rage onwards.

The epic chase video is incredible, as the band members follow Daddy G in a car lot until the latter half when half of Bristol shows up for a grand chase scene in slow motion.

Rob Robinson737 provides the best explanation for the video in the YouTube comments, a metaphor for facing one's fears:

"The video is about running away from your fears, the longer you run away from them the greater they become until you reach to a point from where you can no longer run as if there is no land left for you to run on and there it is your greatest fears stood there right in front of you, and then you realize that these fears are just an illusion and that you confront them head on and then they are frighten of you at the moment you start chasing them."

Monday, March 29, 2021

9/100 Video - "Smooth Criminal" - Michael Jackson (1988)


A few years ago I rediscovered "Smooth Criminal" while on vacation in the Mayan Riviera during an impressive 'Michael Jackson' tribute by the evening entertainment staff.

The choreography is outstanding in this theatrical video.

MJ demonstrated several elements that became his business cards: "anti-gravity tilt", finger-stitched fingers and a bandage on his sleeve. 

For the "anti-gravity tilt" technique, Jackson is leaning at a 45 degree angle from the vertical axis without the apparent use of restraining devices. During the shooting, hidden belts were used for this.

I'll even argue this track is Michael Jackson at his creative peak.

"Smooth Criminal" borrows elements from Thriller's blockbuster singles: the groove of "Billie Jean", the attitude of "Beat It" and the production of "Thriller", mashing them into a delicious blend.

Jackson flies through the verses with such speed the lyrics can be challenging to discern in places. 

The energetic chorus, the brilliant bass line and the attention to detail in both song and video all add up to one epic work of pop art.

The only remaining question: is Annie still ok?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

10/100 Video - "White & Nerdy" - Weird Al Yankovic (2006)

I enjoyed Weird Al's work in the 80s (especially "Eat It"), but "White & Nerdy" is by far my favourite.

"White & Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic is a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin", a gangsta rap song.

The song pokes fun at the white guys who want to be black and gangster, even though they are actually geeks and nerds.

The video is bloody brilliant.

For me, the funniest part of this parody and video is that Weird Al is actually a pretty good rapper. Although his subject material comprises ridiculous things, his delivery is quite serious.

There are several high-profile cameos in the video:

- The first pair of gangsters in the video are comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.

- Seth Green, in the action figures bit.

- Donny Osmond dancing in the background, and behind Weird Al.

For cool trivia about the video, visit this webpage.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

11/100 Video - "Everything You Do Is A Balloon" – Boards of Canada (1996)

The two brothers that make up this enigmatic group have said the name for "Boards of Canada" originates from educational videos made by the Canadian National Film Board in the 1960s and 70s. We Gen-X-ers will recall these films were once shown to us on a real projector in the elementary school AV room.

These short films tend to feature a lot of analog synth sounds, another core foundation of the BOC sound.

Although there are no lyrics for "Everything You Do Is A Balloon", the ambiguous title itself makes you think of endless interpretations.

The video makes me think of my carefree childhood, despite the ominous fates of most of the kids riding bicycles in a nameless suburb of Middle America. 

The clip fits so perfectly with the epic progressive of the synths and percussion. 

And the retro animation is super haunting and nostalgic. Like a twisted, after-hours episode of Sesame Street.

I was blown away to learn that the video was not originally made by the artist, but rather sampled from a 1963 bicycle safety movie called "One Got Fat".

Friday, March 26, 2021

12/100 Video - "Rio" - Duran Duran (1982)

Those of us in junior high at the time will remember the playful decadence in this cutting edge video. 

Some watched for the girls. Some watched for the boys. Some for both. We all came for the fantasy and breath-taking scenery.

What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is that the fab five played the instruments and wrote the songs. "Rio" sports one of the catchiest bass lines of all time.

"Rio" hooks us in with the grandiose intro before giving way to a bouncy, maniacal John Taylor bass line and Andy Taylor's timely guitar riffs, setting up the iconic singalong chorus about the mystical Rio dancing on the sand. The song changes gears a few times, including an amazing sax climb before the last chorus.

Back to Rio: does she really exist? 

Well, a metaphor. 

According to SongFacts, Duran Duran explained on the VH1 show True Spin that Rio is a metaphor for America, and the song expressed their desire to succeed there, which they of course did.

I'd always thought LeBon said "...evidently run you down... in the lyrics during the bridge : "Hey now (wow) look at that did he nearly run you down. Before Google we experienced dozens of similar examples. 

"Rio" is still a favourite at Duran concerts, and often during an extended version when Simon LeBon introduces band members to the audience. I was fortunate to have seen it played in the encore of their 2011 gig at Montreal's Bell Centre.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

13/100 Video - "West End Girls" - Pet Shop Boys (1986)


Recorded in one take, "West End Girls" by the Pet Shop Boys originally missed the UK Top 40 in 1984 until re-recorded with producer Stephen Hague. Once slowed down and the story told a little clearer, the single vaulted to #1.

"West End Girls" isn't just another synth-pop song: it's intellectual pop. For me, the song creates a cityscape in your mind. 

The music was inspired by hip-hop artist Grandmaster Flash's "The Messagewhile the lyrics inspired by TS Eliot's poem 'The Waste Land'. The lyrics recount the class tensions and inner-city pressure in London, specifically how the boys from the East End of London pine for rich girls from the West End.

The street chatter and car horns intro followed by hypnotic synths before Neil Tennant's dead-pan vocals immediately grab our attention. But it's that unforgettable bass-synth hook and cryptic lyrics that keeps bringing me back to live vicariously in the "dead-end world". 

Watching the video as a 17-year-old verified that a much bigger world laid out there waiting to be explored.

When Joelle and I visited London in 2012, I couldn't help but point out the many famous London landmarks shown in the iconic video:
  • Waterloo Station
  • a No 42 red double-decker bus to Aldgate
  • Tower Bridge
  • Westminster Palace Clock Tower
  • the South Bank
  • Leicester Square

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

14/100 Video - "Thriller" - Michael Jackson (1984)

Best way to handle a zombie apocalypse?

Guns: Nope. Nuclear bombs: Naw. Dancing: YES!

"Thriller" by Michael Jackson doesn't really need any introduction. I realize this video should be higher on the list but I'm suffering from a bit of zombie fatigue.

The storyline. The twist. Then the dancing. And the choreography.

A clip that was equally frightening as exciting for those of us who were kids when this came out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

15/100 Video - "Personal Jesus" - Depeche Mode (1989)


I'll always remember 1989. The holy trinity of alternative rock, The Cure, New Order and Depeche Mode, all released amazing albums.

Think back to the early 80s for minute. Hands up if you thought back these guys would be making videos sporting cowboy hats and playing guitars at the end of the decade?

The evolution of Depeche Mode from a quirky synth-pop act to filling stadiums in North America was impressive. Like U2 with the The Joshua Tree, Depeche Mode stormed North America with an amped up, somewhat industrial form of dance music typifying the Violator album in 1989.

"Personal Jesus" is a club classic with an unstoppable beat, atmospheric guitars and menacing vocals. The badass video is a bonus. Well done boys, you've come a long way.

Monday, March 22, 2021

16/100 Video - "Material Girl" - Madonna (1984)

The classic video branded Madonna with a her 
"Material Girl" nickname, a track that is so quintessential 80s. 

Inspired by Madonna's fascination with Marilyn Monroe, this video is an homage to Marilyn singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" from the movie Gentlemen prefer Blondes.

The first part of the video shows illustrates the assumption that guys think women are all materialistic and will want lavish and expensive gifts, thinking they can buy her love. 

But in reality, as the end of the video demonstrates, the real way to her heart is as simple as a bouquet of flowers and a realistic happy love with guys who are down to earth.

The irony was often lost and/or ignored by journalists, so the name and the image stuck.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

17/100 Video - "Take On Me" - a-ha (1985)

The video for a-ha's 
"Take On Me" used a pencil-sketch animation / live-action combination known as rotoscoping, in which the live-action footage is traced over frame by frame to give the characters realistic movements. 

Approximately 3,000 frames were rotoscoped, which took 16 weeks to complete. The video cost $150,000 USD, which was significant at the time in 1985.

Actress Bunty Bailey, who played singer Morten Harket's love interest, went on to star in the band's follow-up video, “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.,” and had a real-life romance with Harket.

The iconic music video for “Take On Me” has reached one billion views on YouTube, a feat very few artists have accomplished. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

18/100 Video - "Hungry Like the Wolf" - Duran Duran (1982)


The iconic video for "Hungry Like the Wolf" came out in junior high, wooing North American teenage girls and boys alike with its exotic adventures and irresistible new wave sound. 

I howl and I whine... about why these guys don't get the credit they deserve. 

Duran Duran are kinda like the Stones in a way; they both don't often get a lot of respect in the industry. Mislabeled as a 'boy band' in the mid-80s, some people forget band members actually played their instruments. And wrote their songs. 

Looking back, I think the critics were jealous because they were good looking guys who could play. Oh, snap. 

"Hungry like the Wolf" was the gateway to the band, and to the new wave genre for many of us a little too young to notice the music trends unfolding in the late 70s. 

Besides the grandiose chorus, "Hungry Like the Wolf" features the iconic "Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo" and an intriguing instrumental bridge. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

19/100 Video - "Rockit" - Herbie Hancock (1984)

"Rockit" by Herbie Hancock was the first hit song to feature scratching.

The bizarre video, which features a host of animated mannequins, was one of the most innovative of the era. 

The video freaked me out as a teenager, with mannequins having seizures, banging their heads on tables. 

I went to bed thinking random items were going to burst out of closets and drawers.

Directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, the very popular video won five video music awards in 1984: Best Art Direction, Best Concept, Best Editing, Best Special Effects, and Most Experimental Video. 

Along with Michael Jackson and Prince, Hancock was one of the first black artists to get significant airplay on MTV, but he barely appears in the video (he is shown in a few shots of the television sets), which was by design. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

20/100 Video - "Two Tribes" - Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1984)

"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood is a hi-energy dance club track with an amazing bass line that peaked at #1 on the UK charts in 1984.

The video showcases a wrestling match between US President at the time, Ronald Reagan, and then-Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko in front of an audience of representatives from the world's nations.

This clever metaphor for the Cold War degenerates into complete global destruction. Almost forty years later, the shocking ending of the earth exploding is still chilling to see.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

21/100 Video - "Lost in Yesterday" - Tame Impala (2020)


This psychedelic pop masterpiece woos us with a gorgeous bass line, disco melody and an infectious chorus that will stay in your head for weeks. 

The ingenious video shows that repetition through rose-coloured glassed will often transform terrible memories into great ones. 

Watch closely at the interactions of the guests as each revolution of the four versions of the wedding becomes more epic and memorable.  

Worth a spin for fans of 70s / 80s pop.

Fave lyrics: “so if they call you embrace them, if they hold you erase them.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

22/100 Video - "Blinding Lights" - The Weeknd (2019)


The cinematic video for The Weeknd's massive hit "Blinding Lights" is a great fit with the music, both atmospheric and entrancing. The Grammys can go pound sand. 

Pleased to see the 80s continue to inspire millennials.

This slightly sinister synth-pop groove by a new age MJ is sprinkled with lush new wave hooks reminiscent of A-ha's classic singles. 

The video was shot with a Mercedes-AMG GT roadster in a starring role and a Mercedes SUV as a chase vehicle.

Monday, March 15, 2021

23/100 Video - "Midnight City" - M83 (2011)

Few bands evoke nostalgia like France's M83. 

The scenes with the kids exploring abandoned buildings takes me right back to the pig farm days of my childhood. Minus the supernatural powers of course.

It may be cheesy, but the explosive synth riff in the intro that's also the soaring chorus makes the dopamine overflow. 

How good is this Gouda? Well, the greatest 80s tune made outside of the decade very handily makes my desert island six pack o' tracks. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

24/100 Video - "Allies" - Blue States (2007)

"Allies" by Blue States is a downtempo track with a mesmerizing melody.

I happened to stumble upon the video while checking out some of the band's material beyond their Nothing Changes Under The Sun album.

What a great discovery! 

The video starts by showing four videos of the same man waking up and leaving his apartment for a day at the office. 

After a few seconds pass, four different scenarios unfold leading to hilarious and/or catastrophic results.

The first scenario ends abruptly, with the man getting hit by a bus, then shown dead in the hospital. 

The second scenario shows the man being kidnapped and left in the wild, naked in the woods, and sleeping on the ground.

The third scenario sees the guy get fired, but then ends up meeting a girl by walking into her while rounding a corner. 

The fourth scenario shows the man following his mundane schedule from dawn to dusk. No, he didn't get killed, but nothing extraordinary happened to him either.

The message: a reminder that on some days we have little control over our lives. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

25/100 Video - "Virtual Insanity" - Jamiroquai (1996)

The optical illusions in the eye-catching video for "Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai were not made using computers.

You will see in several shots, chairs or couches are fixed to the walls so that they appear to be standing still, when in fact they are moving.

Video director Jonathan Glazer describes how the walls move on a stationary grey floor with no detail, to give the illusion that objects on the floor are moving. 

Singer-dancer Jason Kay confesses to having become ”a bit dizzy” during the carefully choreographed shoot.

Friday, March 12, 2021

26/100 Video - "You Spin Me Round" - Dead Or Alive (1985)


Back when I was a 16-year-old and glued to Video Hits every weekday at 5 pm, my mom would often cruise into the living room to catch a glimpse of the latest hits.

"Geez, Boy George is looking kinda rugged these days!"

"Yeah, Mom. He's a pirate now. Pretty cool, huh?"

This video demands your attention with its vibrant colours, the disco ball, rotating band members and Pete Wagg wagging fingers and swaying hips across the screen.

And what a track! From the opening beats, "Yo
u Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive is a relentless assault on the senses. The dance inferno didn't sound like anything else charting in the spring of '85. 

The "You spin me round like a record, baby" chorus is equally inane and brilliant, the groove catchy and cheesy, and the whole production over the top. No wonder The Wedding Singer embraced it. 

I'll also always think of Corey Mock from our Dartmouth High days when I hear this iconic dance track. Corey absolutely loved this tune, the only guy I knew who enjoyed it more than I did! I can still see him grooving on the dance floor to it. RIP buddy.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

27/100 Video - "Wicked Game" - Chris Izaak (1989)

The sensual video "Wicked Game" by Chris Izaak is a dreamy classic. 

Like all great melancholy numbers, the song is hauntingly beautiful.

And like with every song and video, we will all have our own interpretations.

A dream? Fantasy? A break-up? 

Some of us will see a fantasy world: an extended Calvin Klein commercial.

Others will view it as a heartbreaking break up. 

Pop culture fans will associate this song with Rachel and Ross's date in the museum. And the track is a bit of foreshadowing... if you look at it from Ross's perspective.

Chris Izaak said during an interview that the song is about a strong attraction to somebody that is not necessarily good for you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

28/100 Video - "Sabotage" - The Beastie Boys (1994)

A fusion of rap, rock, punk and metal, "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys is one powerful tune.

The video is worthy of the overused 'epic' descriptor.

More of movie trailer of a long lost cop show from the 70s, the video reels you with its colourful characters, non-stop action and chase scenes. 

Like many viewers, Beavis and Butt-Head were also confused by the whole thing: 

"This is gonna be cool when this video finally comes out," Beavis says. 

The slightly smarter Butt-Head tries to correct him: "This is the real video, dumb-ass."

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

29/100 Video - "Money For Nothing" - Dire Straits (1985)

The innovative video for "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits was one of the first to feature computer-generated animation.

Apparently the characters were supposed to have more detail, like buttons on their shirts, but they used up the budget and had to leave it as is. 

The video was directed by Steve Barron, who describes below how it was an ironic video for MTV.

"The song is damning to MTV in a way. The characters we created were made of televisions, and they were slagging off television. 

Videos were getting a bit boring, they needed some waking up. And MTV went nuts for it. It was like a big advertisement for them."

This clip won Best Video at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

Monday, March 8, 2021

30/100 Video - "Stylo" - Gorillaz (2010)

The video for "Stylo" by Gorillaz is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece.

A band known for musical cameos gives us Bruce Willis this time, playing the role as a badass bounty hunter pursuing the animated Gorillaz characters in a high-speed chase down a desert highway. 

Damon Albarn’s 2D character is wearing the clown mask that the Joker wore in the opening bank robbery scene from The Dark Knight.

After Noodle takes out a cruiser with a shotgun, Willis picks up their scent leading to a furious ride down the highway paced by the bass-heavy electro beat of the song.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

31/100 Video - "Sly" – Massive Attack (1994)

"Sly" by Massive Attack blew my mind since the first listen.

A tasty delicacy for the ears and eyes, the futuristic video could have been the best James Bond theme song that never was.

The psychedelic trippy clip is a fitting complement to the captivating and hypnotic trip hop tune.

The swirling strings and synths amid the video game-esque beat is sublime.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

32/100 Video - "Unfinished Symphony" - Massive Attack (1991)

During the 80s Duran Duran may have set the bar for consistently creating innovative videos.

Then in the 90s came Massive Attack.

Electronic beats and synths meet R & B for the subtle smooth groove of "Unfinished Symphony" by Massive Attack.

In the video, vocalist Shara Nelson walks the streets of Los Angeles, lip synching bittersweet lyrics, uncaring of her surroundings, which include drunks, bikers, and disabled people.

Band members Daddy G, 3D and Mushroom can be spotted at various points a few paces behind, and slightly out of focus.

The clip was shot in a single continuous take, and influenced the creation for the video for "Bittersweet Symphony" released six years later.

Friday, March 5, 2021

33/100 Video - "Barracuda" – Heart (1977)

"Barracuda" by Heart reminds me how much I still love a good solid rock tune.

The music is high tempo and pure power. The guitar and bass chug and churn while lead singer Ann Wilson gives us a career vocal showing off her epic range.

"Barracuda" just may be my favourite concert video; the sheer energy the band brings to this performance is electrifying.

I can't help but watch in awe of how easy they make it all look.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

34/100 Video - "Slave To The Rhythm" - Grace Jones (1985)

I stumbled upon this video the year it was released one Friday night on a late night program. Like really late. In real time, I think I only saw it played twice.

It makes sense.  

"Slave To The Rhythm" by Jamaican-born Grace Jones is one badass video from the 80's. It's adventurous, amusing, bizarre, warm and provocative. 

I'm not going to give away any details, but there over a hundred imaginative clips. Some are things that you make you go "hmmmmm"

You just gotta hit play.

The tune itself is equally stunning, a smooth groove you can dance to or enjoy Trevor Horn's mind-blowing production (also see: Frankie's Welcome to the Pleasure Dome album). 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

35/100 Video - "Space Age Love Song" - A Flock of Seagulls (1982)

The video for "Space Age Love Song" shows off the magic of the 80s (even though technically, Career Opportunities came out in 1991).

Maybe it's the wall of tape cassettes.

Or the holding of hands while roller skating down the aisles.

Is there a video that more wonderfully displays the joy of falling in love?

The lyrics may be pedestrian but their simplicity is authentic, but the synth and guitar riff more than compensate.

Jennifer Connelly is the kind of girl that crushed your first crush.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

36/100 Video - "Ava Adore" - Smashing Pumpkins (1998)

"Ava Adore" by Smashing Pumpkins is a creepy cool, cinematic masterpiece. 

Throughout the video, band members Billy, D'Arcy and James take turns slinking around the screen at various speeds, entering the exiting our field of vision. 

The music video won an award for "most stylish video" at the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards.

Monday, March 1, 2021

37/100 Video - "Right Now" – Van Halen (1992)

I vividly recall watching "Right Now" by Van Halen for the first time. I was in Halifax at Kevin MacNeil's apartment having drinks with friends before a night of clubbing.

When the first sub-titled message "Right now Ed is playing the piano" came on the screen, we became glued to the TV, awaiting each unique message.

The video is a reminder to live in the present, but right now, we are missing the magic of Eddie Van Halen.