Tuesday, January 5, 2021

92/100 Video - "Mama" - Genesis (1983)


If we judge his work solely based on the mid-80s era, it's easy to forget that Phil Collins had a bit of a dark side.

And "Mama" by Genesis may be the trippiest single Phil Collins has ever produced. 

Shot in black and white, the video is on the creepy end of the spectrum. Dark and powerful. But also beautiful and poetic. 

The song's slow menacing buildup is spectacular and Phil's vocals are among his finest.

And Phil is downright terrifying when does his little laugh grunts, as the camera shifts perspective and slides his huge mug closeup, staring, glaring back at us.

The song itself is about a young man obsessed with a prostitute who is not interested in him. Based on a book Phil Collins had read called The Moon's A Balloon, by David Niven, in which a young man falls in love with an older prostitute who does not return his affections.

Monday, January 4, 2021

93/100 Video - "Torture" – The Jacksons (1984)

"Torture" by The Jacksons isn't just a music video. It's also a mini horror movie.

It's so bad, it's good.

Musically, the brothers remind us that there was a lot of talent in the family tree to go around.

But all the brothers didn't make it into the video. MJ had other commitments and Jermaine refused.

Although MJ sings a verse, he doesn't appear in the clip. Edit: there's a wax mannequin of him instead.

Now the video itself is a delicious slice of 80s swagger.

The overuse of cheesy special effects and tropes typically reserved for science-fiction and fantasy movies reflects one helluva budget.

The eye in the middle of the hand. The elaborate costumes. The dancing babe. Giant spiders. Demonic symbolism.

For the grand finale, a group of dancing skeletons steal the show. There's even a moonwalking skeleton.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

94/100 Video - "Yellow" – Coldplay (2000)

The original concept for the video "Yellow" by Coldplay was a party involving the entire band, however 
the funeral of the drummer's mother was held on the day of the video shoot. So, instead of all four members appearing, just singer Chris Martin went to the shoot.

There were apparently a ton of extras kicking around, but Chris grabbed the cameraman and said "let’s just walk down the beach".

The video was shot on a windy, drizzly day on an empty beach in Dorset, England, and shows Chris walking along the shoreline singing to the camera. The clip was taken in one continuous shot, and in slow motion.

The final clip ended up becoming a poignant alternative, and somehow even works better than the original plan.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

95/100 Video - "500 Up" – Sloan (1992)

Early Sloan songs from their debut album are often forgotten, sometimes lost with the success of albums that followed.

In "500 Up", the guys sound and look like they're having such a blast, showing us hints of what to come in the years ahead: alternating vocals, amazing harmonies, tight playing. 

A summer tune about baseball, boys and girls, the band shots are complimented by clips of a yellow chick dressed in a track suit riding a pink convertible.     

I love the breezy innocence of the video with its minimal budget, apparently filmed in the backstreets of New York City. At times the facades of several buildings (I swear I see Park Victoria Apartments in there) remind me of their and my old stomping grounds in Halifax.

Friday, January 1, 2021

96/100 Video - "New Year's Day" - U2 (1983)

While in junior high I tuned into ASN's Atlantic Canada's Choice on Saturday evenings lying down two feet away from the TV.

I recall watching the video for "New Year's Day" in a trance, captivated by this new group riding on horses and playing in an open field, in the middle of winter. 

This is the song that introduced Ireland's U2 to most of us in North America. 

The early U2 sound exuded fire and soul: the Edge's signature 'chugga-chugga' guitar and Bono's passionate vocals are alive and well here. 

Bono convinces us when delivering the chilling "I will be with you again" and "I will begin again" lyrics. 

I would find out later that the lyrics were about persecuted leader of the Polish Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa.

After all these years, "New Year's Day" remains an uplifting song, an anthem of freedom and renewal.

That piano riff that weaves in and out is pure magic.

The video was filmed in December 1982 in Sälen, Sweden, also known for its alpine ski resorts.

Happy New Year!