Friday, April 2, 2021

5/100 Video - "The Perfect Kiss" - New Order (1985)


New Order are often best known for their unique blend of rock and electronica, and in my opinion, "The Perfect Kiss" is the best high-end example of their trademark sound. 

The video is a 10-and-half minute epic and a must-see. 

In the mid-80s, the band was known for avoiding making videos, music media interviews and for not being on their album covers. Here the 4 members are awkwardly revealed, notably the first two minutes of this intimate and claustrophobic performance video where there's no place to hide. And does the music ever shine.

Directed by the late great Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), the video shows close-ups of the four band members playing various instruments. 

Although all four are bringing it, I think the excellent bass work is Peter Hook's finest moment.

The video also demonstrates how the group excelled at constructing a song piece by piece until it becomes a cohesive whole.

The diverse instrumentation and versatile musicianship is clearly on display:

- lead singer Bernard Sumner plays cow bells (along with usual lead guitar)
- bassist Peter Hook plays the drum machine
- the (usual) drummer Stephen Morris plays keys
- Gillian does her magic on the synths

The song has several intoxicating builds until a thrilling two-minute-long bass and synth finale wraps up one of the most exhilarating climaxes ever produced.

"The Perfect Kiss" also features samples of Amazonian tree frogs croaking and sheep bleating.

The music is complex yet the quartet look to be barely breaking a sweat. They were good.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

6/100 Video - "Around the World" - Daft Punk (1997)

I sometimes struggle with remembering lyrics, even to my favourite songs.

But I always remember the melody, the rhythm and the beat.

I guess you could say I prefer action over words.

In this video, it's all about movement representing the individual parts of the music.

The video "Around the World" by Daft Punk takes creativity to another dimension.

The choreography of each group of dancers matches a different instrument in the mix. 

Bass Guitar - Tall Grey Men

Drums - Mummies

Synth - Swimsuit Girls

Second Guitar - Skeletons

Vocals - Robots

And the characters walking around in circles are represented by parts of the music not being played.

Cinematic genius.

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?