Tag Archives: Justin Bieber

Billy Squire wrecks his career with ROCK ME TONITE

If you don’t remember Billy the Squire, probably because you weren’t born yet, he was kind of a big deal for a while. A rising star.

Then this video came out and smooshed him faster than you can say Milli Vanilli.

And yes, he started out by getting creative with the spelling of “tonight,” because that’s the revolutionary rebelliousness of a true rock star, though he didn’t go as far as Prince, who uses an entirely different alphabet.

Let’s ask ourselves, for the sake of history: Why was this music video so deadly?

It’s not the music. This isn’t some 11-minute long art film with a soundtrack that some rock star thought would be a killer idea. And yeah, that happens. Somebody gets famous and they think every idea that pops into their head is brilliant.

Close your eyes and listen to the song. It’s not terrible. A decent rocker with nothing to really complain about.

The lyrics aren’t inspired, but they aren’t completely insipid, either. Let’s go with banal.

Here’s the problem: people didn’t have their eyes closed. If this song simply hit the radio, Billy might have kept on rising up and making scads of money.

The visuals are simply awful.

Billy oozes uncool out of every pore. If there’s matter and anti-matter, there’s cool and uncool. Billy does not come off as cool in this video. He doesn’t seem like a cocky, confident rock star. It feels like he’s trying too hard, and failing.

There aren’t that many rock stars who look good dancing. The smart ones keep it low key. Billy Idol doesn’t dance — he pouts and pumps his fist. Bruce Springsteen never really dances. Bono, Sting, even Mick Jagger doesn’t really dance. He does a funky chicken and that’s about it.

Billy the Squire kept trying aerobic instructor moves, which did not look good on film.

When his band finally showed up, I kept swearing they cloned Billy, or shot multiple takes with him playing all the instruments. Every band member but one dude had the same outfit and over-permed hair. IT WAS CONFUSING, and not in a good way.

So all in all, this is an epic train wreck of a video.

Also: Bonus points to whoever digs up what happens to Billy Squire.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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MISSING YOU by John Waite teaches us all about subtext

Here’s a classic song with a video that proves singers should sing, and actors should act.

What’s not to love here?

John Waite‘s hair is pure ’80s gold, with feathery blow-dry action in the front and a sneaky pseudo-mullet in the back. It’s a Don Johnson-punk mullet. Plus he rocks the standard One Dangly Earring look that every lead singer was required to have for about two years.

Adam Ant with the Mandatory One Dangly Earring

Adam Ant with the Mandatory One Dangly Earring

HOWEVER: What’s most interesting to me is how the lyrics clash with the video.

The lyrics avoid being “on the nose,” which is Hollywood screenwriter slang for people saying, or singing, exactly what they mean. Nobody in real life does that. It’s not realistic, not good for a story and not fun for the audience.

People avoid coming out and saying directly what they truly feel.

A hero doesn’t say, “Hey, I’m really scared, and I don’t want to die, so maybe you could drop that gun and let me handcuff you, seeing how I don’t want to get shot or get stuck with piles of paperwork if I shoot you first.” He says, “Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?”

A villain doesn’t say, “Being locked up in this dark basement next to low-level lunatics is beyond boring, and I would rather stick needles in my eye than communicate with these beasts, but pretty young FBI agents are something I never get to see, so I hope you stick around and talk to me for hours, Special Agent.” He says, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

So while the acting and the visuals in the video are completely on the nose, with zero ambiguity or subtlety, the lyrics are great and full of subtext.

John Waite misses his girlfriend / lover / wife, but he doesn’t say, “Hey baby, I miss you a lot, and I’m a wreck, and I wish you’d come back.”

He sings, “I ain’t missing you” and follows that up with “I ain’t missing you at all” and seven other variations of the same thing.

But we know he’s lying.

And that’s what makes this song a classic.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 2 Music Video Monday, Red Pen of Doom, The Big Screen

NOVEMBER RAIN rocks out for an epic nine minutes

These days, Axl Rose is just another rock star who fell off the top. He’s trying to claw his way back up, and yes, taking 5.923 billion years to produce your big solo album, which lands with a thud, isn’t the way to do it.

So I say this not as a fan of Axl Rose, but as a hard-core skeptic: NOVEMBER RAIN is a masterpiece.

No question. Start to finish, it’s brilliant.

Everything comes together: the orchestra, Axl on the piano, Slash wailing on his axe, the drums, it’s all clear as a bell rather than the mush you get with some bands today that’s less Wall of Sound and more I Can’t Tell Which Instruments Are Playing.

Each major instrument gets left to do their part, even the piccolo-whatever, which fits in perfectly.

And yes, this video clocks in at 9-plus minutes but you don’t care, because it is telling a story that fits the music.

Well shot. Well produced. Perfectly put-together. Axl, I salute you and hope you put this on an endless loop in your mansion for six straight days until you get inspired to try something as ambitious, and good, as this.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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SAFETY DANCE by Men Without Hats is insanely classic

This has every element you could possibly want from an ’80s music video:

(1) a thumping synth beat,

(2) a lead singer with a vague accent (Montreal!) who looks like Adam Ant’s less insane cousin,

(3) some kind of ren-fair Hobbity goodness instead of the usual music video of the band preening while they lip-synch and pretend to play instruments,

(4) the best band name I’ve heard in forever, PLUS

(5) as a special bonus packed chock full of irony, nobody, not even the friends of the lead singer who professes his love for dancing, can dance a lick.

I won’t include all the lyrics, because they’re not that complicated or subtle. There’s nothing to interpret here.

HOWEVER: It’s worth dissecting the four lines everybody knows.

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind

‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine

Those lines are so easy to remember because they’re well-built, structurally. The first two lines start the same — “We can” — and have seven syllables exactly. The singer isn’t talking about himself, but “we,” and he gets the audience involved more by making you think of “your friends.”

All the ideas come together. You’ve got three lines of setup for the payoff in the fourth line. It’s short, it’s simple and instead of using rhymes (none of these lines rhyme), the singer links the lines together using concepts and repetition. A nice little interweaving that pays off.

Also: I’ve been crazy busy, and on the road, and crazy busy while on the road. Now back to a sane schedule. If you commented, or sent me secret emails, and I ignored you, it’s not because I banned you to the Purgatory of the Spam Folder or whatever. I like you. Really. Pretend it’s Facebook circa 2007 and poke me again.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

5 Comments

Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

A random duet turns out to be awesomesauce

Kristin Chenoweth likes to do something few performers dare: grab somebody random from the audience and perform a duet.

This can be funny, or so bad it’s good, like karaoke writ large with a big pop star and an audience of 20,000 instead of 14 guys at the Elks Lodge.

In this case, Chenoweth got a shock when Sarah Horn answered the call to “who knows the words to For Good from Glinda?”

Well done. I salute you both.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013).

Google+

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CLARITY by Zedd is ambitious and good

Music videos are common, and have been done so many time, it’s hard to do anything truly different or interesting.

The Beastie Boys played cheesy cops with giant mustaches in SABOTAGE, which is classic. But 99 percent of other music videos are rock stars preening, divas dancing, boy bands prancing or soulful singers looking all pouty and depressed with their guitar.

CLARITY by Zedd has guts and ambition. They shot footage other than the lead singer wailing and the guitarist thrashing. The film looks interesting, like it could be part of a movie — I wanted to see more of what they did out in the desert and the streets.

Well done, German euro-rockers.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013).

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Another musical invasion from the UK: Jessie Ware’s WILDEST MOMENTS

So this Jessie Ware, if you haven’t heard of her, is talented and different and old school mates with some singer named Adele and some other singer named Florence, as in Florence and the Machine.

If you like music, and music videos, you’ll like what she does here.

Many, many rock and pop stars tend to make videos that all look the same, and I mean that both ways: every video they make looks like (a) every other video they’ve ever made and (b) every other video made by similar artists. This has been true since Hair Bands put on their first pair of spandex pants in 1982 and will be true forever.

Jessie the Ware tries something different every time, and here she tries something simple and stark and interesting: just her, a plain background and a swiveling chair.

I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

6 Comments

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Walk Off the Earth blows up GRENADE by Bruno Mars

So I’ve found this genius band from the big honking nation known as Canada — which has provinces where you could fit Texas and Alaska inside and still have room for most European counties — and while WOTE is getting radio airplay know for Red Hands, they’ve done a zillion covers. Here’s the thing: those covers are often better than the originals.

Related: RED HANDS by Walk Off the Earth is music video goodness

Here’s one member of WOTE doing Bruno Mars, all by his lonesome. And he’s just messing around with a loop machine in his guest bedroom or whatever. Brilliant.

The original by Bruno the Mars:

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

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Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

RED HANDS by Walk Off the Earth is music video goodness

So I heard this song on the radio about 5,092 gazillion times, and still liked it, and wondered, “Who’s singing a duet with the lead singer of Aerosmith, who has to be 94 years old by now?”

But it’s not Aerosmith; it’s a band called Walk Off the Earth, and I instantly recognized them for something else. Hold that thought.

Here’s the video:

So where had I heard them before? Hadn’t. I’d seen them before, doing an incredible cover of Gotye with all five band members singing different parts while playing the SAME GUITAR.

Brilliant.  It must have taken days of practice and a zillion retakes to get this in one shot.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

6 Comments

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Music video madness: HURRICANE by MS MR

Most of the time, it takes a bit for a song to grow on you. Listen to it once on the radio and yeah, that’s alright. Second time, it’s good. Third time, you’re into it.

I liked this song — and this video — instantly. First time. And I have nothing to really dissect or pick on, which is nice.

Well done, MS MR.

Lyrics:

Didn’t know what this would be
But I knew I didn’t see
What you thought
You saw in me

I jumped the gun
So sure you’d split and run
Ready for the worst
Before the damage was done

The storm never came
Or it never was
Didn’t know getting lost in the blue
It meant I wound up losing you

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this
I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart
Hurricane

What’s wrong with me
Why not understand and see
I never saw
What you saw in me

Keep my eyes open
My lips sealed
My heart closed
And my ears peeled

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart
Hurricane

Make ash and leave the dust behind
Lady diamond in the sky
Wild light
Glowing bright
To guide me
When I fall
I fall on tragedy

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart
Hurricane

 

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Music Video Monday