Student makes insanely great 007-style musical opener for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

007 intro to empire strikes back

Star Wars – Episode V “The Empire Strikes Back” Homage (Title Sequence) from KROFL on Vimeo.

This is a special kind of music video: a blockbuster title sequence song, made famous by the James Bond movies, though you see them with other big-budget monsters.

Except this one was created by college student Kurt Rauffer, who should immediately pack a suitcase, get on a metal tube filled with explosives and fly to Hollywood, where they’ll give him stacks of green paper to work this magic for IRON MAN 4: ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. CHEWS ALL THE SCENERY.

The music is a piece Radiohead recorded for a Bond movie (but wasn’t used), so yeah, it’s perfect.

More perfect: the tone and graphics are spot-on. Couldn’t improve upon this if we tried.

Well played, Kurt the Rauffer, if that’s your real name. Give is moar moar MOAR.

The four secret purposes of music videos

DOWNTOWN by Macklemore

Why do music videos still exist now that MTV is dead?

The old answer, back in the day, was a simple formula:

(a) Band makes a music video

(b) Gives said video, free, to MTV, which plays videos 24/7, causing

(c) Everybody profits, with MTV getting bazillions in TV ads for broadcasting free content while the band sells bazillions of obscure artifacts that archeologists call “tapes” and “CD’s.”

Today is different. High school and college students today don’t buy tapes or CD’s, though for some reason they do spend real dollars on an even more obsolete technology involving massive vinyl platters created by musicians who retired long before they were born.

Today, the reasons for music videos are subtle and mysterious, given that MTV—after a corporate retreat that must have involved industrial amounts of alcohol, peyote and stupidity—stopped running free music videos 24/7 and decided to give the world Snooki, the Situation and Real Teen Moms or whatever.

Why make music videos? Here are the secret reasons no one will tell you, because I’m making them up right now:

1) Name ID is everything

Say you’re a rock band, and just starting out, as in “we just got our first gig!” means playing at your cousin’s wedding in exchange for two cases of Alaskan Amber.

To become famous, nationally, you could spend $10,000 a month on a top rock publicist and run a national ad campaign about your latest album and concert tour. Except you don’t have $5 million to even attempt such a thing. If the drummer sells his VW van, you might have $565, which could hire you a college PR student who’d write three press releases and make you a Twitter account.

Videos on YouTube, though, can give you a global audience—if you’re willing to do anything to get publicity.

Quality doesn’t always matter with music videos. Shoot the thing in grainy black-and-white, or out of focus, and people will think your brand is gritty and authentic instead of slick and corporate.

For any sort of band or singer looking to break in, name ID is the whole shooting match, and music videos are perhaps the easiest way to get your face and songs out there.

Underdogs can’t produce slick, amazing videos like today’s stars and don’t have the experience of one-time stars making comeback attempts.

Standing out, as an underdog, means taking gigantic risks on a tiny budget.

Nobody did this better than Ylvis with WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?

2) To get their film groove on

Ever notice that pro athletes want to be movie stars, movie stars want to be rock stars and rock stars want to be pro athletes or movie stars?

Well, rock stars also want to be actors.

Filming an artistic music video, a mini-film, lets them live that fantasy.

It’s also fan service.

If you’re a 30 Seconds to Mars fanatic, putting the song on your iTunes playlist is one thing. A new music video from Jared Leto, though, is an event. He’s an amazing actual Hollywood actor, so it’s not a shock his videos are amazing.

THE KILL is a great example of music video as short film.

NOVEMBER RAIN is another classic, running more than 9 minutes without boring the audience one bit.

Honorable mention, because they get the whole KILL BILL vibe perfect: Iggy in BLACK WIDOW and every single video Macklemore has done or ever will do.

3) To achieve perfection and therefore immortality

In the studio, you can re-record tracks and mix a song for weeks until it’s perfect.

On a concert stage, visual elements let you put on a real show, though you have to pick between the stale, cold and impersonal perfection of lip syncing or the energy of imperfect live singing while you try to dance and not flub the high notes.

Music videos give you the best of both worlds: perfect sound plus perfect visuals.

UPTOWN FUNK nails this. Amazing sound and a nice variety of visuals. It’s a show.

4) To send a message

Typically, rock stars trying to do message-y videos come on too strong, and it feels like a lecture.

They’re at their best when they don’t try to be politicians—when you can tell this is something they wrote and care about, not lyrics from a paid songwriter matched with beats from a producer.

NOT READY TO MAKE NICE by the Dixie Chicks is my favorite protest / message video.

5) To make money

How does a band make money by putting music videos online for free?

Because nobody really sells albums and songs in 2015, not when your average 7-year-old has the tech skills to go online and download songs for free.

Even the biggest stars make most of their money from selling concert tickets and merchandise. Sure, some make royalties whenever Spotify and Pandora plays their stuff, or cash in for millions by selling tunes for tv ads by Toyota selling Tundras.

Concerts, though, are today’s cash cow.

Katy Perry nails this, giving people a taste of what her concerts would be like in every video: costume changes, dancing sharks, fireworks and Katy Perry flying around the stadium.

GANGNAM STYLE by Psy stands out as one of the best music videos every for getting people to become interested in seeing him live. You see this and think yeah, that guy will put on a show. I’d pay money to see him live.

U2 did this in epic style with WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME, as the band shot their music video on a rooftop in downtown LA while the cops tried to shut it down in real life. You get a gritty feel for what they’d be like, up close. I’ve seen U2 in concert and that feeling is real.

A random duet turns out to be awesomesauce

music video meme sound of music

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?”

CLARITY by Zedd is ambitious and good

music video meme sound of music

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.

DESERT ROSE by Sting

music video meme sound of music

No matter what you think of Sting — and you should think VERY WELL of him — he’s never boring.

This video is part travelogue, part concert-montage. And it has yet to bore me.

ICE, ICE BABY as sung by the movies

music video meme sound of music

Oh, this is brilliant. The classic ’90s song by Vanilla Ice, as sung by clips from various movies.

For fans of this song, I took the original and put it under the lyrical microscope, line by line:
ICE, ICE BABY as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Let Jessie Ware turn out your NIGHT LIGHT

music video meme sound of music

Jessie the Ware is British and therefore can make things like “That’s all kinds of rubbish” sound incredibly smart and cultured. I believe, deep in my soul, that everyone should be required to pick between a British or Irish accent.

Either way, her songs and videos are interesting. Jessie never takes the safe way out. She’s not afraid to try something new with every video. For that, I salute you, Jessie the Ware. .

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

music video meme sound of music

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.

Walk Off the Earth blows up GRENADE by Bruno Mars

music video meme sound of music

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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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.
Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

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

DON’T YOU WANT ME by The Human League

This is one of the first music videos to feature some sort of story.

You know, a plot instead of (a) the lead singer emoting into the microphone while (b) the rest of the band pretends to play their instruments for the 45th time until (c) the director finally calls it good.

Because this is a piece of epic music history, 12 years from now, somebody will write their doctoral thesis on it. If you are that person, please research whether the female lead’s hairdo was an accidental homage to Princess Diana or totally on purpose. Kthxbai.

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN by Elle Goulding is completely bonkers

I have heard this song on the radios, and over the Series of Tubes through some kind of Pandora magic, though Pandora is missing her Box for some reason.

HOWEVER: The point is, this song by Elle the Goulding is interesting plus the video is craaazy.

Which is good.

Because the last thing the world needs is another boring music video where (a) the band rocks out on stage while playing their guitars and such, because that has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE, or (b) the singer pretends to sing while doing a choreographed dance number with 592 backup dancers and 17 costume changes.

I give Elle the Goulding bonus points for trying something different.

Simple and impressive: The Finnish Whistler

Now, I enjoy dissecting the lyrics of insane music videos, such as ICE, ICE BABY — but once and a great while, there’s a music video that comes out of nowhere, like a burly mountain man stomping through town with a giant axe on his shoulder and a hankering for Insane Amounts of Flapjacks — and this is one such video that surprised and amused me.

Also, it has no lyrics to dissect at all, unless I speak bird. Which I don’t. If you can translate, go for it.

Also-also: This would be a perfect song for some kind of spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood, though I mean the younger version of about 30 years ago, before he starting picking fights with empty chairs.

HO HEY by The Lumineers

music video meme sound of music

This is a simple little song with a simple little video that still manages to ROCK THE HOUSE.

Also, I don’t really hear much of a difference between the Ho! and the Hey! parts, but hey, that’s artistic license and such.

Also-also: There’s something of a trend of Mumford and Son types, musicians wearing suspenders while playing folksy rock that involves (a) a banjo, (b) a bass and (c) harmonicas or whatever.

This is a good thing, though it will certainly snowball into some kind of trend where record executives start signing up folks bands with accordians instead of amplifiers faster than an aspiring writer can tell you about their YA series that is NOT inspired — they swear — by Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, because they have a school of witches, not wizards, and the zombies show up on page 392.

Also-cubed: As for the controversy over whether The Lumineers (original band name: The Night Lights) are singing “You’re my sweetheart” or “You’re my sweet home” — the answer is, “sweet heart.”

Here’s the video. Watch it. DO IT NOW, because YouTube / the Google needs your clicks and money or whatever before their stock starts doing the Facebook nosedive.

For word nerds around the world, the lyrics:

(Ho!) I’ve been trying to do it right
(Hey!) I’ve been living a lonely life
(Ho!) I’ve been sleeping here instead
(Hey!)I’ve been sleeping in my bed,
(Ho!) sleeping in my bed (Hey!)
(Ho!)

(Ho!) So show me family
(Hey!) Or the blood that I would bleed
(Ho!) I don’t know where I belong
(Hey!) I don’t know where I went wrong
(Ho!) But I can write a song
(Hey!)

I belong with you, you belong with me
You’re my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me
You’re my sweet

(Ho!)
(Hey!)
(Ho!)
(Hey!)

(Ho!) I don’t think you’re right for him
(Hey!) Leave the world it might have been
(Ho!) Took a bus to china town
(Hey!) I’ll be standing on canal
(Ho!) And bowery (hey!)
(Ho!) She’d be standing next to me (hey!)

I belong with you, you belong with me
You’re my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me
You’re my sweetheart

And love, we need it now
Let’s hope for some
Cause oh, we’re bleeding out

I belong with you, you belong with me
You’re my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me
You’re my sweetheart

(Hey!)
(Ho!)
(Hey!)

TAKE A WALK by Passion Pit

music video meme sound of music

A band I’ve never heard of with an interesting song and great camera work.

Not too shabby, Passion Pit — not to shabby at all.

For all you word nerds, here are the lyrics:

All these kind of places
Make it seems like it’s been ages
Tomorrow some new building will scrape the sky
I love this country dearly
I can feel the ladder clearly
But I never thought I’d be alone to try

Once I was outside Penn station
Selling red and white carnations
We were still alone
My wife and I
Before we marry, save my money
Brought my dear wife over
Now I work to bring family state side

But off the boat they stayed a while and
Scattered across the coast
Once a year I’ll see them for a week or so at most
I took a walk

Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, oh-oh-oh
Take a walk, oh-oh-oh
I took a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk

Practice isn’t perfect
But the market cuts the loss
I remind myself that times could be much worse
My wife won’t ask me questions
There’s not so much to ask
And she’ll never flaunt around an empty purse

Once my mother-in-law came
Just to stay a couple nights
And decided she would stay the rest of her life
I watch my little children
Play some board game in the kitchen
And I sit and pray they never feel my strife

But then my partner called to say the pension funds were gone
He made some bad investments
Now the accounts are overdrawn

I took a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, oh-oh-oh
Take a walk, 0h-oh-oh
I took a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk

Honey it’s your son I think I borrowed just too much
We had taxes we had bills
We had a lifestyle to front
And tonight I swear I’ll come home
And we’ll make love like we’re young
And tomorrow you’ll cook dinner
For the neighbors and their kids
We could rip apart those socialists
and all their damn taxes
You’ll see I am no criminal
I’m down on both bad knees
I’m just too much a coward
to admit when I’m in need

I took a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, oh-oh-oh
Take a walk, 0h-oh-oh
I take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
I took a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
I took a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk
Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk

TOO CLOSE by Alex Clare

music video meme sound of music

Bad fight choreography, great song.

Maybe, just maybe, somebody saw FROM YESTERDAY by 30 Seconds to Mars and said hey, we can’t afford to fly a crew to China and hire 500 extras to make a mini-movie masterpiece. But we do know two dudes who just started taking kendo.

Lyrics for TOO CLOSE:

You know I’m not one to break promises
I don’t want to hurt you but I need to breathe
At the end of it all you’re still my best friend
But there’s something inside that I need to release

Which way is right, which way is wrong
How do I say that I need to move on?
You know we have is separate way

And it feels like I am just too close to love you
There’s nothing I can really say
I can’t lie no more, I can’t hide no more
Got to be true to myself

And it feels like I am just too close to love you so I’ll be on my way

You gave me more that I can return
Yet there’s so much that you deserve
Nothing to say, nothing to do
I’ve nothing to give
I must leave without you
You know we have to separate

And it feels like I am just too close to love you
There’s nothing I can really say
I can’t lie no more, I can’t hide no more
Got to be true to myself

And it feels like I am just too close to love you so I’ll be on my way
So I’ll be on my way
And it feels like I am just too close to love you
There’s nothing that I can really say
I can’t lie no more, I can’t hide no more
Got to be true to myself

And it feels like I am just too close to love you so I’ll be on my way
So I’ll be on my way, so I’ll be on my way

Music Video Monday: GANGNAM STYLE by Psy

music video meme sound of music

So, I usually find great music videos and go at them with a literary scalpel, like a first-year biology student going after his first frog — or I take insane music videos and make fun of them.

Each method is equally rewarding.

HOWEVER: Sometimes, a random music video pops up that is not one of the pure forms. It’s not insane, insipid or inscrutable. Nor is it beautiful in the standard way.

Every once and a while, something pops up that is both insane AND great.

Like this piece from South Korea, which also proves the point that attitude trumps all. The singer isn’t conventionally good looking. He’s short and out of shape. But oh, he’s got swagger, and it makes him far more charming than a boy-band member with perfect abs who tries very, very hard not to get a hair out of place while he croons.

Typically, I interpret the lyrics of videos. Not this time. Just watch and enjoy.

THE KILL by 30 Seconds to Mars

In my quest to play more music videos than MTV, here’s the latest installment of Music Video Monday.

Jared Leto is the frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars, and he was an actor first. He also directs these music videos, which is why the band’s videos rock so hard. (If you read the credits, the director has a silly name. Post a comment, whoever sees that name first.)

So: here’s the video, which obviously pays deep homage to THE SHINING.