TAKE ME TO CHURCH by Hozier is film-noir goodness

music video meme sound of music

Here’s the acid test, for me: I drive MANY MILES each day, listening to the radios, and if a song is good, I don’t care who sings it.

Only then do I check out the music video, and maybe blog about it on the WordPress machines.

TAKE ME TO CHURCH rocks on the radio.

However, having watched 4,092 bazillion music videos in my life, including a brief period where MTV actually played music videos, I’ve learned not to expect much from the actual video part, except for (a) boy bands dancing, (b) pop divas dancing in front of backup dancers who are far better at the dancing thing, (c) rock stars trying dance with the microphone stand or (d) hipster bands trying to be artsy and deep while mostly being bizarre.

Good music videos are rare.

I’m not talking “Bigfoot is in my backyard and I shot thirty minutes of film of him playing with my dog” kind of rare.

No. I’m talking about “Snooki is at a philosophy conference at Yale, presenting a paper on Nietzsche” rare.

So here are two music videos, both black-and-white, and both surprises.

First up is Hozier, the one from the headline. Great song on the radio, different and strong. The video makes it ever better, wonderfully shot in true film-noir style, it’s not afraid to have a non-Hollywood ending. Well played, Hozier.

The second song and video is also black-and-white and the same kind of slow burn. Had no idea who sang it when it played on the radio. Good stuff, full of pain and longing, and not your usual “baby baby” bubblegum pop nonsense with a guest rapper to give it some grit and soul. (How many times can pop stars go to that well? Apparently, forever.)

This second video shocked me by being by Selena Gomez, not known for this sort of song. And yes, she looks like every bartender in the world would card her, and the song is about Justin Bieber, who simply needs to go away. Despite those handicaps, which are huge, it works. So let’s give it props. Watch and listen.

 

Video

Sam Smith makes a sweet short film out of I KNOW I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE

Well shot. Well acted. It’s an itty bitty movie, people.

Your typical music video about a man stepping out on his wife has the woman scorned (a) trashing that cheater’s Beemer after (b) she gives away all his Armani suits to Goodwill and (c) the ending has her slapping him while he (d) sadly spots the FOR SALE sign next to all his other worldly possession currently being burned in the front yard.

Sam the Smith avoids the Hollywood ending and gives us ambiguity. Will she stay or leave? How long will the masquerade last?

Now, there are little things to nitpick. Sam is a man with a great deep voice, and this is shot with the female actress being the one cheated on, so that does start out a little odd. Also, Sam’s rocking a haircut that’s very, I don’t know, British. HOWEVER: you can always scratch at itty bitty details.

Overall, this music video stands out for great cinematography, which most bands can’t even spell, with great acting and the guts to avoid a Hollywood ending, even if they hired all kinds of Hollywood talent to pull this off.

I tip my hat to Sam the Smith and pray to the music gods that he makes more like this, if only to counter the effects of new One Direction videos.

Harry Potter hops on the Tonight Show and absolutely nails ALPHABET AEROBICS by Blackalicious

Daniel Radcliffe is (a) rocking a beard, and doing it well, and (b) can spit with the best of them. Seriously.

He didn’t do something quick and easy. Daniel the Radcliffe went on The Tonight Show and nailed an insanely fast and hard rap, by heart, no cue cards or teleprompter. Bam.

The only thing he didn’t do was drop the mike.

This reminds me of Chris Pratt, star of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, randomly doing some old-school Eminem on a radio show. Brilliant.

What star has surprised you by actually being able to sing? (Hugh Jackman doesn’t count. Too easy. Also, Pierce Brosnan, God bless him, should not have sung on that ABBA movie. Big mistake.)

###

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 and is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

BLACK WIDOW pays excellent homage to KILL BILL

music video meme sound of music

Music videos tend to come in a few generic flavors: (a) pop divas singing with backup-dancers, (b) boy bands singing while serving as their own backup dancers and (c) rockers howling while they sort of dance. For variety, musicians sometimes (d) try to get deep and artsy by filming their video in black-and-white. Whoa.

Truly different music videos are rare.

The exception: 30 SECONDS TO MARS rocks at almost every music video they do, but that’s because Jared Leto is a legit Hollywood actor who knows how to make big honking movies, much less short films. The man has an Oscar and such.

So whatever you think of Iggy, she does put effort into her music videos. FANCY was a nice riff on the movie CLUELESS, and now she pays homage (hipsters: go fight about how to pronounce that word) to the classic KILL BILL movies.

This is all good movie-music karma, since KILL BILL has one of the most epic soundtracks of all time.

 

This is not a photo, I kid you not

random thursday crazy kittteh meme

Listen: I know enough about photography to be dangerous. (See related posts: The Nikon D-50 of Infinite Beauty and Pieces of the World)

HOWEVER: shooting great photos with a Nikon of Infinite Beauty is insanely simple compared to what this man did with an iPad, his finger and talent on loan from the gods.

The artist is Kyle Lambert of the United Kingdom.

Great writing tips from reddit, of all places

writing meme spiderman dear diary

Oh, there’s gold buried in here. 

Scroll through this post on writing and you’ll find all sorts of useful bits.

If a writer is Cookie Monster, this reddit thread is your Ginormous Chocolate Chip Cookie.
If a writer is Cookie Monster, this reddit thread is your Ginormous Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Wonderful stuff. Also, reddit is the rabbit hole of the Series of Tubes and always, always entertaining.

HANDLEBARS by Flobots deserves some kind of award

music video meme sound of music

I’ll happily write about a music video if the lyrics are interesting, if the song is great — or the music video tells a story.

Gentle readers, we have hit the trifecta.

These lyrics are interesting, the song is great and the video tells a powerful story.

THE SONG

Thought it was Cake, by the voice and the horns. But no, it’s some band called FlobotsNot the best name. Makes me think of an android version of Flo from the Geico commercials, and I don’t want rock bands selling me insurance. HOWEVER: the name is irrelevant if the lyrics are interesting and the video rocks.

THE VIDEO

The usual music video features (1) the band lip-syncing and pretending to play instruments in three different locations with six different costume changes, (2) the lead singer mouthing the words while trying to look cool in sunglasses and slo-mo or (3) all kinds of backup dancers going crazy behind the lead singer.

Instead, we’ve got a music video that doesn’t feature the band AT ALL.

This video tells an actual story, with a beginning, a middle and end. There are setups and payoffs, private stakes and public stakes.

I could geek out about it in a story sense. If professors can base college courses on Star Trek, or Madonna’s cheesy videos, then somebody could use this video do to a flipping dissertation.

Also, the style is great. Reminds me of all the stuff from the Animatrix, which was 9.942 bazillion times better than THE MATRIX: RELOADED and THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS — or whatever the second and third stupid parts of that trilogy were called.

Would I see THE MATRIX again? Sure, anytime. Brilliant movie. Could you shower me with enough purple euros to watch the two sequels again? No. Purple euros would have to join forces with alcohols.

Bottom line: the technical term for this music video is “awesomesauce.”

THE LYRICS

The words are worthy and don’t need a lot of red penning, either to interpret or poke fun. These lyrics abide.

If you’re any kind of writer, or student of the English language, you can take these apart and smile at how they work. Enjoy.

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
Hands in the air like its good to be
Alive and I’m a famous rapper
Even when the paths are all crookedy
I can show you how to dosey doe
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Ericson
I know all the words to “De Colores”
And “I’m proud to be an American”
Me and my friends saw a platypus
Me and my friends made a comic book
And guess how long it took
I can do anything that I want ’cause look

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome
No metronome
I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone
On the telephone

Look at me, look at me
Just called to say that its good to be
Alive in such a small world
I’m all curled up with a book to read
I can make money open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine
I can design an engine
64 miles to the gallon on gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computer survive aquatic
Conditions I know how to run the business
And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the systems
I can do anything with no resistance ’cause

I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone
And I can split the atoms of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule

Look at me, look at me
Driving and I won’t stop
And it feels so good to be alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can handout a million vaccinations
Or let em all die from exasperation
Have ’em all healed from their lacerations
Or have em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don’t like them
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command because

I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite
And I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope

And I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

One second, every day, for one year

This is shockingly fun to watch and interesting.

Without trying to tell a story, this man tells a story.

I tip my hat to you, Mr. One Second Every Day — well done, sir. Well done.

The great thing: anybody with a smart phone can do this, and do it well.

Writers: can you do it in FOUR WORDS?

That’s the acid test for every writer: four words.

If somebody in line with you for the Largest Latte Known to Man asks what you’re working on, can you explain it in four words?

How about eight words?

Because if you can’t, you’re not really done.

What if I told you ... how to get to Sesame Street?

And I don’t care that you’ve spent the last seven years locked away in a French monastery, slaving away 25 hours a day, eight days a week to perfect (a) The Great American Novel, Even Though It Was Written in France, (b) the movie script that will turn Hollywood on its ear and stop it from spending $250 million apiece on Michael Bay explosion-fests involving robots that transform into cars or whatever  or (c) a punk-rock masterpiece with song after song with lyrics so beautiful, and rebelliously ugly, that anyone who listens to it quits working for The Man and buys an electric Fender so they can learn the only three chords you need to know to become AN INSANE ROCK GOD.

So let’s get down to it. If you haven’t already, read these posts to get all educated and such, even though it is technically cheating — because today, there is a quiz.

Writing secret: Light as air, strong as whiskey, cheap as dirt

Writers, we are doing it BACKWARDS

Writing secret: all you need is CURIOSITY and SURPRISE

THE MOTHER OF ALL LOGLINE QUIZZES

Loglines, which, if you weren’t paying attention, are short little summaries of movies and books and such.

There are two ways to score this quiz, the first involving length and the second quality.

Four words or less gets you an A, five words is a B and so forth.

Quality is subject, but even if your logline is insanely brilliant, anything over eight words gets a big fat F, and F that glows in the dark and follows you around for a week like a bad cold or a moldy metaphor, which is like a simile, but different.

Sidenote: If you are a Literary Muffin of Stud, go ahead and share your brilliant answers in the comments. Then we’ll talk smack.

Sidenote on the side of that sidenote: If you are a shy lurker, as 99.9 percent of writers are, print this and scribble your answers, then share your brilliant answers somewhere, with somebody. Because it’s time you stopped being a shy lurker writer type. YOUR HEAD WILL NOT EXPLODE. Maybe you’ll even make a friend over the Series of Tubes and such, fall in love, get married and move to a former dairy farm in Vermont or whatever. These things have happened.

Quiz Part 1) Write a logline for your favorite movie, but turn the villain into the hero without changing the story.

Example

STAR WARS:  Wise ruler fights to stop murderous rebels, who keep blowing up invaluable public property.

Shot the length rule to bits there. Let’s shorten it to five words.

STAR WARS: Wrinkled leader battles murderous rebels.

There we go. I like it. Could have nailed four words if we smited “wrinkled,” but I don’t care.

Bonus, because we hit five words and give ourselves an A++ and such: Palpatine’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.

Quiz Part 2) Take your current project — movie, novel, performance art piece involving a dance number that expresses your feelings about unemployment — and write a logline making fun of it.

Go ahead. Have at it.

It’s more fun than you’d expect.

Quiz Part 3) Write five fresh loglines by twisting or rewriting stupid books and movies that had promise, then took all that promise and blew it to pieces with The 12-gauge of Utter Stupidity.

Examples

MATRIX REVOLUTIONS: Man wins war against robot enslavers.

Six words. It’s a better plot, because not Keanu “Whoah” Reeves doesn’t sacrifice his life to play virus cleaner for the robots, therefore protecting the status quo and ensuring a cycle of endless war and nuttiness. His death actually changes things with this logline. But six words is still too long.

MATRIX REVOLUTIONS: Man frees mankind from robots.

Five words. Too many “mans” in there. Where’s Trinity and such? But it’s better.

ONE SHOT: Tom Cruise is a foot too short to play Reacher.

Yes, I am a bad man. The trailer still looks awful. Couldn’t they find some short actors to play the thugs who Tom Cruise beats up? It looks like junior high bullies hassling a second-grader for his lunch money.

ONE DAY: Man meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back.

That’s the standard plot for every romantic comedy ever, but it’s also 1,398 times better than the actual plot of ONE DAY where man meets girl, man loses girl, man loses girl again, man finally marries girl, girl gets RANDOMLY PANCAKED BY A TRUCK, man is sad, roll credits.

TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON OR WHATEVER: Magic robots leave Earth, because why would magic robots need our lame technology and such anyway? Also, Megan Fox buys a pair of pants.

I’m cheating again, though it is fun. Alright, TRANSFORMERS 3: Robot war obliterates Earth.

Much better. Also, it’s right up the alley of Michael Bay, who loves nothing more than blowing up stuff anyway.

SAME LOVE by Macklemore

My friend Max (short for Maxima, though if it were short for Maximus that would also be cool in a GLADIATOR way) has introduced me to Macklemore.

He’s a Seattle rapper famous for the THRIFT STORE song and video, which is worth an entirely post by itself.

I’d heard Macklemore’s songs on the radio and such, but not the music videos, seeing how MTV doesn’t play vids anymore because, you know, wall-to-wall Jersey Shore nonsense and such. Snooki needs her screen time.

This video is long and courageous and well done.

I salute you, Macklemore, for having the range to do a hilarious romp like THRIFT STORE and the guts to do this quiet little beauty.