Corey Feldman’s live performance on the TODAY show was supposed to be a big opening for his new album, Angelic to the Core, and yes, that is punny.
You may remember Corey from his career as a child actor: The Goonies, Gremlins, Stand By Me, The Lost Boys and five zillion other movies and TV shows.
But now, he’s going to be remembered for this performance on live national television.
Reason No. 5: The Angels
There are two real choices in the big, famous music scene: a real band where everybody contributes–or a famous singer with a rotating cast of backup musicians and dancers.
Corey at least is trying to give his backup musicians a theme and identity. It’s just not quite right, as if he watched some Robert Palmer and decided to run with that theme, except all they had at the Party Store were some angel wings and sexy nurse costumes.
This is another solid music video by Macklemore, who’s smart for (a) giving Ryan Lewis co-billing, (b) constantly trying new things with music videos and (c) now experimenting with a different kind of tour.
Instead of doing the smart thing in terms of economics, which is to tour giant cities playing in giant arenas to maximize profits, Macklemore’s latest tour is completely local, with gigs in tiny venues around his home state of Washington.
He’s coming to my little county, to Olympia, Spokane, all over.
And tickets are cheap ($21 or so) instead of the usual $100+ for a big name like Macklemore.
This is pure fan service, in the best way possible.
There aren’t many international music stars who’d chose to make less money by playing to small crowds in small towns.
Thank you, Macklemore—though the concerts in my backyard are sold out (they all sold out, statewide), I know my friends and neighbors are excited that you’re doing this.
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.
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.
Macklemore is a Seattle treasure, a smart artist who figured out his producer, Ryan Lewis, is the secret to success–so he gives Ryan credit and co-billing all the time.
I’ve seen Macklemore’s old videos, before he partnered up with Ryan, and you could see the talent and imagination. It just wasn’t quite there. Ryan Lewis gave him polish and took him over the top.
Three things I love about DOWNTOWN:
1) Guest star goodness
Every video, Macklemore and Ryan find new guest singers.
This time, they brought in old-school rappers and made a star out of Eric Nally, who’s been around a while and for some reason never took off. He will now.
Ryan’s amazing at this. I’ve watched videos of other guest singers, and they sounded good in their original videos. Ryan made them sound like angels. It’s a gift.
2) Unafraid to be epic
Conventional wisdom says to keep your song short and radio-friendly. The longer the song, the less likely you’ll get played.
This video is long, different and daring.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis aren’t afraid to take chances with music videos, to swing hard, knowing they’ll miss sometimes.
They’re also smart enough to take things that should be lame–like thrift shops and mopeds–and turn them hip. That takes talent.
3) Local gems
Macklemore travels around the Northwest to shoot his videos, this time in Spokane, where I lived for a few years.
Most of this is shot downtown. Spokane has a great downtown, including Riverfront Park, and I hear Macklemore used local actors, dancers and extras.
This is smart. Who wouldn’t be excited about a music video being shot in your town, and having the chance to be in it?
Verdict: Macklemore keeps coming up with excellent music videos. THRIFT SHOP and SAME LOVE are classics. This is another good one, well-thought out and executed. If MTV still played music videos instead of Jersey Shore marathons, they’d have this running all the time.
This is about why lectures never work, poetry is powerful, even instrumental music can make you cry and the humble, silly music video can be one of the most devastating weapons of persuasion and change on this little rock orbiting a ginormous burning ball of nuclear fusion and fire.
1) Lectures never work
If you have a toddler, or a teenager, or are married, you are well aware of this fact.
Lectures are basically journalism, writing or speaking to inform. If your purpose is to persuade, journalism and lectures won’t do the job.
It’s common to hear, “If I just had more TIME to explain the facts, they’d understand and agree with me.”
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.