Usually, I will (a) find an obscure and bizarre music video, (b) make fun of famous bands with famously bad videos, or (c) delight in the discovery of something musical that is unique and amazing.
The world is too crazy right now. Making fun of things, even when it is deserved, doesn’t sit right with me today.
As a former journalist, I still love the news. The only stories I want to read right now are about Ukraine, in the hopes that they defend their country and can rebuild and live in peace again. (Some of you know what I’m talking about: liveuamap.com, the Kyiv Independent, and understandingwar.org)
So I’m running into video after video of music from Ukraine, by ordinary people and soldiers, that moves me far more than any bazillion dollar extravaganza by whatever diva or boy band is hot right now.
This is the one that I keep watching.
What do I like?
I like how it starts as simply and slowly as you can, one woman singing alone, no music whatsoever.
I like how the other people come behind her and join in, and how the power of the chorus grows.
I like the feeling behind the words in a language I don’t understand.
And I like these people, fighting for their home, and for democracy.
In the old days, back when MTV actually played music videos, it took some doing to shoot, edit, and release a music video. You needed a serious film camera, an editor, lights, an actual band, and a platform where people could see it. Thus, MTV.
In the ’80s–and even today–there are music videos shot by Hollywood directors and budgets in the millions.
Yet these days, we all carry supercomputers in our pockets, and fool with an iPhone can shoot a video and edit it on their laptop.
That doesn’t mean they should, or that it will be good.
Which brings us to RED DRESS by Sarah Brand, which is dividing the musical world. Is it horrible, intentionally horrible, or disguised brilliance, with the singer trolling us to boost her name ID before she releases her real music?
There are comments in the YouTube that try to explain this is “microtonal music,” and amazing, while vocal coaches and other smart people say that’s nonsense and that when she was asked what key this song is in, Sarah replied, “All of them.”
Here, watch this thing so we can properly discuss and dissect it.
What say you?
I believe, deep in my soul, that the evidence clearly points to Sarah Brand as being deadly serious about this, and not trolling us at all.
This wasn’t a quick little joke.
She composed, sang, directed, and edited this video. There’s a bit of a blooper real at the end. And it’s clear she recruited every friend in sight to be in it.
But hey, I’m not going to beat her up for trying. She’s not asking us to buy concert tickets at $100 a pop. There’s no link to buy T-shirts or anything.
Sarah wanted to make a music video and did it, and the Series of Tubes is a much simpler way to share it than trying to get MTV execs to play the thing.
Is it bad? Yeah. HOWEVER: there are tons of pop stars who sound great in the studio and terrible live.
Just like anything else creative, the editing and polishing means everything. Writing, photography, painting, whatever.
Here’s an amazing look at how much editing can fix. Same raw material, same voice.
I’m not going to do the easy thing and hate on this, or the hipster thing and try to claim this is microtonal goodness that regular people just don’t understand.
My point is this: art is hard. Yes, some geniuses like Dave Grohl can play all the instruments on an album they make in their garage for kicks and accidentally give birth to Foo Fighters, and some filmmakers can shoot and edit a film with a skeleton crew of themselves, their dog, and Neighbor Kid Walter to fetch Taco Bell when the actors get hungry.
But those are the rare, rare exceptions. Every artist is better when they have a team of professionals behind them.
A long time ago, in a Florida far, far away, there was a young rapper who showed up on MTV and turned into an overnight star.
He didn’t really have other hit songs–the one from TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES does not count–and no, I’m not a giant fan of Vanilla Ice, who later became some kind of home improvement channel renovator and such, but not on the show with the two redheads in Indiana.
HOWEVER: the lyrics on this song are actually interesting, and worth going into, line-by-line.
I did so, using a keyboard, in a previous post. Now, I’m teaching myself how to use Adobe After Effects and such, and the new Evil Supercomputer happily renders videos. So here’s my first video, and yes, this is janky and terrible in spots. My video editing skills are small and young, but I will feed them small videos, then medium-sized ones, and one day, we will kill a Godzilla-sized film and feast upon it for days.
Next: I’m thinking of interpreting the lyrics to the classic song, ELECTRIC AVENUE, the first one I remember seeing on MTV, and no, I don’t care if some other video was officially first. This was way back, right after Spanish American War, and they played ELECTRIC AVENUE using telegrams and such. It was glorious.
Anyone today can make music, then jack into the Matrix and upload their creation–along with a video–for the world to see.
If they can find it.
I scoured YouTube and found this thing, so let’s take a peek before we talk smack.
First, I have to say the music is fine. Don’t hate it, don’t love it, but perfectly listenable. Nothing super strange or unique about it.
The video is what interests me, because they obviously (a) had a decent CGI budget and (b) put some real thought into a storyline that’s (c) pretty funny and effective.
Who doesn’t like monster movies, and a bit of Godzilla-like smashing of a metropolis or three?
And who won’t enjoy an unlikely hero, in this case a motorcycle-riding old man, riding in to fight the monster even though it’s suicidal?
My only quibble with this video is a longer fight would have been enjoyable. Also expected, which is probably why they subverted that by having the Ancient Biker Anti-Hero kill the monster in this unusual and non-heroic way.
Hey, this is art, and it is both interesting and different. Give us moar.
I first saw and heard Normani in LOVE LIES, which is one of the greatest music videos ever. Seriously. I’ve played it 6.2 gazillion times and am still not sick of it. Khalid and Normani nail this thing. If you haven’t seen it, check this thing out. Such a slow burn.
Then I kept hearing her on other tracks, like DANCING WITH A STRANGER with Sam Smith–just perfect.
Here’s the first song I’ve seen from her that’s completely hers. Check it out.
Most people are lucky to have nurtured one talent to a world-class level. Singing or dancing. Not both.
I think she’s got heaps of talent in singing and dancing. She reminds me a lot of Ariane Grande years ago, before she went supernova, and people knew her mostly for spot-on impressions of Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Shakira or whoever. Wait for the middle of this video where she does Christina Aguilera singing THE WHEELS ON THE BUS, which is crazysauce. I would totally buy an album of her doing covers like this.
I believe, deep in my soul, that Normani is going to take over and dominate the airwaves. Give us moar moar MOAR.
Expensive Monsters, made by pop stars and rappers, and these videos have budgets bigger than the gross national product of Paraguay.
Shoestring Specials, shot on your buddies iPhone and edited by Carl, who dropped out of UCLA film school but still has his subscription to the Adobe Creative Suite, so you pay him in beer.
Obscure Weirdness, where all the wild things live.
It’s the obscure stuff that’s the most fun, because you never know what you’ll find. Sometimes it will be gross, or lame, or shocking. But other times, it’s like finding buried treasure without a pirate map.
Here’s what I just saw. Take a look and a listen.
It’s silly and stupid, right? But also brilliant. So maybe stupidly brilliant.
The sets and costumes are COMPLETELY SPOT-ON, like they bribed the night shift guy at Paramount–maybe he’s a cousin of Carl’s.
I’m loving the actor’s facial expressions, which are perfect, especially when he’s playing Data.
So: I’m required by law to like this. It’s creative, and a lot more fun than watching your average music video from a Far Too Serious Pop Star.
As a huge fan of Khalid, and a medium-sized fan of Ed Sheeran, I was happy to find out the song I’ve been rocking out to in the car is by these two.
The lyrics are what really made me pay attention–they’re quite different. Gloriously, the music video snags those lyrics like a wobbly pass from Tom Brady (P.S. I hate you, kthxbai) and runs them 98 yards back for a thunderous touchdown.
Here, take a look and a listen.
Different, right? I love it.
There’s no shortage of pop and rap videos where the singer shows off, rolling around in piles of money or giving us long looks at their mansion, Lambo and swimming pool filled with supermodels.
Good on Ed Sheeran and Khalid for giving us a different take.