Is RED DRESS by Sarah Brand intentionally going for Worst Music Video of All Time?

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.

VERDICT

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.

VIDEO: The Red Pen of Doom interprets the lyrics to ICE, ICE, BABY

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.

VERY NOISE by Igorrr is definitely weird, but is it any good?

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.

VERDICT

Hey, this is art, and it is both interesting and different. Give us moar.

MOTIVATION by Normani is the tip of her talent iceberg

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.

Impressive, right?

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.

VERDICT

I believe, deep in my soul, that Normani is going to take over and dominate the airwaves. Give us moar moar MOAR.

Why PHYSICAL by Dua Lipa is such good fun

Dua Lipa is one of the rare singers who continually tries new things in music videos, and songs. Those risks tend to pay off. I can’t remember the last song or video where I skipped it.

I only heard PHYSICAL on the radio and found the video because a dancer did a tribute that I swore was the actual official video.

And this song itself is a tribune to the original 1980s LET’S GET PHYSICAL by Olivia Newton John.

First, let’s check out Dua Lipa’s video before we talk smack.

Good, right? It’s paying homage without being a direct ripoff of Oliva Newton John.

What I like is Dua Lipa clearly cares about dance. They aren’t part of the background, making her look good — she’s dancing right with them, in this one and every video I’ve seen her do. Impressive.

The pioneer of legwarmer videos

Now here’s the original, which is still funny, but hasn’t aged that well.

This was a big deal when it came out. Huge.

Now it looks pretty cheesy, like those Crystal Light National Aerobics Championships, which is amazing and worth being studied in Contemporary History 376: What Were They Smoking in the 1980s?

VERDICT

The more I see and hear of Dua Lipa, the more I like her stuff.

Great job–please keep taking risks and trying new things with these videos. Give us moar moar MOAR.

IF THE WORLD WAS ENDING is the right kind of song for 2020

Wait five minutes and 2020 will deliver unto you new craziness, like today’s massive hacking attack.

So this song by two people I’d never heard of, J.P. Saxe and Julia Michaels, totally fits the mood of this year of apocalyptic nuttiness, with all of us just waiting for what’s next.

Giant meteor? Fine. Alien invasion? BRING IT, INTERGALACTIC MAGGOTS–WE ARE EMOTIONALLY NUMB AND UNAFRAID TO DIE.

Here’s the video:

Simple, right?

They didn’t hire a Hollywood action blockbuster director and spend $8 million on sets, explosions, and backup dancers.

Two characters singing separately on split screens. Then together.

Simple, cheap, and beautiful.

VERDICT: Love it. Give us moar moar moar.

GOOD THING by Zedd and Kehlani is just about perfect

Listen: I’ve grown up watching music videos, and have seen them evolve and branch out.

There are dance videos, art-house cray cray, stadium rockers, short films, low-rent masterpieces and high-budget flops.

This video is nearly flawless.

There’s a real story in here, character arcs, a theme of the working class versus the decadent rich–and great dancing at the end.

Most music videos will shoot for maybe one of those things and roll with it from start to finish. All story, all theme, all dancing.

I really like how the director put all the ingredients together without overdoing any one thing.

VERDICT

The acid test for a music video, book, or movie is simple: Do you want more?

I’ve replayed this a dozen times in the last week and it hasn’t gotten old once.

Love it. Give us moar moar MOAR.

 

 

DATA AND PICARD is the weirdest music video in the quandrant

Listen: there are three types of music videos.

  • 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.

VERDICT: Give us more of these.

Ed Sheeran and Khalid absolutely nail it with BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

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. 

The sweetness of WHEN I TASTE TEQUILA by Dan + Shay

Most music videos are meh, and I say that as a huge fan of music and music videos who grew up watching this thing we called MTV, back when it played music videos instead of insipid reality shows.

It’s hard to find videos that truly stand out, ones that I remember and want to watch again. Even if I love the song itself.

It’s doubly tough for a country music video to hit me, for I do not speak twang. 

So when I heard this song on the radio, it was a nice surprise. Then I saw the video, which is really a short film. Oh my.

Take a peek.

Haunting, isn’t it?

What stands out are the shots. Just beautiful cinematography, scenes I want to linger over. The acting is spot-on and the musicians make the smart choice of staying in the background.

What makes it truly work is telling an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. 

There are all kinds of music videos that look impressive, paired with good songs. 30 Seconds to Mars is the king of these videos, with Jared Leto having the massive advantage of being a star actor who knows how to stage and shoot film. But you don’t see complete stories very often. You see themes and ideas, but not stories where people are in conflict and make decisions.

This music videos is full of conflict and choices. It’s a sweet love story, and it fills in missing pieces you don’t see in the lyrics (below).

Great job, Dan + Shay–I’m happy to have stumbled onto this.

WHEN I TASTE TEQUILA

I can still shut down a party
I can hang with anybody
I can drink whiskey and red wine
Champagne all night
Little Scotch on the rocks and I’m fine, I’m fine
 
But when I taste tequila, baby I still see ya
Cutting up the floor in a sorority t-shirt
The same one you wore when we were
Sky high in Colorado, your lips pressed against the bottle
Swearing on a bible, baby, I’d never leave ya
I remember how bad I need ya, when I taste Tequila
When I taste Tequila
 
I can kiss somebody brand new 
And not even think about you
I can show up to the same bar
Hear the same songs in my car
Baby, your memory, it only hits me this hard
 
When I taste Tequila, baby I still see ya
Cutting up the floor in a sorority t-shirt
The same one you wore when we were
Sky high in Colorado, your lips pressed against the bottle
Swearing on a bible, baby, I’d never leave ya
I remember how bad I need ya, when I taste Tequila
When I taste Tequila
 
I ain’t even drunk, I ain’t even drunk
And I’m thinking
How I need your love, how I need your love
Yeah, it sinks in
 
When I taste Tequila, baby I still see ya
Sorority t-shirt, the same one you wore when we were
Sky high in Colorado, your lips pressed against the bottle
Swearing on a bible, baby, I’d never leave ya
I remember how bad I need ya, when I taste Tequila
When I taste Tequila
When I taste Tequila
When I taste Tequila