Saturday, December 27, 2008

Year in Review & the Music Video

Next year @ the film experience I hope to look at shorts and DVDs more on account of easy access for all of you -- this year was so discouraging in how hard it was for anyone outside of NY & LA to see the new releases I wanted keep talking about. Maybe next year we shoot for more accessibility.

[soapbox] I can't be the only one that's concerned that the movies --particularly the awards hopefuls -- are veering further and further away from the direction of general pop culture which is all about instant access. Why do the movies keep withholding? --no wonder Oscar ratings keep sinking. I think it's a far more complex problem than "the public doesn't like serious films". I think it's more a problem of "the public likes these movies less and it's really hard to see them even if you're interested in them". After all, who cultivates interest in something they have extremely little access too? Not many people, that's who. Anyway.... [/soapbox]

Here's a look back at the best of music video (everyone's favorite short film genre) for 2008... the form was once dying but the web has started to resuscitate it. Like my best of television list this is hardly comprehensive... I'm sure I missed some goodies. But here's 10 I loved from the year (in fluid but vaguely preferential order)

10 Matt & Kim "DAYLIGHT" and 09 P!NK "So What"
Because music videos should understand how to be fun. Is it just my imagination or is P!NK too modest what with the "I'm still a rock star" bit. Isn't she more than "still"... doesn't she get better all the damn time?

08 She & Him "WHY DO YOU LET ME STAY HERE" and 07 Janet Jackson "ROCK WITH U"
Zooey Deschanel sings. She makes an adorable rock pixie even if her film career is getting fairly one note --I love this bit from a Yes Man review @ Tractor Facts
Blessed with those wide, striking, chocolate eyes, Deschanel's performance still feels out of sorts, as if she's staring into the abyss of her limited range.
Hee. And in other news Janet Jackson returns (even if it wasn't quite a "comeback") with a nifty one take video. I love that one take gimmick (see also Hitchcock's Rope)

06 Grace Jones "CORPORATE CANNIBAL" and 05 Madonna "4 MINUTES"
I've featured both of these videos before and wrote about Madonna's extensively. I went a little crazy but she does that to me. The reaction to Grace Jones has been memorably divisive. Some people think this video is 'creepy and subpar' and others 'utterly astonishing'. But I think we can all agree that it's a good thing Grace is back to haunt us.

04 Radiohead "HOUSE OF CARDS" and 03 Gnarls Barkley "WHO'S GONNA SAVE MY SOUL"
I used to occasionally be annoyed with videos that relied heavily on trippy visual effects or conceptual gimmicks (I'm not a fan, for example, of one of the most favored videos of all time "Sledgehammer" but now that so many mainstream artists view video-making as a toss off optional ad for their cds --even Madonna has gotten relatively haphazard about when she'll make them and how much effort gets put in -- conceptual and f/x videos are more thrilling... at least they still seem interested in the form.

Gnarls Barkley - Who's Gonna Save My Soul? from Toolshed Media on Vimeo.

02 The BPA "TOE JAM" and 01 Beyoncé SINGLE LADIES
Choreography is still king (or queen as the case may be) to the music video. The Toe Jam video feels like a fun-loving lark but you know it was intricately planned work and it's a pleasure to watch. I'm not even a fan of Beyoncé (too disturbingly retrograde in her gender politics for me) but this video deserved all the mainstream attention it got --even as I wished they'd have been more upfront about their debt to Bob Fosse (maybe a "dedicated to" note at the end of the video, single lady?)

And yes I was killing time.

I know why you're here: le cinéma. The Year in Review proper begins tonight (or tomorrow morning?). It's always such a daunting task. Bear with me.


Carl Joseph Papa said...

i agree with you on single ladies. though i do not like beyonce that much because she constantly adds notes to what could be simple songs (remember her butchering the chorus nominated song?). I have got to say, with single ladies, all is well. methinks that the video is quite possibly the year's best

Glendon said...

The inclusion of Who's Gonna Save My Soul may be your saving grace from the devastating omission of Jizz In My Pants.

Anonymous said...

@ Douglas Racso: That rendition of "Vois sur ton Chemin" made my ears burst. I'm semi-fluent in French and believe me what she was hollering was nowhere near French. I don't get the whole Beyonce-love. I can appreciate the single ladies video for its artistic merits, but as an artist, Beyonce is so overrated it isn't even funny anymore. And she really needs to stop acting.

Anonymous said...

Single Ladies Video was fun. I agree she's overrated, but she's a great overacheiver. As far as that article about her song lyrics. I don't think it's that serious she's not a college graduate. She doesn't write too many lyrics she has a team of songwriters for her.

Pink's video was good, but I like the song better.

Madonna's video was cool.

I hope Janet makes an official comeback.


Anonymous said...

In response to your soapbox:
It's true that the general public has less access to "serious" films in theaters. In my town, all but one of the movie theaters are owned by the same company, and they all seem to play the same six films. However, it's never been easier to see more obscure films on DVD thanks to Netflix and other services. For me the problem is that I can't rent any of these films until after the Oscars are over. Maybe if the studios wouldn't send out all their prestige pictures in December (and then only in LA and New York), there would be more interest in Oscar-nominated films.

Glenn said...

The two best videos were both by Justice. "Stress" will - and I am 100% positive about this - go down as one of the best video clips of all time. Angry and powerfully resonant. There's a reason why people wanted it banned and it's because they can't get a grip on what our world is like and don't want to either. Also, Justice's "DVNO" was a hoot. Make a game out of it and try to spot as many famous logos as you can.

Anonymous said...

Both the Gnarls Barkley and Radiohead videos were nominated in Short-Form Music video Grammy, so way to go with those picks! No mention of Erykah Badu though?

Love Beyonce at number 1! That really was a sick video, no matter how ubiquitous it all became on the web.

Anonymous said...

Best music videos of the year? Yeah... I guess...