28 January 2009

Video round-up

Busta Rhymes – "Arab Money"

'Arab Money' by Busta Rhymes

The expression apparently means "a shitload of money", as in really, really rich, like a middle eastern oil baron. Racially offensive? Meh.

This is bullshit. Busta's spent the past decade putting out another shitty album every other year or so and they've all got one single and who cares what else. The single's always got whatever sonic trend was fresh five years ago (in this case, way too much autotuner) and a pale attempt to come up with a new dance or catchphrase or whatever else. Here most of the video is spent drilling the "dance" into the viewer's head in hopes of igniting a new club trend. The brief live clip at the end makes it seem as though it worked. Busta used to be a pretty talented MC; it's a shame to see him now putting so much effort into a transparent bid to be disposable.

As for the video... why is there a director credit? I understand putting one on some special-effects-laden epic, but this one looks like the biggest line item in the budget was for catering. It leaves few if any lasting impressions, other than I notice Busta's waistline betrays few recent missed meals.

Morrissey – "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"

'I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris' by Morrissey

Morrissey's 2004 comeback turned out to be one of the decade's most surprising and most welcome. The eight-year hiatus seemed to imbue him with a renewed passion both as a vocalist ("I Like You") and a lyricist ("This World Is Full Of Crashing Bores"), and he turned in some of his finest work since his mid-nineties heyday. Two albums later he seems to have fallen back into a rut. I haven't heard the new album yet, but if the single's any indication it won't be one for the canon. The riff is cute but inconsequential, while the lyrics come off like a rough draft. Other than the title (again, cute but inconsequential), there's not a single memorable line. For a guy who's set the bar as high as the Mozzer, this just won't cut it.

Mozzer's videos are almost universally shitty, as though the man can't be bothered to book more than a two hour shoot and the editor is left to make do with the few takes he gets. Moz lip synching in front of his bored looking bandmates/employees can ocassionally make for a watchable four minutes ("I Have Forgiven Jesus", for instance); the man is, after all, a fairly compelling performer. But this one reeks of a lack of effort.

Jonas Brothers – "Tonight"

'Tonight' by Jonas Brothers

I have a real weakness for teenpop, which, now that I think about it, started around the time I stopped eating sugar: coincidence or compensation? Having outgrown my youthful and foolish yen for some nebulous concept of authenticity, I've grown to appreciate a facile hook, no matter how prefab the packaging. I especially like this decade's dominant trend of replacing plastic synth-pop with plastic guitar rock, so the Jonases are OK with me. The singer's kind of weak, but what can you do?

Someone once pointed out to me that part of the formula for teenybopper hits is to have the chorus kick in at the 40-second mark; this one hits it right on the nose.

The video makes their concerts look like a blast. They jump around looking cute, spray the crowd with confetti and perform what look to be some fairly accomplished gymnastic moves. Not to mention the standard assortment of pyrotechnics and floating platforms. I'd totally go if somebody hooked me up with a ticket.

Incidentally, that gigantic black guy who follows them around and appears to be some sort of bodyguard? They have another video where he raps. I can't find the link now, hut it's worth watching. It has Robert Davi in it too. And David Carradine. Seriously.

Ladytron – "Runaway"

'Runaway' by Ladytron

I like Ladytron. I like their new album. It sounds like the last one. And the last one sounded like the one before it, and that's OK.

This is at least the second single (or at least the second video I've seen), and I'm not sure it would have been my choice for a single, but it's alright.

The video's cool. It's simple, but with just enough of a how'd-they-do-that factor to the visual effects. Simple and effective.

Know what I notice though? There's four of 'em, right? Two chicks and two dudes. So I always figured they were like this electro-futurist andro-ABBA where the dudes play everything and the chicks sing. But I've only ever seen one of 'em sing, in any of their videos. The other one doesn't even lip-synch. She just poses. How stylised.

Rise Against – "Audience Of One"

'Audience Of One' by Rise Against

This band is a perfect example of how splintered popular music has become. I have no idea who they are, but they have a bunch of videos. I feel like ten or fifteen years ago I would have known who they were because music media was more centralised; stuff like MTV and SPIN just covered everything. Now there's tons of these muscular/sensitive acts out there that sound exactly like this, like Seether for instance, and I've never heard any of them. Seriously, grunge is alive and well; check Billboard's Modern Rock chart if you don't believe me. Look at it! Incubus! Offspring! They still exist!

I have no doubt that this band is completely sincere and means everything they say, and the singer's got a strong, clear voice, and the song is well constructed and has good lead guitar work, and the whole thing does nothing for me. What can I tell you?

The video looks really meaningful, too. The singer doesn't look completely comfortable being a just-singer, almost like he'd rather be playing guitar, too, but his band already has two guitarists, and he's too nice to kick one of them out, so he secretly wishes one of them would just quit, but then they'd probably just have to get another one because the label wants him to be a just-singer. Speaking of which, that beard makes him look kinda old, and I'll bet the label's not too happy about that. "Fuck the suits," he thinks; "I'm keepin' the damn beard." And he juts his bewhisker'd chin defiantly.

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