Dig Those Groovy Tunes!

the only sound that's left after the ambulances go

Video of the Week: “Rock ‘N’ Roll” by The Runaways March 2, 2013

Today (or yesterday, depending on when this gets posted and what time zone we’re going by) starts Women’s History Month.  So I’ve decided to celebrate with this video capturing a live performance by one of the most badass bands of all time, The Runaways.  For some reason (probably that they were more or less seen as a gimmick or a novelty or whatever, which yeah, they were kind of marketed as), they were way more popular in Japan than in their native US (probably because being a gimmick/novelty does not hurt one’s street cred in Japan like it does in the states.  It might even be actively encouraged, or so I’ve been led to believe).  Which is a shame, because they really rocked hard-core.  Their image and musical style was very glam (check out frontwoman Cherie Currie’s Ziggy Stardust swagger in this video), but as far as attitude and sticking it to the man, they were just as punk as, well, their punk contemporaries (yeah, deal with it, Sex Pistols).  I mean, they were the biggest all-female rock band of their time, and just in case their name doesn’t ring a bell, surely you’ve at least heard of Joan Jett and possibly Lita Ford, both of whom got their start in The Runaways (Joan’s the one in the red jumpsuit, like I even need to point that out since her look still hasn’t changed much except for that brief period when she had the platinum blond buzzcut; Lita’s the one in the supershiny short-shorts).  That’s right.  Two guitar hero(in)es in the making here.  And the thing I love about this song is, it’s like those myriad songs about how rock ‘n’ roll had a profound impact on an impressionable youth (think “Shooting Star” by…one of those Paul Rogers groups or something…you know the one, about Johnny and how old he was when he heard his first Beatles song.  That one), but this one is about it affecting a young girl in that way, which is kind of unusual even today.   Enjoy.

 

 

Oh, and one last thing:  a few years ago, a biopic of The Runaways called (duh!) The Runaways was made.  The feature-length debut of music video director Floria Sigismondi (she did that weird Christina Aguilera “Fighter” video.  Also, she’s done at least one video for each of Jack White’s bands.  Which makes her pretty awesome in my book), the flick is worth a watch, even if you’re a bit skeptical of Kristen Stewart’s acting skills (I was/still kind of am.  But she was pretty good as Joan Jett in this movie, I thought) or wary of seeing Dakota Fanning in fancy lingerie (don’t ask.  For what it’s worth, it’s an iconic outfit that Cherie Currie really did wear in real life when she was about the same age, and she was more or less marketed against her will as jailbait.  Currie, I mean, not Fanning.  Oh, and just be glad you’re not watching Hounddog.  Yipes), or if you’re made uncomfortable by the occasional lesbian subtext (because Joan Jett actually is…I’m not entirely sure what, but she’s almost definitely not totally heterosexual, at the very least).

 

Video(s) of the Week (or, y’know, whatever): “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, etc. by The Darkness February 9, 2012

This week, I give you a trilogy of videos featuring British neo-glam-rockers The Darkness and their horseshoe crab-shaped spaceship of hedonistic fantabulosity.  First up is their most famous song/video, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”.  Being the bitter little Valentine’s Scrooge that I am, I wasn’t planning on posting a Video of the Week for a song that had anything positive to say about love this close to the dreaded holiday.  However, a few nights ago an annual event that, ordinarily, I also care very little for — that is, the Superbowl — reminded me of just how awesome this song is.  Admidst all of the expensive overblown crap that makes up the majority of Super Bowl advertising (the kind that has me screaming uncharacteristic obscenities at the TV such as, “godaddy.co?!  How ’bout gofuckyourself.repeatedly!”), there was this expensive overblown work of genius supposedly made to promote some product or other by Samsung (like I gave a crap about that), but actually was a celebration of universal joy and an official announcement for those who were not previously in the know that The Darkness are back!  I mean, it’s cute that Samsung believes they can convince the masses that some new…thingy…can generate that much excitement and merriment out of nowhere, but I’m pretty sure it was Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins’s sudden and unexplained materialization — complete with guitar and hot-pink-striped-jumpsuit — that was the real cause of the mass cavort-fest that ensued.  I know I was so excited, I was almost able to ignore the unfortunate new growth of hair Justin’s got attached to his face.  To be quite honest, though, I didn’t discover how awesome The Darkness were until around 2008, when VH1 mentioned them on an episode of I Love the New Millenium.  See, back in 2003, when the song and video came out, I was a lot younger and more prudish than I am today, and so a video that begins with a naked man emerging from a heart-shaped hottub and getting dried (fondled?) by a big ol’ towel monster in a room decorated with lesbo-erotic naked sculpture just didn’t appeal to me, no matter how awesome the rest of the video was (not to mention how adorable and cuddly that towel monster looks, nor how hot I would eventually find said naked man to be).  But at nineteen, at which age I was already in the middle of a glam rock obsession (T. Rex and early Bowie and the like), I realized what I couldn’t have known as a sheltered fourteen-year-old:  that this crap was amazing.  So without any further ado, here’s the pure, undiluted joy that is “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”:

 

 

Up next, we have the much lesser-known “Friday Night”, which picks up exactly where “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” left off.  Having defeated the dreaded Puppet-Cthulhu of Doom, The Darkness now find themselves crash landing in the middle of the ocean on good ol’ planet earth.  They eventually find themselves stranded in an episode of The Mighty Boosh (even though this video was made at least a year before “The Nightmare of Milky Joe” aired), where they are pampered by leftover extras from the most recent low-budget, poorly-researched production of South Pacific.  I’m not entirely comfortable with the whole appropriation/fetishization/stereotyping of indiginous island women, but otherwise, this video is tons of fun.  Particularly the incredibly fake croc/gator that appears during the “Tuesday gymnastics” line.  And the Bugs Bunny-type scenario that the band wind up in at the video’s end.   And yes, I know the song’s lyrics are quite silly.  Until you get to the line towards the end where he sings “‘Cause the way she moves moves me to write bad poetry,” which leads me to believe that’s entirely the point.  And anyway, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, The Darkness are kind of a silly band.  And somehow that just seems to add to their awesomeness.

 

 

While “Friday Night” was a direct sequel to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, it’s a bit ambiguous where “Growing on Me” fits into the whole space oddysey narrative of the previous two videos.  My strongest guess is that it’s a prequel to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, in which we get to see how The Darkness were conceived (apparently by pterodactyl-on-spaceship vo-dee-oh-do-do), and apparently hatched out of egg-type-sac-thingies laid by their mothership (haha, get it?! Mothership?!).  They grow fast from nearly-pubescent, helicopter-savvy boys to grown men who spend their days frolicking around a mansion in some dimensional intersection of the English countryside (circa 18-something) and fairyland.  Also, in case “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” didn’t give you quite enough of Mr. Hawkins prancing around in nothing but a pixel bikini, there’s even more of that in this one.  Y’know, if you’re into that kinda thing (like I know I am).  Apparently this song is about genital warts.  Which I thought was just an immature joke/speculation, but the more I listen to this song, the more I believe it’s true.  Whatever.  All’s I know is, the song frickin’ rocks.