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Video of the Week: “Video” by India.Arie March 9, 2013

Filed under: India.Arie,Video of the Week — yourbirdcansing88 @ 12:22 AM
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This week’s music video is a feel-good number from way back in the year 2000.  I remember VH1 used to play this video a lot back when I was in seventh grade (back when I was a VH1 junkie and the channel’s motto was still “Music First”), which was a very self-conscious time for me.  I really don’t want to go into detail about how much I’d learned to hate myself at that time, but I will say this much:  the great thing about this song is that it not only declares the singer’s own-self esteem, but it does so in a way that actively encourages self-esteem in others.  Which is a really big deal, since it seems that most works of self-praise (especially those done for and/or about women) imply that one has to put others down before one can feel good about oneself.  But self-esteem need not be a zero-sum game, as India.Arie so effortlessly demonstrates with “Video”.  Enjoy.

 

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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 of the…er…Current Indeterminate Interval of Time: “I’m Shakin'” by Jack White February 21, 2013

Filed under: Jack White,Video of the Week — yourbirdcansing88 @ 12:25 AM
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If you’re a faithful follower of my blog (yeah, as if), you probably know that I love me some Jack White.  And if you recall the last time I posted about Jack White, you’ll remember that this was my reaction to his then-pretty-new music video for “Freedom at 21”:

SIX MONTHS DUNGEON!

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!

(in case it isn’t obvious, the big angry sourpuss is supposed to be me. The handsome peppermint dandy is Jack. Because well duh)
 

I’m not even going to trouble myself with explaining once again why I had such an averse reaction to the video.  If you’re curious, you can read it all here (hint:  sexism and cliches beget such ugly babies).  Well, I want you all to know that even though I still consider the aforementioned video to be a pathetic disappointment, I’ve decided not to let that weigh too much on my opinion of Mr. White, because since then he’s done several things to remind me that he’s still absolutely wonderful.  And one of those things was his next video, “I’m Shakin'”, which came out back in October or whenever.  Yeah, I was going to write about it back then, but only a few days after I discovered the video, Sandy happened, and I was living in (okay, a really spoiled version of) the dark ages for several days.  Thus, my plans for this blog post kind of fell by the wayside.  The reason I’m writing about it now is because I’ve recently fallen even more head-over-heels back in love with Jack White since then, what with him performing on the Grammys a couple weeks ago, which actually gave me a reason to bother watching the Grammys, which I haven’t done since 2009 (back when Consolers of the Lonely was up for some awards but didn’t get anything, so I wasted a good two or three hours waiting to at least see the Raconteurs accept an award, but to no avail.  That’s right; Jack White is pretty much my only reason to ever watch the Grammys).  And well, that rekindled my love for the man all over again, to the point that I spent Valentine’s Day watching my DVDs of Under Blackpool Lights, It Might Get Loud, and Under Great White Northern Lights to celebrate my unabashed fangirl love for the man (I’m single and unemployed; what else am I supposed to do?).

If feeling this way about Jack White is wrong, I am neither willing nor capable of being right.

So here’s an illustration of my current attitude towards Mr. White. Yup, back to normal.

Anyway, more about this video:  it’s basically the most badass Doublemint gum commercial that never happened.  There’s two Jack Whites in this video (because the only thing that could possibly be better than one Jack White is two Jack Whites), one fronting each of his two backing bands, the all-male Buzzards and the all-female Peacocks (which I think is a weird name for an all-female group, considering peacocks are, by definition, male peafowl.  But peahens are neither as well-known, nor nearly as pretty as their male counterparts, so whatevs.  I’d say birds are weird that way, but it’s actually humans who have all the weird ideas about gender presentation).  Yay for pretty much equal representation of men and women!  And yay for badass women rockers!  Special mention also goes to Jack’s two female backup singers, who, along with Jack, get to perform with both groups, which means that the ones performing with the Buzzards get to wear some snazzy suits.  Not stripperiffic versions of male uniforms, either; I mean suits that are maybe tailored a bit more to the female body, but otherwise just like the suits the dudes are wearing.  They even got hats.  Now the only thing that would make this even more perfect is if one of the Jacks was wearing a kilt (he’s been known to wear kilts on occasion, or at least back when he was in The White Stripes and The Raconteurs.  He’s part-Scottish and everything, too), but hey, the photo-negative-y suits he wears are awesome enough (and for me, kinda reminiscent of “Daddy’s Song”).  Plus, the two dancers who are in the video for no discernable reason beyond just being totally awesome (I’m especially impressed with the male dancer’s moves.  Holy crap).  And then there’s  that little wiggle Jack does at about 1:50-1:53 which is the most adorable thing in the whole wide world.  Well, that and the way Jack pronounces the word “nervous” in the song (I’d say it was in a “Joizee” accent, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m from New Jersey and know better.  But I’ve been in love with that pronunciation of “nervous” ever since I heard Mae West say it in She Done Him Wrong).  So anyway, enjoy.

 

 

What is this Crap? August 8, 2012

Okay, so, like, a few weeks ago, Jack White, a man for whom I’ve made my appreciation quite clear on multiple occasions from nearly the beginning of this blog, came out with a new music video, for the song “Freedom at 21” from his solo album.  Predictably, Rolling Stone magazine, a publication I have an ambivalent view towards but continue to subscribe to and still take some sort of masochistic joy in flipping through, has nothing but praise for the video in the “Playlist” section of its latest issue (August 16, 2012).  Less predictably, the same video has utterly failed to impress me.  Which means that Rolling Stone magazine would actually bend down further to kiss Jack White’s ass than I would.  And it’s not just because I’m significantly shorter than the average adult journalist, either.

 

I’m not about to call “Judas!” or anything on Mr. White, but what the hell?  Frankly I expected better from the guy who was allegedly unhappy with how the video for “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” turned out.  I mean, what is this?  Sexy lady writhing around on the hood of a car?  Oh, like that’s never been done before (okay, full disclosure here:  I actually really like the Rihanna and Whitesnake videos.  And no, even I don’t have any explanation for the Whitesnake one.  As for the QOTSA vid, it’s probably one of the most unique uses of this trope.  That being said, it’s also one of the most mind-screwy, plus the animation style kinda creeps me out).  Some kind of weird jailbird fantasy with sexy half-naked inmates?  Maybe not quite as cliché, but Gaga did it better (not to mention tweaked the script by making out with a fully clothed, non-heterosexual-male-gaze-targeting butch babe.  You know you’re pushing the audience’s suspension of disbelief when Lady Gaga’s videos start looking more true-to-life than your own.  How did Jack end up in a women’s prison, anyway?).  This isn’t even the first time Jack White’s busted outta the big house in a music video (see “Hands” by The Raconteurs.  Which is, in my humble opinion, better than “Freedom at 21” in every conceivable way.  Also, it’s an abundant source of warm fuzzies).  And no, I’m not about to let you off easy just for putting a woman in a position of authority, as the police officer who chases Jack down, pulls him over, and informs him that he’s under arrest for (from what I can tell, anyway) being a very, very bad boy.  And that’s fine (and not completely dissimilar to some Jack White-related fantasies I might have.  Hey, I’m only human).  But why is she wearing short-shorts when all the other (i.e. male) cops in the music video get to wear pants?  I mean, it’s not really fair that the guys get to be cops while the woman’s job as a police officer is secondary to her function as eyecandy.  And then you get to the jail scene and — oh, look who it is?  Apparently Officer Halloween Sexcop is from a set of identical triplets, and the other two just happen to be Ms. Prisoner O’Love and Lady Hood Ornament.  And they’re all allergic to pants!  Seriously, though, I’d maybe be the slightest bit more okay with all this superfluous ladyflesh if only Jack got more naked in this video.  And not just for my own perverted pleasure (although, well, I have needs too, y’know?), but because enough already with this double standard.  I’m sick of these tired, boring-ass music videos where women’s bodies are constantly on display while the men get to wear clothes and have some semblance of a personality, and who might be sexy but that’s just incidental to who they are as a whole, while women have to be sexy before they can be interesting, even in cases where they are the artist who’s starring in the video.  And sure, that may be enough to attract a certain demographic (i.e. horny entitlement-poisoned heterosexual male douchebags who can’t be bothered to think critically too much).  But the rest of us (i.e. the majority, believe it or not, of the music-consuming public) are going to get real bored real soon if this is all the already dwindling music television industry has to offer us.

 

Yeah, I know, I went off on a huge feminist diatribe once again, but this crap really irks me as a fan of music who is also a feminist, and who doesn’t understand why most of the music-related media (i.e. music videos; Rolling Stone and its ilk) continue to cater to the dudebro culture instead of the general masses of music lovers, most of whom don’t fall into that category and don’t care if our music and music-related media comes with a shiny pair of tits or not.  And while I’ll continue to love Jack White, I find his latest video to be a particular disappointment, because I expected much, much more from a man who has been in some of the most innovative videos of our time, has always been an extremely vocal supporter of women in the music industry, and was THE FIRST MAN TO GET HIS OWN COVER OF GODDAMN VenusZine, for fuck’s sake!  So I find it kind of difficult to comprehend why such a man (a certain man, who for the poor you can b— damn it, why doesn’t anyone stop me?) would ever stoop to involve himself in a video chock full of meaningless T&A and other tired tropes and that’s custom-made for the lowest common denominator (i.e. unimaginative douchewanks).  It just doesn’t make sense.  I will say this much:  I think the song rocks (I’ll let the iffy lyrics slide.  This time); I love Jack’s Mickey Mouse gloves; and the chromatic idiosyncracies here are kind of interesting.  It’s a shame they had to be wasted on such a dumbass video.

 

Video of the Week: “Daddy’s Song” by Davy Jones March 4, 2012

Filed under: The Monkees,Video of the Week — yourbirdcansing88 @ 5:20 PM
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There’s actually two reasons why I chose this video for this week.  The first is to honor the memory of Davy Jones, who passed away earlier this week.  The second is that my dad’s birthday was also this week.  Happy birthday, Dad.  And rest in peace, Davy Jones.

 

This video is a scene from HEAD, The Monkees’ one and only feature film (and one of my favorite movies).  The movie kickstarted my obsession with The Monkees which lasted almost the entirety of my freshman year of college.  I’d always been a fan of their music, but HEAD introduced me to the prefab four as individual characters.  What’s also awesome about this video is that it features cameos from Toni Basil (yes, that Toni Basil.  Who apparently had a huge crush on Monkee Micky Dolenz, hence the title of her one and only hit) and Frank Zappa (and Frank Zappa’s talking cow).  Oh, and just a warning, there are some parts of this video that feature rapid, flashing cuts between shots, and so might be problematic for those of you with photosensitive epilepsy or other such conditions.  But otherwise, enjoy.

 

 

Video of the Week: “Eighteen” by Alice Cooper February 16, 2012

This week’s video is dedicated to my kid brother, who’s celebrating a very special birthday today.  Happy b-day, bro!

 

 

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.