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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.

 

 

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).

 

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: “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 of the Week: “Drive” by Incubus September 20, 2011

Filed under: Video of the Week — yourbirdcansing88 @ 10:48 PM
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Yeah, sorry about not posting in like a week.  There really wasn’t any reason behind it, just a pathetic case of writer’s block.  I realize the latest Video of the Week is long overdue, so here it is.  I remember hearing this song a lot around the time it came out, which was during those hellish pre-teen years that I’d prefer to forget all about.  I don’t think I really understood the song back then, but I think I recall finding the video kinda cool.  But then, I was always a sucker for M.C. Escher, so there ya go.  Anyway, this song now has a profound relevance to my life right now, though in perhaps a more literal way than was intended by Brandon Boyd, the band’s oft-shirtless frontman.  See, the song is supposedly about getting over the fear that runs our lives and keeps us from our real desires.  Or something.  And that’s kinda what’s been going on with me right now, at least when it comes to actually, literally driving.  I’ve had my license for almost six years, but in those six years, my crippling fear of actually driving has kept me from actually using that license to…you know, go places (and I don’t mean getting into bars and casinos.  Which is a perk, I guess, even though I don’t gamble and the taste of alcohol makes me gag).  But I’ve realized now that my parents and little brother drive me around forever, and I’ve gotten to the point where I feel it would be kinda nice to go places and not depend on other people to get me there.  So I’ve finally decided to do something about it, started practicing driving again, and have set a goal:  by next week, I’ll be driving myself and my mom to work (we work in the same building).  And then maybe next month, I’ll be able to drive…other places that are even a little bit further away?  But enough about my sad little life.  Here’s the stinkin’ video.  Enjoy.

 

 

Top Ten Queen Videos September 12, 2011

Filed under: lists,Queen — yourbirdcansing88 @ 2:26 AM
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Okay, so I know I’m a day (or two) late.  It was hard work narrowing down so many awesome videos to the ten best, not to mention putting them in order.  But here it is, the top ten Queen videos.

10.  “It’s a Hard Life” (The Works, 1984)

We start off here with a video that is inexplicable and camp-tacular (even by Queen’s standards).  This may not be the band’s most popular video (in fact, at least one or two of the band’s members openly despise this video), but in my personal opinion, its weirdness is what makes it so charming.  Looking like the mutant love child of a Shakespeare comedy and that one scene from Labyrinth, we see Freddie Mercury prancing around in what is almost certainly the weirdest outfit he’s ever worn (and for a man who’s not exactly known for dressing conservatively, that’s really saying something) and wearing a really strange wig in some scenes for no apparent reason, and Brian May playing a wicked solo on a skull.  Also, look closely for John Deacon walking around with his noble steed, a stuffed unicorn head on a long wooden stick.

9.  “The Invisible Man” (The Miracle, 1989)

There’s only one thing that pisses me off about this video, and that’s this:  no matter how much time I waste playing video games, not once have I ever gotten to the point where Queen emerge from my closet and dance around my room.  Talk about false advertising!  The kid in this video is basically the luckiest kid ever (the only possible exceptions being the kids in the video for “The Miracle”).  He even gets to wear John Deacon’s badass cowboy hat.  Lucky!  And yes, the song sounds eerily similar to the theme from Ghostbusters.  Let us speak no more of this.

8.  “Liar” (Queen, 1973)

If you need any more convincing that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not, as is sometimes falsely claimed, the first music video ever, at least know this:  it wasn’t even Queen’s first.  “Liar” stands out from most of the videos in this list in that it is a simple performance video.  There’s no storyline, no characters outside of the band, nothing but the band performing on a brightly lighted stage that probably isn’t in front of a real audience.  Even the outfits are pretty low-key for a band that could have been considered part of the “glam rock” scene that was emerging in England around that time.  Still, stripped of the gimmicks they’d come to be known for both onstage and onscreen, Queen have an undeniably magnetic stage presence.  Despite its length of six and a half minutes and its simplicity, the video for “Liar” never bores.

7.  “Princes of the Universe” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)

Don’t ask me why, but movie tie-in music videos generally annoy me, especially when the totally awesome song was written for a possibly-not-so-awesome movie, thereby making it so that there isn’t a non-movie-tie-in version of the video that I can watch instead.  However, I’m going to make an exception for “Princes of the Universe,” a song that was written for Highlander and which, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a video that leaves out all those movie clips.  I haven’t even seen Highlander (but I do want to, for precisely three reasons, the Queen-filled soundtrack being one of them.  The other two, by the way, are Clancy Brown and kilts.  But mostly Clancy Brown).  Doesn’t matter.  The fact is, movie tie-in or not, this is one of the most epic music videos ever.  If anything, the connection with the movie makes the video all the more epic, because of the way it includes the band in the action of the movie, placing the band in the same setting as what I’m guessing is a pretty important scene in the movie.  There’s even a brief moment of interaction between Freddie and the film’s hero.  If that’s not epic, I don’t know what is.  As an added bonus, I don’t think anyone ever looked cooler with the wind blowing through his hair than Brian May.

6.  “Save Me” (The Game, 1980)

The video for “Save Me” is as gorgeous and moving as the tender love song it illustrates.  Half live-action performance video, and half animated narrative, this is perhaps Queen’s most beautiful video.  I’m at a loss to describe this video further than the fact that it features a dove motif (I’m a sucker for bird symbolism.  Actually, I’m a sucker for birds in general), so I’ll say no more about it and let the video speak for itself.

5.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)

Seriously, did you think I’d be able to list the top ten Queen videos without including this song?  While not my favorite Queen video by a long-shot (though still, within the spectrum of music videos in general, it ranks pretty darn high), “Bohemian Rhapsody” is undoubtedly the most influential, to the point that some people are still under the impression that it was the first music video ever.  If you’ve been paying attention to this blog (or even to this particular post), you’ll know this assumption to be false, yet the very fact that this is a widely-held belief shows how much of an impact the “Bohemian Rhapsody” has had on the history of music and the art of music video.  And perhaps, while not the first music video ever made (remember, Bob Dylan had 10 years on them), it may be one of the first music videos that truly mattered; that proved that the music video was an art form in and of itself and not just a creative way to promote a record.

4.  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (The Game, 1979)

When I showed a friend of mine this video about a month ago, her response was that it was “like a bisexual version of Grease.”  I couldn’t have described it better myself, but I’ll try:  to me, this is one of the all-time sexiest videos ever.  Sure, it’s kinda goofy and looks like it was made on a budget of $150 and maybe a blowjob here and there, but that doesn’t matter.  Why?  Because…Freddie Mercury.  Leather.  Superfluous close-up of Freddie’s leather-clad ass.  Brian May in awesome shades.   Freddie Mercury getting his shirt ripped off by his co-ed posse of backup dancers.  Roger Taylor without a shirt.  Freddie Mercury doing what could be described as pole-dancing.  Oh, and did I mention Freddie flippin’ Mercury?  As a side note, is it just me, or does Freddie kind of look like Jakob Dylan in this video?

3.  “One Vision” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)

Okay, this one starts out a little weird, with the warped voices and the wobbly still from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video, but once you get past that, this is one fun video.  Filmed around the same time as the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid (note the logo on Brian May’s white t-shirt), the video shows the band recording the song and having one heck of a fun time in the process.  I get the impression that someone decided to put cameras in the studio, start recording, and just let the band do whatever the heck they felt like.  Turns out, they’re really silly boys.  Also, Brian really should have worn black tank tops more often.  Because of the sexy.

2.  “I’m Going Slightly Mad” (Innuendo, 1991)

The video for “I’m Going Slightly Mad” is delightful.  More delightful, in fact, than it has any right to be, considering the tragic reality surrounding both the song and the video.  Released mere months before his death, Freddie Mercury wrote this song about his experience with AIDS-induced dementia.  By the time the video was filmed, the singer’s illness necessitated the use of heavy makeup and black-and-white film to disguise his condition.  This same use of makeup and monochrome, however, is part of what makes this video so charming and quirky, which only makes it more tragic when one remembers that all that charm and quirk are coming from a man who’s months away from his death bed, and knows it.  In spite of all that, however, this video made me laugh the first time I saw it, and continues to make me smile.  It’s heartwarming to know that Freddie could still act goofy and irreverent even as his life was coming to a close.  This, along with all the weird goings-on in this video — Freddie’s banana wig, John Deacon as an unenthusiastic jester, and let’s not forget REAL LIVE PENGUINS (!!) along with Brian May in a penguin suit — make this one of my very favorites.

1.  “I Want to Break Free” (The Works, 1984)

This is by far the greatest Queen video of all time.  For lots of reasons, but if for nothing else, for the cross-dressing.  Which is apparently a reference to a long-running British soap opera called Coronation Street.  Which I’ve never seen, but I believe it.  What I don’t believe is that this video is actually marked as “age-restricted” on YouTube.  What the hell, YouTube?  Buncha homophobes need to get the hell over themselves.  They’re the ones who’ll have a bad influence on the children.  But anyway, enjoy the video.  Unless you’re one of those homophobes.  If you are, get your ignorant ass off of my blog and never darken my door again.

Bonus:  “The Great Pretender”(1987)

And here’s a little something from Freddie’s solo career:  his take on a classic by doo-wop group The Platters.  Features clips and re-enactments of his previous videos as both a member of Queen and as a solo artist, some of which are on this very list.  But mostly I decided to put this here because of the cross-dressing.  ‘Cause I’m kinda into that.  And because this video not only gives us a chance to see Freddie in drag once again, but also Roger Taylor.  And there was much rejoicing (coming from me, anyway).

 

Tomorrow I’ll Post Something Awesome, You’ll See… September 9, 2011

Filed under: Queen — yourbirdcansing88 @ 10:47 PM
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So once again, I didn’t have enough time to prepare anything special for today’s post, but I’ve gotten an early start on what I plan to post tomorrow, a list of the top 10 Queen videos.  Right now I’m in the process of watching all their videos (that I can find, anyway) so I can eventually narrow down to the top ten I think are the best.  For today, though, I’m putting up a video that — while good — will not be put on the list, primarily because an unfortunate personal experience prevents me from viewing this video objectively.  That video is “The Miracle”, which is quite a charming and warm-fuzzy-feeling-inducing video in and of itself.  That being said, I had the misfortune of not knowing from the get-go that the Queen look-alikes in the vid were all boys no older than early teens.  The first time I saw the video, at the very beginning I thought the “Freddie” was an attractive young woman in drag, only to realize my mistake a few seconds later…so…yeah.  Not fun.  I can’t really watch this video now without thinking about how for a split-second I was attracted to this 13-year-old boy, but that doesn’t mean the rest of you can’t enjoy the video for what it is.  So I’m posting it here now for your viewing pleasure, since I’d imagine the video won’t have the same effect on anyone who knows what I didn’t know when I first saw it.  Just don’t make me watch it again.  I’ll have plenty of awesome videos to show you tomorrow.  Just give me time to narrow down the videos and tend to my mental wounds.