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Videowatch: August

31/08/2011

Videowatch returns after a month’s holiday, which was a wonderfully convenient time to have a break because absolutely no videos came out in July. This month, we will be moaning about insignificant details on videos that feature sock puppets, live performances, pretty nature and other some such.

BON IVER – HOLOCENE

Iceland’s nature – not exclusive to Sigur Rós anymore. One of the new album’s most beautiful cuts (and that’s saying a lot) gets an equally enchanting video. It’s amazing how gorgeous something that is effectively barren wasteland can look.

LADY GAGA – YOÜ AND I

Figured I might as well start having Gaga feature in these journals as well seeing as Born This Way is the surprise hit of the year. Although I still somewhat disapprove her style of videos. I’ve got nothing against high concepts or making something completely different: what bothers me is that she has a habit of sticking about seven different concepts and ideas into each video, turning them into schizophrenic, overbloated messes. As with “Yoü and I” as well. Possibly the least pretentious (and I do not use that word in a negative way here) song on the entire album, just a rock ballad about love, gets a video featuring cyborgs, mermaids, sex with mermaids, massive dance scenes in a barn and two of Gaga’s alter egos making out. Fair dos. Coherency please.

LAURA MARLING – SOPHIA

“Sophia” packs a nice little surprise to it. The first half of the song is entirely devoted to Marling and her gentle guitar-picking: admittedly lovely, but I never became a big fan of her second album that consisted of a bit too much of gentle guitar-picking and little else, replacing the charming and slightly off-beat youthful folk pop of her wonderful debut to something critics gushed as “mature” whilst I found it to be all a bit too samey and slightly forgettable with a few exceptions. With this album coming so soon after the last one, the first half of Sophia would tell us that it’s going to be more of the same. And the full band kicks in and the song is transformed to a, well, more matured version of her debut days with a teensy-little country groove thrown in for good measure. And it is indeed very, very good.

The video sees Marling playing a church. It’s simple, but it works. She has a lot of charisma to her.

MOBY – LIE DOWN IN DARKNESS

Funny in a way, this video. There is a plot even though you’d never figure it out without reading about what it’s supposed to be: long story short, a retired astronaut feels empty in his life and longs back to his past and his journeys in space. And even with reading the plot of the video, it still looks like cuts of seemingly random scenes put together to something that only vaguely has a red line running through it. The funny part is that it still works: the story might not make much sense in the way the video’s been directed, but the scenes themselves still have enough visual force to work excellently with the music: the sound and image complimenting eachother very well even without the supposed plot.

The song itself is the most Mobyesque song on Destroyed, to the point that it sounds a bit like a result of a project to create a song as Moby-like as possible. Beautiful song though, and it’s easy to see why fans voted this to become a single: it does latch onto you and is instantly memorable. I wouldn’t call it one of Destroyed’s most significant moments but beautiful it is.

MY MORNING JACKET – HOLDIN ON TO BACK METAL

I can’t get over how utterly fantastic fun this song is. And sadly, I also can’t get over how flat most of the rest of the album sounds in comparison. One of the year’s best songs but also one of the year’s bigger disappointments. The video is similarly mixed: it starts out in a sort of tongue-in-cheek dark way that suits the song perfectly and the animation part near the end is excellent, but those randomly interspersed live footage parts just do not work. Too normal!

THE NATIONAL – EXILE VILIFY

The song is, as we’ve already noted in the article about best songs of the first half of ’11, absolutely gorgeous and one of the year’s greatest songs. The video is the winner of the competition held by Valve and there’s been some murmuring around the web about it, with what the close second place being far more in tuned with Portal 2 itself than this one which has, well, zero to do with the game. It does fit the mood pretty well though. Some nice gorgeous, melancholy scenery as well. Not entirely convinced whether Mr Mopeface and his Puppet were the best possible stars for this though.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – THE ADVENTURES OF RAIN DANCE MAGGIE

The whole rooftop concert thing has always felt a bit cringy to me, and it’s slightly meh-inducing to see that the Peppers chose to do one instead of making the more elaborate video that they originally planned for this song. At least the band are a joy to watch live, and Klinghoffer in particular oozes effortless cool. Maggie itself is a good song but it’s a bit too much of an obvious Chili Peppers moment – based on the what the band have been talking about it, it doesn’t even seem like it was originally going to make the cut for the tracklisting of the new album but then some executives got into it. It certainly doesn’t reveal anything about the rest of the new album which mostly strays away from Maggie’s typical funk rock shtick, and it most definitely doesn’t reveal anything about Klinghoffer as a new guitarist. And perhaps that’s why it’s the lead single: to give people something familiar as a first sampler. Plus, having now been listening to the album for a few days, the instant earworm of a chorus is definitely one of the most singlesque moments of I’m With You so there’s that too. Here’s hoping though that the next singles will have videos more in line with the interesting ideas and memorable moments that RHCP usually offer on their videos.

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