Video Digest: June 8, 2007

Drawing the line between "music" and "videos": the Polyphonic Spree; Green Day; Beyoncé and Jay-Z; Feist; Modest Mouse; the Fast Food Rockers

I cannot separate the songs I loved as a child from their videos. “Rio?” That’s a song about sailing the Caribbean and pouring melted pink ice cream on yourself. “Billie Jean?” Requires light-up tile floors. “Hello” is about some blind chick in Lionel Richie’s acting class (a video that is really, really creepy, by the way). These weren’t songs that happened to have videos. They were videos that happened to have songs. It was something of a loss to leave the golden age of music videos. But MTV had seven horny strangers to film, and I had college classes to skip and mainstream culture to ignore.

Do kids these days care about music videos as much? No way. They’re too busy IM’ing the staff of Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator.” But the art of the video endures, and I decided to compile a few recent ones here. There’s no Caribbean yachting adventures in the bunch, but we’ll leave that to the rappers.

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Recently, there were complaints that the 2012 Olympic logo was causing epileptic seizures. Those people should not watch this video. It’s like staring into a strobe light after an evening of pounding Tuaca. Dallas photographer Hal Samples has made a flipbook video from 70,000 snapshots. Cool idea. Good video. But would it be too much to ask for a foxy blind student to sculpt frontman Tim DeLaughter in clay?

Green Day, a band who used to sing about masturbation, sure has gotten serious. When did they turn into U2? Or, more aptly, John Lennon? This cover of Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” comes off an album to benefit Darfur. Nothing says “party” like a benefit album. I give them props for not collapsing into a mountain of groupies and cocaine, but I miss the bombast and rage of American Idiot.

Now this is a video. Sadly, it’s not much of a song. “Upgrade U?” Can’t wait for Beyoncé’s next hit, “Hard Drivin’ All Night.” But hey, the video has a crocodile, seven different sets, and a budget that rivals the GNP of most African countries. So what if it was written by a drum machine?

My girl Feist knows how to make a video. And she knows how to make a great album, too, as anyone whose heard The Reminder can tell you. This has all the poetry of a month of “Missed Connections” classifieds.

Back in my day, if you wanted a popular video, you had to do one of two things: Drop boatloads of cash, or hook up with Rob Lowe at the Democratic National Convention. These days, you just have to slap up some green-screen challenge and some poor, stoned undergrad does all the work for you. And you know what? The results are really, really good.

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Man, this is dumb-looking. Man, this is a bad song. Man, this makes me miss music videos. And also Big Macs.

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