Welcome back to The Last VJ, music fans. It's a slow time for music videos right at the moment, but that means we just had to dig a little deeper in order to find the one that were really going to knock your socks off. Strap in and take your pills because once again we're going to do bad sexy things to your eyes and ears with the best videos of the week!
Vote at the end for your favorite.
Ethan Gold, "They Turned Away" Last week's winner was Ethan Gold, whose look at singing under torture from a fascist regime was a slow, but excellent burn of a story. Director Ari Gold set the scene wonderfully with a strangely anachronistic and slightly steampunk setting to his dictatorial bastards, but it's the power and pain of Gold's struggle to speak before he dies that sets the whole thing on fire. Congratulations, Ethan!
Gareth Emery featuring Bo Bruce, "U" Sometimes a video's simplicity can utterly surprise you, and that's what director Alexander Maxwell did with Gareth Emery's "U." It's nothing particularly noteworthy from a visual or narrative standpoint. In the end it's mostly road footage of actors Roxy Calabrese and Nick Suttle as they have a mad, light-hearted trek across desert roads.
The difference between this and hundreds of other videos just like it is the warm touch that Maxwell brings to his characters in their brief, lightning-like flashes of life and love, and of course the exhilarating thrill of Emery and Bruce as they pluck the listeners' nerve-strings. For all that the idea has been done a million times, you kind of forget that because it has so rarely been done this well. A good music video should take you places, and "U" has the kind of travel pull usually reserved for blue Police Boxes. You just want to jump on out there.
REWIND: Last Week's Music Video Round-Up
Gnucci, "Finders Keepers" I can't tell you how many rap and hip-hop videos I skip in the course of this column. It's got to be at least dozens, because rappers do not understand that simply standing in front of a place that you like and rapping is boring as hell. Well, "Finders Keepers" does indeed fit that description, but director Roxy Farhat turns the whole thing into a surrealistic and incomprehensible sideshow that takes more piss out of the concept of a music video than Mark Romanek's plumbing.
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How? Horses, that's how. Who the hell raps in a stable? Not even a Western stable, either. It's all English riding gear and homey checkered tablecloths in the kitchen, but everyone plays it as street as it can possibly be. It's so damned random that it actually comes across as brilliant, though it does make me wonder why at no point in the process no one stood up and said, "Why horses? Why do the backup dancers have to groove next to horse ass?"
Guess we'll never know.
Story continues on next page.
Astronaut, "Quantum" I'm not sure who is behind the animation for "Quantum," but it's striking in the way it blends primitive simplicity with deeper emotional cues. A spaceman finds himself in an ancient temple where a recording device shows him the surprise attack by humanity on a race of insect people that caused horrific damage.
It's essentially the end of Ender's Game with a little Machinima style thrown in for good measure. The result is a solid beepy-good adventure that is fun on a lot of different levels, and more than a few big budget Hollywood films could learns a thing or two about keeping things simple and elegant.
Coone & Substance One, "Drowning" I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite videos of the modern era. Nothing has quite captured music and heart-breaking storytelling this well since Youth Lagoon's "July," and even they lacked the manic energy that turns director Andrew Pearce's piece into a atomic scattering of the soul.
He follows a young woman who in the midst of trying to killer herself with carbon monoxide begins to hallucinate a magical world. However, it's a world of mysterious pressures and threats that send her scurrying and finally burning with rage. Lots of videos throw in weird stuff that seems to make no sense, but the difference between the good and the bad in that regard is making the audience feel like they're lost without rules, not that there is no deeper meaning behind it. "Drowning" is definitely the former, and every minute of it is a bright red scream. Love. This. Video.
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