MTV. Well that was it wasn't it? The final nail in "alternative" music's short life. Music now was only a share of the big conglomerates, selling style and going against every ideal music is supposed to stand for. Well, that’s what the purists said, and continue to say. And, in the most cynical of moods I can believe this too…BUT…Ever since opera, it's been very apparent that music and images can come together in an awe-inspiring manner. Music often seems to melt with pictures, be it a sight you've seen, a person you've loved or something odder, a certain type of beer-mat for example…
MTV has therefore given birth to a new-age opera of sorts. Producing some fine examples of a truly modern art form. And, as an ardent (if slightly guilty) MTV viewer for years, I'd like to share with you 5 very different video's that I love, and tell you why I like them…Come on, it won't take long…
Sigur Ros - Svefn-G-Englar
I start with this beautiful video. Sigur Ros excel at their brand of sublime winterscapes. Cool colours and simple beauty swirling fill this almost transcended piece. The idea is very like the song, doing very little yet continuing to be emotive in almost every breath. On a hillside of soft green, under gentle winter skies, angels play. Each angel has down's syndrome, but this is not a statement. The film is full of a sense of freedom and joy. The angels dance together in slow motion, moving with the songs swaying ascension, their faces filling the camera with cherub-like joy and careless abandon. It is a very heart warming experience.
Pearl Jam - Do The Evolution
Pearl Jam wisely compliment their best song with this video. Here we find the power of animation in music video. Human evolution is bloodily portrayed as its predatory, megalomanic worst guise. The images thrust out of the screen and go together amazingly with the raw, angry track. I think its power is mainly out of such gruesome use of what is usually the most innocent of media's.
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
Everyone's favourite, and yet another example of Spike Jonze's wealth of talent (The Pharcyde's Drop, Bjork's Its Oh So Quiet, Fatboy Slim's Praise You…). It still has the knack of bringing a wry smile as the boys of beastiness tog the fake moustache's, and then take their places in an ultra cheesy crime drama's opening credits screen. We have NYC names and NYPD nicknames and superb filming that even The Sweeny would be proud of. Guaranteed to make you laugh on the first viewing.
Aphex Twin - Windowlicker
Richard James and Chris Cunningham obviously got along quite well! What we have here is (along with Paranoid Android) my favourite video. Chris's brilliantly stylised cinematography visualises The 'Twins twisted way with a beat. The video for this song - part ambient house, part disturbed tongue-in-cheek hip-hop - shows 2 black wannabe pimps (kinda spookily looking like Outkast) trying to pull a "bitch", only to be outdone by a ultra-sexed up Aphex Twin, who turns all the bootylicious babes into dancing hoes with Aphex faces. The slow motion scene of the dancers body fat swaying as they move to the songs fuzzed-up ending is magnificent. The video's sharp stinging colours and depraved twists outline the song perfectly. This is a genuine piece of modern art.
My Bloody Valentine - To Here Knows When
As close as you can get to stepping into a MBV song. I'm sure heaven will look a lot like this video. Layer upon layer of colours amongst pearly white, band member's swirling like Indian gods briefly revealing themselves, guitars being slowly played in the misty haze of all that and more… its all there. The film reeks of Fine Art degrees but with the music it becomes a quintessential part of all things My Bloody Valentine.
And, before I go…My least favourite MTV vid…Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
The most over played video ever. I can't bear to see it slapped between Linkin Park's One Step Closer and Papa Roach's Last Resort any more. The video should be discontinued. I refuse to watch it…I wish MTV would just let it rest in peace…And replace it with Blame It On The Boogie Video…(Now THAT is genius!)