Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No cliches were harmed in the making of this video

Let's not lie...air travel is the place where it's totally cool to watch eight hours of Kathy Griffin. On my first Virgin American flight, I got drunk on chardonnay and played video DJ and watched the following. Not having had MTV for quite a while, I was unsure about what the kids were into these days. Herewith, a sampling of my amateur observations.

Lupe Fiasco "Superstar"--In spite of myself I love this song, right down to the "Chris Martin called, he wants his act back" stylings of whoever it is does the chorus. Matthew Santos? Yeah, time for a new shtick, your whispery falsetto warbling isn't fooling anyone.

When I heard this song, judging from the verse where Lupe raps:

"So just take me home where the mood is mellow
And the roses are grown
M&M's are yellow
And the light bulbs around my mirror don't flicker
Everybody gets a nice autograph picture
One for you and one for your sister
Who had to work tonight but is an avid listener
Every song's a favorite song
And mics don't feed back
All the reviewers say you need to go and see that."

I pictured him as a chilled out, self-deprecating dude. And when you've written a song about wish fulfillment, you've got to cut against expectations. You have to, right?

I can't imagine was fool they hired to conceptualize this video. It bummed me out because I bet there was a million cool ways to do it. It could have been the hip-hop Hard Day's Night. You could have cast it with playacting kids like Bugsy Malone.

Instead, you get a dry ice filled cheesefest. Pyrotechnics spark out from his fingertips. Hoochie mamas coming out of the limos. Flashbulbs pop along the red carpet. What cliches did they not employ in the making of this video?

My grade: F

Yael Naim, "New Soul"--Okay, so Apple made you famous with your cute little ditty. To start, this video seems promising, with Yael moving into an apartment, no lip synching. But then she puts up some woodsy wallpaper, and then Yael is tickling the ivories, she's singing now, and the video inexplicably cuts to some dude in a field with a horn. She puts up pictures of all of her bandmates and then does crude drawings over all of them. Suddenly, there's a porthole in her apartment, she knocks down the walls and she's on some kind of hippie barge. The bandmates, on handpainted inner tube, will be right there. She dumps the goldfish in the river. Hey, that goldfish will never survive...but it doesn't matter, the hippies are dancing. You don't have to pay rent when you live on a barge. Score!

My grade: C-, sorry, cutie.

Fiest, "I Feel It All" (Embedding is disabled, but you can see it here.)

Fiest, I love Fiest. Sure, she's a chart-topping pop chanteuse, but she's not exactly a young thang, she's striking without being perfect looking (she wears a pair of jeans and an old striped sweater in the video). She has Peaches and Canadian music scene bona fides. She makes great videos that don't seem to have been dreamed up in an ad agency.

All the creative choices are kind of weird and non-commercial. I mean, are those red isotoner gloves meant to pick up the lipstick red of the oil drums? It may have been the Chardonnay talking, but I was just sitting back and thinking, this is the first time I've really felt something while working my way the queue.

I've got to hand it to Fiest. You get the sense that despite how annoyingly catchy her songs are, there's still something original about her, that she's really doing something that she cares about and that comes out in everything she does.

Love the crazy exuberant dancing, the sheer romanticism. I'll be the one to break my heart, indeed.

Grade: A+

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