Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Music Videos Part 1

So, I need to get something off of my chest. Its something that's been building up for a while, but came to a head last Sunday during this year's MTV Video Music Awards.

However, before I get into it, I want to give you a bit of background so you understand where I'm coming from. This is superficial, so its ok to skip it and go straight to part 2 tomorrow, but it will give you a bit of an idea where I am coming from.

Also, it may help to further understand my point if you look up the videos I mention on Youtube.

I got into music videos about the same time I got into more mainstream music in the summer of '97. This happened completely at random because it seemed like almost every time I flipped channels, I'd always see Will Smith' Men In Black, or Prodigy's Breath. Men In Black was just such an addictive song that it grew on me, and the Breathe video was really interesting because it was nothing like anything I had seen before in music (I listened to almost exclusively country up to that point). It got to a point where I found myself tuning into MTV and The Box hoping to see these videos more. Before I knew it, music video viewing was dominating my television viewing time.

As fall came around, I saw my first MTV Video Music Awards show. Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity was the heavy favorite that year, and won Best Video. And I didn't mind that, it was a cool video. The only other nomination I remembered was a video by Nine Inch Nails called Perfect Drug. I wouldn't see that video until college. As the fall went on, more really creative and cool videos were coming out, such as Busta Rhymes' Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, Will Smith's Getting Jiggy Wit It, which were all highly entertaining videos, but my favorite by far was The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony. It was such a silly video, but for some reason, highly amused me. As winter and early spring rolled in, I was exposed to more gold with Metallica's The Unforgiven II (which began my obsession with heavy metal), Marcy Playground's Sex and Candy, Backstreet Boys' Everybody (Backstreet's Back), Semisonic's Closing Time, and Garbage's Push It. All of these videos all had very unique concepts and were highly entertaining to watch. It was around here that I started firing up my VCR, and recording my fave videos, because there was nothing like Youtube back then! And I wanted to watch these things when ever I wanted!

More quality videos continued to come out into the summer, but this was around the time I first started recognizing music videos as an art. Back then, in the weeks leading up to the VMA's, MTV would always have these retrospective shows about VMA's past. It is through these shows that I discovered past winners such as REM's Losing My Religion, Pearl Jam's Jeremy, and most notably, The Smashing Pumpkins' Tonight Tonight. Now I began to understand how a video really expands on the concept of the song. In these videos, the use of imagery was just so amazing that its really visual poetry. There was so much meaning and heart put into these videos that it amazed me. It was around here that I started to flirt with the idea of getting to music video making.

Anyway, the VMA's happened again that year, and Bittersweet Symphony was nominated, though the heavy favorite was Madonna's Ray of light which did wind up winning. I didn't understand why. It was just a bunch of random images in fast motion. Nothing really special about it, especial since her other video that year, Frozen, was so much better.

Anyway, that next school year, more awesome videos came out like Offspring's Pretty Fly for a White Guy, Orgy's Blue Monday, Dave Matthew's Band's Crush, Eminem's My Name Is, Metallica's Turn The Page, Pearl Jam's Do The Evolution, and Busta Rhymes' Gimme Some More (which is one of the craziest videos I've ever seen). But the big one that year was KoRn's Freak on a Leash. So, when it was the heavy favorite that year for the VMA's, it not only felt natural, but almost like justice. 9/9/99 comes around, and I'm just waiting for KoRn to walk away with it. I mean they had it in the bag. The heavy favorites for every year I've watched the VMA's won Video of the Year!

I about chucked my TV across the room when Lauren Hill's Doo Wop won.

I was pissed. That video really wasn't anything special at all. One can argue that it had a cultural retrospective between R&B of today, and Motown of yesteryear, but there was nothing exciting about the video. It was boring. It wasn't well shot, and there was nothing interesting about it. It was just Lauren Hill and the crowd in 2 different period costumes. That was it. If they had to give it to her, they should have given it to her for her video Everything Is Everything, which I felt was much much better.

So, the new century came around... and I gradually noticed as the years went on that videos were getting less and less interesting. There are some stand outs like The Red Hot Chili Pepper's Otherside, Outkast's Bombs Over Baghdad, Tool's Schism, Linkin Park's Crawling, Puddle of Mudd's Blurry, Coldplay's Trouble (Which I consider the second to last truely amazing video I saw on MTV), Gorillaz' Clint Eastwood, Eminem's Stan, and Metallica's I Disappear among others, but that was only a handful of videos in my 4 year tenure in high school that really impressed me.

As for the VMA Best Video winner's, Eminem's The Real Slim Shady was one of his most annoying songs and the video imagery felt like a rehash of My Name Is, Lady Marmalade was just horrific, and Eminem's With Out Me was a bit better than The Real Slim Shady, but once again, it was the same video as My Name Is. This especially upset me coz they won over videos that I felt were much better, such as RHCP's Californication, Fatboy Slim's Weapon Of Choice (one of my all time faves), and Linkin Park's In The End respectively.

The times were changing. MTV started playing less and less music videos, almost to coincide with the decline of the creativity behind them, and slowly drifted towards reality programming. By the time I graduated high school, I had grown sick of the music on MTV, and began to discover (after working in a CD shop in Ocean City in 2001) that there was more music out there than what was being played on MTV. With the release of St. Anger, I was all but read to leave mainstream music completely behind... but MTV dragged me back one last time.

The heavy favorite for that year's VMA's was one of my favorite artists of all time, Johnny Cash, for what I consider to be the last truly great video made (to my knowledge), Hurt. And I say the term "truly great video" to imply a video that had a deep, lasting, emotional impact on me. It seemed kinda ironic that on the eve of my almost total departure from mainstream music that the awards show that almost highlighted the decline of music videos was about to honor not only a true American legend, but probably the best music video to be made since my obsession first began in mid 1997.

That night, MTV died to me, and 15 days later the world lost Johnny Cash.

This was the final time there was an opportunity to celebrate and honor one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known during his life time, and the organization that failed me time and time again basically spit in his face by giving the award to one of the most undeserving pieces of shit I've ever seen in my life ( probably would actually be indifferent to the video had it not beaten Hurt). Do I think Johnny Cash really cared? Probably not. I think he spent his final days mourning over June, who passed only 3 months prior. But for me, it was the final straw. For the first and only time in my life, I felt insulted by the total disrespect for a truly fine piece of sheer art.

I never watched MTV again.

There was only one memorable moment for me that night that I really felt was was justified, and unfortunately it wasn't from the show itself, but rather from who is currently the biggest pop start in the world. This man won a lot of respect from me after this. I'll let the clip speak for itself:

5 months would pass before I cared about a music video again... and this one changed my life. Malice Mizer's Beast of Blood. Finally, after years of only a few decent videos here and there, I felt this art form hadn't died, but instead relocated to across the Pacific. Upon further exploration into J-Rock, my passion for the music video was reinvigorated as every video I saw from Malice Mizer, Gackt, L`arc~en~ciel, Dir en grey, and Psycho le Cemu were just amazingly entertaining and absolutely captivated me.

However... recently that's changed...


P.S. For those of you who don't know, Johnny Cash's Hurt was a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song. In an interview with Alternative Press, Trent Reznor had this to say about the cover and it's video:

I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore… It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning—different, but every bit as pure

Sunday, September 09, 2007


So, I'm sitting here in my empty home in Ocean City. The summer's over and starting last Tuesday, the town started going into ghost town mode. Thats when I like it here the best, because my section of town is almost entirely empty. I haven't left the house much since I left my job. Mostly been doing TR work, and catching up on some gaming and movies. I'm not working as much as I should be though. I gotta refocus myself.

Yes, I haven't written in this all summer. Those of you close to me probably know why. Other than my professional life, this summer didn't go so well. I got laid off from 2 jobs, one that I was at for 8 years, the other I only worked for 4 days until I was let go for a variety of bullshit reasons, including "your hair is too long", and was unemployed for a month, which left me in financial ruins. To make matters worse, the job I went on to a month later was 7 days a week, 10 hours a day (a private contractor job), and I barely made a dime. I made more money at the first job i ever had than at this. The only reason I've been able to keep TR alive with all of is costs, as well, as my own personal bills (i.e. car insurance), is through the generosity of my father, grandfather, and the boss at my third job, who gave me several breaks.

There's many other factors that made this a not-so-great summer, but I don't wanna get into those. Except the kittens... Just before the Candy tour, my cat had 5 kittens. My grandfather doesnt like animals, so I had to find a home for all 6 cats. My father accepted foster care of my cat, and we found homes for 3 of the kittens. However, with the other two, we found several potential takers. But each time, when I followed up, they changed their mind (a couple right when me and the cat were on their front door step). So, it got to the point where I had to take them to Jersey with me. I hid them for the first week, then decided to tell my grandfather about it, leading him to think I already had a home for the (at the time, I kinda thought I did). He didn't hit the roof like I thought he would, but he did say he wanted them out ASAP. Then I started my job, and used that as an excuse as I continued my search for their home.

However, the days and weeks dragged on, and I started to feel more and more like shit. But just having these kittens around cheered me up a bit. I'd find myself coming home from work, opening the front door with a smile on my face, saying "Where's my babies?!" and they'd come hopping up, purring, and rubbing up against my leg. They brought some light to my dim life, and some company as my grandfather only came down 2 or 3 days a week, and would even skip some weeks. And before you know it, I accidentally named them. These guys really kept me alive.

Now the summer's over, my summer job is done, and I need to get back to PA to start a new job ASAP. However, I can't go back until these guys get a home, and I will do that. I'm not putting the in the SPCA. I don't want them to rot in some cage.... and I don't want them to be separated.

If I could, I'd stay down here year round. But my grandfather only keeps the place open to November, and there's no point in getting a job now that I'm just gonna quit in a month and a half when the job market is open now. I need to find a day time job that I can get flexible hours with, and keep it until June. I can do that now. I dunno if I can do that in November... so essentially I need to be out of here in a week to have any hope of getting a decent job, or paying the bills next month.

Besides, I like it down here like this. It's quiet, cool, by the ocean, and I have a house to myself. Yeah, I get lonely once in a while, but more often than not, I enjoy my solitude. My spirits are starting to pick up a bit now that the summer's over.

Never thought I'd say that.

But the only thing left to do is to get these kittens a good home. I've resorted to the last resort of posting bulletins on Myspace. No luck so far. I hope the offer reaches someone who can take good care of them.

But yeah, that's my summer in a nutshell. I avoided writing in here during the entirety of it so I wouldn't sound even more pathetic. But I have high hopes for the future.

Don't worry, as long as I find the kittens a home, I'm not bummed any more.