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