Friday, August 11, 2006
the hills
So I finished off that sixer of Coronas last night. M wanted to take the room swimming, but everyone decided another episode of The Hills was in order. The show name sounded familiar; it turned out to be Laguna Beach in Space or something. Some ginger-headed boy in Jordan home whites took umbrage that his aspiring fashionista girlfriend wanted to be "royalty". She simultaneously took offense and the under at once: "Well, every girl deserves to feel like a princess!"

Everyone in the room loved it. Just ate it up. I thought about my half-bottle of Thunderbird in the fridge until I realized it fell to me - the only one who didn't feel the stone drop while viewing BBC Three's Sinchronicity - to bitch about the state of MTV. Right? No videos, the travails of (hopefully) unrepresentatively moronic rich kids? The usual. But on the truck ride back to M's I realized I didn't care. No, it was more than that: I don't want MTV to show more videos.

In the ATX, we have ME Television, which shows about 20 hours of videos a day (the remaining hours are devoted to local restaurants, the same shitty short film about a kid hunted by soldiers, and station gadfly JJ Castillo's shiteating muggings). I've been guilty of watching this channel for hours at a time, with its beguiling mix of new (Rihanna, that damn Dixie Chicks video) and old (the Fabulous Thunderbirds!). But whenever I stop, I get cloudy. Convention after convention haunts these videos, from "Triumphal Live Setting With Hand-Raising Twats" to "Side Mounted Car Camera Catches Rapper Looking Existentially Disquieted" to "Director's Comments and Band Lingering After 'Cut' Left in Video Because We're Packaging Reality". This shit runs together after a while, because 1) singles tend to maintain similar themes and structures, which means most videos are responding to the same cues, and 2) music videos are a profoundly lesser art. Like, lesser than slam poetry.

We all know "Video Killed the Radio Star," but who remembers the other videos MTV played that day? Very few, of course, and there are reasons why. Music videos are promotional tools, designed to get the songs in front of more people (and in many, many cases, videos seemingly exist to make the songs better). Why would I watch Men Women and Children's ponderous Studio-54-on-the-sun video if I wouldn't want to catch their half-assed electrorock live?

I'm also getting weary of music videos that show up the songs within (see: Sophie Muller's entire output). The first five times I watched OK GO's last couple videos, I was amused at the band's cheek and "ambition" (which would be subversive if we weren't living in a viral-video age). After that, I noticed the songs kind of suck. At first, it was fun trying to sort out the mashed iconography in Cat Power's "Living Proof," but in the end, the peakless track leaves me as cold as its video's endless slow motion. ("Lived in Bars," on the other hand, is a joyous clip with a song to match.) Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" (by the always-reliable Mark Romanek) and Doves' "Some Cities" are two other culprits that seem to show every couple of hours down here.

If MTV showed videos all day, we'd see garbage like 30 Seconds to Mars, She Wants Revenge, and Dem Franchise Boys. Who wants that? Relegate the videos to the late night, and maybe we'll be forcing groups to get more creative with their visual choices to get noticed. Or we'll just unleash another generation of Sophie Mullers. In any event, I'm more entertained and inspired (even if it's a reactionary inspiration) by dumb-ass Hollywood interns trying to choke "soulful" and "concerned" looks out of those drained-pool eyes.

Posted by Brad on Friday, August 11, 2006 at 2:58 PM |


I'd never even heard of Dem Franchise Boys until literally 2 days ago.

But I know their song on the radio! I just didn't know it was them.

I think that makes me stupid. or oblivious. or something.

But Sophie Muller is responsible for "Mr Brightside"!

And, I mean, I adore those Ok Go songs (the whole record, really), but I can see why those who don't would get sucked in by the video and then be disappointed.

Sophie Muller is a dowdy goddess. I honestly liked the high camp and male sexual politics of "Mr. Brightside," even if the song itself kinda sucked.

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The FunkyFunky 7 Are:
A group of kids with WAY too much time on their hands.