As part of Music Video Week here on PPH, we’ve asked our contributors to nominate their Top 3 music vids of all time along with a few words to explain their choices. Here are Cathy Landicho‘s choices. She can be followed on Twitter @ConfusedAmateur.
3. ‘Sabotage’ – The Beastie Boys (Spike Jonze, 1994)
MCA’s pulsing, fuzzy bass line, insistent like a police siren, propels this song’s intensity; combine that with Ad-Rock’s throaty, aggressive vocal delivery, and you get a head-banging tune that could easily soundtrack a retro cop show. Spike Jonze’s stylish, funny, frenetic and affectionate video featuring the Beasties in multiple roles totally complements each beat – from the spinning shots accompanying the record scratches, to the hits timed to drumbeats, to the long fall that accompanies Ad-Rock’s wail of “Whhhhyyyy”. The video helps you mentally strut to the song, and motivates you to try sliding across the hood of the car. (Don’t lie – I know you tried it too.)
In memoriam: MCA (who dressed in lederhosen as his alter ego Nathaniel Hornblower and stormed the stage of the MTV Music Video awards to protest Jonze losing the Best Director award to R.E.M.’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ – not a proud moment, but a memorable one)
* * * * *
2. ‘Virtual Insanity’ – Jamiroquai (Jonathan Glazer, 1996)
An obvious choice; a totally mesmerizing and unforgettable video. Even though this was on heavy rotation for a good chunk of 1996, I’d never flip the channel because you’d watch it again and again, trying to figure out how the hell it was filmed. Is the floor moving? Or the set? But the couch is moving too… and it looks like there’s so few cuts! And why is Jay Kay wearing that silly hat? It turns out that director Jonathan Glazer came up with the concept and executed it on a manageable budget, securing the camera to a set on wheels, moved by ten dudes’ choreographed pushes. In four shots! But besides all that, the point is that it’s nigh-on impossible to take your eyes off Jay Kay and his dancing. He made it look so damn easy. If you’ve watched the video as much I have, when you dance along to this song, somewhere in the back of your mind you’re imagining the floor moving with you.
Also, check out this interview with Jonathan Glazer explaining the video.
* * * * *
1. ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ – Lauryn Hill (Big TV! 1998)
Jersey girl Lauryn Hill’s massive solo album spawned two great music videos that pay homage to NYC: ‘Everything is Everything’ and ‘Doo Wop’. The former’s concept of Manhattan as a rotating record on a turntable is nifty, but the latter’s thoughtful split screen vision contrasting 1967’s Washington Heights with 1998’s just suits the song perfectly. The London duo Big TV! (Monty Whitbloom and Andy Delaney) manages to join the split screens seamlessly through smart compositional choices, and the symmetry maintained throughout creates an impressive illusion. It’s great fun watching 1967 Lauryn Hill duet with 1998 Lauryn Hill, with competing backup singers (though the Pips-like 1967 ones win, hands down). The old-school-meets-new-school style of the song is served well by the numerous poignant juxtaposed images in the video, showcasing the changing times of black New Yorkers of both genders. But for all its nuanced content and technical achievements, I love this video because it makes me want to hop into the screen to join the block party and get my groove on.
* * * * *
Want to join the conversation? Find us on Twitter @PPlasticHelmet and use the hashtag #MusicVideoWeek.