Month: February 2015

Childhood Issues and Excessive Paint Splatters: Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”

 

Black Eyed Peas I Got A Feeling

 

We start out with some really skinny girls in short skirts walking down Hollywood Boulevard, so you know right off that this thing is going to be of the highest artistic integrity. Nothing says class like a bunch of possible tramps travelling in large groups.

We get a quick shot of Fergie in some sort of dressing room, where she is proving that she can indeed lift her leg over her head, even while wearing high heels. This is followed by shots of other people getting dressed for something that’s about to happen. Apparently it’s hot outside, because nobody’s wearing much of anything, with the basic couture theme being “just cover up the really naughty bits because if you get arrested we’re going to be late for the after party”.

Will.i.am starts out with the vocals, while he wanders around searching for something, probably looking for some additional lyrics beyond the two lines that he knows really, really well. We start seeing little snippets of neon paint dribbles here and there, a messiness that will prove to be an important plot device later on in the video.

We roll into a montage, with multiple shots of Fergie wearing only a g-string and a boa. She must really love that boa, considering how she’s rubbing it on her body with the determination of a dog chewing on a bone. I’m sure there’s an underlying message here, but it probably doesn’t involve innocence or good hygiene.

We have another montage with the various band members texting each other as they continue to prep for the party and stare into fancy mirrors, each of them obviously in love with their reflections and the pleasure of getting to wear outfits that the common people can’t afford. Meanwhile, lots of people that we don’t know are marching along the city sidewalks, equally in love with their appearances, but on a smaller budget. As a teaser, we get more examples of the mysterious neon paint splatters, although we can already sense that the payoff on this angle is not worth the investment.

One of the travelling hordes comes across Taboo, who is just floating in the air for no apparent reason or scientific explanation. He ignores them, and they ignore him, because this is Los Angeles (presumably, it’s not like we have subtitles) and people do unexplainable things every day in this town. (Scientology is very popular there. Need I say more?)

Okay, finally, we start seeing people do things with cars, driving them, getting out of them, posing beside them, rubbing up against the more expensive models in a wanton display of desire and lust. This is a much more realistic depiction of mobility in Los Angeles. People don’t walk anywhere, especially while wearing the stiletto heels that keep appearing in front of the camera out of nowhere, because the city has a footprint the size of Jupiter. (Let those New Yorkers be proud of walking everywhere and not owning a car. That’s easy to do when everything you need is just a block away.)

We finally get to our party destination, a house presumably owned by someone who has very tolerant neighbors because the music gets really loud as we swing into the chorus. The folks at this party are really happy and energetic, bouncing off the walls, making foundationless hand gestures that don’t appear rhythm-based, and laughing in a serial-killer manner. Clearly, these people are on something a little stronger than appetite suppressants.

Now it’s Fergie’s time to sing, so she struts around a bit as she does so, waving this weird feather-duster thing that’s really distracting. (She can afford any prop in the entire world, and she selects a house-cleaning implement? There are some deep, psychological issues at work here.) Then we have an important scene where she almost falls off a couch, while on the wall behind her is a giant target symbol with a shark coming out of it. I suppose that image means something to somebody. I doubt that the shark had any creative input.

We roll into another montage although, to be fair, this whole thing is really one big-ass montage. (We just have segments where we aren’t jumping around as much. This is probably where the editor stepped outside for a quick smoke.) We see more drinking and hyperactive dancing, spiced up with a brief shot of Fergie feeling up some female extra. (I bet that wasn’t in the extra’s contract. Or maybe it was. It wouldn’t surprise me if the BEPs had some disclaimer like this inserted in all legal paperwork: “There will be times when The Peas will want to do something you didn’t expect. Let them.”)

Next we have Fergie crammed in one of those Plexiglas-ball chairs on a chain (those things always bothered me, with the threat of the chain breaking and then you roll to your death), Fergie groping somebody else, and Fergie magically transported to the other side of the house. This girl gets around. But she still hasn’t put down that damn feather duster. (Was there an incident in her childhood involving the household staff? Who knows.)

We have a shot of two girls kissing, because hints of Sapphic pleasure are always a selling point when it comes to music videos, then we get a slo-mo shot of Fergie twirling her hair through the air. (Did she have dreams of being a prop-plane pilot that were never realized?) And then we have more shots of high-end foot-ware, because you’ve got to keep the female element interested in the video despite the objectification of women. This is Marketing 101.)

New development: Here comes some guy carrying a can of the day-glo paint that’s been dribbled all over town. (Dude, did it never cross your mind to put a lid on that thing? You’ve left a mess on the city streets that looks like My Little Pony had a digestive imbalance and then ran amuck.) Some of the folks at the party immediately start shoving their hands in the paint, all the way up to their wrists, making colorful pseudo gloves. (Because that’s the first thing YOU would do, right? “I don’t know you, but let me violate your liquids. Thanks!”)

Apparently the arm-baptism thing is a huge hit, and everyone else at the party gets a text to come join in the fun. The new arrivals are even more exuberant with the paint, smearing it on their faces and clothes and whatnot. Then somebody turns on a black light, thus enhancing the druggy appeal of the dripping latex, and this inspires everybody to break into the chorus of the song and pogo around the room with a vengeance. (This is what happens when Republican states cut education funding.)

This paint-enhanced revelry goes on for quite some time, so I’m guessing this scene was the biggest part of the video budget. Someone gets creative, and starts turning the black light off and on so it sort of looks like different scenes and they can get more footage out of it. But it’s still the same dance moves, same attention-whoring people, and same repeated lyrics regardless of the light status, making things a bit boring and drab. (This is what happens when Republican states completely eliminate arts funding because it’s not mentioned in The Bible.)

As we near the end of the video, the producers just start throwing in any random shot: people getting thrown in a pool (the paint is going to clog the filter, people), some klutzy woman taking cookies out of the oven and spilling them (she is not on the next guest list), people rolling off beds in their underwear (no idea), passed-out hookers in hallways (not judging, just an observation), and folks having performance issues in a bathroom (not even going to touch that).

Finally, the party’s over, and we see people wandering off into the night. One of the skinny models from the opening shot trips and busts her butt on the pavement. I think that was my favorite part, which probably means that I have my own childhood issues involving clumsiness and pain. Don’t we all?

And yes, the last time you see Fergie at the party, she’s still got that dang feather duster, clutching it like the Ark of the Covenant and Harrison Ford might show up at any moment…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 08/13/09, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

 

Faye Dunaway and the Popsicle People: Rob Thomas – “Her Diamonds”

Rob Thomas Her Diamonds

 

Okay, we start off in… I don’t know what it is. A cave? A disco? Some spooky lost room at Hogwarts where Hermione morphed from frizzy-haired munchkin to supermodel between movies? All we really know is that Rob is already singing about the sad, lonely girl who cries pretty tears. I don’t know this girl personally, but it sounds like she needs to bottle whatever is coming out of her tear ducts and sell it to frumpy housewives in Kansas.

Oh, and it seems that one of the motifs for this video is using reflections of Rob on odd surfaces. They’ve already done that about 20 times and we’re barely 30 seconds into it. We could interpret this on a superficial level (“Rob really likes to look at himself”) or there could be a much deeper meaning (“Rob Thomas does not actually exist, it’s all smoke, mirrors and hair gel”). The second option is certainly much more interesting, so I’m voting for that one at this point.

Wait, now we’ve switched over to an apartment, one that is apparently located in the upper echelons of a swanky high-rise. (I’m basing this on the fact that the only things we can see out the window are other buildings, and not important reference points like ground or trees.) Then the camera cuts away from the Dramamine Window and we spy a Woman with Issues perched on a bed. She appears to be covered in ice, an unfortunate development that has resulted in her hair being dangerously spiky, like someone shoved icicles into her head. It doesn’t look like a very pleasant way to live your life, but we don’t know what she has done in her past and maybe this is her justified punishment.

Ice Girl is just sitting there, staring out the window. Perhaps she’s waiting for the sun to shine through that window so she can melt her way to freedom. (Which seems kind of lazy, to me. Why don’t you just go take a hot shower, honey?) Trouble is, due to the poor set design, we don’t know if it’s time for sunrise or sunset or if there is even a sun on this planet. And Ice Girl is not helping us figure out the timeline, with her annoying inactivity. She’s not drinking coffee or putting on her jammies or looking at her watch, nothing to set the scene. I don’t care if she’s frozen, she needs to step up her game or they should take away her SAG card.

Oh wait, now we’re seeing that Rob is trapped behind a wall of ice. I don’t know what he’s doing back there, perhaps he made a poor life-choice at some point. It’s possible that we should be concerned for his safety, but he’s still singing, and if he is really in any kind of danger then surely someone on his staff will work things out. He can’t sign their paychecks if he’s incapacitated.

The camera zooms in on Ice Girl’s eye. Wow, her mascara looks really good, considering she’s a Popsicle and all. This could be a new fashion trend, with refrigeration booths being installed at your local Macy’s cosmetics counter. Or maybe not. Despite Justin Bieber somehow making it past his 15 minutes, there are some pop-culture developments that really shouldn’t stick.

This just in: We do have a sun outside the previously-worthless window, and it just moved upwards a notch, so either dawn is breaking or the camera guy tripped over someone’s career lying on the ground. (The scriptwriter?) The golden rays continue to intensify, bathing things in a morning glow, letting the sunshine and the Age of Aquarius in, so we’ll assume that hippies are singing about it way down on street-level. But nobody up here is drinking any coffee to prepare for the new day, which is obvious blasphemy, so something’s obviously not right in this place.

We cut back to Rob still singing behind the ice wall. There’s probably some symbolism behind why he is doing that, but at this point in the sparse, cryptic narrative, we really aren’t invested in his tribulations. (Sorry, Rob. I’m sure you’re a swell guy, fun at parties and all, but your predicament is trumped by Ice Cube-Ette frozen to the trysting bed. Perhaps next time you’ll select a director who is less random and more focused on branding and product placement.)

And we’re back with Ice Girl, who has finally decided to do something more than sit there and look cryogenically beautiful. The sun is doing its thing, insisting on intruding in our lives even if people just want to hit the snooze button 37 times. Ice Girl is now melting, with big ole chunks falling off of her in a nice simulation of global warming. (In an immediate, Pavlovian response, 46 Republican senators post on social media that global warming is a hoax and so is this video, even though they’ve never seen this video or a non-censored science textbook.)

Interestingly enough, Ice Girl initially does not seem to be impressed with her release from glacial captivity. She looks very troubled about something. At the same time, we don’t see her ass getting off the bed and pulling the drapes across the window to stop the liquidity process. Maybe she’s just not very adept at handling change. (In an immediate, Pavlovian response, 47 Republican senators post on social media that progress is a hoax and this is the best music video that they have never seen.)

In a “wow, that was an anti-climactic moment” manner, the camera cuts to a quick shot of an iPhone, and we see that it is 7:15am. Yeah, we kind of figured that out, what with the rising sun and the vaporization of Iceland-Etta’s frigid couture. (And this signals the abrupt end to posting on social media by 48 Republican senators as they scurry to get back in their coffins before they burst into flames.)

And we’re back with Rob, who is still behind that ice wall, not rescued, proving that he is letting the wrong people into his inner circle. But it does look like there are cracks in said wall at this point, which leads to a question from the viewing audience: Is Rob actually the Ice Girl? Is this really all about him in some way? Rob’s not saying, and even if he was, we wouldn’t be able to hear him because that damn ice wall is in the way.

Oh look, Ice Girl just broke one of her hands free of the ice. And now an arm! Things are really starting to get busy up in here, with plates of ice sliding off her, onto the bed, and then clattering across the floor. (I’m sure the neighbors below her are none too pleased with all this racket, getting on the phone with the building manager. “She’s doing it again, Myron. Get your ass up there and make her stop!”)

Brief montage with reflections of Rob on the icy, watery floor. This does nothing for the story, such as it is, but it’s a nice bit of cinematography.

Hold up, new development. Is Ice Girl really Alicia Silverstone? (Pause it at 2:32, do a comparative study, and then get back to me. After all, Alicia did all those Aerosmith music videos a couple decades ago, maybe she’s getting back to her roots.)

Oh dear. Whoever Ice Girl is, she just rolled off the bed and fell on the floor. Now she’s wallering around in all those chunks of ice, like Faye Dunaway in that one movie where she drank too much and didn’t do the right thing when she should have. Flopping around in all the jagged ice surely can’t feel good, so I hope Alicia got paid well for this.

The ice wall magically disappears, and now Rob is singing and dancing in front of a really bright sun thing, doing some fairly uninspiring arm movements. (He should have hired Celine Dion’s Arm Choreographer, THAT person is really good.) Still, he seems to be having a much better time, so we’ll just let him be happy.

Alicia crawls to the window and pulls herself up into the sunlight. She doesn’t look very Zen about things but, let’s face it, how serene can you be when your undergarments are moist at inopportune times? Wait, it looks like Alicia might be trying to sing along with Rob, but you can’t hear anything because right then all 120 members of Rob’s backup gospel-choir kick in at full throttle. That’s kind of rude, people. You have all day Sunday to harmonize in church and at the potluck afterwards, let this woman have five minutes in the spotlight.

To his credit, the camera guy realizes there are far too many people belting out the chorus, so he does a close-up of Alicia’s vocal cords so we can see that she is, indeed, singing. And then she throws her head back and, based on her facial expression, something very sensual just occurred and/or happened to her. (I’ll have what she’s having. Make it a double. Thanks.)

And then, bam, it’s all over. We have a final scene with the cameraman walking backwards (watch out for that ice!) while Alicia stands at the sunlit window in her nightie. There are so many unanswered questions. How did Alicia get frozen? Is she going to get revenge? Does she have anything dry to wear? Will she have to pay for the damages? Why didn’t Rob just stop singing and help her out? Did anybody ever get any coffee?

Sigh.

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 08/13/09, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

[Author’s Note 02/03/15: I didn’t find out until just now, years after the original post, that it really is Alicia Silverstone playing Ice Girl. And this song is, in part, about Rob’s wife Marisol’s auto-immune condition. This satire piece is just about the video, and it should not be interpreted in any way as negative commentary about people with auto-immune conditions. That’s not something I would do intentionally. Peace.]