Harrison Ford

Moses and the Thin Commandments: Kings of Leon – “Use Somebody”

kings-of-leon-use-somebody

Okay, we start off in some penthouse living room where people are sitting around and watching-

Whoops, now we’re not there anymore. Suddenly, we’re in some type of aircraft and the pilot is either drunk or just very confused as we zip dangerously close to tall buildings in a large city. Then we start seeing jump cuts of the band getting ready for either a show or some type of therapy. You never know with these music types. One day you have a hit single on the radio and virgins are professing their undying love because they have low self-esteem, the next day you’re in rehab and preparing for your guest role on the latest series about “what happens to people who make a lot of money too fast”.

Quick shot of a shirtless somebody lying on the floor of some random room. He doesn’t appear to have any legs, which could totally change the context of the entire video. But instinct tells me that the legless aspect might just be the result of people having focus issues. Not accusing anybody of anything, just pointing out that 97% of what you see in a music video is the result of folks drinking a few beers and then saying “hey, what if we throw in something that has nothing to do with the song? If it works for politicians, it can work for us!”

Anyway, we then have more of that crazy plane flying through the city night, where we aren’t sure if we’re seeing an advertisement for the latest XBOX game or if this is some type of terrorist training video. This is followed by a brief shot of a half-naked couple being intimate, with low-level lighting and zero-fat supermodels pawing one another like there’s a prize at the bottom of the cereal box. If the producers are taking audience-participation votes, I’d say we ixnay the “Top Gun” action and remain on the ground, even if it means more footage of people we don’t know who are on the verge of procreating for all the wrong reasons.

Finally, the flying and the intro music settles down and we get to the opening vocals. We have a tight close-up on the lead singer’s face, which is supposed to signify that he’s very emotional and really into these words. It’s very soothing after the loud craziness of the first thirty or so seconds, but I won’t be surprised if we’re suddenly back on Air Force One and Harrison Ford has to do something very heroic at just the right time or we all die.

Then we start jump-cutting again, and we’re bouncing back and forth between the crazy plane and the people sitting around in the penthouse living room. Still not sure what those penthouse people are doing. It’s very dark and they look bored and unsatisfied. Are these folks college graduates who are waiting for their degrees to actually mean something? Good luck with that.

Okay, now they’re cutting in brief shots of a concert, so it’s about time for the big blow-out on stage that most of these videos eventually get to. (So far, you can’t really call this the most original video ever created, but at the same time, most of these videos are “directed by” and “produced by” people who don’t know a single thing about artistry and musicianship, so they go into management, just like the real world.)

And then we have the big “jamming on the stage” sequence just as the wailing chorus kicks in. The camera is all over the place, naturally, to create excitement. Otherwise, it’s just people standing there and fondling their instruments, and with today’s attention-deficit society you must have excitement and movement or many folks just doze off due to their unnecessary but stock-boosting medication.

Shot of people at what looks like a clinic, with guys hugging each other as they’ve apparently just heard satisfying test results concerning something or other. (Not pointing fingers, but there are always baby daddy issues in the music world. It’s some type of requirement.) Or maybe they just like excuses to hug. It’s not my place to judge. If some men need to create fake drama in order to touch each other, so be it.

Now the band is at some bar, where people are playing pool and smoking an incredible amount of cigarettes. Oh, and drinking beer. They keep love-tapping their bottles together so we don’t miss the beer part. And they’re playing foosball as well. We seem to be having a party in 1978, an archaic time period when most of the people who downloaded this song weren’t even born yet.

We head back to the actual concert footage, which is mostly in black and white, so somebody was at least trying to be a little artistic. These guys really like doing the wailing chorus bit, which is fine. It’s the best part of the song, and if we’d all participated in the beer consumption in the previous scene, we’d be wailing as well. And maybe even hugging.

More jump cuts. Bar scenes with beer bottles, people getting in a snazzy red car, more startling intimacy, another shot of the people celebrating test results at the clinic. Or maybe they’re praying, not really sure. And now the snazzy car is racing around town, oblivious to things like traffic safety and slow-moving seniors who are just trying to get across the street so they can cash their Medicare checks before the Republicans gut the program. The producers of this video sure have a thing for speed and blurry lights and a disregard for having a clear life plan, so they also might want to take advantage of government benefits before they run dry and they have no way to pay off their student loans.

Jump cuts continue because, well, it’s a music video, and Moses decreed as he staggered off the mountain that jump cuts shall flourish among the unwashed and unfocused. We now have shots of the desert at night, some dude doing push-ups, and more intimacy with the vague couple who don’t really like each other but boredom often leads to poor decisions.

Whoa, now we have some guy taking a shower, didn’t see that coming. More speeding and blurriness and random nothingness. Close-up of a guitar being played, a brief nod to the fact that music is actually created by musicians and not supermodels who have more insurance coverage on their breasts than most people have on their homes. Then we have some guy in his bulging underwear, because who can pass up a shot like that? The image will be all over the Internet within seconds, with less-endowed people using it as their profile pic on skeezy dating sites where everybody lies because horniness makes you do stupid things.

This montage continues for a while. Blurring. Intimacy. People salting something that they probably can’t eat on their vegan diet. And we can see that the bored people in the darkened penthouse are still bored and we don’t know why they can’t just get up and go somewhere fun. Has somebody issued a restraining order that is forcing these folks to be in the same room even though they clearly don’t want to be? Hey, maybe this is the O.J. Simpson jury house. No wonder they came to the wrong verdict. There’s not enough light for them to actually see the evidence.

Finally, the music all dies down and the lead singer is emoting the final lines of the song. Love his interesting voice, but it sure looks like it is physically painful for him to sing these words, his face all scrunched-up and such, like Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie” when she and her horrid hair didn’t get her way. He seems to have some issues.

Maybe the lead singer should go back to that clinic where people get test results that make them happy. I’m sure somebody up in that grill can help. Or at least give him a hug. But he better hurry up and get there, before the Republicans stop the funding on any program that dares to help the common man instead of the rich white men who currently have a clammy throttle-hold on American society.

Why focus on politics in the end? Because so many people don’t.

Cheers.

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 11/30/09, revised and updated with extra flair (and politics!) for this post.

 

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.