Humor

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

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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.

 

The Banality of Exploding Pudding: Coldplay – “Christmas Lights”

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  Preliminary Note: Just before watching this for the first time, I noticed a YouTube comment from somebody claiming “the fish eating the boat is the best part!”. What the hell? What am I getting into with this one?

We start out with the camera focused on an old phonograph, with somebody getting ready to play a record of Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights”. Okay, that’s what I’m wanting to hear, so that’s good. A mysterious hand gets things going, and we pan down to a strange piano that is playing by itself. Aside from the paranormal angle, we’re also distracted by the fact that all of the keys have been painted different colors, back in about 1918 and whoever painted them is now presumably dead. Hmmm. So far, I can’t really say that this is the most cheery Christmas video out there.

Camera moves away from the piano and we pan along the band members lying on their backs on an old wooden floor. (What, they’re too lazy to actually perform in this video? Was the mayo bad in the tuna salad? Has Gwyneth put them in time-out?) We finally get to lead singer Chris, and he starts singing while still laying there. I spy an “X” on one of the floorboards near his head, and I find myself much more interested in what might be under that floorboard than where the rest of this video is going. I need to focus.

Chris is singing really softly on this part of the song, and I’m straining to hear as he wimpily gives birth to the lyrics, so it’s kind of a relief when the camera pans away. Sadly, we’re back at the creepy piano that is being played by the Ghost of Christmas Past, or maybe his cousin, the Ghost of Videos Where You’re Not Sure What Is Going On. The camera pulls back, and we see that Chris is still on the floor, but the rest of the band is no longer there. (I didn’t receive a memo on where they might have gone. Not judging, but it’s entirely possible that a drug dog wandered into the scene and certain key players had a professional interest in not being sniffed.)

Suddenly, Chris levitates from the floor into a standing position. Oh? There is just something really wrong with this place. Chris isn’t bothered that his body was just transported against his will, and instead of questioning the levitation like a normal person he decides to start banging on that Piano of the Dead. The camera pans to somewhere else, and we see a nice, billowy red curtain, one that is hopefully not possessed. The curtain parts, because that’s one of the job functions of billowy curtains, and hey, there’s the rest of the band. They’re playing their little instruments on an old-timey stage. There are cut-out props shaped like buildings in the background, and for some reason I think of Istanbul. I’m probably supposed to think of something else, but I’m very confused.

The guys jam for a bit as the camera moves backwards so we can get a better gander at this new tableau, and we can see that there are some pretty Chinese lights strung across the stage. Okay, are we supposed to be thinking of Christmas around the world? Not sure. (Do they even do Christmas in China? Sure seems like something you would want to keep on the down-low or your ass might end up in jail.) The camera zooms back in from the cheap seats so we can watch the Istanbul props slide into the wings, and then we have more sliding, with a new set of props that apparently involve an ocean and a moon rising out of the water. It’s primitively pretty and all, but I’m starting to think maybe the set decorator might have had some focus issues. This is confirmed when, suddenly, three drunken Elvis impersonators zip by while playing violins.

Did anybody talk to Graceland about this?

The hyperactive camera pulls back again (did somebody miss a scheduled dose of anxiety meds?) so we can see that the band is still playing, but that wasn’t really necessary since we can hear them the whole time. Then we zoom in on Chris still banging on that piano, and he’s singing to somebody that must be in the balcony because he sure doesn’t want to look at us. (What did we do wrong? Bastard.) At the back of the stage, the Elvis clones zip by again, followed by one of Lisa Marie’s lawyers.

Oh wait, here’s that part with the boat getting eaten by a giant fish. Well, then. I can’t really say it was the most agreeable development in this video, what with all that carnage and violence, but I’ll agree that it was unexpected. Still, it makes me a little sad that the YouTube comment got more votes than anybody in the recent Presidential election. Nothing says “hope for humanity” quite like millions of people who would rather eat a tub of ice cream while watching Rednecks Say the Funniest Things instead of helping pick the next leader of their country.

Chris gets bored with the decaying but psychedelic piano and moves closer to his mates, allowing for a great photo-op, should anyone be interested in such a thing. Then the camera once again (just take your pill, dude) pulls back from the stage, rather far this time, so we can see that there’s a little marquee above the stage with the words “Credo Elvem Etiam Vivere”. I’m sure there are scholarly people who can interpret this slogan for us, but I’m going to assume it means some character from “The Lord of the Rings” is now living in Las Vegas and helping Santa deliver presents.

The camera retreats far enough that we can see buildings in the distance over the top of the theatre. One of them looks like the Capitol Building in America, but I’m going to assume that it’s not, since we’re dealing with British folk who would prefer that the Pilgrims had just stayed home and sucked it up like everybody else. The bi-polar camera zooms back in on the band, still doing their thing. Now we’ve got fake snow falling down, which is kind of pretty even though it’s clearly just scraps of shredded newspaper that some low-paid stagehand is being forced to hurl about, so the magic is a bit thin. But Chris is now sporting a carnation, and that makes everything better. If the scene isn’t working, bring in a floral motif and all is forgiven.

The fake newspaper bits fall for a while. Somebody was really invested in this part of the goings on. I wasn’t that person.

Then the camera pans way to the left, and we’re looking at what I’m guessing is the River Thames. There’s a triple-decker boat floating about, with tons of people on the top deck releasing balloons at just the right lyrical moment. Fireworks light up the sky, which isn’t really something we do in the Colonies during the Yuletide season, but it’s very festive and I suppose it’s nice that the Union of United Explosive Handlers, Local 707, might be getting some overtime pay.

Now we’re zooming back into the old-timey theatre, with the Elvis Pod People playing their violins with a passion and more pyrotechnics exploding from where the seats would be if there had been an actual audience. (Should I worry about what might have happened to the concert goers? Maybe not. Don’t ask, don’t tell, invoke the Fifth Amendment should there be a court hearing.) At this point, Chris is really invested in doing hand movements over his head, so we’ll assume that this part of the song is super important to him. (I’m still trying to figure out what Istanbul has to do with any of this.)

The curtain closes, the camera gives us another glimpse of the creepy piano, and then it pans over the top of the theatre so we can see the cityscape once again. More fireworks explode as the music fades and, presumably, Tiny Tim convinces Scrooge that world peace is possible as long as everyone has enough figgy pudding and people stop blaming others for their hesitance to take responsibility for what is happening in their own lives…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 12/12/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

 

Tightly-Wound Buns and Flying Crabs: Thomas Dolby – “She Blinded Me With Science”

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We start out with Thomas tooling down some road, driving one of those old-school motorcycles with a sidecar thing. (I never understood those contraptions. If you need the extra seating, just get a car, right?) Anyway, Thomas and his odd trench-coat are driving up to a collection of buildings in the countryside, where we can see a man with a jetpack standing on the roof of one of the structures. He looks a bit distraught (maybe he should get off the roof, that might help) and he’s shaking his head at us in a manner which indicates we should just go find a nice pub and not stop here.

But Thomas does, because he’s a free spirit (how else would you explain his hair?), pulling into a little parking circle in an erratic manner that makes it clear he just learned how to drive the motorcycle three minutes ago. Some helpful title cards then appear on the screen, letting us know this is “Mr. Dolby’s arrival at the Home for Deranged Scientists”. How nice for him. But why would a deranged scientist voluntarily go to a sanitarium? They must have a really compelling brochure.

Thomas and his odd cap head inside, where he finds a woman wearing spectacles and looking completely out of place at the reception desk. (She appears to be angry in some way? Did he not have an appointment? Do deranged people even understand what appointments are? Or reception desks?) Thomas hands over some paperwork and takes off his coat, because it’s really far too big for anyone to be wearing if they want to be taken seriously.

The cameraman heads back outside to the lawn (probably because paperwork takes a lot of time to review and no one wants to watch that process) where we find several older gentleman doing strange things. Bubble-blowing appears to be involved, and possibly some synchronized frolicking. Even the cameraman doesn’t know what they’re doing, so he gets bored and we head back into the main building. We encounter the Receptionist Lady, who is leading us (and presumably Thomas) into an inner chamber with a sign on the door that is vague and misleading, so anything could be happening in here, from barn-dancing to yodeling.

We are then presented with a man standing at and gazing out a window, perhaps searching for a better-paying job, who turns and comes rushing at us with far more enthusiasm than is comfortable, especially in England where one simply doesn’t show excitement unless another coronation has been announced. He shakes our hand and then proudly directs us to a nearby psychiatric couch. Oh. We’re going to do that now. Great.

Luckily, the camera switches angles so that we are no longer pseudo-Thomas, and we watch as real-Thomas plops onto the couch with great comfort and familiarity, indicating that he’s been to this rodeo a time or two. As Thomas wiggles his fanny on the couch and the doctor drops into a companion chair, Receptionist Lady (who might be “Miss Sakamoto” from the lyrics or Joan from central casting) decides to climb a short ladder and then fiddle with her skirt in what I’m assuming is supposed to be an erotic manner but really looks like she’s done got the crabs once again.

This development causes Thomas and his hair to ogle her with barely concealed lust, a sure sign that Thomas has not been watching the right pornographic movies. It also causes the Doctor to suddenly be in a completely different video, one where he waves mysterious implements and does a small jig. Then the Doctor comes back to the right set, and he begins to scribble in his old-school notebook whilst Thomas tries to tell us why he’s here and what led him to wearing intense eye-shadow.

Thomas starts off by babbling about the stench of chemicals and scratching his head. (Uh oh, did Sakamoto’s crabs leap-frog their way across the room?) As if she heard our thoughts, Sakamoto and her severe glasses turn to give us a penetrating look like she’s a prison warden with her hand on the switch that controls the electric chair. Or maybe she’s just horny, because we quickly cut to another scene where she and Thomas are doing an odd awkward dance in a darkened but classical room, clutching at each other and moving sedately.

Oh wait, maybe it’s not Saka. This woman has long hair that is not wound into a bitchy receptionist bun, and as she slowly twirls with Thomas, we can see, courtesy of her revealing couture, that she has an odd, vaguely violin-themed tattoo on her back. Maybe this is Saka’s musical personality that takes control from the other personalities in her head when they are all standing on a dance floor? Saka Chaka Khan?

We briefly cut back to Thomas still on the couch, touching his nose and making sniffing motions. Let it be entered into the court transcript that this is a completely unattractive thing for Thomas to do.

Another shot of the questionable waltz, then we go back to original Sakamoto as she climbs back down the short ladder. She’s not carrying anything, like reference documents or prescriptions for tranquilizers, so she clearly did all that mess just to show off her legs. Harlot.

The Doctor and Thomas continue to chat, with Doc scribbling frantically and Thom pulling up one pant leg to show something that we don’t care about. (Another title card pops up, proclaiming “Suitable for Treatment!” I think that card should have started the video.) The Doctor is suddenly inspired to do that waving thing with his implements again, looking manic, and Saka arrives bearing refreshments in the form of a wooden puzzle that Thomas must decipher for some important reason. We watch him bang at that thing for a bit until the cameraman gets bored once again and we head back outside.

To find those older gentlemen are still frolicking about and being very invested in doing annoying things. One of them is prancing with a jacked-up butterfly catcher, another is playing hopscotch whilst looking through a telescope that is pointed at the ground, and some interns seems to be pushing a patient along on a gurney as they rush to somewhere important. (Oh wait, that last one might actually be serious. These people take pills like a kid eats Skittles, so sooner or later one of them is going to hit the jackpot of unsatisfactory chemical interaction and there’s a flat-line issue. We should probably send a card.)

We eventually make our way back to Thomas, still on the couch, and he seems a bit peeved that we’ve been away for so long. (Dude, there was a Code Blue on the lanai. Un-clench.) But before we can become close friends again, we head into a montage of various happenings around the Happy Valley Home for Head-Jacked Scientists. There’s some man on the lawn wearing shoes that look like smoking guns (symbolic of the Reagan Administration?), more of Jet-Pack Guy on the roof, not knowing what he’s doing but determined to do whatever it is (symbolic of the Thatcher Administration?), and some nuns with those creepy, overblown hats strapping Thomas onto a gurney (symbolic of record executives having no idea what to do with new-wave music?) Just guessing.

The gigantor-hat nuns eventually roll Thomas into a room that has a nice little contraption that they can strap to his head, so they do. The headgear looks menacing, in that “does this have anything to do with a lobotomy?” kind of way, but Thomas doesn’t seem to be fighting the procedure. (Maybe he can get some new musical ideas for his next record? At least for the remixes.)

Next we have a brief shot of someone playing a violin, then we’re back outside where the older gentlemen have gathered and are doing a group dance that has little relation to the music that we are hearing. (So that’s how raves started. At an understaffed sanitarium where Thomas Dolby lusted after a dark-haired woman who may or may not have an STD. Update your notes accordingly.)

Okay, we’re now in the “operating room”, where Thomas is still wearing his fancy metal bonnet, the Doctor is now wearing one of those old-timey head bands with a mirror stuck in it, and some previously-unknown German-flavored people are wearing evil grins. Oh, and Sakamota is no longer wearing her severe bun, letting her locks tumble and confirming that she did indeed slow-dance with Thomas in a darkened ballroom that isn’t a ballroom whilst wearing slutty clothing.  This will have to go in her personnel file, I’m afraid.

Speaking of the ballroom that really isn’t, we head back there briefly so we can watch Thomas use a violin wand to play the tattoo on Saka Chaka Khan’s back. (Saka doesn’t move a millimeter while this mess is going on, indicating dissatisfaction and boredom, so you know Thomas better find another form of foreplay or there’s going to be a heated discussion and possible privilege-reduction.

And we’re back to Thomas on the gurney, presumably post-lobotomy, and we watch him watch several smartly-dressed young boys head past him into a secret room. (Symbolic of game night for certain Catholic priests?) Then we have another montage, letting us know that Thomas is actually still talking to the Doctor, the Jet-Pack Guy still hasn’t found what he’s looking for, the creepy nuns are still being really pushy with people, Sakamoto is back to her “I’m still pissed off about something” attitude, and Afternoon Tea has been seriously compromised what with all the rude interruptions.

New title card, this one announcing “Mr. Dolby rejects Science and things Scientific”.

So he’s become a Republican?

We wrap things up with Thomas and that coat we don’t like heading out the door of the asylum while looking subversive and shady, followed by a shot of the Doctor emoting in a dark corner and proving that any licenses he may have had should be ripped from his over-active hands. Then we wrap things up once more with Thomas again heading out the door, this time in his white couture from the apparently dream-sequence lobotomy, followed by a shot of the Doctor being shoved into a wheelchair and then subsequently shoved into a nearby river while people look the other way. Apparently we’re being given an alternate version of reality in case the first one didn’t adequately satisfy our prejudices and ignorance.

Symbolic of the staff at Fox News? You decide…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube. (Note: The “official” version of this video has been pulled by WMG, so this link to a renegade copy could break at any time.)

Originally published on 03/01/13, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.