Saturday, November 27, 2010

100 Music Videos, Part 2: Bijelo Dugme to Bruce Cockburn

I like to think of our first installment in "100 Music Videos" as something of a journey. A journey from Norway all the way over to Iceland. This installment will be an altogether stranger journey, as it begins in a country that no longer exists and ends in a country that most Americans don't believe exists.

We also venture into a wider range of genres, ranging from country to German hip-hop to some crazy made-up bullshit genre called "pronk". We get so see supermodel Kate Moss get murdered, a topless Japanese chick covering herself with sugar and Kate Bush getting gritty. People disappointed in the lack of Jonathan Coulton videos will get a nod. There's something for everyone. In fact, there's even something for unbirthing fetishists (furry fetishists are advised to check out our previous installment).

On with the show!

11. Bijelo Dugme – Lipe Cvatu

Bijelo Dugme - Lipe cvatu
Uploaded by Mr_Kelevra. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

In the 1980s a lot of grandiose, bombastic 70s bands realized that the world of music was changing and rapidly changed in kind. They stripped down, tossed in some synths, made tighter arrangements, and released albums like these. This process was not limited to the west, as can be seen from the experience of Yugoslavian cock-rock band Bijelo Dugme, which suddenly became a synth-folk-pop band in 1984.

You can see all this in the incredibly sparse video for "Lipe Cvatu", where the band is pretty much chilling in a restaurant that feels more like a cafeteria, listening to thet nice Kosovar folk group. Bosnian heartthrob Mladen “Tifa” Vojičić is just laying back content in his awesomeness and Serbo-Croatian heartthrob Goran Bregović is drunkenly waving his fedora around. Oddly enough, the drunken Bregović would later become the most respected musician in the Balkans and the sober Tifa would get kicked out of the band for drug abuse.

12. Björk – Where is the Line? [dir. Gabríela Friðriksdóttir]

Bjork - Where Is The Line
Uploaded by Narfouette. - Up-to-the minute news videos.

This is a pretty weird video. It has exploding hay in it. What’s weird about the video is that the exploding hay is probably the least weird thing about it. The second least weird thing about it would be when the hay that doesn’t explode gets up and starts dancing. The second weirdest part would be when Björk gives birth to a strange gooey white alien-creature that coughs up gelatin. And the weirdest part would be when that last part is played in reverse. But, you know what? That's why we love her.

13. Laura Branigan – Self Control [dir. William Friedkin]

And there’s a creepy doll / That always follows you / It’s got a ruined eye . . .

Anyway, there are plenty of music videos where a bunch of crazy shit happens (see previous video). Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” video is sort of one of these crazy surreal music videos, but it’s so much more. This tells the story of an ordinary person trapped in a crazy surreal music video. Branigan’s facial expressions convey the confusion that the viewer feels. Who’s that guy in the white mask and trench coat? She doesn’t know either. Aren’t those leotard-wearing dancers disturbing? She’s disturbed too. Those hands coming out of the walls giving you nightmares? They’re giving her nightmares too. Did you notice that when the guy in the white mask takes his coat off, he’s kind of hot? She definitely noticed.

14. Holger Burner – Unser Standard

With the German government once again imposing austerity measures on its citizens it’s putting a bit of a damper on the whole post-Cold War triumphalism. Thankfully, Holger Burner is here to connect the dots by presenting two intertwining stories to tie class struggle present to class struggle past.

Now, history never repeats itself exactly, but the same basic elements are still at play. The clothes, cars and film stock may have changed, but the working class is still the working class and the ruling class is still the ruling class. And, more importantly, in Hamburg, people still burst out rapping at the pub. Some things are universal.

15. Kate Bush – Army Dreamers

Do you know what’s hot? Chicks with guns! Especially chicks with big guns. Especially when the chick in question is Kate Bush. Especially when she has such thick makeup it makes her look like a porcelain doll. Especially when on top of all that makeup there’s a layer of dirt intended to convey the harsh reality of war. Especially when she’s surrounded by a bunch of guys with similarly big guns performing dainty balletic dance moves. Especially when they’re all singing this particular song. Especially when it’s all accompanied by a harpsichord. Did I mention it’s Kate Bush?

16. Cardiacs – Tarred and Feathered

This is pronk.

17. Johnny Cash – Delia’s Gone [dir. Anton Corbijn]

JOHNNY CASH: Delia, oh Delia! Delia all my life . . .
BUTTHEAD: Uh, who is this dude? He looks familiar.
BEAVIS: Oh yeah, yeah, that’s, um, um, uh, whatshisname, um, um, uh, uh, Captain Kangaroo. Heh heh.
BUTTHEAD: Captain what?
BEAVIS: You know? Captain Kangaroo! Heh heh. You know, Mr. Greenjeans and magic drawing board? Yeah, heh heh, yeah, you know?
JOHNNY CASH: . . . and I met Delia there. Found her in her parlor . . .
BEAVIS: Um, heh, what kind of music is this?
BUTTHEAD: Uh, I think this is, like, some kind of gangsta rap.
BEAVIS: Huh huh. Oh yeah. Heh heh.
BUTTHEAD: I bet this dude scores a lot because, like, he wears black.
BEAVIS: Yeah, yeah. Heh heh. Plus he’s old.
BOTH: Heh heh huh huh heh.
JOHNNY CASH: . . . make me want to grab my sub-mo-chine . . .
BEAVIS: Whoah! Heh. This is pretty violent!
BUTTHEAD: Yeah! Huh huh. Enough is enough.
BEAVIS: Heh heh. Yeah.
BOTH: Huh huh heh heh heh.
JOHNNY CASH: . . . the first time I shot her . . .
JOHNNY CASH: . . . I shot her in the side . . .
BUTTHEAD: He shouldn’t have shot that chick. She’s pretty hot.
BEAVIS: Huh huh huh. Yeah, really. Heh heh.
BUTTHEAD: I would have taken her off his hands. Uh, huh huh.
BEAVIS: Yeah, you know what he should have done? He should have, like, fired some warning shots up in the air. Heh heh. That would have scared her away. And then, like, and then I could score. Heh, yeah, heh heh.
BUTTHEAD: I guess if a chick has to choose between, like, dying or, like, doing it with you, you might actually have a chance at scoring, Beavis. Huh huh huh.
BEAVIS: Heh heh heh. Yeah, yeah yeah. Yeah, I know. Heh heh. I know. Heh. Uh, that’s why I was suggesting it, you know, yeah. Heh heh. Heh heh.
BUTTHEAD: Huh huh.
JOHNNY CASH: . . . Delia’s gone.

18. Cibo Matto – Sugar Water [dir. Michel Gondry]

Cibo Matto- Sugar Water [PV]
Uploaded by skanel. - See the latest featured music videos.

Oh, Michel Gondry, you think you’re so clever. Well two can play at that game. How about . . .
Go hang a salami.
I’m a lasagna hog.
You may now concede defeat.

19. Cloud Cult – Running With the Wolves [dir. Eric Power]

When you make a music video that consists of literal re-enactments of the lyrics, it can be dangerous. Especially when the lyrics involve things like “Left all our clothes with the car back by the road”, “Left all we own in a hole in our back yard” and “Left all our cubicles in little flaming piles”. But the fine folks in Cloud Cult figured out how to do it right. The secret? Construction paper. Also helpful? The creative manner in which they disconnected their phones.

20. Bruce Cockburn – Lovers in a Dangerous Time

Bruce Cockburn is one of those singers who gets angry whenever he reads the newspaper and writes a song about it. For instance, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” is him getting angry about the contras in Nicaragua. What makes “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” so special is that it’s a catch-all song for every time he gets angry reading the newspaper.

Rather than depicting ordinary people in a specific third-world country struggling to survive a specific conflict, we get a bunch of interpretive dancers in weird make-up and skin-tight body suits struggling to survive in an ’80s dreamscape filled with fake rocks, barbed wire and fog machines. This makes it the ur-music-video-about-how-terrible-the-state-of-the-world-is-today.

Part 1: A-Ha to Besti Flokkurinn
Part 2: Bijelo Dugme to Bruce Cockburn
Part 3: The Coup to Finntroll
Part 4: Freezepop to The Imagined Village
Part 5: Insane Clown Posse to Corb Lund
Part 6: M.I.A. to My Chemical Romance
Part 7: Sinéad O’Connor to Public Enemy
Part 8: Pulp to Smashing Pumpkins
Part 9: Todd Snider to Suzanne Vega
Part 10: Julieta Venegas to Zemfira

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