For today's installment of "100 Music Videos" I'd like to introduce a game I call "Irony or New Sincerity?" I don't think Alanis Morisette reads this blog, so I will assume you all know what irony is. New Sincerity, on the other hand is a bit more complicated. The idea is that, when something doesn't have indie credibility, but someone likes it anyway, they will pretend they only like it ironically. Then they keep their true feelings bottled up for a really long time, before admitting that they like it unironically. And then they go on obnoxious pseudo-philosophical rant about how admitting this represents some sort of paradigm shift in the way we as a culture perceive art until somebody makes them shut up. And that's new sincerity.
But sometimes there are things that just demand good, old-fashioned irony, so it can be tricky to figure out which one applies to which situation. I'll give you a head start here. The first video on the list: definitely, unequivocally irony. The last video on the list: so inherently awesome that there's no need for either. The rest, you'll have to figure out for yourself.
Let the games begin!
41. Insane Clown Posse – Miracles [dir. Paul Andresen]
Over the course of Insane Clown Posse’s long, illustrious career, Insane Clown Posse developed a reputation for being a) a bunch of violence-obsessed nihilists, and b) really dumb. Aware of this stigma, they recorded “Miracles” in which they boldly set out to disprove the first assumption. Instead, they proved the second. Personally, I blame the fucking magnets.
42. Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness [dir. Julian Doyle]
I like the way this captures the angst all schoolchildren feel. There’s something universal about the stuffy art teacher wanting the kid to draw the church but he keeps on putting in evil clouds, even though the evil clouds are really there but wait until the stuffy art teacher turns his back and, really we’d all rather be headbanging to heavy metal anyway so why do we have to draw that stupid church?
It’s fitting that this is the 42nd entry on the list because the stuffy art teacher is played by Graham Chapman of Monty Python in his last performance, and Chapman had previously worked on a failed Ringo Starr-led TV show co-written by Douglas Adams, who later adapted abandoned storylines from the show into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which made the number 42 famous.
But, wait a minute! Douglas Adams also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency which featured a secret alien message in the poem “Kublai Khan”, which was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who also wrote “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, which was later adapted into a song by Iron Maiden OHMIGOD!!! All the conspiracy theories are true!!!!!
43. Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal [dir. Colin Chilvers]
Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal
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For the Michael Jackson entry, I've decided to follow the Nostalgia Critic, and go with "Smooth Criminal" over "Thriller". It’s a close call, but the neatly choreographed gangster barfight just works so well. Also, to avoid beating a dead horse, I will follow the Nostalgia Critic’s advice and not crack any jokes about the Michael Jackson pedophilia stuff. So, uh . . .
. . .
. . .
Oh yeah! Some people don’t like that bit in the middle of the video where the song stops and weird ambient music plays while everybody goes into orgasm. Those people don’t understand sonata form. You see, at the beginning you play the theme, while the middle section is more improvisatorial and focused on building up tension until the return of the theme at the end. He’s just following in the footsteps of Mozart and Beethoven.
44. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance [dir. Francis Lawrence]
Lady Gaga has come under a lot of criticism for parading around in a bunch of weird costumes to cover up the weakness of her music. Fair enough, but the parades around in a lot of costumes! I mean, she goes through twelve costumes in this video alone, all of them completely non-functional! That’s a lot! And one of them includes eyeglasses made out of razorblades! Razorblades! Eyeglasses! Now that’s freaky!
45. Laid Back – Bakerman [dir. Lars Von Trier]
Lars Von Trier’s Dogme 95 movement involved creating a set of filmmaking rules in order to preserve realism and reduce expensive special effects and gimmicks. For instance, all filming had to be done on location. You can’t use music unless the characters the characters are playing or listening to music. And any action scenes had to be done by the actors themselves, so you couldn’t use stunt men or special effects.
So when Lars Von Trier directs a music video in which the members of the band are flying, he had no choice but to get them to jump from an airplane with their instruments and perform the song while they fell. By doing this he was able to preserve realism and reduce expensive special effects and gimmicks.
46. Seth Lakeman – The White Hare
Seth Lakeman - The White Hare
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Omigod! Isn’t Seth Lakeman just sooooo dreamy?!?! Okay, so it was about time that the English folk scene got its own heartthrob. What makes him different from other heartthrob singers is that he actually writes his own traditional English folk songs. And the old-beat-up-movie look of the video with it’s painted backdrops and wind machines gives it just the right level of cheesiness that you’re not sure if you’re enjoying it ironically or with new sincerity.
47. Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun [dir. Edd Griles]
It’s common for kids to set up imaginary battles between the stars of their favorite TV shows and argue over who would win. You know, like “If Superman and Batman got into a fight, who would win?” (Answer: the invincible guy who can fly and deflect bullets and has heat vision and x-ray vision). I, for one always wondered, if Mario from the Super Mario Brothers Super Show fought the chick who sang the theme song to Pee-Wee’s Playhouse got into a wrestling match, who would win?
I had always assumed, it would be Mario, since he’s played by professional wrestler Captain Lou Albano, but this concrete video evidence suggests otherwise. I’ve heard rumors that wrestling matches are sometimes fake, but I’m still willing to take this at face value. So Mario, you’re still number one, bud Cyndi Lauper’s gonna pin you against the wall if you get between her and fun.
48. Leningrad – Gelendzhik [dir. Andrey Zakirzyanov]
WARNING: This video contains meat.
In the late ’90s America was faced with the short-lived swing revival. Remember that? Because Europe is always behind the times except for when they’re ahead of the times, it took until the early ’00s for all that to catch on in Russia. But, at least with Leningrad, they managed to do a better job than the Americans.
The American ska and swing scenes were a bit too focused on trying to replicate the original scenes exactly, without modernizing it in any way, so it came off as a pale imitation of the original. Leningrad definitely preserves the sounds of old-school Russian swing. The guitar solo resembles a similar solo in Shostakovich’s first Jazz suite. But, rather than copying the zoot suits and all that, Leningrad went in a different, more poultry-centric direction. And the world is better for it.
49. Louise Attaque – J’t’emmène au vent [dir. Mark Plati]
The name “Louise Attaque” was an homage to the Violent Femmes. You see, “Louise” is a woman’s name, and “Attaque” is something violent people do. Since all the members of the band were not-particularly-aggressive men, they came up with that cartoon alter-ego you see in the video. Here, you see the band playing folk music in the barren plains of rural France, but the mere presence of the cartoon alter-ego is enough to cause swarms of people to dash out at them from nowhere. I think.
50. Corb Lund – Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer [dir. Joel Stewart]
I’m sure plenty of people have listened to this song and thought to themselves “You say you have hair in your eyes like a highland steer but seeing as I am not, nor have I ever been, a highland steer, I have no frame of reference to grasp this concept.” Well, fear not, dear listener, because Corb Lund has provided a video that introduces the latest cinematographic technique: a little thing called Bovine-Cam™.
With the miracle of Bovine-Cam™ you can experience what it’s like to have hair in your eyes like a highland steer. Simply find a highland steer, and add Bovine-Cam™, and let it loose in whatever institution you frequent. For instance if you’re a hunter, let it loose in a hunting lodge. If you’re a god-fearing Canadian, let it loose in a church. Just to be safe, let it loose in a Hunting lodge where some guy is pretending to give a sermon. Get yours now!
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