No, I wasn’t watching when MTV famously launched its network with the Buggles’ version of the song “Video Killed the Radio Star.” But a friend who lived in south Jersey had cable (NYC was one of the last places on earth to be wired for cable), and I spent a weekend goggle-eyed in front of her TV set not too long after MTV went on the air. So I’ve seen a lot of music videos over the years. The form hit an early high note with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and after that, you had to do something really remarkable to stand out from the crowd. All these years later, very few do. (One notable exception is U2’s “Window In The Skies” – which can still be found here and which, if you have somehow missed it, is worth four minutes of your time for its stunning statement on the enduring power of music.)
Today, we’re offering you a chance to look at 10 recent music videos. The videos vary widely, from the hi-tech Mad Max world of Rihanna’s “Disturbia” to the goofy lo-fi of No Age’s “Goat Hurt.” Fleet Foxes uses claymation, and Radiohead offers a series of neon-bright, nearly abstract processed images. Britney Spears appears buck naked. And I’ll be voting for none of them. Like I said, it’s really hard to do something that stands out, and sometimes throwing a big budget at a little pop song just doesn’t work. OK Go got a huge lift for their unedited treadmill routine for the song “Here It Goes Again,” and the White Stripes’ early video for “Fell In Love With A Girl” was memorable for another simple but original idea – using Legos. So I’m going to write in two recent videos. One takes the question “how do you make a music video without a video camera?” and answers it with a series of stills, put together flip-book style. The band is called Johnny Foreigner, and the song is “Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella.”
The other is the recent video from London rapper Scroobius Pip (actually Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip), and a simple, low-tech, but affecting video – apparently inspired by Wim Wenders’ film “Wings of Desire” – for their song “Look For the Woman.”
Are there still music videos that strike you the way these two did for me? Cast your vote in Soundcheck's music video poll.