When “WTF” is the Desired Response to a Music Video
By Becca Gleason on September 7, 2010
Fall is just around the corner and you know what that means – NEW MUSIC!
It’s time for fresh albums, long-awaited tours, and a new batch music videos. Video production in the music industry has, and will always be necessary to the success / failure of an album: it visually conveys who you are as a musician, performer, and artist while rapidly expanding your fan base. In the spring of 2006, OK Go was a little indie speck on Billboard’s radar until the launch of one of the most viral music videos the Internet has seen, “Here It Goes Again”. Using a treadmill will never be that cool again. That being said, the visual role of music seems to have taken a turn past “cool” and is heading straight for “weird”.
MGMT’s music video for “Congratulations” debuted this week and –much to the surprise of no one –is totally freaky. But MGMT is consistently characterized by their psychedelic sound (which is a nice way of saying that it sounds like they’re on acid), so I guess this video doesn’t come as a complete shock. The video features Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser following what looks like the offspring of a camel and pterodactyl (cameldactyl?) across the desert until it literally falls apart and sinks into the sand. But by the end of the video, you realize that your attachment to the creature far surpasses the animal’s attachment to its own limbs, and you can’t help hitting “replay.”
But MGMT’s malnourished emu isn’t the only peculiar animal that has reared its ugly yet adorable head in the indie world. Earlier this month, Yeasayer released the video for “Madder Red,” which features a… potato-dog? Their video was heavier on the acting and less on the music, but the buzz created by the band’s poor little tuber-buddy was enough to earn some serious attention. And even though Yeasayer’s disfigured canine might not be as cute as MGMT’s (which really isn’t saying much), they did cast Kristen Bell as the lead, evening out the playing field.
Although the “indie” link between MGMT and Yeasayer might seem like some artsy coincidence, the idea of weird music videos has gone mainstream thanks to none other than Taylor Swift. She seems to have gotten the memo that weird music videos are cool, but I don’t think she read it all the way through or consulted Lady Gaga.
Taylor’s video for “Mine” has all the necessary scenes one should expect before shit gets weird: She begins highlighting some familial issues sprinkling in shots of her singing in the wilderness and eating at diners alone. Enter Hot Guy; relationship blossoms; Lots of frolicking on the beach; proposal in a canoe. (The Notebook?)
Don’t get me wrong, Taylor is an adorable ragamuffin who seems to have a good head on her shoulders… but here’s where it starts to change. She proceeds to get married and quickly things turn for the worse. Quick cuts of her fighting with her husband paralleling the issues with her parents (which we saw little Taylor witness previously). Cut to consoling husband. Cut to Taylor with Baby (Wait, what? Oh, and no, she hasn’t aged). Cut to Baby’s 4th Birthday (Her hair is pulled back, indicating aging). Cut to pregnant Taylor. Then the ending sequence with the family of 4 playing in the ocean (guess she had the other baby – and no, she definitely hasn’t aged). I’m sorry Taylor, but what? I guess real life can be a little too weird for me sometimes. As a counter point/sidenote, My co-blogger Matt told me to let Taylor know that he loved the video and that she should leave her number in the comment section under the name “Love Can Be Swift” (Good luck, dude)
The weirdness factor of “Mine” might not be as in-your-face as our indie rockers, but she still managed to leave me feeling a tad uneasy. Maybe the 20 year old should look into casting some imaginary, 4-legged friends? I’m sure MGMT would be cool with lending her the cameldactyl. In any case, I’m excited for the rest of the music due out this fall and the weird-ass videos that will likely ensue.