I remember when I was younger watching music videos was something like a religious experience. Every day after school kids would rush home to act as the congregation for reverend Carson Daly as he sermonized the MTV-anointed popular music for us. The show changed the music industry in it’s own way. Instead of having a few really movie-quality videos, everyone had to have one. And they had to keep pumping them out to remain relevant day-to-day.
Bands who had never seen much of a spike in their popularity were seeing themselves glamorized on television in these expensive clips, selling out their integrity to get to the number one spot and keep it. Music that used to be dubbed “alternative” was being shoved down the throats of unknowing kids who wanted to hear everything but had limited access to it. Who could forget the first time Korn beat out the boy bands for the #1 video with “Freak On A Leash,” becoming the first band to hold the spot for more than a week not called Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync
Every couple weeks there would be a new video by the men that dominated the scene for most of TRL’s existence-Wayne Isham, Hype Williams, and Joseph Kahn made clips that took excess to the limit. If we were lucky, more artistic guys like Mark Romanek or Spike Jonze would unleash a masterpiece. There are very few videos that really stand out above the rest. There are videos like “Thriller” or “November Rain” that really took the form to another level, and those were made long before this trend began. In their day it was more about what the artist wanted to do rather than what the fans demanded.
MTV let the show run a lot longer than they should have, and eventually the videos just got too expensive. The ideas dried up and we were left with a lot of repetitive garbage mostly by hip-hop artists that just filled the screen with scantily clad women and cars. Eventually TRL got pulled in 2008. Now there’s a new crop of DIY filmmakers who are bringing us videos straight to Youtube so we have constant access to whatever we want.
The quality varies greatly. Nowadays a solo artist with an acoustic guitar and iPhone can make a video and post it. But there are some out there that are still pretty good. I’ve seen a few in the past couple weeks that give me hope that we may be coming up on a renaissance of the art. Please enjoy them:
The first one is by MS MR, a duo out of NYC who are putting out a record called Second Hand Rapture in May. This song is called “Fantasy.” Things get all kinds of weird as the video goes along, and you can tell that the creators of the video put a lot of effort in. This is a very polished and professional video compared to most these days.
This second video is from right here in Chicago! 90 Pounds Of Pete is the electronic side project of Young Jesus drummer Peter Martin. This displays more of a DIY take on making a music video, but I enjoy it the same. When I saw Young Jesus last year the people in the front kept yelling “PETER!!!! PETER MARTIN!!!!!” He’s a charismatic guy, so I can see why they love him so.
Finally, here’s another Chicago group with a video filled with familiar pop culture images. “My Brother” is the first single from Any Kind‘s new album-which is coming only a few months after they released their first LP.