Thursday, July 15, 2010

Revenge of the Words

I don't exactly pine for them, but the years 1965-1974 had some advantages. Well, at least one: People used to listen to music. I mean really listened. It wasn't uncommon for someone to arrive at a party with a new album, and all conversation would cease while everyone present sat around and paid attention to the music.

Well, you might say, that's because of all the acid and hash and marijuana. And you might be right. The Age of Uppers which followed--a wave of cocaine that worked its way down into our present era of bathtub meth--almost inevitably ushered in multitasking and increased multichannel input, and all the other elements of Short-Attention-Span Theatre, and the consequence was one of the most ghastly inventions of all time, the Music Video. At last: A way for people to decide what music they liked by the way it looked.

Yeah, yeah, I know--some good directors learned their chops in the music vid business, blah blah blah. Well, HIV was good for the condom business, too, but that doesn't mean it was any kind of net boon to the world.

Over the last couple of years, however, music videos have been hoist on their own petards (and no mean trick, that, given how scarce petards have become). Words are now having their revenge through the medium of Literal Music Videos.

For those few who don't know, a Literal Music Video is one where the lyrics of the song in a music video are replaced with new lyrics that describe what is happening in the video--which, as we all know, usually has only a remote connection (if any) with the original song.

When I am overexposed to music videos, either from a party where they are playing on a television, or from foolishly watching the video of the theme song of the movie in the DVD extras, or after I've been around any of my nieces or nephews, I head for the computer and watch a few Literal Music Videos to wash the taste out of my mouth.

LMVs are like everything else: most are mediocre, some are appalling, and a few are outstanding. The masterpiece of the field is still David A. Scott's version of Total Eclipse of the Heart:

A picture may be worth 10,000 words, but a few words can reveal how pretentious a picture is.

And where, apart from the captions on a Literal Music Video, can you find lines like:

And they shouldn't fence at night
Or they're going to hurt the gymnasts... ?

Oh, sorry. You're right. Schizophrenics say things like that all the time.


Extra credit question: Why are so many of the funniest LMVs takeoffs on Jim Steinman songs?


Alis said...

Hi David, that was such a laugh - thanks!

Anonymous said...

thanks, merci pour la video. I liked the image/age post as well. Men and women who are over 60 but claim they are young, stealing youth myth from their children. I understand why children in the 30 ressent these post-hippy, pre-bobo egocentrics.

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