Friday, 30 May 2014

American Music Videos Think Large Even When They Want To Go Small

America thinks big when it comes to music videos. Much of this bigness is fuelled by its culture and the vastness of the country. One can just lose themselves in the hugeness of America, only to then reinvent themselves as somebody new. You can’t really do that in Britain because we’re too little and contained. We think small whereas they think big even when it comes to little things.
The music videos featured here are big in different ways. All are notable for the amount of effort that’s gone in. They are hugely personal but done on a scale that required time and manpower, not to mention calling in favours from pretty talented collaborators

Arcade Fire’s We Exist
Yup, getting the Amazing Spider-Man to cross-dress for a music video is a big coup in itself, but this one is more remarkable for being directed by Britain’s David Wilson. Wilson was just some quirky student making animated shorts in his bedroom and uploading them onto Youtube. He must have been good because his audience was really appreciative and big offers soon followed. And now he’s made a music video for Arcade Fire featuring Andrew Garfield. It’s weird how life works out.
It’s crazy to think that in the same month that Garfield is staring as the lead in one the most famous characters in popular culture, he is also a video in which he plays a vulnerable drag queen. Tom Cruise would never have done that in his time, but you can nowadays. There is something so great about that.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s Until the Sun Explodes
New York City indie pop kids The Pains of Being Pure of Heart have produced a music video that will have grownups of a certain generation grinning from ear-to-ear. The clip recalls American cartoons that played after school in the ‘80s. These cartoons were often mass produced in Korean sweat factories by exploited Asians who’d painstakingly hand draw animated cells in return for food and cigarettes; all so American kids could be mindlessly entertained. These shows travelled to Europe and became staple viewing, too.
It’s the love and affection that’s gone into this video that makes so special. It’s done to perfection and immediately conjures up memories of when childhood consisted of pretty simple pleasures. The song is fabulous, too.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s As Always
Philadelphian indie rock group CYHSY has created a song that is arguably the closest any band has sounded like Radiohead… well, at least like Radiohead before they lost their appetite for melody. It’s a really good song that’s emotionally affecting in ways that only American indie rock can excel at.
The video is a piece that shares its influences with the leftfield films of David Lynch and Gus Van Sant, presenting the life of an American bloke riddled with internal torture. Featuring surreal motifs of burning cars in motion, incomprehensibly open landscapes, grizzled barrooms with browbeaten patrons, isolation in busy places, and repeated images of gunplay, CYHSY has produced a song and video that ranks with the very best so far this year.

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