The 1990’s produced some of the best music videos ever. Without a doubt there was a sense of true art and endless possibilities of things to try out and boundaries to push. One video that comes to mind when thinking about all that is “Come To Daddy” by Aphex Twin. This video is one of the best ever and it’s an absolute masterwork. The video was directed by Chris Cunningham (who’s done videos for Bjork, Placebo, and Portishead). Interestingly the video was shot on the same council estate that Stanley Kubrick filmed many scenes for A Clockwork Orange. A video like this to accompany a song that is quite unique would need to stand out and that it does. It’s artsy and different while at the same time very unsettling and disturbing at times. It’s also worth noting that Aphex Twin mastermind Richard D. James wasn’t thrilled with the reception the song got. So much so that after its successful release, James claimed that he removed the record from circulation for one week, hoping to prevent it from reaching number one; it peaked at 36. Even with all that, this video and song are still one of the best of the 90’s.
Nine Inch Nails 2007 album Year Zero is a true Unsung Masterpiece. It’s one hell of an album. The concept behind it is super eerie when you think about what has been happening to society and government over the years. The first single from the album, “Survivalism” is tremendous. The lyrical content along with the pulsating beat are so damn good. The video for the song is on a whole other level. At the end of 2007, Rolling Stone readers voted the video as the best music video of year. Directed by Trent Reznor, Rob Sheridan and Alex Lieu, the video consists of a series of images from a console of secret cameras installed in an apartment block. As the camera moves between the footage, viewers are able to see into the lives of a number of residents, including:
A catatonic older couple watching television with a portrait of Jesus behind them.
A man looking after his drugged spouse (and in one scene possibly dripping or injecting the fictional drug “opal” in her eyes).
Two men having sexual intercourse in bed. (Covered by the US Bureau of Morality image in the TV edit.)
A topless woman applying make-up in a bathroom. (Covered by the US Bureau of Morality image in the TV edit.)
A man sitting at a table staring at his food.
Three men in a shop (and later in an alley) working with stencils.
A man in his cubicle surfing the Internet on his laptop computer.
Nine Inch Nails performing the song in a room.
There’s so much more to this video. Each time you watch it, you find something else that was hidden in there and a bit subliminal. Nine Inch Nails videos are some of the best you’ll see.
The days of MTV back in the late 80’s and 90’s were great. You could watch music videos all day long. Even the specialty shows like, Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes were awesome. During the peak of MTV, bands would release pretty spectacular videos. One of the best from that era was Aerosmith’s “Cryin.” The video was a huge mainstay on MTV for a long time. It was also the first of 3 videos Aerosmith made that featured Alicia Silverstone (pre Clueless). The “Cryin” video also features Stephen Dorff and Josh Holloway. It’s a great video and it was justified as so when it was the most requested video of 1993 on MTV also it won Video Of The Year at the 1994 VMA’s. I miss videos like this.
This past year has been quite a ride. Through all the craziness though, a couple good things have been able to happen. For example, with all the time and working from home, I’ve been able to delve back into albums I haven’t listened to in a while. And within that, I’ve been able to show my young daughter some really great tunes and videos. One of which is this great video from How To Destroy Angels for the song “The Space In Between.” The video, directed by Rupert Sanders (who is primarily known for creating video game advertisements) is a very dark and interesting video that harks back to the days when videos were great. This is one hell of a great video and should be viewed a lot more!!
The Smashing Pumpkins double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness celebrates it’s 25 birthday this year (actually October 24th is the official date). This album, was a huge game changer and has gone on to influence and inspire countless bands and artists throughout the years. I still remember buying the album when it came out, and the countless hours I’d sit in my room and listen to it. One of the memorable moments I have about this album is when I first saw the video for “Tonight, Tonight.” I was absolutely blown away by how visceral the video was along with how interesting it was. The video was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (who would go on to make other pretty awesome videos for Korn and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a couple). The video won multiple MTV Video Music Awards as well as being a Grammy nominated clip. Another interesting tidbit about the video is that it stars Tom Kenny and Jill Talley who you might recognize from their work on Spongebob Squarepants and Mr. Show. This video is one of the all time greats and it deserves to get its acclaim and be celebrated along with the masterpiece of the album it belongs to.
The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine about how music videos these days just don’t have the allure and luster of the days before. Yes, we all know about the industry changing and all that but, there was something really cool about the way so many music videos had an effect not just on the song or band but, how it shaped filmmaking in general. One of th videos we were talking about was Korn’s “Freak On A Leash.” This video was directed by Todd McFarlane (of Spawn fame) and assisted by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (who would go on to make the Californication video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers). The “Freak On A Leash” video is over 20 years old now and it’s still one hell of a cool video. The way the animation and real world footage comes together is quite intriguing. The whole following the bullet aspect was pretty cool too. It’s not a surprise that the video would go on to win multiple awards.
Over the past few years, I’ve really come to enjoy Chelsea Wolfe more and more. I remember seeing her open for Russian Circles way back and at the time, I wasn’t too into it. Perhaps it was because of the band before her and their energy on stage was so electric that by the time it was her set, the drop in energy just dropped. That’s not to say she and her band weren’t awesome. Anyways, a couple years back, Chelsea released the album Hiss Spun, and it all finally made sense to me. One of the songs that instantly caught my attention was “16 Psyche.” This track and video are stunningly superb. This track and album are also the perfect introduction to getting into the greatness that is Chelsea Wolfe.
Back in 2003, after their successful debut album ANTthology, Alien Ant Farm returned with a new album called Truant. This album was produced by the Robert and Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots and it really is quite an underrated and good album. The first single from the album “These Days” features a really awesome video. The video was filmed and performed on the rooftop of the Hollywood Masonic Temple, across the street from the Kodak Theater, in Los Angeles. The surprise performance was shot during the 2003 BET Awards while numerous hip hop artists and rappers were arriving on the red carpet before the awards show. The video catches the reaction from many artists, including Pharrell, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Killer Mike, and Lil’ Kim among others. The band was arrested at the site and later dismissed by local authorities. It’s a really fun video and on of those that will guarantee you’ll smile throughout it.
Back in 2000, there was a really fun and cool tribute album released to celebrate the life of late Snot singer James Lynn Strait. The album entitled Strait Up, featured a plethora of guest singers and friends of the band like Jonathan Davis of Korn, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Brandon Boyd of Incubus, Serj Tankian of System Of A Down, among others. There was one song in particular on the album that got a lot of attention and acclaim and that song was “Angel’s Son.” This song was a wonderful tribute to their fallen friend. There was a newer version of the song recorded for Sevendust’s album Animosity but, the version that appears on Strait Up is the best one! The music video that accompanied the song was quite beautiful too. It’s an emotional video and gives you chills but, it’s also one of those that along with the song, makes for one hell of a great video.
Metallica have long had an interesting history with music videos. Their first “real” video was made for “One” back in 1988, and that really started the train moving. Then as “The Black Album” was released and was making history (and still is to this day), they band really stepped up their game with their videos. In 1996, as the band was beginning to release their very underrated album Load, they stepped a little out of their comfort zone and released one of their best music videos. The Samuel Bayer directed video for “Until It Sleeps” made and left quite an impact on the band and its fans. Not only did the song show a different direction musically but, the visual aspect that accompanied the song was right along with that. Lyrically, the song is about James Hetfield’s mother’s battle with cancer and the ensuing anger that he felt as she was going through it and losing her battle with it. The video is quite intriguing as a lot of it deals with the “Fall Of Man.” A lot of the imagery was also taken from various paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, as well as other surrealist art pieces. The video would go on to win Best Rock Video at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. This video is truly one of the best the band has put out.