The Music Video as Movie:
If most movies are like prose, sometimes the very best music videos are like good haiku; in just a few moments they can punch so hard as to make their long-form relatives look shambling, windy and redundant.
The Kooks – Around Town
I googled the video for the Kooks – Around Town because of the gorgeous, uplifting gospel hook and shuffle-slide beat; I wasn’t expecting to find a just-shy-of 7 minutes arthouse movie waiting for me. The Kooks didn’t mess about with this, they got some great acting talent in: Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Alien 3) plays the grizzled old assassin, and Quebecois actress Pom Klementieff (Spike Lee’s 2013 US remake of Oldboy) is an intense young lioness who partners up with him. The song itself doesn’t kick in until just over the 2 minute mark, in the meantime your ears are treated to the voices of the two leads, he growling and gravelly, and she slipping into French so sultry she could make a monk spunk his load by reading out her shopping list. Reminds me of one of the characters in the Matrix trilogy, who compared French to “wiping your arse with silk”.
What she actually says is a line from Kipling’s poem “If”. And then she drops her fag butt*, the music starts and all hell breaks loose.
In the remaining five minutes we take a rocket ride around the fever dreams of early Tarantino and Luc Besson… “La Femme Nikita”, “Leon” and “Pulp Fiction” get more than a passing nod. Gory violence, the dance on the edge of death, the nihilism of the killer’s life and the tragedy of loss. Wham, bam, damned.
(*Note for ‘Merkans: Fag = cigarette)
Mary Lambert – She Keeps Me Warm
Mary Lambert is probably most famous as the guest vocalist who provided the hook in Macklemore’s track Same Love (which hook was lifted from this very song). She delivers an entire romcom movie in the 4 minute video to She Keeps Me Warm (all romcom’s should be this long, you have no excuses now Hollywood!). There’s no dialogue – unless you count the lyrics – all the plot in this super sweet mini-story is conveyed in looks and gestures between Mary and her love interest: the lass behind the bar at her local coffee shop.
Ok, so the setting is a wee bit self-conciously hipster, a bit like we’re gearing up for an episode of Friends or someshit. However, Mary and her love interest redeem this with naturalistic and expressive acting, plus the direction and storyboarding matches the visuals perfectly with the acheing, moody vocals. So much so that you’d have to be Captain Flinty McFlintHeart: Winner of the European All-Comers Most-Stoney-Hearted-Bastard Competition 5 years running, not to be moved at least a little. In which case you’re probably too busy kicking puppies and munching on a tasty Crepe de Kitten to watch it anyway. Bon apetit!