Monday, February 7, 2011

19 Music Videos I Have Watched Obsessively

My three-year college roommate, Mitchell Young, is a hip, indie music scene type of fella. He knows what he's talking about when he speaks music. I, still, after all these years, am ignorant of musicology. I cannot claim to say the songs on this list are by any means good music. All I can state with assurity is that these little ditties affected me... and then generally caused me to obsess and rewatch them way too many times.
19. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
A few months ago, amidst an overwrought dialogue concerning the Bronte sisters (did you know there was a third novelist sister? I didn't! Thanks Becky for the insight on that one!), I was directed to this song based on Emily Bronte's obsessive love romp. I must say, Miss Bush surely shows us the dark side of obsession here. Those dance moves are just something unspeakable... but you can't say she wasn't into it. No one can doubt her commitment. Heathcliff should totally come home before Kathy breaks her back on one of those dance frolics.
18. I'll Believe in Anything by Wolf Parade
This catchy tune is both wonderfully listenable, intriguing visually, and pondersome in lyrical invention. Often I stumble over the conventions of culture, and all that is asked of the modern man in society in order to fit in and be socially acceptable. This video happily satires culture via the insanity that was a roccoco generation of wig-wearing, glove-slapping duelers.
17. Scream by Michael and Janet Jackson
Before men ran on walls in Inception and The Matrix, the Jacksons were already scurrying about the walls in B&W hyperbolic chambers. This may have been Michael's last bonified hit, and, although the man's life is plagued with the sour tastes of his disturbing child-obsessed behavior, this video tends to make me calm. I like to see these two Jackson sibling playing house together... in outer space (granted, Janet really needs to put on some more appropriate attire if when she's hanging out with her brother). The first time I watched the video, I thought that maybe, because Michael was finally showing some degree of raw emotion, that a right understanding of the video would explain everything about why Mr. Jackson was the way he was. I never found an answer, but I do feel a bit of sadness when the line is sung, "Somebody please have mercy because I just can't take this." He was a man to be pitied.
16. Amerika by Rammstein
The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming! And they're saying stuff about us! Quick, hurry, somebody call somebody! He's talking about Mickey Mouse! And Santa Clause! Aahhhhh! As they sing, "This is not a love song," I begin to understand what's happening. American culture is King. The influence of Americana can be sniffed out in all the corners of the earth. Whether you think that is a good thing or an abomination, its reality is pretty much undeniable. Thank you for enlightening me with your scary voices Rammstein!
15. Global Fussbol OK by Tyskarna Fran Lund
The first few weeks of my college experienced were highly influenced by my much more experienced roommate Nate Udall. Nate put many a-strange images in front of my eyelids. Many of those images I never needed to see again, but these Swedish boys singing something crazy about their wretched, wretched love of all things Futball just hits the spot, doesn't it? Watch it many times so you can get the clapping part down.
14. How Come by D12
Long ago I made a bold statement that Eminem was a genius of a certain sort. Perhaps I shouldn't have held to such a claim, but I do maintain that his life is something of a King Solomon journey. Surely this man has seen the end of all things on earth. He knows the limits of pleasure. This collaborative rap band, D12 puts together an intriguing little number here, depicting the slow descent into envy, unhappiness, and betrayal that happens even within the context of extreme success. What damnation comes with the simple point of a finger.
13. My Immortal by Evanescence
Her feet never touch the ground! You see?!! She's floating in black and white nostalgia. I think I wanted to have a personal story to attach to this song, but I never really did. But it sounds like such a fun story to lead, right?
You used to captivate by your resonating light
now I'm bound by the life you left behind. 
Your face it haunts, 
my once pleasant dreams.
I'm such a sucker for a good sad love song...
12. Frontier Psychiatrist by Avalanche

If only all absurdism was this joyful. This is the video that keeps on giving. The more you watch, the more you retain.

Hate Me Now by Nas featuring Puffy
I haven't understood race relations in America since the Civil Rights Movement. As a child, the situation around me seemed to be of unity. Going through public school as a minority to the ever rising Hispanic population, it never made sense to me when I heard complaints from various ethnicities of ongoing hateful displays of racism. I was at a particular loss for understanding when it came to what African-American popular culture seemed to be becoming. What was this Nas guy talking about, and how on earth does he have the audacity to allude to martyrdom in the vain of Christ? Who does he think he is, and why does he wear such garish jewelry? Whatever answer I give will be utterly insufficient, but nevertheless, what this video highlights for me, is the need for communities who have been consistently hated upon, to find value in themselves. Rappers and the like have gone the obvious route by adorning their bodies with fancy stones and tapestries. Nas thinks he can take the hate now because his wealth proves to him that he himself is valuable. It is sad that this industry turns to wealth as their savior, when there already is a God who loves them more than they can fathom.
10. Oh My God by Ida Maria
I hesitated adding this song to the list, in that I still am not sure what to do with the 3rd Commandment of the Lord given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Do not use the Lord's Name in vain. Perhaps this video repeating offends in this measure. Whether the singer realizes it or not, God is the answer to all the commands/questions being propositioned in the video. I appreciate the tempo of desperation in her voice as she searches about to:
Find a cure
find a cure for my life...
Put a price
put a price on my soul

Oh my God

oh you think I´m in control
Oh my God
oh you think it´s all for fun
9. Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Ah, the song that inspired this here post. I wrote concerning this song in my last post, and the flame has not yet ceased. In my dealings with romantic relations in the past, when I've been on the losing end of affection, I've often felt this great desire, this inner groaning, to whisper forcefully "Wait." Somewhere along the way I feel the limits of communication -- that if you would just be around me a bit longer then you could feel the truth, rather than have me try to use words to plead some mystical case for serendipitous romance. Wait.
8. One Headlight by The Walflowers
In fifth grade I stayed three (four?) days in a hospital. The frightening aspect of my stay there was that no one, including myself, knew what was wrong with me. Everything from, "It might be a brain tumor... or meningitis", too "It's clearly all psychosomatic" was thrown us as possibilities. I watched VH1's top ten music videos of the week during my stay. I can remember the top five videos in order still to this day. One Headlight was number one. Watching it now, I don't know what is so special about it, but I can tell you that I watched that countdown show religiously every Saturday morning for the next six months.
7. The Simpsons Banksy Intro.
Alright, I'm breaking the rules on this one. Technically, this sequence is not a music video. But! It does play out over a warbled version of the Simpsons' theme, so, you know, it kinda works. This intro is all sorts of awesome -- sealed in the presence of a bedraggled, starving unicorn, but it's also so much more than just a bag awesomnity, my friends. The video defies reason itself! It's wholly self-convicting. It speaks to the death of imagination while harnessing its very presence to brilliantly exceed at its ends. My thoughts apart! I cannot contain them, or ever hope to smother them back together. What we have here is a work that destroys my capacity to evaluate it. Meta. Transcendent Metaness.
6. Rabbit in Your Headlights by UNKLE
There is so much I don't understand about this world that the good Lord has molded into being. So much. Genesis 11:5-7:
The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech.
5. Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls
I remember being young. Even at twelve, socially, you can't seem to be outwardly the person you believe you are inside. The problem is, most of the time, your idea of who you are is in such constant realignment that communicating truths about yourself to others can seem somehow fraudulent. Such sensations can cause one to become introverted; to become a watcher -- a watcher rather than an actor. The singer in this video watches the world from his observatory. He wants to play along with the world, but there's an irreconcilable void between his inner life and the world that abounds around him. Particularly when it came to me and girls at age 12, I stayed in my watchtower, pining away.
4. Secret Ambition by Michael W. Smith
Perhaps I was seven when I saw this video. At seven I couldn't realize how horrific that vest is that Michael W. was sportin'. I was able, however, to be bothered by all the blood. Never before had I seen any depiction of Jesus' torture and crucifixion that involved so much blood. I'd seen Jesus on the cross before, but there was always just a little bit of blood dripping from the nails. Nothing like this. This was a massacre. There was blood everywhere. My sin. That's what it did. I broke the body of the perfect man. My evil. This was the consequence. So that I could be free, he suffered. I was reading Leviticus this morning, and I noticed a continuing theme. Whenever an animal sacrifice was to be made, particularly for guilt offerings, the guilty party was to put their hand on the animals head as they slit the neck. My hand held Christ down as I drove that nail in. Yet he loves so. Even still. Oh how he loves me.
3. Plastic Jesus, as sung by Paul Newman
I'm cheating again. Luke has just received word that his mother has died. He sings. What a gift singing is for the wounded soul. This movie never ceases to be close to my heart, as so often doubt of God's love for me and even His existence hits me down, so too did Luke walk the earth as a creature that just couldn't quite put all the puzzle pieces together. Another Luke, of the Skywalker variety, made popular this idea of being 'the one'. From Star Wars to The Matrix we are fed this constant garbage that we, the collective individual, is something special. We can succeed if only we believe in ourselves and try really hard. Really hard. Well, Cool Hand Luke stands testimony to the limits of self. If anyone could have done it, if anyone was 'the one', it was him. Humbly I recognize now that I am special because God has loved me so, but in my own power I am nothing. All I can do is sing.
2. Evil by Interpol.

Ummm... there's a puppet.

He sings.

He had me at Rosemary.


1. Hurt by Johnny Cash
I can add nothing to this song. I hope you watch it. I've seen it more times than I can count. I wish I could watch it anew once more. Nevermore.


  1. Music videos are such a mixed bag. Its like putting a face on someone you only talk to over the phone. Sometimes the face adds to the relationship, sometimes it doesn't. Having not seen or even heard a good portion of these songs, I can't really comment. All i can say is that Johnny's NIN cover is a great choice for #1. I very much enjoy that song.

  2. I agree, you never quite know what you're getting into with music videos. So often I walk away from a music video experience thinking that the visuals hindered or lessened the impact of the song rather than propelling it forward.

    Thanks for being a faithful poster, Mr. White. I appreciate it -- it's encouraging. Check out the youtube links if you get a chance.

  3. Why the persistence of 19?