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Sunday, October 09, 2005 

Video roundup

MuchMusic was just actually playing some videos for once, which was nice.

I already liked Kelly Clarkson's "Because Of You", but after the video I like it a lot more. As John Cunningham puts it, it's a song about "the psychological effects of a torturous, controlling relationship", but until I saw the video I thought it was about a boyfriend. But once you see it's about an asshole dad and an unstable mom undergoing a divorce, not only do some bits of the song make even more sense, but it becomes more powerful. When it was about a horrible boyfriend the damage seemed real enough, but you could at least imagine her being happy with other guys before that - once it's clear the pain reaches back to early childhood the understandable anger coursing throughout "Because Of You" seems even more cathartic and justified. Even though the video isn't that great (those shots of Kelly singing in front of a black background are awfully amateurish), it still makes me appreciate the song a lot more.

Serving a similarly recontextualizing purpose is the video for My Chemical Romance's "The Ghost Of You", which you can (and should) find here. The "never coming home"/"should I, could I?" part was already the best, but set in context of Juno Beach and Gerard Way watching his brother get gunned down at the end gives it a bit more of a punch. If you don't like them then yeah, parts of the video are going to seem silly, but for my money it's one of the few recent war videos that works. This might have something to do with a lack of political football-ness, set as it is decades ago and they don't seem to be trying to make any points beyond the fact that life in war is nasty, brutish and short.

Speaking of political footballs, I was a little disappointed by Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" clip. On the one hand, the extended opening and rather dramatic break between first and second verse work well, especially when you've already heard the song, but I don't think this is going to convince anyone of anything. Nothing really happens (it would have been a lot more productive if we'd seen what dude was like after he got back from the front), and if they're trying to prevent teenagers from signing up by pointing out how upset it'll make your girlfriend, well - I don't think they're going to reach the audience that is at risk, if you know what I mean. I'm convinced, but I already was.

Kanye West's "Gold Digger" is disappointing too - Kanye is no Slim Thug and so should not avoid eye contact with the camera, nor should he look like he's muttering. Also, all the T&A in the video is set up in the form of magazine covers, which run directly counter to the "gold digger" idea - those girls are there because men pay money to see flesh... wait a second. That's actually not a half-bad subversion, especially given that the real girls are in the video for that precise reason to begin with. But is Kanye/the director being subversive, or just dumb? I'm not sure. Jamie Foxx is mildly entertaining, at least.

Coldplay's "Fix You" is, I think, not quite as jerky a song as we'd first assumed. I'm not sure whether I'd missed or just glossed over the fact that the line is "and I will try to fix you", but it's actually kind of a lovely sentiment. Rightly or wrongly, don't we often try to fix the people we love? And the end part is quite lovely, especially in the video with a massive crowd singing along (although I am quite a sucker for that sort of thing). Still, the crapulent first half of the song and the charisma and idea free Sophie Muller video aren't doing them any favours.

Lastly, I managed to get a look at the NIN "Only" video Thomas loves so much. It's good, but ultimately very much like the desk toy Reznor appears in; a neat idea with very little significance. Definitely not best of the year.

That My Chemical Romance single is perilously close to making my 20 of the year.

It's a good song, but I prefer "Helena". Or I did before I say the video - my mind might be changing.

Not seen most of these, but I think the Green Day video is pretty decent. You're right about the NIN video, even though it is a clever idea.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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