What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Best Music Videos

Nothing beats starting a lazy weekend by watching a string of music videos on YouTube. They say 'Video killed the Radio' star. Although radio is still alive and kicking, actually doing very well in peachy keen health; there is something about video. Video just adds another level to a song. It tells a story, provides visuals, creates metaphors and symbolism. Some songs are just that much better with their videos. Some videos are so good that they make bad songs enjoyable.

These are some of the music videos I enjoy watching. Some are brilliant artistic masterpieces, some are great pieces of storytelling, some are mind-blowing creative, while some are just fun.

Taty - Ja Soshla S Uma

Love him or hate him, Ivan Shapovalov is a genius. He did not merely produce music. He created an icon, a movement, a compelling story that would become Russia's biggest export to the world. He created the band Taty. In my opinion his marketing genius and innovation should be ranked alongside the ranks of Steve Jobs. His other musical projects may have failed, but this one completely hit the bulls eye. As a Taty fan, I'm partial to their work. But I don't think anyone can deny Ivan's ability to push the envelope, generate shock value and make a point.

Take the first music video he directed 'Ja Soshla S Uma'. Before Katy Perry "Kissed a Girl" there was "Ja Soshla S Uma" way back in 1999. It is one of the best and most controversial music videos of its times. There was the titillation with two teenage girls in Catholic school girl uniforms, making out in the rain. There were the moments of erotic with the flashes of underwear and wet nipples. At the same time there was so much more. It captured teenage angst and frustration of being in love and desiring what everyone else is against. The best art of the music video is the symbolism. The color scheme is bleak and bluish green tinged rather than the usual colorful music videos. It shows the teenage girls behind bars as onlookers gaze at them in disappointment, judging, condemning, punishing. The two girls are hopelessly trapped in society's cage. But at the end of the video in a great twist, it is the girls who walk around a corner free, while the rest of the onlookers are still trapped behind the fence. A brilliant piece of symbolism on who is really free. It is those of us who judge others putting them in boxes with labels whose minds are confined.

Basement Jaxx - Take me Back to Your House

If this list proves anything about my taste in music, it should say that I'm a sucker for anything Russian. There is just something really appealing about this gruff, weatherbeaten and rustic culture. Their music, their dance, their folklore, their culture, their philosophy, their literature everything about Russia is intriguing. Even while watching Harry Potter, my heart skips a beat for the tough Durmstrang boys and their aggressive masculine Cossack ways. If you like street dancing and break dancing then you ought to know the Cossacks were the original street dancers. Their dance moves are truly rad and brilliant.

Take me Back to Your House captures a small snapshot of Russian culture in a humorous way. Nothing is better on a cold winter eve than sitting at the village bar with a roaring hearth and plenty of vodka. Note the subtle humor in the video like the number of coats at the coat check, the deadpan expression of the faces, the lack of interest in the girl, Stalin in the tank,  the dancing bears, the lack of reaction to everything. Also watch the use of color between the bar and dancing sequences. All Brilliant! Best of all is the folk dancing. The primary reason I love this video is the dancing, I really wish I could dance like that. Russian squat dancing is indeed the best dance forms in my opinion.

Rammstein - Du Hast

Many people are surprised to find out that I enjoy Rammstein and that Du Hast is one of my all time favorite songs. I can't call myself a die hard or even huge fan, but truth be told, I really enjoy Rammstein and totally dig Till's coarse vocals.They have some incredible songs and I love cranking up some Rammstein when I drive. And their concerts are over the top and outrageous, they stop at nothing to entertain

Du Hast though is undoubtedly the best. Firstly, I love the ironic vocals and the play on words and German marriage vows. For example the use of the homphones Hast (have) and Hasst (hate). Then you have the German marriage vows "Do you want, until death separates you, to be faithful to her for all time?" followed by Nein (No) instead of Yes. Kind of how I feel about marriage. The video nicely complements the song. It is dark and grim, and has the ambiance of a gangster flick. A refreshing break from bubblegum pop and romance. Again the video avoids full color and is shot in Eastman, recreating that grim feeling. The video depicts a romance gone bad and the concept of bros before hos. My favorite is the end where everything is blown up and the men simply walk as if nothing has happened.

Katy Perry - Last Friday Night

I enjoy Katy Perry and I am not ashamed to admit it. Heck I am no music connoisseur at all. I'm just a dumb mindless sucker for kitsch and bubblegum pop. Katy Perry is in my mind the current reigning queen of bubblegum pop. She has an uncanny knack of churning out one hit single after another. Every Katy Perry song is a classic earworm that gets stuck there forever. Like her personality and music, her music videos tend to be frothy, colorful and fun.

And amidst all her hits "Last Friday Night" is my favorite. I like the fact that Katy created an alter ego Kathy Beth Terry for this video. She had some great YouTube promotions for the song as well. I was so enamored by the song and the promos that I hoped that they would create a movie or short film starring Kathy Beth Terry. The video is homage to the eighties teenage rebel and party movies and is a minefield for cameos and references. Thats what makes it fun. Spotting Darren Criss, Kevin McHale, Hanson & Kenny G. It is awesome sauce that Cory Feldman and Debby Gibson, teen icons of the eighties cast as her parents. Although my favorite bit is Rebbecca Black of Friday infamy. It is just pure fun.

Lady Gaga - Bad Romance

One of my favorite artists of modern times is Lady Gaga. She is quirky, edgy, crazy and just pure genius. Many detractors find her off putting and a fame whore of sorts. It is true that Lady Gaga lusts for fame and attention. However, amidst all the riff raff of people who make it in music: Lady Gaga is seriously talented. She has powerhouse vocals and is a musical genius. Very few artists actually write their own songs, can play instruments or take part in production, arrangement, composition and creatieve elements of their songs. Lady Gaga does it all. Her unplugged piano versions of her songs are simply beautiful and a pleasure to listen to.

In her commercial pop music, "Bad Romance" is her crowning glory, her very best in my opinion. Bad Romance epitomizes everything that Lady Gaga is about. It is outrageous, over the top, quirky, edgy and a glorious depiction of creative genius. The fashion, the iconic dance moves, the shock factors all reflect her showmanship and marketing genius. What is most compelling about the video is the storyline and symbolism though. The entire album "Fame Monster" reflect an artists relationship with fame - the glory, the addiction, the sacrifice, the lust, the desire everything. "Bad Romance" captures that path to fame, being sold along the way, and then the eventual conquest of the bidders. In fact it reflects all the bad romances we engage in everyday, our desires and obsessions, our path towards it - our relationship with everything that we love and want, but not essentially what we need.

REM - Losing My Religion

Losing my Religion, is often confused as a song about religion and faith. It is the most common misconception. The song actually is about unrequited love. The lyrics and music video are a metaphor for unrequited love, but it can be taken literally to be about religion as well. Religion is often like unrequited love. You put all your faith and devotion into something, it reflects your desire for something, but you don't prayers don't always have answer, not everyone gets what they want or need. You make up explanations. It is like that with unrequited love. You give all your love, but you don't get it back. You make explanations why it failed. To the the religious imagery of the music video reflects the faith of unrequited love and the torn feeling of it. You feel like you are "Losing your religion", everything about yourself. Not to mention the video is directed by Tasrem Singh. It has a heavy influence of eastern melodrama and opulence. One of the few popular western music videos where you see the unmistakable imprint of Eastern styles of creativity. That Indian flair, the colors, the grandeur, seamlessly integrates with the main theme of the song.

Enigma - Gravity of Love

One of the most innovative musical groups of all time is Enigma. No other group seamlessly brings  religious motifs, Gregorian chanting, Gothic influences, tribal chants etc together in a modern manner, digitally remastered and recreated to form a musical record, nay a musical experience actually. There are those days when I could close my eyes and listen to Enigma all day. Sadeness, Return to Innocence, Principles of Lust, Mea Culpa, if all music was this innovative.

"Gravity of Love" is one of the few Enigma compositions that features full vocals. It has one of my favorite music video as well. The music video truly complements the song. It is set at a masquerade ball with an ancient Gothic flavor. The locale is Villa Wagner, a beautiful Viennese building designed by Otto Wagner, it has the romance and mysticism of Viennese architecture. The music video itself is sensual and erotic, an artistic portrayal of love, lust and desire. The video truly reels you into experiencing the "Gravity of Love"

Sergey Lazarev - TV or Radio

Here comes another Russian on my list. Sergey Lazarev is a beautiful man. I love his smile. I'm actually not a fan of his song "TV or Radio". I find it too screechy. It is a bad rendition of a falsetto. It is a far cry from his smoother velvety songs like Vspominai, Eye of the Storm, Dazhe Esli Ti Utyesh etc. What I like though about "TV or Radio" is the music video. It is a wickedly sarcastic portrayal of modern day television. I guess only a Russian could make scathing fun of commercial western television. He mocks the ridiculousness of this trend called reality TV.  He portrays the fake glitz and glamor the obsession. He makes fun of the ridiculous love-match romance reality shows. He shows how unreal the musical reality shows are and how bad contestants are promoted ahead by ignorant judges. I love it.

Shaan - Tanha Dil

Amidst the Indian pop singers, Shaan is the best. While he has made his name in Bollywood playback singing, his best works are his pop albums. He combines good music, good vocals with good production value, good videos and good thematic elements. It is a rarity in Indian music which tends to focus mainly on the colors, the opulence, the flashiness and dancing.

I have to admit, the story of Tishnagi is better - but "Tanha Dil" has been executed much better. The song is about the path we take in life, the people who come in our lives and those we leave behind as we go chasing our destiny and dreams. The video features Shaan walking alone down a path as all his memories, the people and friends he misses fade in and out around him. I love reminiscing the past with this song. As an immigrant to the United States, I left behind so many things I knew and loved. It is a music video that speaks to me on many levels. It encompasses the journey of life.

Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us

Michael Jackson had many number one hits and a plethora of really good music videos. "They Don't Care About Us" is his best and most hard hitting. Both versions of the music video for this song are really good. The Brazil version presents both the fun frolic of carnival and the bleak life of the favelas. If you ever visit Brazil, a favela tour is a must. It will be the most rewarding and eye opening experience of your life.

I prefer the Prison Cell version though. It just goes so much more better with the flavor of the song. I like the montage they have of events in history, the depiction of brutality, violence, discrimination, abuse in the history of the world. From the KKK cross burning to China's Tienanmen square - it covers everything. Prison is also the best illustration for the disparity of class and race in society. It usually is the oppressed, the poor, the ones with no other road to travel who end up there. This music video depicts all the conflict in humanity. I think it also speaks to minorities. As minorities we often feel, they don't get us. The media, the government is always so engrossed in other things "They don't care about us"

Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire

If you mention "They Don't Care about Us", you cannot forget Billy Joel's "We didn't start the fire". Any history nerd has to love this song. The song has no lyrics per say, historical places, people and events make up the lyrics of this song. They capture the twisted nature of human history embroiled in chaos and turmoil. The best part of the video is the juxtaposition of these lyrics against a happy American family. It also portrays the changing face of the American dream and American society.

Taty - Prostye Dvizheniya

Ah the second Taty and Ivan Shapovalov video on my list. All of Ivan's videos were so creative. This is probably one of the most controversial music videos. Many channels did not air it. The video is featured only on the remixes album.

Why is this video so controversial and great? It is about masturbation. A major portion of the video portrays Yulia in the bathtub masturbating. But it isn't kinky or pornographic really. Prostye Dvizheniya translates to be "Simple motion". Throughout the video you see people engaging in simple motions. Sitting at the coffee shop, exercising, playing in the park, having dinner. It basically attempts to present sexuality and masturbation as just a simple part of everyday life, nothing gross or out of this world. I find that brilliant.

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game

This music video has been featured on several top 10 music video lists.  The production value is minimal. It is a simple black and white video shot on a beach. But it is oh so aesthetically done. Chris Isaac and the female model are gorgeous people and the camera captures them wonderfully. The pans, the fade ins, the transitions are just so stunningly done. There is an artistic precision to it as the movements flow fluidly with the music. So beautiful, so sensual, so erotic - truly a great music video. Goes to show, less is more.

Paula Cole - Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?

This is one of my favorite songs of all times. It is a lovely song with some strongly feminist lyrics. Rural United States is not the best place for women. It really is like India sometimes, where men work and hang out while women are confined to their homes. This is another simple music video that is put together in a classy manner with great camera work. You have Paula Cole with her expressive movements and a grainy montage of country life - a wedding dress, a horse, an old chevy, a farm.

Aqua - My Mamma Said

One of the best things is when a band does something different. In the nineties they were famous for the bubblegum pop. Their USP was catchy upbeat music, silly lyrics and colorful over the top music video that were as kitschy and campy as can be. Who did not love Barbie Girl, Doctor Jones or My oh My, they were just fun.

"My Mama Said" is a Aquas attempt at something different. The music is still upbeat, but the lyrics and video more somber. It explores darker, deeper and mature themes.  Lene represents religion and faith, while Rene represents science, mostly quantum physics. They both discuss death from the two perspectives in the song. How often do you get music that discusses quantum physics? Protons, neutrons, electrons, vibrations and string theory. This dark minimalistic music video portrays both sides of the argument. There is also a raw animistic quality to it with the raw meat.

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