Sound and Vision: Tom Beeston

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What’s so enjoyable about discussing music videos is the increased subjectivity, in comparison to standalone music – barring “Thriller”, there are no usual suspects when it comes to “Best Of” music video lists. Perhaps if The Beatles, or Ziggy-era Bowie, had been around in the age of MTV, we may have some more undisputed classics. But, since they weren’t, people’s favourites serve up plenty of variation. Here are three of mine.

 

Rose Quartz – Toro y Moi

If, at any point in your life, you were – or are – a regular user of hallucinogens, consider this your trigger warning. This video could give Nancy Reagan acid flashbacks. It’s visually stunning; every frame appears to be painted, one on the other, endless tins on a canvas, and then – from out of nowhere:

BUBBLE HEAD MAN.

I can’t truly explain this character’s appearance with words. It seems to be the band’s bassist, with a face made from a melted ice-pop. The oil paint stop-motion animations of director Lauren Gregory make this a unique, compelling video. I can’t imagine the time required to construct this. Its cultural impact is limited, but it’s my go-to music video to show to friends. Only if they’re sober.

 

Birthday Song – 2 Chainz feat. Kanye West

The deserved successor to the traditional “Happy Birthday to You” is comprised (for all but the last minute or so) of three single-shot scenes. There’s something endearing about a one-shot scene – Pulp Fiction’s usage of tracking shots comes to mind – and the wonder of how many takes it took to achieve a perfect, or “good enough”, take (probably the former with Kanye on set).

We’re invited to what looks like an ill-advised family party for Chainz, where the party organiser appears to have not considered who 2 Chainz is, nor what he truly wants for his birthday (a big booty hoe). It seems that Chainz foresaw this situation, as he brings along plenty of his birthday wishes to infiltrate the do, and summons reinforcements – led by Kanye, pedalling what may be a parade float, or a carriage for the BBHs. Either way, it’s covered in breasts.

There’s a cake on a booty, a clown being beat up, and many uptight cousins being grinded on. Its excessive bouncing makes this the kind of video which makes a young man, umm… “aware of his surroundings”. Mine was “Buttonz” by Pussycat Dolls.

 

Batdance – Prince

At this point in his career, Prince had mastered the art of adding visual to improve his music – his Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon movies delivering two “soundtracks” which are among the best-selling albums in his discography, as well as a concert film promoting the songs from Sign ‘o’ the Times. As such he was recruited by his label, Warner Bros, to record music to go alongside the Batman movie (the one with Jack Nicholson as the Joker).

Prince became Little Britain’s Dennis Waterman, offering not only to write the theme tune, but throwing an entire soundtrack at WB, along with a multitude of music videos with all-original footage (because to just use clips from the movie would be too easy, wouldn’t it?!).

The most notable of these is “Batdance”, where Prince conjures Gemini – dressed literally as half-Joker, half-Batman, like some mad operatic man/woman act you’d find on Britain’s Got Talent. Seriously, what’s going on here? Crowds of Batmen, Jokers, and Vicki Vales, jerking arrhythmically to Prince’s wild remix of sound clips of Michael Keaton.

Prince himself should’ve been given a shot at being the Joker in a Batman film, just saying.