Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ladies and Gentleman, The MTV Music Video Archive

MTV was the internet of the 1980s. It was the connection from our mundane suburban lives to the urbane sophisticated world that we imagined joining. Now everybody knows everything and every trend is overexposed to the point of lifelessness, but MTV played an important role as it gave us a window into subcultures that meant the world to us.

True, D+R is about inspired objects, but we sometimes diverge to consider the exceptional whatever the form.

The MTV offering is not as broad as YouTube, but the quality, searching and metadata quality make it worthwhile. The MTV embedding function is a bit of a stinker. If you embed, strip off all html after the ending embed tag.

MTV Archive (via Very Short List)

Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust

At the time, Bauhaus was skewered by the British press for doing a light cover of a classic Bowie song to rocket up the charts. Indeed, it was, and remained, their greatest commercial success, but I loved it then and I love it now. Peter Murphy brings a growling, sleazy sneer that is completely successful.

Digital Underground - Humpty Dance

He likes his oatmeal lumpy.

Massive Attack - Teardrop

Amazing work by Gondry. Transcendent song.

Radiohead - Reckoner

Besides videos, there are also tidbits of content created for MTV and VH1 like this webcast for Reckoner. I can not overstate the importance of Radiohead to me.

Kylie Minogue - Come Into My World

Another jaw dropping video from Gondry that happens to be for an exquisitely constructed pop song with the breathless Kylie. So technically complex it demands several viewings - not that you will understand what is going on any better.

The Smiths - Stop If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Clearly, the time is ripe for a resurgence of the Morrissey/Strangeways aesthetic. Moz has an album coming out in February, so you have time to select your bicycle, clunky glasses, grow out your bangs and carefully curate a wardrobe of cardigans, Smiths t-shirts, faded jeans two sizes too big and cinched high with a wide belt.

Outkast - B.O.B. (Bombs over Bagdad)

Absolutely epic mini-movie from Outkast at the peak of their game.

New Order - The Perfect Kiss

Those that dismissed New Order as a synth pop band were mistaken. Jonathan Demme directed an extremely stripped down video of the band in their rehearsal space five years after the suicide of Ian Curtis.

There was a time in the 1980's when you couldn't go to a suburban business park El Torito happy hour without a drunken office worker embarrassing themselves on the dance floor as a New Order song played. Calvin Klein Obsession, finger food, tequila shots and Miller Lite. The Perfect Kiss and the happy hour debauchery certainly present a stark contrast, though both exhibit a Beckett-like pathos. Maybe it is a perfect causal relationship.

Madonna - Hung Up

What can I say? I love Madonna. There really is no better soundtrack for getting through an airport. From Saturday Night Fever rehearsal studio to boomboxes to parkour, this video has it all. I realize it shows how several cities rock it but, more than anything it feels like a love letter to a pre-Guillani New York. Looks fun!

Sonic Youth - Superstar

Recently made famous by Juno, Sonic Youth brings a wall of sound to an immaculately written song. Comparitively, by Sonic Youth standards, it sounds pretty orderly.

Van Halen - Unchained

Arguably, the finest Van Halen song ever recorded, performed masterfully live. Super tight, Diamond Dave's calisthenics, Eddie's charm - it is clear why the Roth-fronted Van Halen is the ultimate good time party band.

Beastie Boys - Sabotage

Ever see a group of fellas have more fun?

My Bloody Valentine - Soon

Lots has been written about Kevin Shields challenges in the studio and it really is the sound of things coming apart at the seams.

Pharcyde - Drop

Following the amazing Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, their second album was not as strong but it did net this killer Spike Jonze video.

So, what isn't in MTV's database?

Well, a lot.

Duran Duran - The Chauffeur

Perhaps the most damning evidence that we were dying in the suburbs - the infamous, often edited, The Chauffeur.

Run DMC vs. Jason Nivins - It's Like That

I always think I am going to get in a dance fight like this. Mercifully, for all involved, it has not happened. Yet!