A couple of weeks ago I published a list of Top 10 music tracks (pop music) and I’ve been tinkering with it since, taking stuff out and putting other tracks in and so on. I’ve made at least half a dozen changes to the list I published originally. Anyway, the upshot of it all is that I’ve decided to do another music list, this time focusing on music videos.
I should mention that I have chosen to understand ‘music video’ in a fairly catholic way, so that in addition to the music video as that term has come to be understood since the early 1980s — which is to say, a product for promotional purposes that is produced in addition to the audio recording (the audio recording being the lead product), usually an Art House job (such as the Laurie Anderson video below, or the U2 video for ‘One’, or The National’s for ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’) — I have also included here few things that, strictly speaking, are not ‘music videos’ in this sense: Joni Mitchell’s ‘Coyote’ is a live performance, for example, she was one of the artists asked to perform at The Band’s last show in November 1976, which is featured in The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s documentary film on the group and their farewell gig.
As I said in the previous post, sometimes a piece of music cannot be separated from the performance or recording of it (or from the video or film associated with it), or what it represents viz-a-vis a moment in time (or a period of time). The Neil Sedaka one below from 1959 is included here because it is such a wonderful example of old school white boy pop. I genuinely love everything about this video/film/performance/production (call it what you will), from the nobby white boy dance to the gum-chewing girls in the audience who, no doubt, went on to marry meat-head cops and suburban snake-oil salesmen and vote for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and, in the coming cycle, will shine some granny-bright on Fuckface von Clownstick, aka Donald Trump (of course I’m being horribly presumptuous in saying such things, but wtf). This was the kind of music my parents felt was respectable listening and viewing, ‘good fun’ as they might have put it, unlike, say, Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis with their ‘gyrations’ and ‘carry on’. And, of course, (it goes without saying) Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Tom Waits, and Radiohead et cet, (i.e. everything after the end of the ‘Chatterly ban’ and the Beatles’ first LP) they did not even consider to be music at all, just vile nuisance noise.
1. Laurie Anderson, ‘O Superman’ (Big Science, 1982)
2. Belle & Sebastian’s ‘Nobody’s Empire’ (Girls in Peacetime want to Dance, 2015)
3. ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, The National (High Violet, 2010)
4. Neil Sedaka’s ‘O Carol’ (Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, 1959)
5. ‘Coyote’, Joni Mitchell (Hejira, 1976)
6. ‘What’s going on?’, 4 Non Blondes (Bigger, Better, Faster More!, 1992)
7. U2 ‘One’ (Achtung Baby, 1991)
8. Radiohead ‘Idioteqe’ (Kid A, 2000)
9. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds ‘Breathless’ (Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, 2004)
10. Pulp, ‘Common People’ (Different Class, 1995)