Monday, January 18, 2010

Music Videos Exposed and Mark Romanek (again ;)

Well, at least one television channel is doing something that I agree with. ;)

This Friday, VH1 Classic is debuting a new half hour weekly series entitled "Music Videos Exposed".

When I first heard about it, I knew that it immediately sounded like something that I would dig a whole lot. ;)

The premise of the show is that they are taking a deeper look behind the scenes of some of the the most iconic music videos around through the eyes of the directors that created them. The directors themselves dish on on everything from concept development, tedious shoots, temperamental artists, special effects (including now seemingly archaic rotoscoping that was used to create A-Ha's still amazing "Take on Me" video), and more.

Initial shows will take a look at classic 1980's video staples. A few of the videos that will be featured include "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits, "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles (which was the first video to ever air on MTV back in 1981), and Michael Jackson's ever-iconic "Billie Jean" .

As I said, this is *TOTALLY* up my alley! ;)

I any case, I figured that since this is certainly a show after my own heart that I would share a few of my very own music videos with you guys. Instead of shining light on the inside dirt of each video (which I honestly feel utterly under-qualified to do), I wanted to share my feelings on each video's respective parents (directors).

In the spirit of celebrating the art of music video (which I feel is one of the most intriguing and ever-evolving creative mediums out there), I plan on showcasing the work of a few of my own favorite music video directors and talking a little about what titillates me about their work.

First and foremost, there is a name that has been brought up several times on this blog before -- Mr. Mark Romanek (see above photo).

Romanek's work is a overwhelming favorite of mine and since I have said a good bit about his work in previous posts (namely HERE), I wont go too far into his history right now.

However, one point that I would like to reinterate about Mark's work is how impeccable he is at visual story telling. Music video today, (in the age of video vixens and bling) is a medium that can certainly come off as superficial if handled in the wrong way.

Sometimes superficial cheese is what you want. I agree whole heartedly that just because a video cannot stand alone as a work of art , that doesn't necessarily make it bad. I happen to like quite a few blatantly (conceptually) bad or vacant videos. Lets call them my 'guilty pleasures'. ;)

However, I do think that , as in everything, a certain amount of craftsmanship is put forth in music video directing, then the end results tend to be less commercial fluff and more breathtaking.

Mark Romanek's level of craftsmanship and skill behind the camera almost always results in something breathtaking. Romanek (who has also directed documentaries and tv commercials) knows how to push visual boundaries in all the right ways.

I have always admired the level of technical ability that is evident in his vidoes but more than that I love how Romanek's videos all operate just as effectively as stand alone art pieces as they do a promotional tool for an individual musician.

He knows how to weave a rich, tactile visual narrative better than almost any other director in the business.

I believe that this is a big part of why Mark Romanek has continue to thrive at his craft for so many years and just one of many reasons why I love and want to emulate everything that he does.

Mark has an uncanny ability to create whole new amazing and crazy visual landscapes with every new project. More than that, he does so while remaining fresh and exciting. Because of that, he never ceases to intrigue me and and is a heavy inspiration for my own work.

Always a fearless innovator, one thing that Mark Romanek is not is stale nor boring.

Lets check out a few examples of why I think he's utterly brilliant, shall we? ;)

Madonna - "Bedtime Story" (1994)

Lenny Kravitz -- "If You Can't Say No" - (1999)

David Bowie -- "Jump They Say" (1993)

Red Hot Chilli Peppers -- "Can't Stop" (2002)

Michael + Janet Jackson -- "Scream" (1995)

Johnny Cash -- "Hurt" (2002)

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