We decided last week in the Decoded office to have a Youtube day of the best, most influential and strangest music videos we could find…which got us thinking. So here are 10 of those choices from a truly inspired day of musical awakening for all of us.
1. Mr Oizo – Flat Eric
Frenchman Mr Oizo or Quentin Dupieux to his friends released Flat Beat around 1999 amid the mighty Dutch Trance era of underground dance. Its success we feel was mainly down to this brilliant video featuring the larger than life Flat Eric puppet. The track was later used in a series of Levi jeans adverts, and was for Quentin and the French techno scene a huge crossover hit, it even reached number 1 in the UK charts that year. To date over 3 million copies of the track have been sold.
2. Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice
The one where Christopher Walken flys through the lobby of a hotel and dances on the walls! Directed by Spike Jonze this video won 6 awards at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards show and Walken, a trained dancer in musical theatre won Best Choreography. VH1 ranked it as the ‘most watched’ clip in 2002. It peaked at Number 37 in the UK Charts. The other A side track Star 69 also did rather well. But mostly because it had swearing in it!
3. Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Another Spike Jonze masterpiece. This one a homage to classic cop films of the ’70s Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco and Starsky & Hutch. It just a really fun, tongue in cheek video where 3 guys get to dress up and act stupid on camera. Who wouldn’t want that job? Also have a look out for an ‘uncut’ version featuring a mock interview by Jonzes’ then wife Sofia Coppola.
4. UNKLE feat. Thom Yorke – Rabbit in you Headlights
Its no secret that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke wanted to be in a band like Bristol trip hoppers Massive Attack, just look at the musical direction Radiohead have taken in the past 10 years. (Idioteque was sublime btw Thom) Here his moribund vocal delivery is used to great effect amidst the samples and hip hop beats. Taken from their debut album Psyence Fiction, this video directed by Jonathan Glazer won critical acclaim in 1998. In 1999, it won Best International video of the Year at the MVPA awards and in 2006 Stylus Magazine ranked it as Number one in a poll of all time best music videos. The video uses a technique which Glazer would later use for Richard Ashcrofts track ‘Song for the Lovers’ video, being shot in real time and allowing the narrative sounds produced by objects and characters to be audible above the music.
5. Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy
Time for something really weird – Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin. The Come to Daddy EP was released in 1997 and peaked in the UK charts at number 36. Richard D. James says of the single “Come to Daddy came about while I was just hanging around my house, getting pissed and doing this crappy death metal jingle. Then it got marketed and a video was made, and this little idea that I had, which was a joke, turned into something huge. It wasn’t right at all”
Video director Chris Cunningham shot this on the same council estate as Stanley Kubricks seminal ‘A Clockwork Orange’ much of which is now demolished. It is the only video voted by Channel 4 viewers in the UK for the program ‘100 Greatest Scary Moments’ and Pitchfork named it as Number One Video of the 1990’s.
6. The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist
Staying with the weirdness, Australian electronic music band The Avalanches. The second single taken from the album ‘Since I Left You’ it reached number 18 in the UK charts and 49 in the bands native Australia. A real triumph of sampling and scratching, the song won plaudits from all quarters, not least Mathew Horton, who in his book ‘1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die describes the whole album as “…busy, daft, composed of countless unconnected parts, yet somehow entirely natural as a whole.” And that pretty much surmises the video as well, just don’t watch it if you’ve taken a load of acid (not that we condone that kinda behaviour!)
7. Dirty Vegas – Days Go By
One for the break dancers among you. The performance occurs in front of Chroni’s Famous Sandwich Shop in East LA and tells the story of a dancer who shows up once a year and dances all day from sunrise to sunset. He dances in hopes of bringing back a lost love, who left him because he couldn’t stop dancing. Grammy award winning Dirty Vegas peaked at Number 16 in 2002 with this homage to long lost love and was a huge crossover hit for the band. It was also later used for a Mitsubishi car advert and famously parodied by Dave Chapelle in a skit on his comedy show.
8. Squarepusher – Come On My Selector
Squarepusher, real name Tom Jenkinson many argue created the sub genre Breakcore. This track taken from the 1997 Warp Records album ‘Big Loada’ Originally a 3.26 track on the album, director Chris Cunningham in an homage to Japanese film noir stretches things out to over 7 minutes of twisted beat mashery. Come on my Selector has unsurprisingly become one of Squarepushers best know tracks.
9. Daft Punk – Da Funk
In an interview with Fredrik Strage for Swedish magazine Pop #23, Bangalter revealed that “Da Funk” was made after listening to United States west coast G-Funk for weeks.
“It was around the time Warren G – Regulate was released and we wanted to make some sort of gangsta-rap and tried to murk our sounds as much as possible. However no one has ever compared it to hip-hop. We’ve heard that the drums sounds like Queen or The Clash, the melody is reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder and the synthesizers sound like electro and thousand of other comparisons. No one agree with us that it sounds like hip-hop”
Another Spike Jonze video features a walking talking dog with a ghetto blaster on the street s of New York city. Of the video Bangalter says, “There’s no story. It is just a man-dog walking with a ghetto-blaster in New York. The rest is not meant to say anything. People are trying to explain it: Is it about human tolerance? Integration? Urbanism? There’s really no message. There will be a sequel someday.”
10. M83 – Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun
M83 are a French shoe gaze band formed in 2001 by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau. The band is named after the galaxy of the same name, and its musical aesthetic is characterised by extensive use of reverb effects and lyrics spoken softly over loud instruments. Taken from their sublime album ‘Before the Dawn Heals Us’ this track has been used by Adam Freeland on his amazing ‘Back To Mine’ album. M83 have gone on to write 5 studio albums, tour the world and are now getting into soundtracks, most notably the 2013 film Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. This is a beautiful, emotion filled visual feast which perfectly encapsulates the melancholy of the music.