Saturday Morning Videos?

What do you do when you pop wide awake at 3:00 in the morning? Catch up on a friend’s posts about favorite music videos and make one of your own, of course. 🙂 Stephen has been daring me for a few weeks now to chime in with some of my picks, so here we go.

Franz Ferdinand: Take Me Out (2004)

I think this video is utterly brilliant. Not because of the piles of money they undoubtedly spent on the animation, but because whoever wrote it intimately understood what makes this song tick: that relentless downbeat and the repeated song structure. The song is all about hook, and almost every element of the video is a visual mirror of an audible hook in the song: the dots and expanding concentric circles in the intro; the pounding machine, punching bag, gyrating blocks, etc.; and the repeated zoom out sequences almost every time they sing “I know I won’t be leaving here.” It makes the video almost hypnotic and the song infinitely more interesting to me. Bravo.

Debbie Gibson: Electric Youth (1989)

I know. Go ahead and have your laugh. I had a serious crush on this girl back in junior high school. I owned a copy of the album named after this song, and I practically wore the tape out. The odd thing is that since I didn’t have cable or satellite TV growing up, the first time I saw this video was something like a year and a half ago. TiVo caught it during one of the video programs on VH1 Classic. I “greened up” the program then, and I did it again when the video showed up the other day. I’ve watched this thing way more times than I’m comfortable sharing with you. Some of it is undoubtedly the residual crush-nostalgia, but there’s more. Yes, it’s a completely random video full of cheesy 80’s choreography. No, nothing in the video seems to tie into the meaning of the song at all (what’s up with the Styrofoam castle set?). Even so, this video shares something with Take Me Out: the writer knew what he/she was selling. In this case, it was Gibson’s image, and they did a brilliant job.

Maybe it’s just because I know how much of her own work Gibson did on her music (wrote, sang, played instruments, produced), but she just seems to come across as so real in this video. I compare her in this video to other teen-fad girl pop singers both then and later (Tiffany and Brittany Spears are examples), and there just seems to be so much “more of a person” staring out from behind that face. *shrug* I may just be projecting, but I’m really big on reading personality and intelligence from people’s eyes, smiles, facial expressions, etc., and I’m usually pretty close. Another thing I notice here: even re-calibrating for the late 80’s, Gibson’s outfits in the video were quite tame. They could have gone for the overtly provocative angle, and they didn’t. They waited for Anything Is Possible for that. 😉

Other things that stand out to me: they did a great job of posing and framing her for greatest effect. The first bridge (the one with the blue laser show) caught her in some really good angles, especially the profile shot with the spinning laser beams radiating from behind her head (”Don’t you see a strong resemblance…”). I really like the “stages of Debbie” trick they pull a couple of times in the video, with the two younger girls being cut in to apparently represent her growing up. Cute touch.

Finally, the music geek stuff. There’s no way those trumpet fingering changes we see at the beginning go with what we’re hearing (but then again, there’s no way that what we’re hearing is a real trumpet anyway). 🙂 The song is unusually long and uniquely-structured for a teen pop hit. Most rock-based pop songs like this have a simple verse-chorus structure. If “A” is the verse and “B” is the chorus, “ABABB” is pretty typical. Maybe “ABABCB” if there’s a bridge. This one, however, actually has two bridges, and the second one is in two distinct sections. It’s more like “ABABCBDEBB”.

3 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Videos?

  1. Debbie Gibson was one of my favorites, too. I had forgotten how refreshing it was to have some teeny-bopper role models that weren’t, shall we say, ho-bags (or ho-bag wanna-bes).

    And you always have to appreciate music that isn’t as canned as most of the crap that Pop stars are recording these days.

    Gee, I’m starting to sound old.

  2. Katherine:
    *grin* Yeah. She was so serious about the business of her music that it’s perhaps a bit tough for us mere fans to know where the persona ended and the person began, but she sure did/does seem like she would be an interesting person to get to know.

    As for the music, I agree with you. It just seems better than some of the more recent stuff. Don’t get me wrong. It’s cheese-flavored bubble gum, but it’s really well done cheese-flavored bubble gum. I still really enjoy listening to “Electric Youth” and “Foolish Beat”, but then it’s well-established that I’m a total sucker for a good piano ballad (especially in a minor key). 🙂

    The other thing is that it really was her music. I want to say Gibson may have set a record (at least temporarily) for being the youngest person to write, perform, and produce a record that went as high on the charts as some of hers did.

    I think it’s a rite of passage into adulthood that we wave our canes and gripe about the sorry state of current pop music. Then we sit around and tell the youngins stories about what it was like “when we were your age.” *grin*

  3. Awesome. I had forgotten the Franz Ferdinand video, and it really is effective with the song. Though this and the Weapon of Choice video from my site show one of the big problems with YouTube’s delivery: the sound and video sometimes aren’t synched. Not by much, and it’s normally not a problem, but for videos like those two that depend so much on timing, it can sap the life out of them.

    I missed the Debbie Gibson video the first time around. Wow. And ditto on being glad that it was her music.

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