July Video Challenge: Björk, Crystalline

The latest dispatch from Iceland, directed by Michael Gondry:


The song is from her upcoming record Biophilia, scheduled to come out in late September. Also, you guys, it looks like this record will be EPIC, or at least the swag that goes with it will be. For example the Ultimate Edition Special Box Set will include, among other things, specially silk-screened tuning forks, each adjusted to one track on the album.

On the other hand, if you, like me, enjoy Björk but don’t have a need for astonishingly expensive tuning forks, it will also be available in standard formats. And, flagrant ridiculousness aside (tuning forks!!), I’m excited by the prospect a new record from Björk. I have a feeling it is going to be in frequent rotation as post-class chill-out music.

July Video Challenge: Gerardo Mejia, Rico Suave / No Me Podran Vencer (Dj Napoles Tropical Mix)

And now as a palate cleanser from the heavy business this morning, I present: Gerardo Mejia, Then and Now.

Then, he went only by Gerardo, and his hit was Rico Suave:




True confession: I bought Mo’ Ritmo. I did so partially because I liked the music, partially because I have a terrible weakness for skinny boys with long hair, and partially because I was taking Spanish in school at the time and listening to it was a way to practice my translation skills.

Now, he uses his whole name and is an A&R exec with Interscope (he was responsible for bringing Enrique Iglesias to the attention of the label) but is apparently still making music, such as this one, entitled No Me Podran Vencer (Dj Napoles Tropical Mix), which features  Randell Salguero and was directed by the Shahkamrani Bros:



July Video Challenge: Pearl Jam, Jeremy

I picked this one partially because earlier this week I woke up with the song lodged in my head, and partially because, having done some research (i.e. consulted Wikipedia) I learned that, post-Columbine, MTV stopped playing it. Also interesting: the video below is the official video, but it isn’t the original one.

The first video for the song was made by photographer Chris Cuffaro, largely at his own expense, and was summarily rejected by Pearl Jam‘s label, who were none too keen on releasing the song as a single.

Later, however, the label came around, and a new video was made, directed by Mark Pellington. The result is – strange. The inherent darkness of the topic of the song – a boy killing himself at school, loosely based on two true stories – is only amplified by the violent imagery, and also, Eddie Vedder at his most demonic. And, too, I had forgotten Vedder wrote the song from the POV of a bully. It won four VMAs, including Video of the Year, in 1993.



July Video Challenge: Patrick Stump, Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)

This video, directed by Joe Wein, is packed full of delights. Among them are Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy), singing a song that is part of his new solo efforts; a girl with the most adorable skateboarding helmet ever; and also a dude doing backflips with a pogo stick.


Patrick Stump - "Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)"

July Video Challenge: The Chances, No Escape

Here is a video that actually was filmed on the beach (and the pier) in Santa Monica: No Escape, from The Chances. The video is by Eddie O’Keefe, the band is Julia Barna, Michael Runion and Sara Sinclair, and the tune has the pure sweetness of a summer crush.

Other notes: I’m especially fond of this one because Santa Monica is one of my favorite places; I enjoy the line about the city bus; and I’m now left with an abiding desire to go down the Shore to the boards and eat some ice cream while listening to the waves crash on the beach.

The CHANCES – No Escape from Eddie O'KEEFE on Vimeo.

July Video Challenge: ALEXCALIBUR, Mama Bear

ALEXCALIBUR (Alex Gulla) has an incredible voice – rich, supple, and flexible – and his live show is nothing short of mind-blowing. Note: that link may or may not be NSFW, depending on where you work, and contains pictures of Mr. Gulla singing while wearing very small trunks and not a lot else.

I chose this particular song because I find it incredibly soothing, and the video, created by Gulla and Katie Torn, is illustrative of his general aesthetic. You can listen to more of his work here.


July Video Challenge: Gackt, Arittake No Ai De [With All My Love] / Redemption

This time I picked two videos by the same artist because I genuinely just couldn’t choose only one to share. They are both from the same record, The 11th Day Single Collection, but that is about the only thing they have in common. The first one Arittake No Ai De [With All My Love], is a sweet pop song for “the one that got away”; Redemption is a hard-rock howl of rage and loss.

I picked the first one because it looks predictable and uncomplicated, at first, and then all of sudden there is BLOODY VIOLENCE and then Gackt comes in and literally hits rewind and redirects / fixes the narrative arc:




The second one I selected because it was used as the theme song for Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerebus and so has Final Fantasy-themed costumes and also Deeply Symbolic Birds of Prey all over everywhere:




As some context for all of this, Gackt was formerly the lead singer for Malice Mizer, a visual kei band, whose look and sound was essentially goth crossed with glam, punk, metal, and French romanticism and turned up to 11. Ten years ago he went solo, and in addition to his musical accomplishments he’s also appeared in several films and stage productions and lent his voice to a number of different projects.

Also, the YouTube channel for the label he’s on, Nippon Crown, is full of fascinating material and well worth checking out.

July Video Challenge: Mariachi El Bronx, Cell Mates

The Bronx , though named for one of the boroughs of New York City, are actually from Los Angeles. There have two wildly different incarnations: as The Bronx, they are a punk/hardcore band; as Mariachi El Bronx, they are a mariachi band. This video is for one of their mariachi songs. To quote the YouTube description, “Light-up suits ahoy!”


July Video Challenge: Na Na Na, My Chemical Romance

This is My Chemical Romance, broadcasting from a post-apocalyptic California, in 2019. There’s lots of geeky details, fancy driving and things blowing up in a very satisfying manner. Every time this one comes up on shuffle I almost wish I had a car just so I could plug my iPod into the speakers and crank this one up while driving very fast. It’s also  the first video in a series, and served as a visual introduction to the concept and the world of their latest record, Danger Days: The True Life of the Fabulous Killjoys.


My Chemical Romance - "Na Na Na" (Official Music Video)

July Video Challenge: Phantom Planet, Do the Panic

You may recognize Phantom Planet, or at least singer Alex Greenwald’s voice, from The OC, as they sang the theme song for the show. (You might recognize his face from Donnie Darko.) This song is from Raise The Dead, their last record, released in 2008. The video should get some sort of prize for creepy, horror-movie inspired effects.

Phantom Planet: Do The Panic [OFFICIAL VIDEO]