FACT are currently doing an exhibition focusing on music videos, soemthing that runs till Sunday 26th May but with the weather being like it is now, probably as far as I’m willing to leave my flat this weekend (I live right by it). Part of the exhibition focuses on the history of dance, and so in honour this week’s Five for the Funk is all about dance music videos.
Don’t worry, none of the ones here are included at FACT (although artists and directors are, creativity in the realms doesn’t appear to be that spread out) and I’ve also thrown some love to one or two that aren’t particularly arty. And one that is just awful. Enjoy!
Whilst director Michel Gondry is rightly lauded for his masterpiece effort on Daft Punk’s ‘Around the World’ (featured at FACT), he took the same principle of focusing on the components of a dance music record to create this lush video for Star Guitar. The terrain and passing vehicles are among the visual juxtapositions that reference each introduction of sound the record weaves in.
It’s a delightfully subtle counterpart to the Chem’s stage shows of blistering audio-visual bombast as well, reflective of the fact the track itself was much more languid than their previous offerings. A thoroughly hypnotizing opus that flips the challenge possessed in visualising instrumental music.
Taken from round about the same time as Star Guitar, this riotous slab of loon-house simply wouldn’t have worked with a subtle and deft video. So they go for an absolutely nuts one, involving the fusion of pop stars with monkeys to create a musician/hominoid abomination. You could argue there is a meaning to all this as some critique of the music industry, but the best thing to do is just watch it and embrace the madness.
This is never going to win any awards, either as a record or as a video, but this sums up the mainstream Ibiza experience of the 90s in a nutshell. A scantily clad Morales boards a train on which he sees Sonique and Judge Jules, and then proceeds around the island via villas, couples kissing on the beach and, of course, DJing at Pacha. The track is just incessant sunshine as well, not as raw as ‘The Bomb‘ but an undeniable summertime anthem. But he’s running a lot? What is it about dance music videos and running?
He remade it two years later with a vocal and a new video, this time eschewing those red trunks for an awful ribbed white long sleeved t-shirt, but it wasn’t the same. In fact the only remake worth watching is this one.
From the sublime to the insane and the feel-good, to the just downright horrendous. I’ll admit it, as an eighteen year old slowly putting puberty behind me I loved this record, but even then I was pretty baffled by the video. We see a DJ with terrible hair and even worse headphones sitting off by a public landmark, one can only assume this is pop-trance maestro Darude. Then a girl runs out with a silver briefcase clasped in her hand, only to be chased by a bald man and another woman. They all look like they’re dressed like lifeguards.
The chase goes on, occasionally interspersing the shots with barking dogs, Darude looking cool inside a car with some lime green wraparound shades and a series of brilliant slow motion snippets of them jumping. None of it ever relates to any rhythmic structure of the music, they do slow down slightly in the breakdown only to start running again before the beat kicks in again, and finally the bald man catches up his prey only to be double crossed by his partner who leaves him for dead on a train track. There’s always people running as well; why?
The two women skip off, yes skip, together hand in hand to be met by Darude at a private yacht, where they are seen lounging back with him in a brief pimp like clinch. Is the briefcase Darude’s record collection? The cure for cancer? Marsellus Wallace’s soul? Nope, it’s just evidence of electronic music’s capability to occasionally avoid creativity.
When this was originally released on Soma records in 1995 few would of predicted the position we would be in now, where a 13 second loop and a photo of two helmets can send the internet into raptures. However Daft Punk and of course Virgin behind them clearly recognised the bigger picture when installing Spike Jonze to direct this video accompaniment to the tough as you like house hip-hop hybrid. In the process, they’ve created arguably the greatest video accompaniment the most visually entrancing electronic music act ever made.
What makes it so enduring is the almost complete irrelevance the music plays to the track. The only link is the fact it’s playing from the boom-box of the protagonist, a human with a dog’s head called Charles. Said radio prevents Charles from following a potentially romantic get-up with an old friend he meets in a shop, but the total ambiguity about what it represent symbolises that even at an early stage, Daft Punk understood that restraint was the best way to create mystique – leaving a sea of questions rather than shaping the answers. Take note Darude.
The FACT exhibition runs up until Sunday 26th May. Full details here.