Why PHYSICAL by Dua Lipa is such good fun

Dua Lipa is one of the rare singers who continually tries new things in music videos, and songs. Those risks tend to pay off. I can’t remember the last song or video where I skipped it.

I only heard PHYSICAL on the radio and found the video because a dancer did a tribute that I swore was the actual official video.

And this song itself is a tribune to the original 1980s LET’S GET PHYSICAL by Olivia Newton John.

First, let’s check out Dua Lipa’s video before we talk smack.

Good, right? It’s paying homage without being a direct ripoff of Oliva Newton John.

What I like is Dua Lipa clearly cares about dance. They aren’t part of the background, making her look good — she’s dancing right with them, in this one and every video I’ve seen her do. Impressive.

The pioneer of legwarmer videos

Now here’s the original, which is still funny, but hasn’t aged that well.

This was a big deal when it came out. Huge.

Now it looks pretty cheesy, like those Crystal Light National Aerobics Championships, which is amazing and worth being studied in Contemporary History 376: What Were They Smoking in the 1980s?

VERDICT

The more I see and hear of Dua Lipa, the more I like her stuff.

Great job–please keep taking risks and trying new things with these videos. Give us moar moar MOAR.

IF THE WORLD WAS ENDING is the right kind of song for 2020

Wait five minutes and 2020 will deliver unto you new craziness, like today’s massive hacking attack.

So this song by two people I’d never heard of, J.P. Saxe and Julia Michaels, totally fits the mood of this year of apocalyptic nuttiness, with all of us just waiting for what’s next.

Giant meteor? Fine. Alien invasion? BRING IT, INTERGALACTIC MAGGOTS–WE ARE EMOTIONALLY NUMB AND UNAFRAID TO DIE.

Here’s the video:

Simple, right?

They didn’t hire a Hollywood action blockbuster director and spend $8 million on sets, explosions, and backup dancers.

Two characters singing separately on split screens. Then together.

Simple, cheap, and beautiful.

VERDICT: Love it. Give us moar moar moar.

GOOD THING by Zedd and Kehlani is just about perfect

Listen: I’ve grown up watching music videos, and have seen them evolve and branch out.

There are dance videos, art-house cray cray, stadium rockers, short films, low-rent masterpieces and high-budget flops.

This video is nearly flawless.

There’s a real story in here, character arcs, a theme of the working class versus the decadent rich–and great dancing at the end.

Most music videos will shoot for maybe one of those things and roll with it from start to finish. All story, all theme, all dancing.

I really like how the director put all the ingredients together without overdoing any one thing.

VERDICT

The acid test for a music video, book, or movie is simple: Do you want more?

I’ve replayed this a dozen times in the last week and it hasn’t gotten old once.

Love it. Give us moar moar MOAR.

 

 

DATA AND PICARD is the weirdest music video in the quandrant

Listen: there are three types of music videos.

  • Expensive Monsters, made by pop stars and rappers, and these videos have budgets bigger than the gross national product of Paraguay.
  • Shoestring Specials, shot on your buddies iPhone and edited by Carl, who dropped out of UCLA film school but still has his subscription to the Adobe Creative Suite, so you pay him in beer.
  • Obscure Weirdness, where all the wild things live.

It’s the obscure stuff that’s the most fun, because you never know what you’ll find. Sometimes it will be gross, or lame, or shocking. But other times, it’s like finding buried treasure without a pirate map.

Here’s what I just saw. Take a look and a listen.

It’s silly and stupid, right? But also brilliant. So maybe stupidly brilliant.

The sets and costumes are COMPLETELY SPOT-ON, like they bribed the night shift guy at Paramount–maybe he’s a cousin of Carl’s.

I’m loving the actor’s facial expressions, which are perfect, especially when he’s playing Data.

So: I’m required by law to like this. It’s creative, and a lot more fun than watching your average music video from a Far Too Serious Pop Star.

VERDICT: Give us more of these.

JURANOID by Hevisaurus is heavy metal for kids about dinosaurs

You can’t make this stuff up, which is what makes it so great.

Finland, Sweden and Iceland are really into heavy metal. I mean, seriously into it. There’s like FIVE BILLION heavy metal bands in Finland, which is like the population of Akron, Ohio or whatever. (I’m kidding. 5.5 million people, with 53 heavy metal bands. Not in total. 53 bands per 100,000 people. Daaaaamn.)

One of the bands is Hevisaurus, which you don’t need to understand Finnish to know it talking about “heavy metal + dinosaurs.” And they’re not screwing around. Their audience is kids, and they’ve got good songs and high production values. Check it out.

Good, right? Shocking so.

What really got me were (a) the puppetry with the dinosaur eyes and (b) the fire-breathing dinosaur. That’s metal.

Usually, a little theater goes a long way for a rock or metal band. KISS got a crazy amount of mileage from wearing makeup. Hair bands in the ’80s sold a lot of records with perms, spandex and a little eyeliner.

Hevisaurus is going the extra mile here. These costumes are movie-quality (kid movies, sure, but way better than a band needs for the stage). 

Wikipedia quotes/translates a Finnish source that says: “According to legend, five dinosaur eggs made from metal survived the mass extinction some 65 million years ago in the mountain of wizards. In the year 2009, witches gathered at the same place. A giant lightning bolt hit the ground and simultaneously created ash and revealed the eggs. From the power of the witches’ chants, the eggs exploded open and five Hevisauri hatched.”[15] Hey, most Marvel and DC superhero origin stories would kill to be half that cool. 

Also: Heavisaurus is going all “Artist Formerly Known as Prince” with a dispute involving their music label, Sony, and it doesn’t get any more metal than sticking it to the Man.

Verdict

Could not love this more. Give me more Hevisaurus.

The brilliance of RUNNING UP THAT HILL by Meg Myers

Yes, this is a cover, so the original credit goes to Kate Bush–yet the Meg Myers version is hotter than a supernova. Take a listen.

And here’s the Kate Bush OG version, then we’ll talk.

The videos

Kate Bush took a risk here with the dancing, a risk that didn’t quite pay off, though anything is superior to the standard, “Watch the lead singer emote into the microphone for three minutes.” Only a few people can really pull that off, like Sinead O’Connor’s cover of NOTHING COMPARES 2U.

The video for Meg Myers is different and brilliant. Motion capture plus kids coloring each page? YES.

The music

Since the lyrics are identical, what matters for a cover is execution.

And this is where Meg Myers and her producer rock us like a hurricane. I heard the Meg version on the radio, fired up the Series of Tubes and went after “running up that hill.” Up popped the Kate Bush version, which sounded like the right song, and made me wonder if fumes in my car, my mood, or mind-control beams from Elon Musk satellites had made me simply enjoy that scratchy car-radio version more than a pristine cut on good headphones.

Which made me have a sad. Because my memory of the song on the radio was crazy good.

Then I stumbled on the Meg Myers version, and no longer believed the whole Elon Musk mind control theory AT ALL, and played her cover approximately 5,923 times in a row.

Her cover is that good.

The deeper meaning

Bad pop songs are like bad dialogue in a movie or novel: they’re on the nose, with no room for ambiguity, no hints at something more. 

The lyrics here are interesting and deep. Here they are:

It doesn’t hurt me
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know, know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making?
You, it’s you and me
 
And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building
See if I only could, oh
 
You don’t want to hurt me
But see how deep the bullet lies
Unaware I’m tearing you asunder
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts
 
Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?
You, it’s you and me
It’s you and me, won’t be unhappy
 
And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building
Say, if I only could, oh
 
You
It’s you and me
It’s you and me, won’t be unhappy
 
Oh come on, baby
Oh come on, darling
Let me steal this moment from you now
Oh come on, angel
Come on, come on, darling
Let’s exchange the experience, oh
 
And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
I’d be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems
 
Say, if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
I’d be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems
 
So if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
I’d be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems
 
Say, if I only could
I’d be running up that hill
With no problems
 
I believe the lyrics hit a sweet spot between “completely on the nose” and “so obscure and esoteric that seven different MFA students have written papers about it, and they all disagree.”
 
Meg Myers explains this a little during her Tiny Desk Concert with NPR, which is worth a listen for an acoustic version of the song, and for what she says about her motivation for doing the cover.
 

Verdict

Thanks for the original, Kate Bush.

And give us more like this, Meg Myers–swing for the fences, knowing you won’t hit a home run every time. Just keeps swinging. Because this cover was amazing.

Bonus content: here’s how they made the video. Impressive.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Medieval Music Video Deathmatch–CIRCLES by Post Malone vs HOLY DIVER by Dio

Post Malone is insanely popular and famous now, and he does make (a) great music and (b) music videos that look like Hollywood movies.

His latest music video, CIRCLES, has been watched 5.92 trillion times and is all over the radios. Here, take a look, then we’ll compare it to a heavy metal video from the ’80s with a similar medieval theme.

Weird, right? Here’s why I think this video vexes us.

The song is catchy, and the video is interesting and slick–but they don’t match up. The two don’t mesh to make something new that’s greater than the sum of its parts, like peanut butter and jelly or Kirk and Spock.

The tune is pure, upbeat pop. Professional music critic types have thrown down by calling it the best Katy Perry song of the summer. The video, though, is trying to be dark and tough, bloody and gritty. It’s like peanut butter and broccoli. Do not want.

Put a different video with this song and it would work just fine. Throw a different, darker track on this video and it would fly.

This just doesn’t.

You can see a great example of a beautiful match between song and video by this obscure new artist called Post Malone, who chose his stage name via a rap generator and recorded did this little track called SUNFLOWER for some cartoon superhero movie that nobody watched.

Perfect, right?

Nailed it. Cannot be improved.

Now comes our contender from the ’80s, a totally different take on medieval music video goodness, with Dio making the video for HOLY DIVER on what looks like a budget of $39.84 and a case of Bud Light after binge-watching Conan the Barbarian and Highlander movies.

Here, take a look and listen to grainy archival footage of long ago, when MTV actually played music videos instead of reality shows:

We’ve got the opposite problems here compared to Post Malone, especially when it comes to production values, sets, costumes and all the trimmings. 

HOWEVER: The tone of the song matches the tone of the video. That’s huge. Kind of the first job of any music video: match the song.

There’s one storytelling edit I’d make, and that’s moving the sword fight with the bad guy to the end, so they’re circling each other until the climax. I’d make the same kind of storytelling fix to the Post Malone video and change the end, because the Rapunzel angle didn’t work at all.

VERDICT: I have to give it to Dio here. All the money and talent in the world can’t fix a bad marriage between song and music video.

 

Ed Sheeran and Khalid absolutely nail it with BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

As a huge fan of Khalid, and a medium-sized fan of Ed Sheeran, I was happy to find out the song I’ve been rocking out to in the car is by these two.

The lyrics are what really made me pay attention–they’re quite different. Gloriously, the music video snags those lyrics like a wobbly pass from Tom Brady (P.S. I hate you, kthxbai) and runs them 98 yards back for a thunderous touchdown.

Here, take a look and a listen.

Different, right? I love it. 

There’s no shortage of pop and rap videos where the singer shows off, rolling around in piles of money or giving us long looks at their mansion, Lambo and swimming pool filled with supermodels.

Good on Ed Sheeran and Khalid for giving us a different take. 

WALK IT TALK IT by The Migos pays glorious tribute to the ’70s

I’d this heard the song on the radio, but this was the first time seeing the video, and yes, I love it. This video pays homage to old TV shows like SOLID GOLD.

Or this montage of ’70s dancing, in all its funky bell-bottom goodness:

Burn, baby, burn.

Two great music videos that cost zero dollars

These days, you need to put up music videos on the Series of Tubes to make a living as a musician, which is great, except it costs the gross domestic product of Paraguay to do proper music video. Which makes it tough for scrappy bands trying to make it.

So it’s refreshing to see bands do good videos shot on their friend’s iPhone and edited in MS Paint or whatever, all for a total budget of $593.93, most of that budget going for pizza.

What’s even more impressive than a cheap music video?

One that cost absolutely zero dollars.

Here are two short little snippets of music on video that warmed my heart in two completely different ways.

First up is a man playing the Careless Whispers saxophone bit for cows. 

Why do I love this? Because it’s pure joy, on his part and from the cows. He’s just learning the sax and isn’t world class yet. The man won’t be going on tour. But my God, these cows are into it, which gives him, and anyone watching the video, a pure sense of joy and wonder. 

Next up: one minute of pure talent.

She’s using a couch cushion, a baby toy and I don’t know what else for drum equipment and it just doesn’t matter. 

I would pay cash money to watch her live. Right? Moar moar moar.

Also: I wonder what the cows would think of drumming like this. Are they into all music, or just horns?