Sunday, February 24, 2013

Trapped In A Glass Lake Of Emotion: Music Video Clips In Water - Part Two

To recap: we’re going through and rating the music video clips through the years which have used water as a symbol for the artist’s angst. The clips are being rated on three dimensions: height (how far they fall into water), depth (how deep the water is), and length (how long they are in the drink).
Down By The Water – PJ Harvey: This was my first introduction to PJ Harvey, and for a young boy who had been raised on Icehouse and the Proclaimers it was pretty startling. PJ gets deep down in this clip, recalling Hamlet’s Ophelia, who of course went mad and drowned herself. (It’s a fair bet that if you’re evoking ‘Hamlet’ you’re going to come off as fairly tortured.) We see her drop into the blue during the clip as well, so there’s a bit of height in there. When I think of water torture clips (or PJ Harvey clips) this has to be close to the first one I think of.
She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5: I hate this song anyway, but I think I hate it more because of Adam Levine acting like a tortured soul (and not in a compelling way) for the duration of the video clip. I mean, the poor guy … he has to hang around a sunny mansion in LA, and make a tough decision about whether to sleep with his hot girlfriend or her hot mother. Anyway, Levine gets some height on his dive, and he manages to get down about as deep into the pool as he can go, but like Lana’s ‘Blue Jeans’ clip it’s hard to convey torture on an epic scale in a body of water that’s five foot deep. All in all then, this clip rates as average, which for Maroon 5 seems appropriate.

No Surprises – Radiohead: Given that Thom Yorke spends the entire clip in the one spot, this clip video doesn’t rate on the height dimension. Why it comes under consideration here though is the scene a couple of minutes in the water slowly rises up until his entire head is underwater, and for a few seconds you think “Holy shit! Thom Yorke is about to drown on music video!” As we all know, the water comes down again, leaving Thom gasping for air, but the scene remains emblematic of Radiohead’s brand of pre-millennial tension. 

BONUS: Lay It Down – The Rubens: I only mention this because I saw it on Rage around the time I was writing this. It’s essentially the Maroon 5 clip in a bigger body of water, although it ups the angst by having it rain on the band for the rest of the video clip. Alas, I thought I might like the Rubens until I came across this batch of clichés.

Which then of our six clips is the best example of being ‘trapped within a glass lake of emotion’? To my mind, three clips stand out in terms of being able to rack up a reasonable score on all three dimensions: the xx, PJ Harvey, and Guns ‘N’ Roses. No-one can top Axl for height and depth, but again it’s just hard to take anyone seriously as a tortured artist when they dress like a 13 year old and end the clip sitting with a dolphin in a flannel shirt. As I said, the xx is fairly much a textbook water angst clip and it comes very, very close, but I’m going to go for PJ Harvey. No-one who has seen that clip would ever forget it, and it even has ‘water’ in the title. Plus, PJ essentially used the same image on her album cover – that’s commitment to the theme.

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