Musical Safety Net

Monday, February 9, 2009 1:38 | Filed in Music

I have a TV programme which I watch when I can’t sleep. You know, if you wake up at 1am, and you can’t sleep, you’re not feeling tired, but you’re not properly awake either, what do you do?

Stick a comedy DVD on. That generally works for me. However, if I am properly awake, and feel the need to get up and move about, then I have a musical safety net downstairs. Some time ago, I recorded a program off of the telly called “100 Greatest Pop Videos”, which came out in 2005.

Hmm. It was probably in 2005 that I recorded it, then. But anyway, it’s — with advert breaks — about four hours long, counting down through 100 different pop videos, intercutting the usual talking heads with band members, video directors, clips from the video and frequently providing some interesting background information about the videos.

It’s also absolutely perfect for when I can’t sleep. I switch it on (sometimes at the start of the countdown, sometimes I’ll fast-forward to further through), and I vaguely watch it, then I close my eyes and listen to it, then… well, then it’s later and I’m usually either waking up to go back to bed, or waking up in the morning.

But one of the other things I particularly enjoy about it is that I get to listen to a lot of music and musicians that I wouldn’t normally enjoy, and which are generally of pretty decent quality. Frequently it’s the sort of thing that makes me want to track down the full versions of the songs… although not in every case.

So I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of them — in particular, the ones I think you should watch if you ain’t seen before.

  • #98 — Smalltown Boy (Bronski Beat). Not really my style of music, and I never really liked Jimmy (feels like kicking a puppy, but I just didn’t, okay?) but the music when coupled with the video tells a powerful emotional story about the alienation felt, presumably by Jimmy, growing up as a homosexual when it wasn’t exactly as tolerant as today’s still intolerant times. Now I just have to hear the opening bars and mentally the video starts playing…
  • #93 — We Love You (Rolling Stones). I’ve always liked the Stones, but the thing about this video in particular is the shots of Brian Jones and how completely out of his head he is. I mean, when you see how glazed his eyes look, you’re bloody amazed that they were actually capable of recording anything.
  • #83 — Stay (Shakespears Sister). This strange ballad tells the story of a lover begging her partner not to die and to stay with her. If, like me, you’d got so bloody sick of the song being at number one and being played all the bleeding time, you’d probably have wanted the angel of death to take the chap and just shut them up. But for me why this video is worthy of note, is that during the interviews around the song, Siobhan Fahey pointed out that she’d been waiting around all day to play the angel of death, and so the song actually features a pissed angel of death…
  • #81 — Vienna (Ultravox). This certainly doesn’t mean nothing to me. I don’t actually need to video for this: I can just listen to this track over and over. Entertainingly kept from number 1 by Shaddap Your Face, I think this really has lasted better…
  • #73 — Where’s Your Head At (Basement Jaxx). Not really my sort of music, but any video filmed in a mental hospital featuring monkeys with human faces grafted on singing to a record producer is sufficiently odd to be mandatory watching. The band. Monkeys. Singing.
  • #65 — Windowlicker (The Aphex Twin). If you ignore the offensive title, you then have to ignore the ridiculous amount of offensive language as the song starts up, and the bog-standard hip-hop misogyny, then you will get a pleasant surprise about four minutes into the video. But please, don’t skip ahead. It then gets increasingly bizarre from there on in, and there’s some stuff almost guaranteed to leave you with some sort of sexual complex or dysfunction. And apart from feeling thoroughly disturbed by the whole thing, you’re still left wondering whether you should find the damn thing offensive or not — or is that the point, or what? Impressively disturbing.
  • #44 — Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (Kylie Minogue). Great song, and it is shot with some real close-ups of Kylie’s face, some strange backgrounds when she is driving along and that revealling white dress. To be honest, while that white dress is revealing, Kylie is at her most erotically charged in some of the close ups. What can I say? I’m off for a cold shower…
  • #38 — Weapon of Choice (Fatboy Slim). Christopher Walken dancing backwards up an escalator. And that’s only the start of it.
  • #29 — Gay Bar (Electric Six). Someone dressed up as Abraham Lincoln in bondage gear, gyrating around metal poles, with shots of hamsters crawling along tubes and and ridiculous shots of phallic objects, coupled with lines which are just a tiny bit suggestive like “I’ve got something to put in you”. And if you’ve not seen Abraham Lincoln in bondage gear, it’s probably about time.
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2 Comments to Musical Safety Net

  1. The Goldfish says:

    February 9th, 2009 at 9:06 am

    When Shakespeare’s Sister’s Stay was at number 1, I attended my first ever sleepover party. There were four of us, the friend whose birthday it was had got the single, so we went about playing it over and over, reinacting that video. We’d take in turns to play those four equally vital roles; the lover, the angel of death, the dying man and the life-support machine.

    If you’re regularly falling asleep to this video, isn’t there a danger of all those adverts having a subliminal effect and you waking up wanting to buy the latest products from four years ago?

  2. Mike says:

    February 9th, 2009 at 11:11 am

    The gym I currently attend is different from ANY of the gyms I attended back in the UK – it’s different because the videos they play aren’t pornographic, lesbo fantasy, offensive, euro pop shite. They play The Stooges, and The Sex Pistols, and Thin Lizzy and The Smiths. It’s great.
    Only today they played ‘Macho Man’ by The Village People. I almost choked and fell off the running machine.
    Still, great video – check it out if you can.

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