According to my calendar, it is The Emperor of Japan’s birthday today. I’ve always wondered why that’s on United States calendars. Regardless, this gives me an opportunity to feature a music video by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness.
I am not going to go into the history of the band. If you are interested in their career, then I recommend the Wikipedia article on them. I will mention two things though. They were the first Japanese metal act to be signed to a major label in the US. According to Wikipedia, they have released twenty-six studio albums (five in America) and nine live albums as of 2014, having started in 1981.
As for the music video, you aren’t hallucinating about the title of this post. This music video was directed by the same person who directed …Baby One More Time by Britney Spears. I’ve only done two music videos by Nigel Dick so far. The other one being Wonderwall by Oasis. I might have mentioned it before, but he seems to be the Michael Curtiz of music videos. He doesn’t have any distinct signature like Michel Gondry. He seems to be a director you go to with whatever you need made, and he turns in a quality music video.
At first I thought I had no idea why this music video looks the way it does. It makes some sense to me now.
It’s shot in what looks like the Mad Max universe, so you have the post-apocalyptic look to it. That probably represents the death of Imperial Japan via the atomic bomb. You have the American car, plane, and TV sticking out of the desert since Japan would rise again technologically. It also probably represents the quick turnover of American culture.
The flag behind them is The Flag of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force that has been in use since 1954. From what I can gather, it is the same as the Flag of the Imperial Japanese Navy that was in use prior to the American Occupation, but isn’t the same flag as the War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The band is playing a genre of music that originated in Britain, then invaded the United States in the 80s with it in the same way that the British invaded the states in the 60s after taking up blues and early rock. Both countries having attacked the United States in the past before having close ties down the road.
We see a samurai sword plunged into the ground at about the midpoint of the song, which also seems to represent death of old Japan without having to abandon pride in their country as shown by the flag.
In the end, the flag is in shown in shadow and a guitar in flames. I see that as rock being a universal language that transcends borders and burns brighter than any flag.
There seems to be two forces tearing at the Japanese since the war. Symbols representing pride in their nation without actually celebrating the awful things done during WWII under those same symbols. That seems to tie-in with the lyrics of the song. I know it all ties together somehow.
That’s my best attempt at an interpretation without really reading up on a bunch of history of the country, the flag, and the band.
One more thing. I don’t know if it was a continuity error or not, but the flag appears to change positions are certain times in the video. It even looks like it has disappeared at about three minutes and forty-nine seconds. If the video weren’t filled with so much symbolism, then I wouldn’t have mentioned it.
This was shot by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski whose work you have most likely seen. He shot four of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, The Crow (1994), Dark City (1998), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Prometheus (2012), and The Martian (2015), among others.
I love that this is a Japanese metal band whose music video is made by a British director and shot by a Polish cinematographer for an American audience that covers similar issues that were faced by post-war Germany and Italy using the genre of rock that was seen as a savior for people living under Communist rule during the 80s that also happened to be a high point of the Cold War.