Music Video of the Day: Crazy Inside by TAKIA (2020, dir by Jonathan Guttmann)

This is an especially relevant song and video for our day and age.  I think almost everyone has gone a little bit crazy inside, whether it’s from rage or just feeling a little bit stir-crazy at being shut up inside.

Of course, some people handle the craziness by going online and acting like a jackass.  Other people handle it by creating.  In this video, Keka Martin handles it by dancing.  That, by the way, is how I’ve also been handling it all.  Ever since I realized that this lockdown isn’t going to be ending anytime soon, not a day has gone by that I haven’t found time to dance a little.  It helps to keep me calm and centered and, even more importantly, it takes my mind off of the craziness all around.

“But, Lisa,” you’re saying, “I don’t dance!”

Well, that’s okay.  You don’t have to dance.  Maybe you should write.  Maybe you should watch an old movie.  Maybe you should just listen to music or tell yourself an old joke.  The important thing is to remember that there’s more to life than just worry and anxiety.  There’s creativity and movement and joy.  None of those things have to end just because the world kind of sucks right now.  In fact, it’s important that they don’t end.  Keeping creativity alive is the only thing that stand between us and authoritarianism.


Music Video of the Day: All Fired Up by Drastic (2020, dir by ????)

Would you prove your love for me by jumping out of an airplane?

Well, fear not.  I would never ask you or anyone else to do so.  What I can also tell you is that there are absolutely no circumstances in which I would jump out of an airplane.  I wouldn’t do it prove my love.  I wouldn’t do it for a million dollars.  I certainly wouldn’t do it for just the experience.  I’ve been told that skydiving is an amazing feeling but, as we all know, I don’t do heights.  Seriously, I have a hard enough time standing at the top of my staircase at home.  (Of course, I should point out that it’s a very steep staircase.)

What would I do to prove my love?  I would stand up in the back of a moving pickup truck.  That may not sound like much but seriously, it is.  It’s at least as dangerous as sky diving.  When I was growing up, all of my aunts and all of my uncles told me stories about people who had made the mistake of standing up in the back of a moving pickup truck and it never seemed to end well for them.  In fact, it kind of left me with a phobia about pickup trucks in general.  Whenever I’m stuck behind one in traffic, I’m worried that someone’s going to suddenly stand up in the back of it and accidentally fall out and crash through my windshield or something.  That would suck.  New windshields are not cheap.

Anyway, enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: The Steps by HAIM (2020, dir by Paul Thomas Anderson)

I’m the youngest of four sisters and everyday, I’m thankful for that because I would seriously be so lost without them in my life.  I think that’s one reason why I like HAIM.  The Haim sisters remind me of my older sisters and that’s especially true in the video for The Steps.

The song, of course, is about a relationship that, if it hasn’t ended yet, is coming to an end.  The messiness of Haim’s morning routine perfectly mirrors the lyrics of the song, in which the narrator says that every time she tries to move forward, her lover gets mad at her for “making a mess.”  There’s something very liberating about HAIM’s messiness in this video.  It’s not just the fact that they’re throwing stuff all over the apartment and stumbling out of bed (which is the way I think most of us wake up but it’s something you rarely see in movies or music videos, where everyone wakes up refreshed and ready for a photo shoot) but it’s also the fact that there’s none of the fake glamour that you might expect to see in a music video like this.  It’s a song about freedom and being yourself and if that means making a mess then make a mess.  It’s a liberating song and a liberating video.  It’s not a video where HAIM tries to live up to some pop princess archetype.  This is a video that says, “This is who we are and fuck you if you can’t handle it.”

That said, I have to admit that I’m a compulsive cleaner and my natural instinct is to usually tidy up so my room has never looked as messy as my life.  I guess I should be happy about that because otherwise, I don’t think I’d ever be able to find anything.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay to be messy.  It’s okay to be neat.  What matters is that you’re being yourself and not allowing anyone to force you to try to be someone else.

This video, like most of HAIM’s recent videos, was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  The film critic Armond White has argued that Anderson’s work with HAIM is actually superior to most of his recent films and I think White might have a point.  (Before anyone starts yelling at me, I don’t care whether or not you like Armond White.  He’s a consistently interesting writer and someone has to be willing to be a contrarian.)  There’s a definitely naturalness to Anderson’s videos with HAIM, as if anything could happen at any moment.


Music Video of the Day: Try by Michael Penn (1997, dir by Paul Thomas Anderson)

I was going to do one of the videos that Paul Thomas Anderson directed for Haim today but I changed my mind at the last minute.  That’s nothing against Haim or the video.  Haim’s great and their videos — particularly the ones directed by Anderson — are frequently brilliant.  It’s just, for whatever reason, I knew that today was not the day to write about their video for The Steps.  That day will come soon.

Instead, I wrote about the video for Michael Penn’s Try.

Try was the very first music video to be directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  He directed it while he was editing Boogie Nights.  Michael Penn, of course, did the score for both Boogie Nights and Anderson’s earlier Hard Eight.  He can also be spotted in Boogie Nights, playing Nick in the recording studio and incredulously reacting to the efforts of Dirk Diggler and Reed Rothschild to record their own album.

When watching this video, pay attention to the blonde gentleman wearing the Planet of the Apes t-shirt.  He shows up twice and, at one point, holds the microphone into which Penn is singing.  If he looks familiar, that’s because he’s actor Philip Seymour Hoffman!  When I first saw the video, I honestly didn’t recognize him.  I just thought he was some random crew person who got the job because he could run fast enough to keep up with Penn.  Of course, once I learned that Hoffman was in the video and I rewatched it, I immediately spotted him.  I think it says something about what a good actor Hoffman was that, even in something like this, he could be so convincing that, despite being one of the most recognizable actors in the world, he still became somewhat anonymous.  He disappeared into the role.

Thomas Jane and Melora Waters (who played Todd and Jessie St. Vincent in Boogie Nights) are also in this video, standing at the end of a a long line of exhausted dancers.  (This was meant to be a reference to the film, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?)  There’s one other Boogie Nights reference, which is kind of interesting considering the fact that he and Anderson supposedly didn’t get along during filming.  Keep an eye out for door with a purple 9 on it.  That’s a reference to Burt Reynolds, who wore the number 9 when he played college football.


Music Video of the Day: Big City Night by Scorpions (1985, directed by ????)

On the road with Scorpions!

In America, Scorpions are best-known for Rock You Like A HurricaneBig City Nights comes from the same album, Love At First String.  In fact, it was the last single released from that album and the video is made up of footage that was shot while the band was touring in support of Love At First Sting.  Though the song was never as big a hit as Rock You Like A Hurricane, the video was probably responsible for a lot of teenagers deciding to start a band in 1985.  The main message of this video seems to be that if you want to get laid, even when you’re middle-aged and your hair is starting to thin, then you need to start a band.  Of course, that was the message of most music videos of the period.


Music Video of the Day: Bad is Bad by Huey Lewis and the News (1984, directed by ????)

Today’s music video features a linguistic lesson from Huey Lewis.

Perhaps realizing that a generation was being raised to think that “bad” was the proper way to describe something as being cool, Huey uses this song to remind his fans that sometimes, bad just means that something’s bad.  Sometimes, your cousin plays the guitar and it sounds like chainsaw.  Sometimes, there’s a strange pair of shows under the bed.  Sometimes, bad is bad.

To make their point, the band performs the song while walking around the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.  What better way was there to do that?  It’s not every day that you see Huey Lewis and the News walking behind a garbage truck.