Music Video of the Day: Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie (2000, dir by ????)


It’s Ash Wednesday!

I remember, when I was like 14, I got up early in the morning and I woke up my sisters by shouting, “It’s Ash Wednesday, bitches!”  My mom was not amused.  That said, Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days.  I just love the ritual of it all.  Of course, I also usually wash my forehead fairly early in the day.  That’s allowed, by the way.

Now, before anyone leaves any snarky comments, I fully understand that David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes is not actually about Ash Wednesday nor are the ashes mentioned in the song literal ashes.  I understand that but hey, this is a good song and David Bowie certainly does look happy in this clip.  Around the two minute mark, he takes the time to praise the backup singers, which is a pretty classy move.

This is from a 2000 performance in London.

Enjoy!

Music Video Of The Day: Golden Years by David Bowie (1975, directed by ????)


Four years ago, at the age of 69, David Bowie died of liver cancer.  Just as how there was no way that we couldn’t highlight a Bowie video on his birthday, there’s also no way that, on this day, we can’t share another video from him.

Golden Years was one of Bowie’s signature tunes.  Angela Bowie claimed that the song was written for her but David never denied or confirmed that claim.  David Bowie did say that he originally tried to give the song to Elvis Presley but Elvis turned it down.  At that time, Elvis probably did not want to be reminded that he was in his “golden years.”

In 1975, in the days before MTV, music videos were often simply performance clips.  The video for Golden Years was taken from Bowie’s performance on Soul Train.  Bowie appeared on the show on November 4th, 1975 and he performed both Golden Years and Fame.  Bowie was only the 2nd white artist to ever appear on Soul Train.  (The first was Elton John.)  A lifelong fan of American R&B, Bowie was a huge Soul Train fan and was reportedly so nervous about appearing on the show that he actually got a little drunk before his performance.

David Bowie, R.I.P,

Music Video of the Day: Space Oddity by David Bowie (1969, directed by Malcolm Thomson)


 “In England, it was always presumed that it was written about the space landing, because it kind of came to prominence around the same time. But it actually wasn’t. It was written because of going to see the film 2001, which I found amazing. I was out of my gourd anyway, I was very stoned when I went to see it, several times, and it was really a revelation to me. It got the song flowing. It was picked up by the British television, and used as the background music for the landing itself. I’m sure they really weren’t listening to the lyric at all. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to juxtapose against a moon landing. Of course, I was overjoyed that they did. Obviously, some BBC official said, ‘Oh, right then, that space song, Major Tom, blah blah blah, that’ll be great.’ ‘Um, but he gets stranded in space, sir.’ Nobody had the heart to tell the producer that.”

— David Bowie on Space Oddity

Today would have been David Bowie’s 73rd birthday so it only seems appropriate that he should be honored with our latest selection for music video of the day.

Though it may be hard to believe today, David Bowie was not an overnight success.  Bowie spent five years drifting from band to band and experimenting with different types of music before he finally released his first solo album, which failed to chart.  Space Oddity, which was the first single to be released off of his second album, was fortunate enough to come out at a time when the entire world was watching the moon landing.  It captured the public’s imagination and so, of course, did Bowie.  Space Oddity launched Bowie’s career and also made a legend out of an enigmatic astronaut named Major Tom.

This music video was Bowie’s first.  It was actually filmed as part of a 30-minute promotional film called Love You Till Tuesday.  The film was originally meant to feature Bowie singing seven of his songs.  It was only at the last minute that Bowie decided to add a performance of Space Oddity as well.  Bowie was only 22 when this was shot and, not surprisingly, the influence of Kubrick’s 2001 can be felt throughout the Space Oddity video.

Despite Bowie’s success and growing fame, Love You Til Tuesday failed to attract much interest from potential buyers and it sat on the shelf until 1984, when it was finally given a VHS release.

Enjoy!

 

Music Video Of The Day: Jump They Say by David Bowie (1993, directed by Mark Romanek)


Though this is one of David Bowie’s most popular videos and also features one of the best performances of his often underrated acting career, the story behind it is a sad one.  Bowie wrote the song from the point of view of Terry Burns, his schizophrenic half-brother who once attempted suicide by jumping out of a window.  Though that attempt failed, a few years later, Terry did succeed in escaping from the mental institution where he was being held.  After escaping, Terry was hit by a train and killed.  Much like Bowie’s previous song, All the Madmen, Jump They Say was inspired by Terry’s life and Bowie’s own attempts to understand the source of his brother’s mental illness.

This makes the video all the more poignant as Bowie plays a businessman who comes to suspect that his colleagues are plotting against him and, in order to escape from them, ends up throwing himself from the roof of an office building.  Mark Romanek directs in such a way that it’s never clear whether Bowie’s character is correct to be paranoid or if it’s all in his mind.  Romanek throws in visual references to other films that dealt with the themes of paranoia and conformity, including A Clockwork Orange, Alphaville, and The Trial.  Romanek has subsequently gone from being an in-demand music video director to directing films such as One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go.

When this video was released, Bowie was going through something of a career slump.  Jump They Say was a bit of a comeback for him, reaching number 9 on the UK charts.

Enjoy!

Horror Film Review: The Hunger (dir by Tony Scott)


“Bela Lugosi’s dead….” Peter Murphy sings at the start of 1983’s The Hunger and, in the case of this film, it’s as much of a challenge as a tribute.

Bela Lugosi and Dracula are gone, the film announces, and so is the old-fashioned vampire movie.  Here’s a new look at an old favorite….

Of course, seen today, The Hunger doesn’t seem new.  Since The Hunger‘s release, there’s been  a countless number of films in which vampires have been decadent and chic aristocrats, hanging out in dark nightclubs and looking at the world with ennui-stricken eyes.  By today’s standards, the stylish decadence of The Hunger can seem almost quaint.  Much like Paul Schrader’s remake of Cat People, The Hunger is such a film of the 80s that you half-expect someone to offer you a line coke while you’re watching it.  Also, like Cat People, it’s such a glorious tribute to excess that there’s no way you can’t watch it once it starts.  It’s hypnotic in its excess.

In The Hunger, our vampires are Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) and her lover, John (David Bowie).  Miriam has been a vampire since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians.  Rather than sinking her fangs into the necks of her victims, Miriam uses an Ankh pendant to slit their throats.  John was once a cellist in 18th century France.  Now, they live in an expensive New York townhouse, where they teach classical music and occasionally murder anyone that they can convince to come up to see them.

When they first met, Miriam promised John that he would have eternal life but she didn’t promise him eternal youth.  Unfortunately, it takes 200 years for John to notice.  When he starts to rapidly age, he seeks out aging expert Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) for help.  Though Dr. Roberts is originally dismissive of his claims, she is shocked to see John age several years in just an hour.

When an angry and desperate John kills the music student (Beth Ehlers) that Miriam was hoping to transform into her next lover, Miriam is forced to search elsewhere.  When Sarah shows up, searching for the man who aged years in an hour, Miriam feels that her search may be over.

As one might expect from a film directed by Tony Scott, The Hunger is an extremely stylish film, to the extent that the film’s story is often secondary to the way that Scott chooses to tell it.  The set design is so ornate and every scene is so precisely lit and shot and that, at times, the movie feels a bit like a commercial for vampirism.  It’s easy to imagine Britney Spears singing “Work Bitch” in the background of some of the scenes.  (“You want a hot body?  You want a Bugatti?  You Want a Maserati?  You better work vamp.”)  Throughout the film, New York glows like a neon wonderland while John and Miriam coolly look out over the world like 18th century French aristocrats who have no idea that they have a future date with the guillotine.  At times, it’s a film that becomes almost ludicrous in its celebration of grandeur and style.  One could imagine Jean Rollin telling the same story just as effectively while spending a lot less money.

And yet, it’s that very embrace of the over-the-top ludicrousness of it all that makes The Hunger a memorable film.  The film’s a tribute to excess, with an ending that falters precisely because it attempts to reject precisely what it’s spent the past hour and a half celebrating.  The Hunger doesn’t add up too much but its hypnotically stylish and well-acted by a cast who does their best to keep up with Tony Scott’s camera.

 

Music Video Of The Day: David Bowie by Chloe MK (2019, dir by Hunter Airheart)


I miss David Bowie

I miss Prince

Today’s music video of the day is a tribute to dead artists, remembered dreams, past memories, and lost love.  That really is the way the think about music, isn’t it?  We don’t think about what a song has to say or any of that stuff.  Instead, we think about what we happening the first, second, or hundredth time that we heard it.  Music is all about emotion and that emotion is what runs through this video.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Just For One Day by David Guetta featuring David Bowie (2003, dir by Richard Fenwick)


This song, of course, features a sample from David Bowie’s Heroes.

As for the video, I always assume that everyone here is having one last party before a gigantic meteor crashes into the planet and wipes out all human life.  To be honest, I tend to assume that most music videos are about humanity’s attempt to ignore the fact that everyone’s life will eventually end in a combination of misery, death, and absolutely horror.

Enjoy!