Music Video of the Day: Devil’s Haircut by Beck (1996, directed by Mark Romanek)

What is Beck’s Devil’s Haircut about?

Not even Beck seems to be sure.  According to Songfacts, Beck has offered up several different interpretations.  He’s said that the song was an updated version of the American folk song, Stagger Lee:

“I don’t know if I ever HAD any youthful purity, but I can understand that you might be tempted to make commercial shit and compromise to do it. I try not to compromise on anything. I think we associate becoming an adult with compromise. Maybe that’s what the devil is. In ‘Devils Haircut’ that was the scenario. I imagined Stagger Lee… I thought, what if this guy showed up now in 1996. The song had this ’60s grooviness, and I thought of using him as a Rumplestiltskin figure, this Lazarus figure to comment on where we’ve ended up as people. What would he make of materialism and greed and ideals of beauty and perfection? His reaction would be, ‘Whoa, this is disturbing shit.'”

He’s also said that the song is simply about the evil of vanity (literally a devil’s haircut) or a song about being on tour (hence, the briefcase blues).  Beck has also said that, while writing the song, he thought that “Devil’s haircut was a really bad lyric.  If I can’t finish a song, I’ll just put in something temporary. That’s what ‘Loser’ was. Then the temporary one always becomes the best one, because it wasn’t all thought out.”

As for the video, director Mark Romanek claims that it was inspired by both Midnight Cowboy and The 400 Blows.  Beck, wandering through New York City with his cowboy hat and his radio, was meant to be a modern-day Joe Buck while the freeze frames were inspired by the end of Truffaut’s portrait of alienated youth.

Two of the videos most memorable moments were accidental.  When the car nearly runs over Beck, it is meant to recall the “I’m walking here!” scene from Midnight Cowboy but the car’s driver didn’t hit the brakes soon enough and Beck was actually hit by the car and injured his leg as a result.  The other unplanned scene was when the pigeons took flight just as Beck approached them.

The video for Devil’s Haircut would go on to win two MTV Music Video Awards, one for Best Editing and one for Best Male Video.

Music Video of the Day: God Gave Me Everything by Mick Jagger featuring Lenny Kravitz (2001, dir by Mark Romanek)

After writing 24 hours worth of material for World UFO Day, I’m a little bit exhausted so I’m offering this energetic video up without comment.


Music Video of the Day: Cochise by Audioslave (2002, dir by Mark Romanek)

Fireworks seem like a good way to welcome in the month of May.

This video was filmed, over the course of two nights, near the Sepulveda Dam in Los Angeles and apparently, all of the explosions and the fireworks convinced local residents that they were under terrorist attack.  Lead singer Chris Cornell was in rehab at the time of the shooting and commuted directly from the facility to the set and then back again.

Enjoy and let’s make the best of May!

Music Video Of The Day: Novocaine For The Soul by Eels (1996, dir by Mark Romanek)

So, I’ve been having a bit of a Mark Romanek film festival tonight!

Val and I have looked at several Romanek-directed music videos here on the Shattered Lens.  Here’s just a few of them: Perfect Drug, Closer, Criminal, Hella Good.  Shake It Off.  Hurt.  (Also I should mention that I’m a huge fan of Romanek’s adaptation of Never Let Me Go.)

For this video, Romanek decided to create the impression that the band was flying by suspending them in the air.  In the audio commentary for this video (which can be found on The Work of Director Mark Romanek), Mark Oliver Everett says that he was scared for his life at certain points during the filming.  He also complained that the bass player, Tommy Walter, wasn’t moving realistically for someone floating in the air.

That may be true but Tommy’s the best-looking guy in the group so who cares?  Or, I should say, he was the best-looking guy in the group.  Tommy left Eels a year after this video came out.  The drummer, Butch Norton, left several years later.  Apparently, Mark Oliver Everett is incredibly talented and also extremely difficult to work with.

Anyway, it’s a good video!


Music Video of the Day: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails (1997, dir. Mark Romanek)

First things first, the music video is there despite what it looks like. Somebody just decided to get clever and put the YouTube video-has-been-removed pic as the thumbnail. If it actually gives you the error message after clicking on it, then I’m sorry. I’m also sorry that the last few seconds are missing. However, I can’t agree with a YouTube commenter about that problem. The music video doesn’t fall apart without them. I do have to agree and disagree with another commenter. This song will indeed wash your ears clean of Fifth Harmony’s song Work From Home, but I don’t see anything wrong with that music video. They are just very passionate about equating construction equipment with sex.

Meanwhile, over in the music video for The Perfect Drug, Trent Reznor is reminding me of why I bothered to buy the soundtrack for Lost Highway (1997) back when it came out. I didn’t care about any of the other songs. I just wanted The Perfect Drug. I wasn’t even a fan of Nine Inch Nails. I just fell in love with the song. My favorite part is the drum solo near the end. The music video is what lured me in with its’ cold Victorian look that was a beautiful and haunting representation of the music of Nine Inch Nails. I am sure that bit in the hedge maze was meant to be a reference to The Shining (1980) to fit with the theme of madness/obsession. I could have featured this music video anytime, but I figured October was as good a time as any.

This music video brings back a lot of familiar faces from earlier music videos I have spotlighted.

Danielle Cagaanan was an executive producer on the music video. I can’t find a whole lot of information on her credit-wise. I can find a bunch of other information. She must have gotten married because she now goes by the name Danielle Peretz. I also found out that back in 1994, she accepted an award for Spike Jonze being that year’s top director. You can even see a picture of her here with the director of the music video for Green Day’s Longview. According to American Photo magazine in 1995, she gave Spike Jonze his start with MTV. I also found her Linkedin page. It looks like she founded her own company this year that helps youth with cognitive challenges find jobs. Back during the making of this video, she was near the end of her 6 years at Satellite Films/Propaganda Films before hopping over to MCA Records.

June Guterman is back. She is the one who produced the music video for Lil’ Devil by The Cult.

Jeff Cronenweth is new. He has shot some music videos, but he’s probably best known for his work on other films like Fight Club (1999), The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Gone Girl (2014).

Robert Duffy is back. He edited this as well as Hella Good by No Doubt, Closer by Nine Inch Nails, and Losing My Religion by R.E.M–among others. He has also worked on numerous Tarsem Singh films.

Tom Foden was the production designer. He did the same for Closer by Nine Inch Nails. He has worked on numerous Tarsem Singh films. He has one credit that jumps out at me. He was apparently an assistant art director on Playboy: Kerri Kendall – September 1990 Video Centerfold (1990), which was directed by Michael Bay. I would think that was a fake credit on IMDb, but Michael Bay did direct music videos back then. One of those music videos being I Touch Myself by Divinyls. Also, it really isn’t that uncommon for major directors to get their start in porn. Abel Ferrara’s first feature film was a porno.


Music Video of the Day: Shake It Off by Taylor Swift (2014, dir. Mark Romanek)

Since I did Beck yesterday, I was obligated to do a Taylor Swift music video today since the two were brought together through the power of Kayne West.

This is the first music video from the current decade that I have done so far. I wish I was more familiar with recent music videos, but the first thing that came to mind was Limp Bizkit’s My Way except not stupid because it was directed by Mark Romanek rather than Fred Durst. My Way is that music video where they seemed to have no idea what they were going to do, so they had the band in a bunch of generic music videos that could have been done, and mixed it with a version that had the band in a simple fashion at the center of it all. In Shake It Off, that would be when she appears in a black top and bottoms.

Since it is off the 1989 album, I also thought that the different sections of the video tie-in to things that have struck Swift’s interest during her lifetime.

I also picked up that instead of it being Taylor Swift’s way or the highway, they were trying to bring the spirit of the song to a playful music video, and nothing more.

According to Wikipedia, a whole bunch of people reviewed the music video like it was the latest movie to premiere during the weekend. Romanek seems to largely agree with me by saying that “we simply chose styles of dance that we thought would be popular and amusing, and cast the best dancers that were presented to us without much regard or ethnicity” and that “if you look carefully, it’s a massively inclusive piece, it’s very, very innocently and positively intentioned. And–let’s remember–it’s a satirical piece. It’s playing with a whole range of music video tropes and cliches and stereotypes.” In other words, he made a better version of Limp Bizkit’s My Way.

Tyce Diorio was the choreographer. He has also worked as an actor, appearing in movies like Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993) and Showgirls (1995).

Paul Martinez edited this music video.

John Emmons was the medic. There’s a credit first for me on a music video.

Samantha Abrams, Marisa Hood, and Katherine Way were backup dancers.

Music Video of the Day: Criminal by Fiona Apple (1997, dir by Mark Romanek)

Today’s music video of the day is Fiona Apple’s Criminal!

I can actually remember the first time that I saw this video.  I was 11 years old and I was like, “So, that’s what you do when you’re a teenager!”  I subsequently had so much fun as a teenager that I kept having fun even after I grew up.  So, I guess it can be argued that this video amounts to 4 minutes that basically determined the rest of my life…

Criminal was directed by Mark Romanek and he has said that he wanted to capture a sense of voyeurism with this video.  He certainly accomplished that.  Fiona Apple has said that Criminal is about “feeling bad for getting something so easily by using your sexuality.”  Myself, I think people tend to pay so much attention to the fact that Fiona’s in her underwear for most of the clip that they miss the video’s rather sly sense of humor.

Here’s Criminal.  Enjoy!