Good ones, I mean. Back when Australians called them film clips, thanks to Molly on Countdown.
We’d sit there every Sunday overdosing on Bowie, Kiss and the Clash and let worlds of symbolism inject into our brains. Big film clips were an event – INXS and Duran Duran would binge on neon, grit and sex. At it’s height, there would be hour long special to debut and deconstruct Michael Jackson’s latest. I’d crouch by the tv, obsessively taping clips played overnight on Rage and Mtv and discovering the joys of Fugazi, Dead Kennedys, Nick Cave, L7 and Silverfish.
It still happens from time to time: no matter what you think about the band, “Welcome To The Black Parade” is an impressive work. Radiohead, Bjork and Jack White have fun exploring the medium. There are always lists of the best music videos online and they’re good. Some are epic, some are Russell Mulcahy-esque splodge-fests, some are just a cavalcade of bouncing arse cheeks. But none of them move me to a point of frizz-haired insanity.
So, it was with some interest I read about Lady Gaga’s new video. Though I’ve never sat through one of her songs/videos, Kottke said it might be “the last great music video” made.
I don’t hate La Gaga, I understand where she’s coming from. In fact, it’s increasingly easy to see where she’s coming from because she is playing colour by numbers diva. She’s playing an aggressive and accelerated game to become immortal, to become an icon, but from the outside for those engorged from popular culture’s teat, it’s a tame though well-produced touchdown. I can’t feel the spirit or substance in her work.
Admittedly, strutting along some 50 years when the great cliches began to form is a hard task. The cycles and the stereotypes formed long before she thought of duct-taping the milk ducts. Taking the tropes, spinning them, reacting and pioneering while still connecting with an audience is a musician or aesthetic performer (which I think best describes Lady Gaga) best chance of cultural immortality.
True music icons descend like gods. Occasionally, they take the form of mortals travelling along the hard, lonely roads with us. Their power will comfort you from life’s lulls, and can drag you out of torpor. True music icons straddle the divide between the mundane and the exquisite – their perfection reaching into your day and morphing into a conversation.
I’m not giving up hope.