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I Want My Music YouTube
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Besides cheating Viacom out of billions of dollars and providing fame and fortune to Britney Spears fans and dramatic prairie dogs, YouTube has become an excellent source for music videos.
Thanks to the 'Tube, hard-to-find classics like Donald Fagen's "New Frontier", Tom Petty's "You Don't Know How It Feels" and the Alan Parsons Project's "Don't Answer Me" are now at your fingertips. Beyond that, a huge crop of fan videos have turned up, often covering songs that never received an official video. Of course, most of these homebrews are little more than collections of pictures or snippets from TV shows and video games, all slapped together with minimal effort. But every once in a while somebody creates something original, or at least worth watching. A few are even good enough to make you wonder why they aren't on MTV (or wherever they actually play music videos nowadays). Two of my personal fan-made favorites are "Hardware Store" and "Horoscope," and I'm sure it's just a coincidence they both happen to be Weird Al songs.
So, in a quest to see what else there is to find, and not just as an excuse to waste massive amounts of time, I decided to put the digital jukebox on shuffle and then surf YouTube for some of the songs that fell out of the playlist. Here's what I rounded up.
"New Orleans Instrumental No. 1" by REM - Perhaps not surprisingly, this is a montage of New Orleans photos set to the song. According to the description, the pictures were taken in January of 2007. The city was obviously still recovering from Hurricane Katrina at the time, but these photos show the good with the bad. This is one of the better montage videos I've seen, giving the song a good visual while also proving New Orleans isn't dead yet.
"Serenade" by the Steve Miller Band - With its spacey lyrics and moody instrumentation, I figured some fan would set this to anime. I was right, and the show picked was that perennial fan favorite, "Sailor Moon." Unfortunately there isn't anything to distinguish this video from the umpteen zillion other clip videos out there. Note to aspiring music video creators: It helps to have a point behind all the clips you're gluing together, beyond just finding scenes that seem to fit whatever words are being sung at the moment. And get rid of the subtitles!
"Gold Dust Woman" by Fleetwood Mac - Another photo montage. The Native American artwork is a nice touch in that it fits the song, but the bottom line is, it's another photo montage. At least you can sing along with this one.
"Take It Back" by Pink Floyd - This is the official video. Pink Floyd only ever made two videos for MTV and VH1 consumption, "Learning to Fly" and this one. Both were directed by album cover artist extraordinaire Storm Thurgerson. They're just as surreal as his album covers, and just as mesmerizing. Seek out the Pulse concert DVD for a better copy.
"Boom Shack-a-Lak" by Apache Indian - Also the official video. This is one of those silly songs you can't help but like, but I had never seen the video before now. I guess I didn't miss much.
"Dancing with Myself" by Bily Idol - This is one of those rare home-made videos that actually has original content and even a decent amount of effort put into the production. I can't say there's anything too memorable here, but it's certainly no worse than a lot of what passed for music videos in the early '80s. The song cuts could have been a bit cleaner, though.
"Wonderous Stories" by Yes - Aside from a ton of concert clips and one "video" that showed nothigng but the album cover for four minutes, the only thing of note I found was this Cadillac commercial. Apparently even Yes songs can sell cars... but Cadillacs?
"Message" by Vangelis - I was mildly surprised to find anything at all for this song. This photo montage has an interesting idea, combining a religious message with the search for messages from outer space. Somebody should turn this idea into a "real" music video.
"Shepherd Moons" by Enya - New Age music meets New Age imagery. The computer-assisted animation puts this one a cut above the usual photo montages, but I'm afraid it's all been done before.
"Brave" by Nicole Nordeman - Another video put together with anime clips. However, unlike the video to "Serenade," this one actually has a theme to tie everything together. The clips come from "Naruto," and focus on the character Hinata and her pursuit of Naruto. While the video does change the song's intent -- what was reverence to God becomes a vow to get the guy -- it also proves that even clip collections and photo montages can make good videos if you just put a little effort into them, and give them a story to tell. Even so, while there is a thin line between fair and good, there is still a very thick line between good and great. There is only so much you can do with material that wasn't made for the song, and once again the original show's subtitles are a bit distracting. This a pretty good clip nonetheless, and it was a nice coda to this little endeavor. Darned if that last scene didn't actually tug at the heart strings a bit.
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