Video Breakdown – ‘Til Tuesday, (Believed You Were) Lucky

Before I get into this crazy-ass video for what really is a great song, let me lament that there aren’t more Aimee Manns in the world. There was a time, not long ago, when female singer-songwriters covered the earth in thick herds visible form space. Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and scores of others…there was Lilith Fair, there were the Indigo Girls on commercial radio…it was glorious. Now we have Taylor Swift. And Gods love her, she’s fine, but…she ain’t no Aimee Mann. Taylor’s simply not as talented. She’s not as deep. And no, she’s nowhere near as enthralling and sexy. Sigh. It’s true: I have harbored a crush on Aimee since the Voices Carry video, through her cameo on Rush’s Time Stand Still, continuing with I Should’ve Known and shit, even up to ’til now.

But let’s be honest, in this video…she’s a little wacky. But then, the whole thing is wacky. This track was co-written by Jules Shear, and fun trivia fact: he’s the “Jules” in ‘J’ for Jules, another brilliant song from this under-achieving album. Both ...Jules and our featured song for this Video Breakdown used to be part of a mixtape my old roommate Marcus would play in the room we shared in college. He’d packed it with soothing melodies to facilitate soundly sleeping, even if sometimes each of us would actually be quietly shagging our female companions in our respective twin beds. Hey, man…college.

So, let’s begin by watching the actual video, shall we? Open it in another tab if possible, because you may want to flip back and forth. Ready?  In the words of Fred Schneider,here it ’tis…

Away we go.

00:00 – Oh! Lindsey Buckingham?

00:09 – Surprise! It’s Debbie Harry! Or…wait…

00:16 – Is that a picture from The Haunted Mansion? A saw? A bow? A bow-saw? (Also, Aimee? Aimee! We’re over here!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.18.19 PM

Camera one, Aimee. Camera one. Camera ONE.

00:33 – And this was your father’s lightsaber…

00:49 – I think they could only afford greenscreen for the top third of this shot.

1:04 – Magic 8-Ball getting’ mighty preachy.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.20.36 PM

The new ones just say “Reply hazy. Fuck you.”

1:08 – Robo-hand has sweet knuckle tats like Robert Mitchum or Jake Blues.

1:10 – ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED!

1:13 – “Crap, guys. I couldn’t find a clover or horseshoe graphic. Let’s just spell out ‘lucky’ if it’s all the same to you.”

1:20 – “Aimee, show ’em the thing!”

1:23 – Birds: We’re free! Free from 8-ball enslavement!

1:30 – Black hole sun.

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Are those…birds? Or did someone drop a bunch of Playtex gloves?

1:34 – Aimee? Hey! Over HERE!

1:40 – Wherein Aimee steps in a hole or something, and domino doors, because…um…

1:49 – WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.25.11 PM

Memories. Memories were in the box, asshole. And what looks like a spider.

2:00 – Took me a minute to realize that the shadows were from the objects still falling, ostensibly, from the previously-mentioned box. Nice touch. I guess whoever was in charge of continuity earned their paycheck on this shoot.

2:08 – What is that shit? Ash?

2:10 – Oh! Bubbles! We’re underwater with goldfish. That is lucky! (But goldfish can’t read.)

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|AT LEAST IT’S NOT MONOPOLY! HAHA!| (Translated from goldfish.)

 

2:13 – “Say, I wonder what my fate holds?”

2:14 – “FUCK! That can’t be good! Aw, man…”

2:18 – So we’re doing this again? This ‘Twilight Zone’ crap?

2:23 – Zoom in on young Peyton Manning.

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He’s just patiently waiting for his chance to yell “OMAHA!”

2:30 – The Australian ‘Watership Down.’

2:40 – Finally! Dr. Who!

2:43 – Finally! The Doors!

2:45 – Aimee, open your eyes all creepy-like.

2:46 – Nice touch with that ‘Spock’ thing you’re doin’ there.

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Actually, it looks more like a Dr. Evil move…

2:48 – The ‘Infinity Ticker-Tape” thing never really took off.

2:52 – Kids, that is a nice transition. Seriously, good match-dissolve.

2:59 – “ARE YE READY, KIDS?” (Because life. Life. In a pineapple. It’s de bubbles. Under the sea.)

3:03 – Those have to be snooker balls or something. Stupid English people gotta make everything fancy.

3:07 – “Lucky” is a great white-trash baby name, FYI.

3:12 – Time-lapse rose to symbolize…patience? I guess?

3:16 – Aimee puts her band on a pedestal. (No, fuck YOU!) Except…she’s up there, too…and Peyton does’t have his damn drums! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR DRUMS, PEYTON?!

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CAMERA ONE! GODDAMMIT, AIMEE!

3:22 – It is ALWAYS camera one! ALWAYS!

3:31 – ILLUMINATI!

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Laugh all you want, and then tell me what other reason there could possibly be for this. Huh, smart guy?

 

AAAAAAAAND SCENE.

So, to recap: Aimee Mann is a very talented singer/songwriter, but has no idea which camera to look into. The drummer for ‘Til Tuesday would grow up to shill pizza for Papa John’s. And in the 80’s you absolutely HAD to have a video. For every song you released. Sometimes your director had just depleted his last ounce of creativity trying to get Whitesnake to go in a more creative direction and, failing to do so, had gone on a three-day coke and alcohol bender before showing up on the set screaming “EIGHTBALL! WE’RE DOING THE EIGHTBALL SHOT!” (Double-meaning totally implied.)

Thanks for reading, and check out “Everything’s Different Now” by ‘Til Tuesday if you ever get a chance. Good stuff.

 

 

Video Breakdown – Belly, Slow Dog

Hey, gang!  Kind of an experiment here, and we’ll hafta see if it turns into a regular feature.  What we’re gonna do is watch this video together and see how it performs.  See, the 1990’s were a magical time.  The Alternative revolution had thrown wide the doors of musical variety, at the same time that mainstream rap and hip-hop were finding their way into regular ol’ Midwestern (i.e., white) households.  One of the bands that had sort of middling success was Belly.  Belly was fronted by the amazing Tanya Donelly, who had been in the indie college band Throwing Muses and then co-founded The Breeders with Kim Deal (Pixies.)  Anyway, in 1993, Belly released their debut “Star.”  It was great.  The smash-hit “Feed the Tree” made it to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.  The follow-ups “Gepetto” and this one, “Slow Dog” failed to make much of a mark.  But now we’re going to see if this video helped or hindered this mainly-forgotten band.  Here’s the video.  Sorry if must wait through an ad.  That’s the way of things.  It can’t be helped.

First impressions:  We get it, 90’s.  Jump-cuts are cool and interesting.  Even better when you de-saturate the colors.  Edgy Al-TER-na-tive!  And, oh!  Let’s put a blurry disc at the bottom of the screen.  Yeah.  It’ll sort of be like the Pixies video for “Here Comes Your Man” but in reverse!  (Never mind that the whole Pixies video was basically the band saying “fuck you, 120 Minutes” right down to the very obvious lack of any sort of lip-synching and the “inflated” head on Black Francis/Frank Black.)

"Hey, Pinfield!  LIKE OUR FUCKIN' VIDEO?"

“Hey, Pinfield! LIKE OUR FUCKIN’ VIDEO?”

The blur-disc-lens thingy serves another important purpose in this misfire of a video.  See, Tanya Donelly is a cutie.  You might even say she’s downright gorgeous.  However, during the mid-90’s Modern Rock revolution, you were supposed to act like you WEREN’T gorgeous.  “Gorgeous” was for total posers, you guys.  So you dressed the hot babes in ModCloth retro dresses and put them just out-of-focus so that it looked like they were, like, totally just like me and you only WITH MUCH MORE HIDDEN PAIN!!  ON THE INSIDE!!

Poor, unfortunate, ugly 90's chick.

Poor, unfortunate, ugly 90’s chick.

Also, remember when those granny boots were in?  Often worn in conjunction with (ironically) babydoll dresses or, I shit you not, maternity dresses?  (Seriously, 90’s…you were weird.)

Anyway…we’re like :45 seconds in and we already know just about all there is to know about this video. We’ve seen a guitar smashed by a blonde chick with a pixie haircut.  We’ve observed a pensive surfer dude lean against the wall, trying to sort out life and all its ups and downs (why, pain?  Why must you BE?!?!) Also, we’ve been treated to some rusty things, some spindles, and the contents of my grandfather’s old tool shed being spilled onto the floor.  GODDAMMIT, YOU WILL PICK THAT SHIT UP OR I SWEAR TO GOD I’M GETTING THE BELT!

OMG, you guys...life is so hard...Hollister isn't open for, like...thirty minutes!  I'm totes bummed!

OMG, you guys…life is so hard…Hollister isn’t open for, like…thirty minutes! I’m totes bummed!

But most importantly, we know this:  the video for this song doesn’t have one momentary, fleeting, thin, tenuous relation to the lyrics of the song itself.  This was a HUGE problem in the 90’s.  See, classic videos from the 80’s often told a story.  Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” was a good example.  Even so-called Alternative or Punk bands tried their best.  The Ramone’s “I Wanna Be Sedated” didn’t tell a story so much as make the viewer feel exactly like the song suggested.  The sped-up pace of the background characters and goings-on was a brilliant way of visually matching the song.  Even into the early-90’s, we had a sort of symbolic story-telling…remember Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy?”  Powerful stuff. Even Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” dealt with scary dreamlike images.  Remember when the semi truck hits the bed right at the “BOOOOOMMMM!!” part of the song?  Golly! Then, well…U2’s “Numb” happened.

You guys, this is going to make "Lemon" look like a sick joke!

You guys, this is going to make “Lemon” look like a sick joke!

“Numb”  happened the same year that Michael Jackson joined Eddie Murphy for “Whatzupwitchu.”  Holy shit, things were getting bad.  We should’ve seen the signs…like in Ace Of Bass’s videos.  Including, well…”The Sign.” At least in the U2 video, they’re trying to be artsy.  See, the main vocals in “Numb” are handled not by the bombastic Bono, but the monotone drone of The Edge.  (Rock stars used to have AWESOME names.) As a result, they tailored the video to Edge’s more sparse, mumbled, spoken-word type delivery and subjected him to a variety of distractions including, but not limited to, feet.  On his face.  Yep.  But even with this sort of nonsense going on, the video STILL MADE SENSE.  See, he’s numb!  He ain’t CARE ‘bout yo feet up in his grill, ya heard?

Yes, this actually happened.  No, it was not supposed to be funny.

Yes, this actually exists. No, it is not supposed to be funny.

But then, well…everyone started getting “artsy.”  The old go-to “live concert video” was pretty much out, so they staged “concerts”in strange settings, before weird crowds of too-cool people, and the irony was that in an era where cheese and bullshit were eschewed and bands that participated in such chicanery were shunned, total bullshit dominated the airwaves at Mtv.  And in some cases, the lure of cutting-edge CGI effects was just too much. (Kurt Cobain cashed out at just the right time, it would seem. Can you imagine a video for “Rape Me” done with Lawnmower Man graphics?) This begs a follow-up question:  is it better to have an Mtv that shows virtually NO music videos, or one that only shows complete shit?

Okay, back to “Slow Dog.”  I’ll give the director one tip o’ the cap:  at least Ms. Donelly’s guitar seems to be actually plugged into something.  Since they were faking the whole thing, it would’ve been simpler just to have her hold the goddam thing and strum.  Kudos.  Now, onward…

My efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable have undermined my efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable.  Damn it.

My efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable have undermined my efforts to bring your attention to the guitar cable. Damn it.

Up to the 1:00 mark we go.  Wherein a bald maintenance guy (or Chef from South Park) passes out after nailing some cups to a sidewise table, the cameraman forgets how to frame a shot, and surfer-boy has trouble with his vice or something.  OH, AND HERE’S YOUR FUCKING CIGARS, PAL!!!

Quickly now.  To the 1:34 point in our journey.  FIX THAT GODDAM GUITAR ALREADY!!

To 1:45.  What, exactly, is so fucking funny, Tanya?  You think this video is some sort of fucking joke?!  AND HEY: PAINT MIXERS ARE NOT FOR GUITARS, YOU FUCKING IMBECILE!!  WE’RE WORKING ON A BUDGET, PAL!!

2:00. And now, Consuela has another lovely item for us.  It’s a pewter replica of a 2nd-century BC terracotta warrior statue.  We’ll start the bidding at $400…

2:00-2:30. Croutons, pewter chicken, burial.  Dear God…

2:30-3:00. Almost there.  Surfer-boy has sewn you a nice drum.  Consuela thinks this is “art.”  Chef/Iron Sheik/Maintenance Guy does shots.  Buttons, etc.  Please, let this be over…

3:00-4:00. Suddenly:  carnival rides.  Also, is that your cat’s corpse?  Consuela can’t stack cans for shit.  Chains.  Chef is ashamed.  Why, Lord?  Why?

WHY, GOD? WHY? WHY DID I LEAVE MY WATCH ON WHILE SUNBATHING?!?!

WHY, GOD? WHY? WHY DID I LEAVE MY WATCH ON WHILE SUNBATHING?!?!

Okay. A couple of things in review.  Jesus H Christ, that Tanya Donelly is a stone fox.  Actually, the whole band looks better than the cast of Dawson’s Creek.  They should’ve done an entire video of all of them standing around in linen shifts, backlit.  Or perhaps just closeups of Tanya’s sensual, willing, hungry mouth…

Yes, that very one.

Yes, that very one.

For comparison (and to bring this cumbersome ship back around to the original point) I went back and watched the video for “Feed the Tree.”  Know what one of the first shots in the video is?  A goddam tree.  And before we’re :27 in, we see a shot of an old man.  Right when, you know, the lyrics mention an “old man.”  How weird is THAT?!?!  The video almost perfectly mirrored the meaning of the song lyrics!  One can’t help but wonder if perhaps that’s the main reason why “Feed the Tree” is the only Belly song most people remember.  Also, one can’t help but wonder what Tanya Donelly would look like rolling around in a waterbed with myself and some Crisco in the summer of 1993.  Now THAT would be a great video, folks.