There is no textbook for the art of the rock video. Few successful artists have made it through their careers without producing one or two or perhaps entire collections of absurdly stupid videos. In fact, some of the biggest stars have produced the worst music videos. For instance, Lionel Richie has to be the king of bad videos. First, there's "Dancing on the Ceiling," which fails because Lionel Richie was not meant to rise above eye-level. Then, there's the one where he's a teacher with a (naturally) gorgeous blind student who ends up molding his head out of clay.
Call bad videos "legion," for they are many. It's the reason VH1 Classic is the best channel on cable. It's the reason Trent Reznor is absolutely obsessed with his image. I'm going to digress here, but it'll be worth it. Lately, not one but TWO Midwestern newsweeklies have offended Mr. Trent by publishing less-than-complimentary (but not insulting by any means) articles on the dude. First, there was our story that speculated whether Trent has beefed up by means of steroids (if you click this link, please ignore the cowboy — we're working on that). The story was pure, loving satire — merely a clever means by which to set his career achievements (and, admittedly, failures) against his current tour. But do you know what it got us, dear friends? It got our photo pass for the show REVOKED.
Next, there was a story the Riverfront Times in St. Louis ran that dropped a link to an early Trent video that featured him looking proudly ridiculous in a New Wave cover band. Within a few days, the video was removed from the Internet, no doubt by Trent's image police, who are even now focusing their laser-sighted censor gun on the back of my neck just below the haiRRGGHGHGHG
Ha, just kidding.
What I really want to talk about is Vedera. You may remember this Kansas City band as "Veda." Well, it's Vedera now, because a shitty California group called Veda threatened to sue our Veda, or something like that. Californians, sheesh. So, Vedera's reasonably hot right now, even though they've been on tour for a couple of centuries and haven't played in town much. They're still pimping their debut LP, The Weight of an Empty Room, which came out about halfway through last year. And, more importantly, singer Kristen May is as gorgeous and fiery as ever — even more so, for having received her share of road weariness and rock and roll battle scars.
It's too bad, then, that Vedera's first music video has to be so nutty. I recently dialed up their Myspace page to see when the young band was playing SXSW, and I was greeted by a free screening of the video for their big single, "The Falling Kind." At first, I was excited. After all, I love videos — and this was the first professional-quality video I'd seen by a local band in a long, long time.
But after I sat through it, half-gazing, half-gawking at the inch-tall image on my browser window, I was left with mixed feelings. For one, they put Kristen in a straightjacket, and -- as if that weren't enough — employed jerky, stop-motion effects to make her stagger about with awkward, abrupt movements, AND — to add to the infamy — duplicated her image so that as many as three or four little Kristens were stumbling about at once in the same blown-out concrete building (see picture).
I shared my find with a coworker, Pitch Calendar Editor Annie Fischer, to whom I turn regarding ALL matters of taste, and here is the email discussion that ensued:
>>> "Jason Harper" 3/14/2006 8:47:36 PM >>>
crush- or ridicule worthy? (the video midway down the screen)
>>> Annie Fischer 3/15/2006 10:22 AM >>>
Ohmygod I don't know but either way we HAVE to mention that's the post-makeover Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club!
OK, I've watched it all now and I think it's pretty bad. Straightjackets never ever need to be used in anything pop-culture related again.
>>> Jason Harper 3/15/2006 10:43:21 AM >>>
Also, they look like kids. The wardrobe person managed to fit Kristen in clothes that not only make her look short but downright stubby.
>>> Annie Fischer 3/15/2006 10:44 AM >>>
I hoped that was just myspace distortion!
>>> Jason Harper 3/15/2006 10:45 AM >>>
Or maybe she really does have no feet. I never thought to look before.
Well, folks, the good news is that Kristen May does have feet. Feet, toes, ankles — the whole enchilada. I hope that she'll use them wisely, and, when it comes time to shoot another video, she'll use her feet to walk to the office of a good director.