Radiohead – Burn The Witch
Maybe you have to be of a certain age to truly appreciate the genius of this video. When I was a dot, the characters of the Trumptonshire trilogy and the events of their daily lives were essential viewing, and characters such as Chippy Minton, Dusty Miller and Captain Flack were dear friends. What made it distinctive was the stop-motion animation and ping pong head characters with emoji expressions, and to see their like resurrected in this video is like eating space dust all over again. What makes it even cleverer is that there’s a twist in the tale, and the village is not as warm and cuddly as the original – an unsuspecting visitor sees all sorts of witchcraft and unpleasantness to the backdrop of this somewhat disturbing song – wailing vocals, and slicing manic strings. The Wicker Man film is also referenced as our shocked visitor climbs the steps to the giant straw creation and is set alight. Where are Captain Flack and his crew when the inferno strikes? Rammed with political connotation about blame, marginalisation, the refugee crisis and the cloud of fear we live under, it’s a creepy, unsettling and brilliant creation.
Coldplay – Up And Up
This is clearly a band with a bob or two to spend on special effects and I don’t like to pick a video simply because it’s had a ton of money chucked at it, but this has one breathtaking and spectacular visual after another, with some serious messages about our world – overpopulation, human achievement, aspiration and environmental issues. There’s a touch of Planet Earth about it, with fabulous landscape and wildlife shots. These are overlaid and mixed with impossible gravity defying and size mismatched images. Among my favourite shots are the volcano with popcorn exploding out of it, the thrown away drinks carton blocking the river (the human race is a bunch of litterbugs after all) and the fish swimming in the sky above the two children. Spectacular and uplifting, it has the message “Don’t ever give up.”
Kaiser Chiefs – Hole In My Soul
Now for something completely different. In an industry where far too many artists are up themselves and self indulgent in the extreme, Kaiser Chiefs are like a modern version of The Monkees in that they are FUN, which I believe is what pop music was originally intended to be. There’s a touch of Top Gear about this (and a very obvious piece of product placement by Honda) as the lads career around Knockhill racetrack. It’s impossible not to smile as the G Forces slide them round the back seats making playing instruments somewhat tricky. And wouldn’t you know it, the cheeky japesters nick the keys and go for a spin on their own as well – boys will be boys.
The 1975 – The Sound
Music critics wanting to get noticed with their clever, but cutting, comments and the sort of non-music critics who sit on social media spouting off, just because they can, get their comeuppance here. The 1975 are a damn clever band – on the surface they write quite easy and frothy tunes, but lyrically they are smart. A great line from this song is, “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me. A sycophantic, prophetic, socratic junkie wannabe.” This video takes negativity and uses it in a positive way. Which is quite a brave thing to do – I mean who would really want to highlight that someone thought you were, “Genuinely laughable, desperate, shallow and cringe-worthy”? The tables get turned though, as those people get a turn in the box and under the spotlight, as the band look on.
Muse – Reapers
A track from the brilliant Drones concept album, this is a straight forward live performance video, but what a performance on the guitar from Matt Bellamy. The man’s hands must hurt after all that fret tapping, string sliding and pick work. The Drones arena tour was a spectacular visual event, but in this smaller venue in Cologne, Matt and his two sterling wing men, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard, nail the sweaty rock performance. Rather charming as well to see Matt jump up and down like an 8 year old in his thrill at playing live.