Episode 8: The Perfect Kiss Is The Kiss of Death

Hey bbs, this is a good newsletter if you’re into New Order and Halloween. Read on.

The Videos

As always, you can find playlists for this week’s videos, past weeks, and classics here.

Woodie Gochild, “Cotton Candy (ft. Hwasa)” (dir. ILLUMIN CREATE)

Yes folks we’re leading with a K-pop video this week! I see a lot of oversaturated colors in videos nowadays, but this one might take the cake. Two more things: 1) The girl in the video is not the female vocalist on the song (if you want to see Hwasa, who is incredible, here she is performing with her girl group Mamamoo). And 2) trap music (and pop offshoots of trap) is taking over the world and I’m not surprised Korea now has their own Lil Yachty Vert.

The Chainsmokers, “Side Effects (ft. Emily Warren)” (dir. Matthew Dillon Cohen)

I somehow missed this great fluorescent video from last week guest-starring Camila Mendes, who at this rate is going to appear in more music videos than Naomi Campbell.

Kick The Can Crew, “Jusho”

This is from a couple weeks ago, but is an extremely cute and well-made video from Japan’s Kick The Can Crew. They’ve been around since 1996 (!!!) and this is their first single since 2003. They’ve still got it, but they’re also really good at indirectly directing (???) your attention to the couple at the center of the video.

Miguel, “Banana Clip (Spanish Version)” (dir. Manson)

Mmmmm Miguel. This is the arthouse version of “Nice For What,” and that’s all I have to say. (I should also mention that this video was produced by CANADA, the Barcelona-based collective that’s also been making those wonderfully enigmatic Rosalía videos.)

LSD, “Thunderclouds” (dir. Ernest Desumbila)

“LSD” is the supergroup formed by Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo. The name is silly, but the video is cute and Miyazaki-like. It’s also shot in a widescreen format specifically designed for YouTube’s “theater mode” setting, which is an interesting counterbalance to all the square-ratio videos being shot to better suit viewers’ mobile devices (see below).

Kodaline, “Head Held High” (dir. James Fitzgerald)

A darkly funny yet heartfelt tale of an Irish cafeteria lady with a dream. I’ll be taking no further questions.

Zedd & Elley Duhé, “Happy Now” (dir. Dori Oskowitz)

Mmmm love a good poisoning video.

St. Lucia, “Walking Away” (dir. Henry Kaplan)

Sometimes all you need is just some close-ups of a very passionate performance. And some mood lighting, obviously. Oh and the security camera gimmick is really nice. I would take this party over Imagine Dragons trying to appear “rugged” with a full band in their videos any day. (I only mention this because there’s a new Imagine Dragons video out. The gothic horror stuff in it is cool. The Imagine Dragons are bad.)

Touyama Mirei, “Neiro Regards” (dir. Motoki Munaka)

Japanese R&B singer Mirei is releasing an entire album of “answer” songs – taking song concepts from various male J-pop stars and singing them from a female perspective. That’s really tight, and an extremely ‘90s R&B thing to do in the best possible way. So is this video, which takes place under the bluest sky imaginable and the coolest escalator tunnel imaginable.

Panic! At The Disco, “High Hopes” (dir. Brendan Walter & Mel Soria)

I’m sorry but climbing to the top of a boring condo building in Downtown L.A. is a really strange goal to have. There are, in fact, taller buildings in close proximity – the Wilshire Grand Central is right there, Brendon. Or better yet, climb down from the skyscrapers and go eat birria at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. Wander around the Last Bookstore? Drink whiskey at Hank’s or The Slipper Clutch? Please let L.A.’s tourism board know I’m looking for a job.

Bring Me the Horizon, “MANTRA” (dir. Alex Southam)

These guys are stealing The Used’s whole vibe and adding in…say it with me, kids: MOOD LIGHTING. The lighting is beyond gratuitous at this point, which makes this particular vid all the more laughably enjoyable. If you scroll down, you’ll see that one of the commenters, presumably an angry teen who listens to this type of conspiratorial music, wrote “I found this:” and proceeded to explain the video’s references to the Jonestown Massacre like they had just looked it up on Wikipedia. Ahh youth.

Anna Calvi, “Hunter” (dir. Matt Lambert) (NSFW)

Oh but you know what’s a good use of mood lighting? Simulating orgasm by masturbation, that’s what. Also, in case you couldn’t tell, this video is very horny, so scroll past if that sort of thing offends you.

Blood Orange, “Saint” (dir. Devonté Hynes)

What I wouldn’t give to chill out in Devonté Hynes’ apartment, smoke weed and listen to him play his music.

King Krule, “Biscuit Town” (dir. cc Wade)

A fantastically gloomy video by King Krule, and a perfect visual encapsulation of his overall sound.

Jay Rock, “Rotation 112th” (dir. Daniel Russell)

I could see Spike Jonze pulling this type of gimmick in his heyday. “This song’s called ‘Rotation’? Let’s have every shot be a 360-degree dolly shot.” Perfect.

Sam Fender, “Dead Boys” (dir. Vincent Haycock)

This is like an entire YA novel packaged into one fire-spitting, moshing meditation on toxic masculinity. I’ve never heard of this Sam Fender fella (who is a month younger than me…that’s not allowed), but I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing more of his work.

Ali, “Funeral” (dir. David Hall)

And now, for a much different outlook on death. This might be my favorite video of the past month. It’s so fucking weird and repetitive and the intro is almost better than the rest of the content (something I never thought I’d say for any video, outside of Lady Gaga’s), but I love it and am gonna promote the shit out of it once we get closer to Halloween.

This week’s throwback video: New Order, “The Perfect Kiss” (1985, dir. Jonathan Demme)

Since we’ve got a bunch of performance videos in the mix this week, this only seems appropriate. The video for New Order’s “The Perfect Kiss” is over 10 minutes long, and consists almost entirely of long takes of the band rehearsing the song in the studio. This may not seem like a ton of fun, but you have to remember that this was directed by the sorely missed Jonathan Demme, a master at creating tension through prolonged close-ups and precise moments of direct address (eyes looking at the camera) in his work.

This Billboard write-up from last year does a great job of explaining why this video is so poignant. To add to it, in light of the frequent interpretation that the song “The Perfect Kiss” is about deceased Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, you could also say the video makes a thinly veiled reference to Curtis in its imagery. As far as we know, the guy standing in the doorway behind Peter Hook at the 7:49 mark is just a sound guy or a friend of the band watching the rehearsal. But his resemblance to Curtis is striking. I can’t imagine Demme would leave the shot looking like that and not be aware of the implications.

There’s also, as Unterberger mentions, a Joy Division poster that’s presented glaringly behind Bernard Sumner as he plays his guitar solo. That shot of Sumner mirrors, and is cross-cut with, the shot of Hook with the Curtis-like figure silhouetted in the background. You see what I’m getting at.

Even if those symbols all turned out to be coincidental, this is a beautifully precise video that still manages to capture the humanity of its subjects through the workmanlike toil over their instruments. I imagine that anyone who thought (or thinks) that playing keyboards or synths is “cheating” would change their mind after watching “The Perfect Kiss.” It contains just as much endurance and passion as any sweaty live performance by a hard rock group, but presented through a lens that resembles tunnel vision. It’s a thrill to watch.

The News etc.

  • BTS ‘Idol’ Music Video is Fastest to Reach 100M Views In 2018 (via Billboard) – “Idol” already broke the record for most views in 24 hours when it appeared last week (breaking the record previously held by Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do”, which is fast approaching a billion views), and the video’s popularity continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, even for K-pop. If you’re interested in knowing why this K-pop boy band, and why now, I highly recommend this Vulture piece, which also discusses mega-popular girl group Black Pink. Key thing to note here is that BTS and Black Pink are operating off of different global marketing models (Black Pink uses a classic K-pop “localization” model, with hand-picked members from Thailand and New Zealand, while BTS is all-Korean and formed more “organically,” insofar as a K-pop group can do so), but the most important attribute they have in common is their relentless video marketing. Before “Idol” broke the record, Black Pink’s “Ddu-du Ddu-du” from June was the second-most viewed video in 24 hours after “Look What You Made Me Do,” and I would argue it’s still the K-pop video of the summer.

  • How Karol G Is Shaking Up the Reggaeton World One Music Video At a Time (via TooFab) – I’m not too familiar with Karol G, beyond knowing that she’s done a couple songs with Pitbull, but I find her reasoning for why her videos are so popular to be…well, anything about “realness” is hard to buy, especially when you’re latest video features you dancing with a CGI green alien. But it’s a good video!

Please direct all feedback, questions, comments, tips, etc. to ClaireShafferVevo at gmail dot com. And feel free to forward this email, share on social media, and encourage your friends to subscribe. We’ll be back next week with more vids. •