Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Christina Aguilera "Hurt" and Jay-Z "Show Me What You Got"

These two videos are linked in my mind, perhaps because they came out on back to back days - but I think there is also something deeper tying them together.

These two videos are both prime examples of "execution" clips. Nothing new or different here, just two established artists doing what they do well. No ground is broken, but sometimes that is okay. Nobody goes to see the Rolling Stones in concert to hear the new stuff, we all wanna hear "Satisfaction" and "Wild Horses." Both the Christina and the Hova clips fall into the category of "if it ain't broke - don't fix it."

Update: The Sony website has a good quality version of the "Hurt" video here.

Conceptually, this vintage circus look is cool and is just the kind of thing that Floria could take in a cool/weird direction. Did she? Well, with Christina as her listed co-director, the visuals always stay between the lines. The look was all sepia and pretty - clearly focused on making Christina look Beautiful. Even if she is hanging with the sideshow freaks, Christina is never a freak, she’s pretty as can be. To my eyes, the period circus was handled much better by Bryan Barber in Outkast's "Whole World" clip.

Christina's "Hurt" feels like a thematic rehash of "Beautiful" - but this is the new faux-deep song every thirteen year old girl and gay guy cranks up on their headphones when the world does them wrong and they wanna just curl up with their feelings for a while (with me it usually "Dirty Deeds" or the Starlight Express soundtrack). Mission accomplished, I guess. This is probably exactly the video they were going for and they got it.

Now on to a better clip (to me) and in some ways a bigger disappointment, Jay Z's “Show Me.” The director, F. Gary Gray, was one of the absolute titans of the music video field before he left to direct big features like “The Italian Job.” Gary was the first (as I recall) “star” director where the artists and labels wanted him first and then the concept came later. Gary has been out of music videos for 6+ years, but now he is back with the biggest name in the rap game.

The clip has cars, boats and a party at a house – essentially a Ca$h Money video with a bigger budget and a talented director. The video is fun and the million dollar budget is all on the screen, unlike some recent Hype clips where if you watch closely you can see the “director” running out the back of the soundstage with a suitcase full of the label’s cash.

This video is good, but I was hoping for great from Mr. Gray. That being said, the film-making is flawless. The angles are sharp, the cars and the people look like movie stars and the locations in Europe look tremendous. The boxes and strips edit technique also worked for me – adding to the rhythm of it all. Jay-Z went outside the box with “99 Problems” but now he is right back inside the box – but at least he looks damn good doing it. It is all in the execution.

To watch Jay-Z you have to register at the IDJ site (thanks Video Static) or settle for grainy Youtube.

Post-script - the Village Voice has noted that some bigger budgeted videos are getting made. I don't think that all their examples actually are big-budgeted, but at least they get paid to write so they must know something.

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Just want to say how much I appreciate you taking the time to write this blog. Its very well written and incredibly insightful. Thanks a bunch!
Thanks for the great blog... Led here by your comment on Antville. Please keep blogging, I love the commentary and inside perspective...
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