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The Shuffle: Killer Music Videos

Depending on your age, you may remember the golden age of MTV, where the only broadcasts were the newest, hottest music videos. This isn’t the case anymore, but YouTube has stepped up to that proverbial plate. When my playlist gets stale, I go to music videos, old and new. I love getting to take a bus ride, close my eyes and listen to those new songs I’ve found while picturing the video, shot-by-shot. Here’s a selection of my recent favourites.

Sing Along by Sturgill Simpson

We’re no strangers to the cyberpunk dystopia. However, a leather-coated, samurai-masked anime girl with a drive for spreading water to the wasteland is a rather unusual spin.

We follow our hero through the wasteland, attacking a train full of water bottles, only to blow it up and take on the true enemy: Mr. Business and an oxygenated, overweight warrior being carried on afloat, which in turn is carried by scantily clad men and women. Alt-country is the perfect genre for this sort of skullduggery.

SOURCE by Fever the Ghost

This song is not available on Spotify in Canada, but that’s almost acceptable when you watch the music video.

Our protagonist can only be described as a long-nosed, legless cretin, and he is accompanied by his loyal orange and red dragon. His job is to turn on the light bulb beneath the planet, which in turn illuminates the cosmos, telling the sun and moon that it’s time to dance. As the planet turns into a disco ball, the galaxy joins together as masked creatures dance around a fat idol. The song ends, and our protagonist heads back home.

Starlight Brigade by TWRP, Feat. Dan Avidan

Do you want a deep-space war between a team consisting of a gigantic lion-man, a drumming robot with six arms, a man wearing a pylon, a mysterious masked spaceman, a ninja and an elf against a trapezoid that steals the stars?

This might be the music video for you.

Heavy bass and synths fill the track and accompany strong vocals through this visual spectacle, with themes of finding yourself, making your own destiny and staying strong through insurmountable odds.

This is America by Childish Gambino

I mentioned choreography earlier in this article, but This is America puts other choreography to shame. This also goes for the blocking, as the entire song appears to be shot in one take, which would take a huge amount of effort, forethought and planning.

This is America is notable not only for these elements but the symbolism sewn throughout.

Commentary on consumerism, violence and cultural appropriation are seen in each motion of the video. This is a video to watch repeatedly, not only for the great music but also for everything else that makes it unique and leaves the viewer speechless.

Summer Nights by SIAMÉS

Summer Nights tells the story of a group of friends who are trying to recruit a new member into their flock. Three of them have yellow stars somewhere on their body, and through a spray paint-based ritual, the fourth hopes to receive a star as well.

The suspense builds until finally, the group is transported into the past, becoming their younger selves. Their new member has a yellow star on her cheek, and the group rejoices.

Picturing Love by July Talk

The local Edmonton band released their album “Touch” back in 2016. A series of music videos were released to accompany the album, including Picturing Love.

The video is a commentary on the pornography industry and the romanticism that films give us.

Picturing Love follows the two lead singers of July Talk, Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis, through different vignettes that lead the viewer to believe the video will fall into a series of tropes. Then, it twists them on their heads.

Fay provides a particular feeling of unease and horror in her unhinged performance throughout. This video has a series of flashing lights at certain moments, so those with photosensitivity should watch with caution.

The Plastic Beach Saga by Gorillaz

Buckle up, kiddos. This last one’s a doozy.

Gorillaz is a bit of a weird entity. Originally created as an art project, exploding to unprecedented heights but then cancelled, then coming back with a bang a few years later.

Murdoc Niccals, Stu-Pot (2D), Noodle and Russel Hobbs have been the primary members of the band since 1998, but the Plastic Beach Saga, accompanying their album ‘Plastic Beach’, launched the band into the eye line of high-schoolers everywhere.

After the group disbanded in 2006, Murdoc Niccals went on a three-year bender, eventually running out of money and performing all kinds of immoral acts. Just little things like black-market weapons dealing and insurance fraud. In doing this, he had angered the band of pirates known as the Black Clouds. This will be important later.

Once the original Gorillaz HQ burned down, Niccals made his way to Point Nemo, the section of ocean furthest from land. There, he combined black tar and garbage to create the island now titled Plastic Beach. On his newfound private island, he would write his next album.

Unfortunately, his band had broken up. The next logical thing to do? Build a cyborg replacement for Noodle, the Gorillaz’s guitarist.

The band’s lead singer, 2D, was also easy to find. By using a bit of gas, 2D was easily knocked out and kidnapped from his home in Beirut.

This brings us to our first video of the series, ‘Stylo’. Niccals, Noodle and 2D, drive through a desert, clearly on the run from something. The threat is revealed to be Bruce Willis, who attempts to gun them down. This is also the first appearance of The Boogieman, the main antagonist from the series. He appears in a cloud of black smoke and devours a policeman.

The chase ends in the Gorillaz’s car crashing into the sea and transforming into a submarine.

During this, Russel Hobbs ran from his inner demons, quite literally into the sea. The more he swam, the larger he grew. He met up with the real Noodle, who had been hiding out on a boat. She gets gunned down by the Black Clouds during the video for ‘El Manana.’ Fortunately, Noodle escapes with Russel and the two head to Plastic Beach.

While a music video was planned for the song ‘Rhinestone Eyes,’ only a storyboard was ever released. It was, however, animated by a team of fans a few years later. This is the finale of the Plastic Beach Saga, ending with a full-on assault on Plastic Beach by the Black Clouds and the Boogieman.

Cyborg Noodle died after being destroyed by the Black Clouds, and Russel and Noodle met up with the rest of the group, with all of them travelling through a portal back to the mainland.

This ends the main story of Phase 3 of the Gorillaz. The band has since continued to make music, and a new storyline is currently being written. But the plotline of this album is burned into my memory.

This was all-consuming for me in high school, and it led to me meeting a number of forever friends. It probably doesn’t have the same impact on someone who isn’t me, but this is my list, and it fits as the perfect finale.

If you find the article a bit hard to follow, don’t worry! There’s a video accompaniment that I created on our Instagram!

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