Originally posted at [V] Website
So this week you, the esteemed polling public of Channel [V], voted serial-sexy-backer Justin Timberlake and his long-overdue new video ‘Suit & Tie’ as your [V] Ripe Clip of the Week. You go, Channel [V] viewers! No but seriously I would totally have his babies, so solid move increasing his airtime on my TV screen. What’s unique (or as we’re about to find out: not so much) about JT’s newest music video is his decision to film it in monochrome aka black and white (or “Inkwell” for all you Instagrammers). It’s a classy touch for what is arguably a super classy vid with Mr. Biel pushing hard for that retro style and delving into a decidedly cinematic, ’50s feel. A sophisticated old-school effect however is only one of the many reasons behind an artist’s decision to shoot in black and white and the last few decades of music videos have certainly given us some killer colourless clips.
Beyonce – Single Ladies
If the whole “admitting to willingly giving my body to Justin Timberlake if he so requested” thing didn’t get you questioning my sexuality, let’s bump it up a notch by delving into one of my secret favourite clips of the last few years and what many consider Her Majesty Knowles’ magnum opus. Beyonce’s B&W music video for her massive hit ‘Single Ladies’ has had a lasting impact on both the pop culture world and the very fabric of society itself. The distinctive dance moves Bey and Friends hurled at our faces in the intensely choreographed 2008 video took the world by storm with the hand-twirls and hip-thrusts having been parodied by everyone from the SNL crew to BBC news reporters, moves which can still today be seen repeated nightly on many an Oxford St dance floor. My favourite fact about this clip, however, has to be the internet rumour that circulated a few years back exclaiming that one of the backup dancers was in fact not a single lady at all but really a dude (albeit an incredibly talented, slender one). The rumours of course were nothing but that, rumours, with the physiologically female dancer merely suffering from a bad case of man-face.
Green Day – Working Class Hero
Whereas Beyonce’s simple black and white palette put the focus on the punishingly swift dance moves, Green Day’s decision to film their 2007 reinterpretation of the John Lennon classic ‘Working Class Hero’ in monochrome shines the light on a slightly more serious, worthy cause. Raising awareness for an Amnesty International campaign to save the African region of Darfur, the video is interspersed with real-life Darfur exiles recounting horrific tales of violence and political atrocities. Proving again the power of rock stars doing good instead of doing drugs/groupies, the clip was well received at the time and stood out in a year in music where Fergie was vigorously spelling at us and Akon was mainly concerned with “smacking that” (all on the floor, mind you.) High-five, socially conscious rock!
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
Jumping back a few years now and on to a clip which is constantly slotted near the top of various Greatest Music Video lists with Croony McSwoony himself, Chris Isaak and his 1989 release ‘Wicked Game’. The brooding, lustful song is appropriately paired with Chris and supermodel Helena Christensen running around pouting on a beach and I assume searching for their respective shirts, which they both seem to have misplaced, while storm clouds swirl in the background. Now I guess this is merely due to my desensitised 2013 brain (thanks Flo Rida) but I have always found it hard to understand the constant declarations of this being the sexiest film clip of all time. Puh-lease. The ratio of shots of clouds drifting by versus shots of lady-nipple is frankly insulting. Pick up your game late-’80s videography.
A-Ha – Take on Me
The inclusion of this final favourite clip of mine may prove to be a bit divisive, so before you get your trolling gloves on and start calling me Hitler, let me state I am well aware that this is technically not 100% black and white SHUT UP OKAY I KNOW GOD… but it’s just so damn good. The 1985 video for the synth-pop tune from Norwegian new-wavers A-Ha (ALL OF THE HYPHENS!) utilised cutting edge, space-age technology to deliver a part animation, part live-action classic which won a whole mess of awards and my eternal appreciation. I’m sorry, but if you’ve never even once dreamed of being sucked into a comic-book world and falling in love whilst being chased by motorcycle racers brandishing pipe wrenches then you have no soul and should probably just leave.
So what have we learnt from this journey back through the ages of black and white music videos? What’s actually going through a musician’s mind when he or she goes, “You know what, fuck you, colour!”? And what IS Chris Isaak’s obsession with standing silhouetted in profile in front of landscapes? Well if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s this: If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it… or something. I don’t know, I’m tired.