Thursday, 25 October 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - It Don't Matter If You're Black Or White

Michael and Janet: Incredible in any colour.

It Don't Matter If You're Black or White...
Unless We're Talking About Music Videos
by Jo Michelmore

Once, not so long ago, when I was a tiny little girl, I had a strange concept of the world. I saw old film clips and television footage of things that had happened long ago and naturally, everything was in black and white. This amazed me. At some stage, the whole world had been black and white and then suddenly everything turned colour? How dull things must have been! How would you choose what to wear each day if everything was just a shade of grey? It would make accessorising easier, I suppose, but food would be kind of boring, wouldn’t it? Chips just don’t seem like they’d taste the same if they were a shade of grey, with grey sauce and a glass of black, thanks. Of course eventually (!?) I realised it was just how things were filmed; the type of film was black and white, not the whole world (although, admittedly, some days are more black and white than others aren’t they, metaphorically speaking). On a very ‘black and white’ day this week, I was watching one of my fave future vintage clips (more about this later) and it got me thinking about the thing I want to discuss this week. The black and white clip. Creative? Sometimes. Interesting? Sometimes. Boring? Sometimes. Amazing? Sometimes.

Baby Love
by The Supremes (1964) 

So it was ok to have a clip in black and white in the 60’s, because everything was black and white, right? Um, yep, according to five year old me, that’s how the world worked then. No? Oh well, just an excuse to watch one of my favourite groups from the 60’s. Let’s move on….

Every Breath You Take
by The Police (1983) 

Oh yay, it’s everyone’s favourite creepy stalker song. Stop watching me Sting. Stop counting my breaths, you weirdo. What are you doing anyway, standing there, creepily caressing your double bass, singing off to the distance and who is that guy cleaning windows while the band plays underneath? Why are there windows in this clip? Are the windows being cleaned because you have an unhealthy obsession with windows? With clean windows? Clean because you can peep through them easier while watching every move, every step, every breath your poor unsuspecting victim takes? You’re weird Sting; really, really weird.

Wanted Dead Or Alive
by Bon Jovi (1986) 

He’s a cowboy, apparently and on a steel horse he rides. What does that mean anyway? This is 80’s big hair middle of the road rock at its best. Or worst? No, best definitely. It’s just a montage of helicopters and backstage and screaming fans and sweaty men and close ups of guitars, all in black and white, it almost sounds kind of sexy; except it’s not. Were those zebra print leggings ever sexy, Jon? Richie? Other nameless members? I think not. I’m debating whether anything in the 80’s was sexy, but that’s a whole other conversation. I especially love the end of this clip, with Jon wiping his face, his head in his hands, so deep in thought. It’s such a hard life, that of the average rock star, you know, being wanted dead or alive all the time. Oh Jon, at the height of your hair and your costumes and your rock stardom, you did average so well, it really should be admired.

Big Time Sensuality
by Bjork (1993) 

I’ve got this secret. I love clips that are filmed on moving cars, or trucks, or buses. I don’t know why, I’ve just always loved the imagery of people standing on moving things that they probably shouldn’t be standing on. I’m always waiting for them to trip or sway or fall. Maybe ‘cause I don’t deal so well with standing in moving vehicles myself (hello hate of public transport). Stop questioning me, I just like these clips, ok? Who wouldn’t want to dance around on the back of a truck while it drives around New York? Not you? Fool! I like Bjork, lots, and this is probably one of my favourite of her songs. Top five at least. It’s one of my favourite clips, of anyone, ever. The best bit? About the four minute mark, when she starts whispering and getting all super cute looking, peering into the camera and up at the sky; you wouldn’t even know how absolutely crazy she is at that point. Love.

by Michael and Janet Jackson (1995) 

You’ve got seven million dollars lying around in loose change, what do you do with it? Make a music video clip of course. Although it’s one of my fave black and white clips, and one of my fave Michael Jackson music moments, I just can’t figure out where the seven million dollars went. Those shiny pants might have cost a little and guitars aren’t cheap if you plan on smashing them, but seven million dollars? Wow. How about when I’m a pop star I spend just a couple of thousand on my clip and then we all go on a delightful holiday, first class, somewhere with the other six and a bit million? Either that or I spend the seven million on dance lessons. Even if I spent that much, I don’t think I could dance as well as either of those Jackson siblings. They were quite good, weren’t they?

99 Problems
by Jay-Z (2004) 


I guess it’s black and white because motorcycles and caps and viking hats and basketball and dogs in cages and girls in very little clothing and throwing up and sideways-cap-Jay-Z all look cooler in black and white. Or do they? I don’t know, I suppose they do. No one wants to see the colour of JayZ’s vom though. I got 99 problems too Jay-Z and you know what’s funny? A bitch ain’t one, but your unnecessary self censoring of your own songs is.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
by Beyonce (2008) 

Since I posted Jay-Z, it seemed appropriate to feature Beyonce as well. This is one of those ‘can’t look away, must keep watching’ clips. There’s just something about it. Maybe it’s the choreography, maybe it’s the contrasting black and white imagery, or maybe it’s the fact no one in this clip is wearing pants. No. One. Pants are important. Ask the K-Tizzle.

by Azealia Banks ft. Lazy-Jay (2011) 


Look, we’ve talked about this before. It’s not vintage, it’s future vintage. If Azaelia Banks does nothing else, ever again, this song and this clip will still be awesome ten years from now. Is anyone expecting the cute girl with the pigtails and the Mickey Mouse jumper to be saying….that? Um, no. Don’t tell me you can keep yourself from the dance floor when this song starts playing late on a Saturday night and we all know, whether you hate ‘that’ word or not, you’re singing along with it every single time this song comes on. I know it. You know it. Whatever.

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