Internet killed the video star

Well, some headlines just lie there dormant, waiting for the right opportunity to become overused. That opportunity is here.

The phenomenon that prompted the headline is called “Take-Away shows” and is being done to perfection at La Blogotheque. The concept is easy; pick up a camera and a cheap microphone, convince a band that this is the new cool, and shoot an improvised, raw, dogma-like music video on the fly. As the web site states, “what makes the beauty of it is all the little incidents, hesitations, and crazy stuff happening unexpectingly”. The results are mixed, as can be expected, but it can be pretty awesome.
I think the best examples are the sessions with REM — five videos shot on one night in Athens, GA. Perhaps the main reason why they are supreme to the others is that Michael Stipe is simply not capable of producing sounds that are out of tune. In fact, I was wondering whether it was playback or not on occasion, but it’s really not. I particularly recommend “Living well is the best revenge”. There is something so refreshing, pure and this-is-what-its-all-about in this video, where the REM guys are crammed into a car, guitars and all, while playing the song to perfection.
The final song is “Sing for the submarine”, where Stipe’s haunting voice is augmented by the acoustics inside a silo, while banging his elbow into the silo wall (which looks pretty painful at times). The drummer spontaneously try to break some twigs to produce the necessary rhythm. Not entirely succcesful, but just shows the spontaneity of it all. Incredible stuff!

The headline is not just an empty play on the title of the famous music video from the launch of MTV. In an era where “live” award shows are delayed to avoid any surprises (such as, god forbid, any wardrobe malfunctions), where music videos are endlessly produced on the same stale format (“all we need is a corridor and some [insert degrading nouns for females]”). Although YouTube is ridiculously over-hyped (and, technologically speaking, services like dailymotion, guba and megavideo are superior), it has brought back spontaneity, instanteneousness, and the importance of conveying a sense of being-there. Although this tends to produce many annoying Internet memes, the upshot might indeed be that it brings back spontaneity. If so, it’s all worth it!

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