"Dead Leaves & the Dirty Ground"
You can always count on a White Stripes song to be real short and the vid to be real good. It's hard not to admire this kind of reliability. In this one, Jack, looking alarmingly like Michael Jackson, for some reason, comes home to find a ghostly Meg having a party with her spectral friends. Or something. Whatever, Michel Gondry will be hard put to ever top the Lego-brilliant "Fell in Love With a Girl" clip, but this one is quite visually compelling, without any effects to speak of. We're told this was all done in-camera. Michel, like, stop showing off, OK?
Director: Michel Gondry, Partizan Editor: Russell Icke, Whitehouse
"Die Another Day"
This vid is so good, all the competition will likely be, uh, swept away, at the next VMAs. We're not kidding. Madonna is tortured in various delightfully sexy ways; she does a yoga move that looks like a special effect; and, for a little unorthodox gender bending, she puts on tefillin (it has such cool bondage and junkie connotations!) when she's about to fry in the electric chair. There's a Jewish mysticism theme here that recalls her Kabbalah flirtation, but whatever, it works. This is, of course, a movie tie-in, but, as Traktor's Ole Sanders notes, "We're very happy that we avoided the inevitable use of footage from the movie. Our intention with the video was to create something self-contained that was Bond-inspired, as well as being a suitably kinetic and relentless universe in which Madonna could strut her stuff." Ol‚, Ole! Even the song, with one of those Cher-inspired, synth-mangled vocal tracks, manages not to annoy, thanks to jaunty string writing.
Director: Traktor, Traktor Films Editor: Rick Russell, Final Cut
Effects: Moving Picture Co., London
Interpol is a New York band, and if you've been keeping up with the latest music hype, that means they've got to be good. And on the basis of this song, which is driven by a compellingly insistent guitar riff, they are. The mannered vocal is something about "we have 200 couches, we can sleep tonight," so maybe this will turn up in a Jennifer Convertibles spot. But the strangely disjointed, stuttery imagery manages to work as eye candy while evoking an aura of alienation and despair. Kind of like looking at Marianne Faithfull in a see-through blouse. According to the director, "Every single surface, texture and element in the video was shot with a digital camera, then constructed in a virtual 3-D environment that looks very much like a digital pop-up book." Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Director/Editor: Christopher Mills, Revolver Film Co.
Effects: Christopher Mills, Christian Moreton (animation)
When something's dirty with two r's it raises expectations, and Aguilera can't really deliver. Let's face it, this girl is a hockey stick with hair, and this song is wretched. Nevertheless, this is a David LaChapelle vid, and the man knows how to pack a set with sweaty style and keep his camera moving. But what makes this clip hip is the too-short (and, unfortunately, badly faked) fight segment in which Aguilera goes bare-knuckles with a chick in a wrestler's mask. However, it has a lot of atmosphere, and considering the sorry state of music vids, which are still tied almost exclusively to the millstone of booty quake, we'll take whatever female fistics we can get. Sure, we also like the scene where Redman punches out the guy in the bunny suit, but it's a fleeting thrill.
Director: David LaChapelle, HSI Editor: Spencer Susser
A boffo promo that, thankfully, doesn't feature the band and has no vocals to lip sync. A nice teenage girl buys a nasty red guitar and is transformed into a satanic goth creature who horrifies her parents, ravages her boyfriend and eventually requires a priestly exorcism. The odd thing is, the song isn't demonic metal but unthreatening bouncy house music, with a rather sedate guitar line. Odder yet, the vid is a series of Kodak Moments with a beat - it's composed entirely of still photos, artfully edited, shot by Nick Wood with a Nikon 35mm motor drive. It's necessarily a trifle choppy, but in an engaging way that nicely drives the narrative.
Director: Nick Wood, Black Dog/Persaud@Palomar
Editor: Mark Adinoff, Peepshow