Are you thinking about Fastball right now? Probably not, which is ridiculous. Fastball is an excellent band. Time magazine rated them the greatest musicians of the second millenium and The New York Times wrote, "Fastball makes Mozart look like Milli Vanilli." I've spent some time today thinking about Fastball and as a result I am changing the format of this blog. I will still discuss music videos, but only those by Fastball. Discussing a video by another band would be like seeing a play by David Mamet instead of Shakespeare. Everyone says Shakespeare is the best, don't waste your time (check out my theater review blog when you get a chance!).
Fastball's first (and best?) hit is "The Way". It is about escape. What if you could be someone else, somewhere else? What if that someone and -where is totally awesome, literally all of the time? I'd say go for it.
Give it a shot. Watch "The Way" by Fastball:
You might notice a few things right away:
1. The song is so good that it is hard to concentrate on the visuals in the video the first 30 times you watch it. Go ahead and watch it 31 times, it's worth it.
2. There are apparently only 3 people in Fastball. How do they get such a fat sound?
3. Stupid sideburns. I feel like 2 out of 3 of the members had a bet about who could have the worst possible sideburns. The bet was never settled so they were stuck with them.
4. The singer has an enormous ego. He did write what has been called "the greatest piece of music since Bach wrote Beethoven's fifth symphony" so I guess I can understand.
The video opens with the three band members standing on the street watching TV.
Did people ever really do this? I feel like it is part of our cultural zeitgeist, but I don't really know why. I don't think I've ever seen people just standing on the sidewalk watching TV for more than a moment. Maybe we are supposed to assume that Fastball is homeless?
They are watching an exercise show.
In the show the woman is doing an exercise that is said to be great for strengthening your core muscles. Likely, though, the band is not picking up fitness tips but is intrigued by the way this exercise looks like sexual thrusting.
He looks hungry. For sex. Fastball has hit rock bottom at this point. They are so bored with their lives that they are lusting after TV women in the street. I think that's what you do once your cardboard box is foreclosed on and restaurants have made it clear that you are no longer welcome to eat banana peels out of their dumpster.
He sees a flash of himself on TV, though.
He is confused. Did he really just see that? No he did not. He is suffering from rotting-banana-peel-related brain damage.
He starts to hallucinate and fully loses touch with reality. Just like in The Wizard From Oz, everything is suddenly in full color. This nicely coordinates with the second verse which is the same as the first but has a more open sound with more instruments and less sound filtering. This is a cool connection.
The band is driving around and singing. The guitar player plays guitar in the front seat while the drummer is stuck driving.
They come across some foxy babes in a trailer.
Note to younger readers: All the foxiest women are in trailers in the middle of the road.
The band breaks out their instruments and everyone gets funky.
The women don't seem to even notice the singer's terrible sideburns.
We get some special effects, too.
In this shot the camera pulls back a bit. The singer is still in the shot singing, but it's hard to get a great view of him because the other people are a little distracting. Don't worry, though! There is a solution. We get a little frame-in-frame here so we still have a close-up of the singer. I can't believe the band didn't break up the second they saw this video. I would have at least punched the singer in the face.
Now the scene switches to a different fantasy. They've filled up on trailer women and decided to upgrade to classier surroundings.
They are in some weird lounge. Everything is still very colorful.
Whilst there the guitar player decides to play a solo. The singer is not pleased.
"I can't believe he is trying to hog the spotlight like this!" the singer thinks. "I better still be in this shot, or I swear I will eat my own sideburns. I don't even care about the contest anymore."
The final fantasy location is a rooftop. Man, that is awesome! I always wanted to go on a rooftop.
For reasons that are not explained, the guitar player spends most of his time on the rooftop running away. He's probably worried about what the singer will do to him after he pulled that guitar solo stunt.
At the end of the video, the guitar player is so frightened he jumps off the rooftop.
They coordinate this slow-motion shot with a cool musical effect that also simulates slow motion. This is pretty sweet.
So this video doesn't add too much to the song. You don't learn anything new. The visuals heighten the musical effect, though, and make you notice musical things you might not normally notice. That's pretty cool, but that's what you expect from geniuses.