Tuesday, December 3, 2013

They Won't Leave Me Alone - Dream Police by Cheap Trick

Ever since the earliest days of this blog (approximately 8 minutes ago, for those of you just joining us) I've stressed that a good music video is an ad for your band. A video gives you something to look at while you slog through the stultifying chore that is listening to music. A video lets you see the band up close in a way that you never could at a live show. I've found it is much easier to buy drugs at a live concert, though, because my cats are rarely holding. A video lets you feel like you are hanging out with the band and doing what they like to do (apparently make music videos). And a video gives you a chance to learn about the personalities of the band members.

With a multi-person group (groups with only one person, like Bon Iver, are best avoided) it is important for the various members to have distinct personalities. I faulted One Direction once for not doing this. The Spice Girls understand it, and even gave the members names that indicated their personalities. Sporty Spice liked sports. Posh Spice was rich. Baby Spice was a baby. Ginger Spice had red hair. And Scary Spice was terrifying because she was black. These are archetypal characters that are quickly grasped. We don't need subtle characters that might star in an indy film about a man who learns that his entire family has been engaging in intercourse with starfish. We just need a single character trait for each person.

Not every band is as straightforward as the Spice Girls, though. Still, you can always create personas for your band. To wit, Dream Police by Cheap Trick:

This whole video is essentially an introduction to the band members. It's like a white version of J.D. Salinger's Seymour, an Introduction.

We start with a literal introduction to the band in the form of their logo:

Little known fact: The second Cheap Trick is silent.

Then we see the band in silhouette.

I learned from Websnark that a good cartoon character is recognizable by silhouette alone. Can you recognize these dudes? I can't. Too dark.

Let's shed some light on the situation.

Okay, here they are. We don't really know too much about their personalities yet. We can mostly just see the guy in the stupid hat with all the buttons.

At this point the band starts playing.

I love a good point.

The drummer is absolutely amazing. He is like a somehow schlubbier Dan Akroyd.

That mustache! And he always has his cigarette pointing down for maximum sad times. And he's doing all this while playing some pretty rad fills.

While the drummer is a quiet masterpiece, the guitar player is trying way too hard.

He didn't want to look good, so he wore stupid clothes and clashing patterns. He went so far into irony, though, that he somehow came back full circle to just looking bad.

The singer and bass player are still pretty bland at this point. A lot of singing.

The singer gives us a little something when he whips his hair back and forth.

He has a carefree, no-attention-paid-to-haters-type attitude.

The guitar player suddenly becomes sinister.

Throughout the video he gets suddenly angry looks on his face. I think the fun-loving exterior is hiding something terrifying.

During the guitar solo, something happens that I really like. Usually, guitar players try to show off during the solo. "Look how fast I can play!" They shout. "Mom! MOOOOOM! You're not looking!" The guitar player, though, slows it down and does this lumbering walk while playing a slower melody. Sweet.

It's hard to hear his guitar playing over his pants, though. Ouch.

Now we get down to brass tacks. The video cycles through each band member using a woman's hands to show their personality and also showing a shot of the band member as dream police officer.

First there is the drummer.

Naturally the woman's hand provides a cigarette.

Then we have the guitar player.

The woman's hand places a button on him.

Then there is the bass player.

The woman's hand does something to his face. What is that?

Ah, it was a stamp of a woman's lips with red lipstick. Apparently he is something of a ladies' man.

Then there are a bunch of kiss stamps.

Whoa! He is really a ladies' man! Wait, why am I assuming those are lady-kisses? I'm terrible.

Finally we have the singer.

The woman's hands straighten his tie. I guess he is very concerned with his appearance?

Then the band plays us out.

I love this video, even though it has the stupid introduction thing before the song starts. We get a good sense of all the band members and they seem cool! Especially the drummer. This makes me like Cheap Trick even more and that is what a good music video does. Ideally it turns "Cheap Trick. Aren't they the band that shot Gerald Ford?" into "Cheap Trick. I really like how they shot President Ford." It certainly has for me. I support all of their gun-related decisions.


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