Saturday, 1 June 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons - iToons (The Rock And/Or Roll Playlist)

One of my favourite bands, Queens Of The Stone Age, have always recognized the marketing allure of using cartoons to sell music. Here's how they convinced me to buy their last album...

To promote their latest release, '...Like Clockwork', which comes out on Tuesday, they've been releasing creepy, but stylish animated clips set to numerous tracks from the new album.

While certainly not the greatest videos ever made, I can appreciate their cohesive sense of style, and the fact that these are musicians who still give a damn about creating an interesting visual to accompany the music they're peddling.

Are they even called music videos anymore? Remember those? Music videos? They used to be vital back when music television still played music. Now they're no longer a necessity. Music and videos share the same cyberspace but don't have to co-exist. Now a good video has just as much chance as going viral as the music does independently. And as the Internet makes our attention spans shorter and shorter, I think concept videos like these will have less chance of being seen. Because there's a lot of (shorter) competition out there. Your Harlem Shake's and what-have-you. Which is too bad when it's obvious a lot of thought and skill have gone into these other works.

In celebration of the creative individuals who still give a damn, I thought we'd take a look today at 12 great animated music videos. And before you start bitching that MC Skat Kat has been skipped over, keep in mind that today we are focusing on the genre of rock and/or roll. Oh yeah, and you won't find The Killers on here either because they suck.


Obviously, I'm well aware this doesn't hold up to today's technological standards. It's quite quaint to watch now. But at the time it was mind-blowing - like that movie, The Lawnmower Man. For trend-setting alone and helping to set the standard for out-of-the-box creativity, 'Money For Nothing' must be acknowledged.

Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler was not interested in making a video at the time, but was eventually convinced to proceed by his progressive girlfriend. The video was directed by Ian Pearson and Gavin Blair, who went on to form Mainframe Entertainment in Vancouver, the studio that produced one of the first computer animated TV series, called Reboot

"Weird Al" Yankovic had his way with both song and video in his 1988 film, UHF, which featured a computer generated Buddy Ebsen. With recent technological advances, surely a Buddy Ebsen hologram can't be far behind!


That's 'Harlem Shuffle', kids. Not 'Harlem Shake'.

This 1986 video kinda set the stage for MC Skat Kat, combining a bit of animation with live action. It was directed by adult cartoon legend, Ralph Bakshi, and Ren & Stimpy creator, John Kricfalusi. Bakshi and Kricfalusi would later team up for CBS's Saturday morning reboot of Mighty Mouse. 


While we're on the subject of Mr. Kricfalusi, here's another great (but awful) clip his former company, Spumco, oversaw with Gabe Swarr at the helm, showcasing the well-intentioned (?) romantic advice of an animated Jack Black and Kyle Gass. With a title like this, do I REALLY need to tell you it's NSFW? It's NSFA (anywhere), to be perfectly honest.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Kricfalusi himself directed another one of The D's NSFW videos called 'Classico'.


'Paranoid Android' is no less NSFW than the above, but it's surprisingly bright for a Radiohead clip. And that's exactly why Radiohead wanted it. They tapped Swedish cartoonist Magnus Carlsson to create it, because they were convinced that people would be once again expecting something dark and brooding from them. Band members were fans of a TV series that Carlsson was doing called Robin, and asked him to come up with a concept for the video based on the music - just the music, no lyrics, as they didn't want his interpretation to be too literal.

The result is a cartoonish, but deranged look at a city gone mad. The video's nudity has been edited out in some versions. 

Robin is the main character as evidenced by his initialed toque. Radiohead appears in a scene, surrounding a table-dancing man with a second head protruding from his stomach. Because where else would they be?

Radiohead have released other animated videos, but nothing as mainstream or accessible as 'Paranoid Android'. And yes, I realize I just said a video featuring a table-dancing man with a second head protruding from his stomach was accessible.


From "Gucci little piggies" to 'Three Little Pigs', Green Jelly songs are a lot easier to interpret than Radiohead songs. I was hesitant to include it because it's one of the stoopidest songs ever written. But damn it, if it's not fun! If you can't appreciate the song craft, you can certainly appreciate the amount of effort that someone put into making Sly Stallone out of clay.

The video was directed by Fred Stuhr, who would go on to do far more popular, but far less fun work.


Continuing our look at coolness in clay, I've always enjoyed this Marilyn Manson video by MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch guys. This song was featured on the show's soundtrack album. I'm assuming it's Marilyn Manson's finest performance. I also like monkeys.


This is always on everyone's 'Best Video Ever' list, but for good reason. What is it? LEGOmation?

Director Michel Gondry filmed LEGO frame-by-frame to make the movements. Apparently lead singer Jack White approached the LEGO company about the possibilities of including mini sets with copies of the single, which would form LEGO versions of Jack and Meg White when built. LEGO refused at the time, but when the video became a hit, they approached Jack again about revisiting the idea. Jack then refused.


It's a little dated, and really only funny with the visuals, but it works. I wish Mike Judge (who created Beavis & Butt-head) would take on more music videos. This isn't the right post for it (we're currently rocking out, you see), but you need to watch his video for Zac Brown Band's 'The Wind'.

Here's another musical pairing for Beavis & Butt-head - this time with Red Hot Chili Peppers from the 1996 feature film soundtrack, 'Beavis & Butt-head Do America'. It's a nice reminder of when RHCP used to be fun.

From that same movie, I need to include mention of this sequence, which was based on the designs of Rob Zombie, and set to a song he did for the soundtrack called "Rat Finks, Suicide Tanks and Cannibal Girls". The sequence was directed by Chris Prynoski, who has worked on lots of other cartoons, some of them music-based like Metalocalypse and Freaknik: The Musical. He won 'Best Animated Sequence In A Feature Film' that year from the National Cartoonists' Society for this 2 minute bit. It would've made this list of favourites, but isn't considered an official music video.


Comic book artist, Todd McFarlane, co-directed this awesome video for Pearl Jam with Batman: The Animated Series director Kevin Altieri. Now I'm not a big PJ fan, but I can certainly be persuaded to be with compelling visuals like this.

McFarlane also directed Korn's video for 'Freak On A Leash'.


Back to Batman and comic books for a second. Here's a song/video done for 1995's Batman Forever. Similar to the movie, the video is about duality, namely within Bono as he transforms between 2 characters he invented for U2's ZooTV tour - The Fly and the Joker-like MacPhisto. Amid clips from the actual movie, an animated version of The Riddler makes an appearance, as does Batman(s) in the orchestra. 


More famous comic characters make cameos in this wonderful video from Wilco. All the credits are at the beginning of this, so I don't have to list them here. If you don't watch anything else on this post, at least view this one. They don't make videos like this anymore. So fun!


I'm going to end this post with a very descriptively-titled tune by Blur. I love the song, but the accompanying clip by Shynola makes it one of my favourite music videos of all time. It's equal parts touching, horrifying and eventually, one of the funniest things you've ever seen. Hope you enjoy it enough to consider coming back again next week. 

PLEASE come back next week! And bring milk! I barely had enough to get through 4 cereal bowls this morning! Pretty sure that was on the rider!

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