Saturday, 31 August 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons - iToons (The Pop N' Other Stuff Playlist)

We covered rock and/or roll videos not so long ago. Today I thought we'd examine what I consider to be my Top 12 Favourite Pop N' Other Stuff Videos Of All Time N' Things. I'm sure there are a lot of other worthy additions I'm missing here or have yet to see, but for now, this list is up-to-date. If you have any other cool recommendations that aren't included, make sure you tell me about it in the comments below.


Figured we should start with a classic. This may seem a little dated by today's CG standards, but it's still quite an amazing achievement.

Stephen J. Johnson directed this stop-motion clip with the help of Aardman Animations, who are now more famous for creating Wallace and Gromit. In fact, Nick Park himself, who directed everything Wallace and Gromit, personally animated the chicken dance seen at the 3:12 mark.

For the opening portions of the video, I'm told Peter Gabriel laid under a sheet of glass for 16 hours, as they shot footage frame-by-frame. Later sequences were filmed with extras that included some of the animators, the director's girlfriend and Peter Gabriel's daughters.

At 1987's MTV Video Music Awards, 'Sledgehammer' took home 9 Moonmen - the most a video has ever received. 'Sledgehammer' is also the most played video in MTV history, which seems less impressive now that MTV doesn't play videos anymore - or even music, for that matter.

Last year, when the album this song came from, So, celebrated its 25th anniversary, a contest was created where fans were asked to recreate the 'Sledgehammer' video, using an app from Peter's Facebook page called "Grab Your Sledgehammer". People would pick a scene from the video, and recreate it on their webcams for a chance to win signed prizes and merchandise. I'm assuming it really helped to cut down on people's giant glass expenses.

Many of Peter Gabriel's videos employed the use of stop-motion animation. From the same album, check out 'Big Time' (also directed by Stephen J. Johnson) so you know I'm not lying. 

Interestingly, Stephen J. Johnson (who also directed first season episodes of Pee Wee's Playhouse) also directed the video for Talking Heads' 'Road To Nowhere' a year earlier, which employed many of the same techniques seen in 'Sledgehammer', but received little to no acclaim for it. 


Okay, this video hasn't aged well. Although I do believe overalls are coming back in style, aren't they? Anyway, I'm counting it as significant for being part of an animation resurgence in the early 1990's. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a huge hit a year earlier, and set forth a far-reaching wave of animated popularity, which just had to spread into music videos. This one is said to be inspired by the scene featuring Gene Kelly and Jerry Mouse in the movie, Anchors Aweigh, which featured similar choreography between both actor and the animated. This particular animation was done by a Disney staffer named Chris Bailey, who also directed a popular Mickey Mouse short in 1995 called 'Runaway Brain'.

While 'Opposites Attract' may employ less of the skill (and more rap) in comparison to Roger Rabbit, it's certainly better than the movie, Cool World. And any flaws that may exist certainly didn't stop it from becoming popular. Yes, they were dark times indeed.

In fact, I bet you didn't know that MC Skat Kat proved SO popular, he was even given his own album, which Paula Abdul received a producer credit on. Awwww yeah, she did!

And of course it was SO popular that eventually Family Guy had to ruin it, for lack of any original material.


Here's another video that hasn't aged well (yes, more 90's rap), but as a fan of The Simpsons, I feel compelled to include it. Also I want to clear the air after that crappy Family Guy clip. It's great to revisit The Simpsons at a time when they were still being animated by hand, and would release these quick, wonderful bursts of off-model personality.

The video was directed by Brad Bird, who worked on the original Simpsons before moving on to Pixar. He's now a noted live action film director, who most recently made the fourth installment of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible series.

The song itself was co-written by Michael Jackson, although at the time of its release, he was never given official credit for it because of record label conflicts. Simpsons creator Matt Groening later confirmed the truth at a Pasadena animation expo in 1998.

Michael Jackson was a huge fan of The Simpsons. He also did an uncredited guest voice (he was actually credited as John Jay Smith) in a Season 3 episode called 'Stark Raving Dad', where he played an asylum resident named...well, "Michael Jackson".

When Jackson passed away in 2009, the 'Do The Bartman' video was re-aired before a June 28th episode of The Simpsons in memorium.

Bart did The Bartman only once more on The Simpsons, in a Season 19 episode called 'Simpson Tide', where he was trying to be cool in front of his classmates. "That is so 1991", exclaimed a suddenly wise Ralph Wiggum.

'Do The Bartman' came from an album called The Simpsons Sing The Blues, released at the height of Simpsons-mania. It spawned another single called 'Deep Deep Trouble'. The video was directed by Gregg Vazno, who went on to create animation house Rough Draft Studios. The song itself was co-written and produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff!


"Weird Al" never made a bad music video, but I think this one's a particularly old-fashioned and gory delight - a Claymation celebration from 1993, featuring a parody of Jimmy Webb's 'MacArthur Park'. Man, that reference seemed old even when this was first released - which was probably why it wasn't seen a lot. The video was made by Scott Nordlund and Mark Osborne, who went on to co-direct Kung Fu Panda

"Weird Al" has employed many an animator to help make his music videos. In 2006, famous directors like Bill Plympton and John Kricfalusi oversaw clips promoting his album, Straight Outta Linwood. This is another under-appreciated gem from that release...


Speaking of Bill Plympton, he directed this charming video for Kanye West back in 2005. There were actually 2 versions of this video - the first was live action featuring a cameo by Adam Levine. The second was this clip, which also features a live action cameo by Adam Levine. Either way, this one's for the ladies. I mean, lady.

Kanye West was a fan of Plympton, and asked him to direct the video. Kanye and Bill also released a book called "Through The Wire: Lyrics and Illuminations", which featured Plympton's illustrated interpretations of Kayne's song lyrics. 


And speaking of John Kricfalusi, here's the profoundly odd video he made for Bjork. This one features some of John's characters he created for Spumco, including George Liquor and Jimmy The Idiot Boy, who seems to be portrayed here as Bjork's love interest.

PS: I'm aware that Bjork's name requires an umlaut, but they don't seem to show up properly on this blog template. For this, I apologize to Bjork. I tried to 411 her to personally apologize, but apparently it's harder to locate people when you don't know their last name.

A CG version of Jimmy also received exposure on certain editions of the 'I Miss You' CD single cover. 


Maybe by including this, I can increase the number of females reading my blog to 2.

Steve Barron directed this memorable video for a-ha, which featured live action footage traced over frame-by-frame in a pencil sketch style, meant to invoke a comic book come to life. The video won 6 MTV Video Music Awards back in 1986.

Steve Barron would go on to direct 1990's original live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.

I may now lose that other female reader by suddenly throwing in a not-so-happy ending to this story. The couple seen in 'Take On Me' was also featured at the start of a-ha's next video for 'The Sun Always Shines On T.V.', also directed by Steve Barron. And it seems the girl loses her lover to the comic book again. This almost happened to me as well on several occasions, but I'm way stronger than that dude.


This next clip looks and sounds like it could've come from the same decade as a-ha, but it was in fact released last year. Directed by Lilfuchs for Adult Swim, it can't quite let you commit to calling it sexy.

Lilfuchs also made this mind-blowingly trippy video for Flying Lotus' 'Zodiac Shit'.


Similar to "Weird Al" (and in this respect only), Daft Punk have also never made a bad video. All of them are interesting, but I'm particularly fond of clips they released in support of their 2001 album, Discovery. All of these videos, directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi, were part of a larger, hour-long anime film called Interstella 5555: The 5tory of The 5tar 5ystem, which featured all of its action set to Daft Punk songs.

The initial concept for the movie, about an alien dance group kidnapped by a scuzzy music exec, was introduced by the members of Daft Punk, who wanted to work with their childhood hero, anime artist Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Space Battle Yamoto. Matsumoto agreed to work on the film as a visual supervisor. The movie was released to Blu-Ray in 2003, and was also aired in installments on MTV and Cartoon Network.

Here's the opening of episode 1, which was also the video for Discovery's catchy first single, 'One More Time'.

And here's a look at all of the videos mashed together, if you have an hour to spare and are interested in seeing how it holds together as a cohesive unit.


Before you watch this, listen to the music first and visualize how you THINK the clip should look. Then enjoy the not-so literal interpretation provided by Monkmus in this minute-long retro-futuristic clip, which seems to be have been built around the sound effects.

On his blog, Kid Koala said the video received a lot of unexpected airplay due to its shortness. "The different video networks would program it at the end of the shows as a bumper before a commercial or an emergency time filler", he wrote. "So it would get programmed at the end of cooking shows as well as at end of hair-metal hour. Now all of these chefs and headbangers turn up at my gigs. Cool."

I think it is very cool as well!

From that very same blog, I was interested to learn that Kid Koala and Monkmus also teamed up to do clips for Sesame Street. Here's one entitled 'Fall'...


This super-fun song was only enhanced by this super-fun video created by Shynola. As stated in relation to Pitchfork's placement of this 8-bit clip at #33 on its list of the Best Videos of The 2000's, "too often animated clips go for "disturbing" or "dark", when what we really want from cartoons is daredevil squirrels and dancing robots." Truer words couldn't be said. 


GORILLAZ - '19-2000'

Although there's also something to be said for giant moose. 

This is my favourite animated music video of the bunch. And it only stands to reason that a fictional, cartoon band should have the best cartoon videos. 

Created by Tank Girl artist, Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz have always had a slick visual style, backed by some also-great music overseen by former Blur frontman, Damon Albarn. Hewlett also has a hand in all of the music videos. All of them are great, so you should seek out each and every one. But this one has a sense of playful, messed-up fun that pushed it to the top of my playlist.

And we're done.

Coming soon to "Saturday Morning Cartoons"...our BIGGEST rap battle yet! Kat vs. Dogg!

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