The 5 Most Tweaked Music Videos Ever

2017 June 23
by John

Having a good music video to your name is something a lot of bands overlook; especially in the net-age, when a good video gone viral can be enough to push a band into the mainstream (one wonders where OK Go would be in the grand scheme of things if they hadn’t broken out the treadmills). You don’t need a publicist or a record deal, all you need is a good, original music video (and the tracks on iTunes ready for those impulse purchases). However, this can be difficult; some get it right, some get it blood-curdlingly wrong (warning: you will wonder what you did to deserve that video).

Others eschew the yawnsome polemic of “good” or “bad” and simply make videos that are totally fucked. This can often end in disaster, but will occasionally lead to the sort of gold-dust that follows here. Some of the following are brilliant music videos with bizarre and intriguing twists or concepts; others just are what they are and cannot be taken at anything more than face value. Enjoy.

5. Truckers Of Husk – Person For The Person
(dir: Casey Raymond & Ewan Jones Morris)

Truckers Of Husk are one of Cardiff’s many local flavours, as are the directors, Casey Raymond and Ewan Jones Morris – Raymond’s distinctive artwork has graced the posters and record sleeves of a lot of Cardiff’s finest. This living flick-book, set to the forthcoming Husk single, is – apart from being a great example of Cardiff’s “scene” (where everything is done “in house”; the band, directors, crew, actors and location are all Cardiff-based) – one of a handful of videos that I wish I could see in a cinema, on a big screen, where the nuances can be appreciated; for now, I shall have to settle for YouTube, and advise any curious parties to turn on the HD feature for best results.

In a sentence: Living people play out the flick-book animation of a mad man.

4. Radiohead – Knives Out
(dir: Michel Gondry)

As far as Radiohead videos go, the plot for this one is relatively simple – man in hospital visits sick wife. However, seeing as it’s Radiohead post-Pablo Honey (which is to say it’s Radiohead that’s worth listening to, after their rather disappointing false start) it wouldn’t be right if it didn’t have a vague sense of depressing brilliance, which in this case is provided by Michel Gondry. Based on a dream that Gondry had about his own wife, it predates his masterpiece – Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind – by a couple of years, but the style of the latter is evident in this. One thing at which Gondry excels is on-screen representations of thought; the inconsistent, always-jumping, always-changing pictures that flow through the mind in the blink of an eye and are often forgotten. This is what really makes this video worth watching; there are better Radiohead singles, but I don’t think there are better Radiohead videos.

In a sentence: Man goes to visit his wife, a life sized Operation game, in hospital, then there’s a skeleton and now he’s a mouse and wait what.

3. Morrissey – Ouija Board, Ouija Board
(dir: Unknown; probably Morrissey)

The song is pretty unremarkable, like everything else Morrissey has done without Johnny Marr’s midas touch – this track is a particularly bad example, as the backing band is apparently one of the demo tunes from a 1980s Casio keyboard. However, when you give your song this kind of promotion, it’s going to stay with people one way or the other.

I’m never entirely sure whether Morrissey’s tongue is in his cheek, but with this I think we can safely assume that nobody involved thought it was a good idea.

In a sentence: Po-faced Northern crooner visits a strange forest to engage in a bit of meddling with the living dead before returning to his mansion to find only Kathy Burke for company.

2. Cardiacs – To Go Off & Things
(dir: Tim Smith)

Cardiacs are a British institution, even though nobody in Britain seems to have heard of them. Sadly, it seems that their thirty year reign of terror is over, as lead singer Tim Smith (whose madness is manifest in everything Cardiacs release) suffered a heart attack a little over a year ago and it would seem that Cardiacs have been quietly discontinued in the interim. During their not inconsiderable lifespan, they played countless concerts to a dedicated and somewhat worrying fanbase, released over a dozen albums and still managed to maintain a position of invisibility with the British public

I have a special fondness for Cardiacs; any band that willfully and deliberately sabotages their commercial prospects with videos as fucked up as this deserves all our adulation. I count myself extremely lucky that I managed to see Cardiacs twice before they politely excused themselves. I found them incredibly abrasive on first listen, yet something about them kept me coming back for more until I was more or less hooked. Perhaps the same will become of you.

In a sentence: The longest-running freakshow punk band in the UK plays an early single over a series of harrowing, disparate vignettes of mental illness and messy eating.

1. Shorty – Coopie & Me
(dir: Tony Ciarrocchi)

I can’t say enough nice things about Shorty; a fantastic band that – after a brief line-up shuffle – went on to be US Maple, the album from which this song is taken (Thumb Days) is a very peculiar record indeed. Deliberately horrible-sounding guitars, Al Johnson’s demented warbling (those who have seen the film High Fidelity will recognize Johnson; he played the obsessive Captain Beefheart collector to whom Jack Black refused to sell a record) and an underlying sense of threat, I’m always kind of surprised and slightly sad that Shorty aren’t better known.

Especially considering this video they made, which is probably the strangest concept for a music video I’ve ever seen; I tried to sum it up in a sentence below (incidentally, don’t read it before you’ve seen the video; part of the joy is the element of surprise on watching it the first time) but there’s something missing. A strange, indefinable “it” that makes this video so bizarrely gratifying. Whatever it is, it makes the video a real treat.

Shorty are far from my favourite band, but this is the finest example of a music video I have ever seen. It perfectly represents both the song and the band, is thoroughly unpredictable, and amply rewards those prepared to invest time in repeat viewings. It is everything a music video should be, and those that are content to release tedious, horrid live footage as a music video – especially those that have the money and resources to do better – would do well to learn from Shorty’s glorious example.

In a sentence: A man with mental problems gatecrashes a children’s party and a women’s coffee morning with his unique brand of entertainment before cycling home to watch TV.

John Tucker