Philip Selway

An Appreciation of the 360° Music Video

I have long been a fan of music videos, and I believe that one of the unfortunate consequences of the decline of MTV and other cable music networks is that we are unable to see the progress of a legitimate art form.  With this in mind, know that Rust Is Just Right will often try to highlight our favorite videos and techniques.  Today we will look at a specific form which saw a mini-renaissance of sorts, the 360° music video.

This specific technique is a variation of an old stand-by, the one-shot video.  It takes a remarkable amount of skill and planning to pull off a memorable one-shot video, because it has to balance between being simple enough to accomplish with one take while also portraying some event that will make the video memorable to some degree.  The 360° video is a particularly ingenious variation of the one-shot video, because its very nature creates the illusion of movement and allows the director to mess with the predictions of the viewer.  There is a sense of progress, even if the action does not necessarily move forward, and because the viewer is constantly anticipating what is happening off-screen, the director has time to prepare and come up with a surprise as to what happens next.

Last year saw two different takes on the 360° concept from wildly different artists.  The first was the video for “Inside Out” from clipping., which followed a CGI representation of the MC navigating around a street corner, with each line represented by a specific image that takes the place of his head.  It is quite entertaining, and also helps the viewer connect with the specific lyrics of the song.

The other video from last year which utilized this concept was Philip Selway’s “Around Again”.  The song title provides an obvious clue as to why the director went with this conceit, but rest assured the result rises above being a mere gimmick.  Here, the director plays with repetition of certain movements and actions as well as incorporating slow-motion, colors, and freeze-frames, which provide a stark contrast to the illusory movement around the track.

Now contrast these recent videos with two alternative rock videos from back in the day when rock videos actually got played on TV.  First, there’s Everclear’s bouncy and irreverent “Everything to Everyone”.

Now compare that to Saves the Day’s “At Your Funeral”.

The most interesting comparison between the two pairs is how the recent videos focus on a protagonist traveling around in a set track, while the camera in the Everclear video rotates without any clear target and instead allowing specific scenes to take the spotlight with each rotation.  The “At Your Funeral” video splits the difference by focusing both on a static shot of singer Chris Conley, keeping him squarely in the center of the frame as the camera rotates, as well as covering the major moments of a family’s life (in super-fast motion) with the camera’s unyielding revolutions.

Though all four videos use a similar approach, each is able to stand out in distinct ways with each yielding a memorable result.  The mere usage of this clever technique is not enough to guarantee a notable result, but it can help, and the director in each video utilized the concept to their advantage.  If anyone else can think of any other examples of this type of music video, we’d love to hear it, and if possible compare them to these instances above.

Catching Up On The Week (Mar. 13 Edition)

Some #longreads as you make plans for Friday the 13th, “Pi Day”, and the Ides of March…

Multiple sites are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Radiohead’s classic album The Bends, ranging from Consequence of Sound’s track-by-track remembrance to Stereogum’s full-fledged “Radiohead Week”.  In addition to their usual anniversary post, Stereogum also has a great interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway in which he provides insight into the recording of The Bends.  The best feature though may be their discussion with a wide range of musicians about their all-time favorite Radiohead song.  A lot of the choices and explanations are illuminating, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed that my personal favorite was not selected.

“Street Spirit (fade out)” is a hauntingly beautiful song, and in my mind is the best song in Radiohead’s extensive catalog–after that, it’s about a thirty-way tie for second place.  If you break it down to its basic musical components, it has a fairly uncomplicated structure: it’s just a gorgeous descending guitar melody built atop a simple three chord progression, with Thom Yorke’s voice wrapping itself around the music in a way that is alternately sad and hopeful.  This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe that a key factor that contributed to its melancholic quality is the fact that the guitars were tuned about 15 cents flat, which gave a slightly unsettling feel to the arpeggiated riff and helped open up the tone of the guitar.  And “Street Spirit” had a fantastic Jonathan Glazer-directed video to boot.

The other big news this week was a jury reaching a verdict in the “Blurred Lines” copyright trial, with the jury finding in favor of the Gaye estate that there was infringement.  We may discuss the potential ramifications of the decision in detail at a later date, but in the meantime you can read about the possible unintended consequences of the decision from Deadspin and SPIN.  Simply put, the fact that most people in the media has turned on Robin Thicke does not mean that infringement occurred, and it could have a potential chilling effect on future music.

Finally, for some lighter fare, you have a couple of options.  Earlier this week we had a piece on Viet Cong, and now you might want to read an interview the band conducted with SPIN, even if it doesn’t touch on the name issue.  And you can top it off with the AV Club explaining why you should listen to the gorgeous a capella TV on the Radio song “Ambulance”, followed by actually listening to the song.

Over the Weekend (Nov. 17 Edition)

New videos and other fun stuff to get your mind off the biting cold that has descended upon us…

Deerhoof recently came out with a new album (La Isla Bonita) that we’ve unfortunately neglected to cover.  That’s likely to change, since they’re coming to Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge on Thursday, but hopefully we can make up for it by sharing their latest music video.  “Exit Only” features actor Michael Shannon interrogating himself and engaging in all sorts of crazy behavior–in other words, what it’s probably like hanging around Michael Shannon on a regular basis.

Kendrick Lamar gave a thrilling performance on the Saturday Night Live stage this past weekend and I highly recommend watching it.  If you were disappointed by the initial single “i” (those ranks do not include myself, but I know the buzz was lacking when it first was leaked), then you definitely need to see it done live.

It’s been our duty to keep informing you about Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s solo career, and as such, we’re sharing the fantastic, mind-bending video he did for “Around Again” from Weatherhouse.

It reminds me of another fantastic recent music video that we didn’t share when it first came out, but we’ll rectify that immediately.  “Inside Out” from clipping. also uses the concept of following a protagonist’s circular journey around the camera, except this time the character’s face is used to illustrate particular lyrics.  Pretty cool.

Death From Above 1979 would have to be among the last bands that you would imagine sitting down for an acoustic set, but they recently stopped by for such a performance thanks to 102.9 the Buzz in Nashville.  Not only did they perform “Crystal Ball”, “White Is Red”, and “Trainwreck 1979” off their fantastic new album, The Physical World, but they also sat down for an amusing interview, covering such things as proposed alternate band names and how much they listen to Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age.

And finally, leave it to The Onion to cut to the chase when it comes to the standard indie rock career cycle.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 24 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as you keep pushing “repeat” on the new Run the Jewels album…

Last night, Run the Jewels surprised its fans with the release of their new album as a free download.  I’ve enjoyed it on the first two listens so far, but for the next one I’ll be sure to read Stereogum’s cover story interview with El-P and Killer Mike.  Meanwhile, we eagerly anticipate the release of Meow the Jewels.

Speaking of Stereogum, they have an interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway to discuss his second solo album.  Selway’s contributions to his main gig are sorely underrated, and his solo work is definitely worth checking out.

Josh Modell does an excellent job of capturing the essence of what makes the Pearl Jam live experience so special, and does so in a way that those committed to bashing the band should understand.  Considering the way The AV Club usually handles Pearl Jam, this is pretty great accomplishment.

In our commitment to continue providing you with every Death From Above 1979 story out there, here’s their feature in The Line of Best Fit.

Pitchfork catches up with Panda Bear, as he announces a new EP and is set to release an album next year.

Sure, they made a movie about him earlier this year, but it’s probably worth the time to check out PASTE’s oral history of James Brown, courtesy of his bandmates, in preparation for the new HBO documentary Mr. Dynamite.

And finally, it’s not often we delve into sports, but fresh off his appearance on Conan this week, The Oregonian has a feature on Damian Lillard and the development of his #4BarFriday videos, as well as discussing rap’s place in his childhood.  It’s a piece that’s well worth reading.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 8 Edition)

News, interviews, and goofy fun videos as you deal with a full work week…

In preparation for the release of Death From Above 1979’s new album The Physical World tomorrow, you should check out Noisey’s profile of the band.  If that’s not enough to get you pumped, well, you could always go back and read our piece on the brilliance of You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine.

As Radiohead begins preparations for a new album, drummer Philip Selway is about to release his second solo album, Weatherhouse, on October 7.  Today, the band posted the SoundCloud link to the gorgeous “It Will End In Tears”, and is definitely worth a listen.

Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron gives some advice to aspiring musicians in this interview with Guitar Center.

SPIN is jumping in on the “let’s revisit 1994” bandwagon, providing a top 100 list of the “Best Alternative Songs” of that year.

And finally have some fun watching Nicki Minaj attempting to teach the various parts to her dance from the “Anaconda” video to fashion models.