Random YouTube K-Hole: Face/Off

It takes a lot of guts to do confessional type music videos, ones where they allow the camera to focus on them and nothing but. There are no distractions, no costume changes, no choreography or hairography.  It feels like close-up music videos are having a small moment, so without further ado let’s start with Selena Gomez and the blind item that is her music video for…

Lose You to Love Me – Selena Gomez (2019)

Oh, the shit that got stirred when Selena released this three days ago, mere weeks after famous ex Justin Bieber married someone who wasn’t her. The op-eds on who she was singing about flew fast and fierce hours after this video showed up on YouTube.  How could they not? The moment Selena sang “in two months, you replaced us”, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, and Elle scrambled over themselves to remind us that two months after their last official break-up, Justin Bieber had moved on with model Hailey Bieber, whom he married for the second time this year.  It’s not the first time she’s alluded to how difficult the Justin Bieber era of her life has been through song, but as crazy as that part of her love life has been, at least she knows enough to mine it for all it’s worth.  In the video, Selena is no longer the sad, self-hating mess in The Heart Wants What it Wants. Here she’s a little bit older and a little bit wiser, shaken, not stirred. It’s an admirable effort, but the true vulnerability that’s required when you do close-up videos like this one is missing.

Memories – Maroon 5 (2019)

Maroon 5 has a way of releasing catchy little earworms, singles that wriggle their way into your ears and never seem to leave. You’ll find yourself singing or humming along to their releases almost as soon as you hear it the first time. We’ve only just driven out last year’s Girls Like You from our collective psyche, and now they’re back again with Memories, Maroon 5’s ode to their recently departed manager. The band knows enough to entrust their frontman with the heavy lifting when it comes to their visuals, and he’s has always been more than happy to acquiesce. Here, Adam Levine meets us head-on with nothing but lush, fully grown-in beard and body art. As a statement, it’s braver than Selena’s – Adam Levine’s take seems less concerned with looking pretty than it is with working through his issues and moving on. That’s what I like about Adam Levine – he seems so comfortable in his own skin, he’s able to just sit there in nothing but his birthday suit and even in grief, put on a show. As the camera moves slowly farther away from the Maroon 5 frontman, a little part of me can’t help wondering if we’ll see a surprise dad bod, but it stops just short of showing us everything we want to see.

Nothing Compares 2U – Sinead O’Connor (1990)

Everyone knows the late – and sorely missed – Prince wrote Nothing Compares 2U.  Die-hard enthusiasts like to cite the song as an example of how prolific Prince really was – enough to be able to practically give away a hit with nary a second thought, he wrote it under an hour for a side project. It’s likely he never intended Nothing Compares 2U to be anything other than a throwaway song inspired by missing his housekeeper. Then along came Sinead O’Connor, huge doe eyes swimming in tears, features as starkly beautiful as her interpretation, her version a miserable wail of longing and loss.  Apart from a few seconds of random, scene-setting scenery, it’s five minutes of staring at nothing but Sinead, and not once do we want to look away from her or her anguish. A testament to her sheer pull as a budding artist, the video for Nothing Compares 2U is arguably the precursor to all the close-up music videos that have come after it. It set the template for how to do it, and while there have been a few of note (see Radiohead), none have come close to capturing lightning in a bottle the way this music video did. It was, and is, an unforgettable visual that deserved all the awards it won in 1990, the year Nothing Compares 2U was released. 

Random YouTube K-hole: Vertical Horizon

Back in the day, the leadup to the premiere of an anticipated music video was an event, awaited eagerly the way we wait for trailers for a summer movie tentpole. Artists were expected to come out with something worth the wait, and anything less was an insult to the diehard fan.

Not anymore. Not really, anyway. It’s the age of throwaway culture and handheld computers, so anyone can skip the middleman, spend five minutes and make their own music videos. Like these three.

Nicki Minaj, Chun-Li

Does anyone remember when Jennifer Lopez was the one with the booty? We were babies. Look at this. Camera? Check. Giant ass? Check. Nicki Minaj definitely puts the ass in asset and I can’t hate her for working that moneymaker, because if you’re going to commit to having a butt that big what’s the use of not shaking it? While bonered-up fanboys may forgive the crappy lighting, I think it could’ve done with a little less neon pink wash. I don’t get why Chun-Li needs the wi-fi password and Barbie Tingz is lyrically stronger than this, but eh. It’s no Super Bass, but it’ll do for a few replays.

Taylor Swift, Delicate

In a bid to make the world forget that the original video for Delicate is a blatant reenactment of a Kenzo perfume ad, Swifty releases a Spotify video version of Delicate, featuring just… her. In a field. Mouthing lyrics in the sunlight. Lighting-wise it’s loads better than Chun-Li, but its still the visual equivalent of not giving a fuck. It’s clearly the one take, it’s a wrap, I gave people effort with the other video and they shat on me so here ya go kind of vibe. While the video sucks, the single does not and its tropical chill vibe makes it very easy listening.

Maroon 5, Wait

Leave it to notoriously narcissistic Adam Levine to nail the vertical selfie video on the head: utilize an entire array of Snapchat filters, pretend your band doesn’t exist, and just wander around your huge mansion rocking out to a catchy song and being cute. I know a few girls and gay men whose ovaries regularly explode over Adam Levine, and this video for Maroon 5’s Wait isn’t going to help their already battered reproductive areas any. The band did release another professionally shot video for Wait, which features the many looks of Alexandra Daddario and a truly fantastic closing montage, but this first one is a lighthearted romp full of charm and whimsy.