Random Youtube K-Hole: Domo Arigato, Missy Roboto

While robots in music videos is no longer an original theme, it’s always interesting when done right, and there’s a couple new music videos floating around out there that have pretty good visuals, starting with…

365 – Zedd (feat. Katy Perry)

When Taylor Swift came out  in 2017 to address her haters with a music video featuring her as an all powerful android, it made quite the splash. Not to be outdone, here’s Tay-tay’s arch-rival with her own version of redundant robot in her collaboration with  current hot property Zedd. I say redundant because she isn’t just a Stepford girlfriend, she’s a robot Stepford girlfriend which of course is too much of a good thing. Katy Perry is not known for her subtlety, but she does work hard to ensure the music videos she puts out are at least visually striking. While Taylor’s version was more Ghost in the Shell meets Westworld, 365 draws heavily from Black Mirror, with the mega DJ as a pretty believable human foil.

Nights Like This – Kehlani (feat. Ty Dolla Sign)

February was a good month for robot things, what with Alita: Battle Angel, the previous music video and  Kehlani also releasing a music video with a robotic theme. Technology and how it runs our lives has been a running theme since the nineties gave way to the millennium. Maybe it’s a reflection of the increasing disconnect we as a society feel from the everyday. Like 365, Nights Like This also borrows heavily from a Black Mirror-esque plotline.

All is Full of Love – Bjork

Bjorks All is Full of Love was released in 1999, and yet it’s as strikingly modern today as it was twenty years ago. Watching it then felt like being witness to a major breakthrough in visuals. I’ve read enough Vice articles on how wacko the dating world has become with all the dating apps out there, so watching it now in this day and age makes it seem almost prophetic, because this is what human interaction has become, now that we are all well and truly plugged into the matrix. Directed by Chris Cunningham (who also gave us Madonna’s Frozen), All is Full of Love is still the best music video featuring robots (and robot sex) out there, bar none.

ps. that said, my favourite robotic music video is Garbage’s The World is Not Enough, which I loved then, and still love now, although it may not have aged as well as Bjork’s oeuvre.

Random YouTube K-hole: Boys to Men

Random YouTube K-hole: Boys to Men

If your feed was filled with before/after photos of people you know this week, congratulations, you’ve just witnessed –  maybe even participated in – the How Hard Did Aging Hit You? challenge. Some said it was a ruse to train facial recognition algorithms (if it was, the joke’s on them because my Facebook profile pic is an illustration), but most took it as a chance to brag about how aging kissed them gently on the lips instead of beating them up with a two by four.

Anyway, it seems two of my favourite 90’s boybands heard the call, because they’re having a moment again, and thank baby jeebus for the treat.

I don’t think Westlife ever hit it big in the US, but luckily for me, I grew up in the Philippines. MTV Asia made no distinction whether the boyband was from the US or the UK – if they were cute and their songs were catchy, they’d get airtime because they knew young girls fall easily for handsome troubadours, and the more of them, the merrier.

If I Let You Go – Westlife

Something about the innocent imagery of If I Let You Go speaks to me the same way it did when it first came out twenty years ago. Look at the handsome Irish boys wading in the surf, singing about their fear of rejection! Swoon. (Hi Kian!) Bonus points for all that long-haired virility galloping in slo-mo along the sand astride horses. It was like the cover of a novel come to life.

Flying Without Wings – Westlife

I intended to share just one video from Westlife, but screw it, I’m including Flying Without Wings.  Because I’m a secret sap who responds to love songs that turn into choral anthems. Because I think a part of me will always be susceptible to ripped sleeves, floppy hair, toned biceps and piercing blue eyes. (Hi Kian!). And of course, because I can. Why haven’t I been to Ireland yet?

Hello My Love – Westlife

Westlife is back, all grown up and singing about gratefulness and age-appropriate choices, sending us all on a balloon-filled adventure over what looks like a discarded set from the original Star Trek TV show. I’m just happy to see them back together, having aged like fine wine. (Hi Kian!)

It takes more than good looks to make a boyband last – excellent song choices are very much a part of its success, with lyrics that can stand the test of time. Pop music gets a bad rap for being faddish and/or shallow, but the best pop songs are the ones that strike a common chord anywhere and across cultures. Westlife’s longevity is in a large part due to this attribute.

The Backstreet Boys are no slouches either. They’re as good at it now, as they were then.

Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) – Backstreet Boys

It actually took these guys a while to make any sort of dent on me. I’d enjoyed We’ve Got it Going On, and nothing brings a smile to my face quite like hearing the first few bars of Get Down (You’re the One for Me), but any doubts I may have had about throwing money away on a cassette (!) tape were over the moment Howie Durough bared his abs in the pouring rain. The boys brought it, and brought it hard in the third video off of their debut album, and it worked like gangbusters. I hared off to Lee Super Plaza first chance I got. Music videos: effectively marketing music to impressionable young girls since time immemorial.

All I Have to Give – Backstreet Boys

I’ve always needed a little more prodding than most, so when the boys came out with their sophomore album, I didn’t think I was going to get it. And then this video came out in all its bright-coloured, fedora-wearing, abs-baring glory, with Howie Durough promising to give me all he had to give. No more questions, your honour. Hello again, Lee Super Plaza.

No Place – Backstreet Boys

Oh, the blessing of boybands that stay strong and true.Even if it’s jarring to see them with wives and children, something which would’ve sent their fanbase into conniptions a couple of decades ago. They famously sang “Backstreet’s back, alright” – but the truth is the Backstreet Boys never really went anywhere… and thank goodness for that, because everyone always needs a little pop in their lives.

Random YouTube K-Hole: Aughty by Nature

Random YouTube K-Hole: Aughty by Nature

To me, 2001 feels like yesterday, not a space odyssey. If nothing else makes you feel old today, check out these younguns and their music video homages. So nice of them to respect their elders! And to think millennials get so much flak.

Lost in Japan – Shawn Mendes feat. Zedd

Confession: I barely remember Lost in Translation. This is a solid effort, but will Shawn Mendes’ fanbase even get the reference? It’s likely they’ll think it’s just him having fun doing Japanese karaoke, even with that total giveaway of a title. Hell, it took me about a minute into the vid to realize what I was seeing, but I’m like, old, so what do I know?

Fancy – Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX

Unlike Shawn Mendes’ ode to Sofia Coppola, Iggy’s oeuvre is pretty clear from the get-go. It technically shouldn’t be included in this post because the movie came out in 1995, but whatever with a capital W and if you don’t get it, you’re Clueless. That’s all I got.

Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande

It’s a video homage en Grande! Not one, not two, not three, but four movies get referenced, in a very legally-bringing -it -on-the-mean-girls-going-on-30 kind of way. While I don’t usually go for Ariana’s 24/7 sex kitten schtick (still don’t) this video is worth watching, if only for the part where Kris Jenner gets all meta as an overly excited stage mom. Bonus points for getting some of the actual stars to cameo, plus a little more for the sheer shade of leaving Lindsay Lohan completely out of it.

Random YouTube K-hole: … Baby One More Time

Random YouTube K-hole: … Baby One More Time

… Baby One More Time recently hit the big 2-0 (we are O-L-D!) and I’ve lost track of  the number of think pieces I’ve read about current times being so dark it’s left us all yearning for a happier, seemingly more innocent era. Can’t disagree with that, those days did seem a lot happier. Back when the hole in the ozone layer was still a tiny tear in the stocking of the atmosphere, everyone was buying McMansions, the Antarctic ice shelf was still for the most part frozen and polar bears were healthy, the ascendant music was pop, unapologetically bright and almost aggressively cheery. And why not? The internet hadn’t yet ruined everything, trolls were ugly little dolls with weird hair and social media was more about glitter fonts than data mining. The 80’s-90’s were awesome. Even New Kids on the Block, Anne-Marie and Charli XCX very biasedly say so.

80’s Baby – New Kids on the Block feat. Salt-n-Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Naughty by Nature

Things I would do if I’d won Lotto Max:  I would hire NKOTB to sing this to my grandma on her birthday. I’d want her on a a chair in the middle of the dance floor in Bethel Guest House with this blaring on the speakers, serenaded by the biggest boyband of the 80’s while the rest of us on the sidelines scream with delight.  She’ll be 88 next year. It’d be perfect.

ps. What’s a Sky Pager?

2002 – Anne-Marie

Aww, the early aughts! A charming mash-up of the era’s most recognizable lyrics,  Anne-Marie’s ode to dancing in the woods on the hood of a car with a plastic cup hits all the right notes. Bonus points for period-specific lip gloss – remember when the girls had mini oil slicks on our lips? MAC Lip Glass, Lancome Juicy Tubes? It’s a love letter to adolescence and everything that came with it. The stuntin’, the weird shades, the crazy bucket hats, the dawn of the midriff. Say what you will about Ed Sheeran, the little ginger Hobbit is responsible for some of the sweetest, catchiest tunes out there right now.

1999 – Charli XCX feat. Troye Sivan

The flashbackiest flashback of them all is brought to you by BMW, Lyft, Beats by Dre and the iPhone X. Charli XCX’s latest is a pop culture time capsule that has everything that ruled the 90’s: the iMac, Nokia, Casio Baby-G, Hanes, Skechers, the dancing baby and Justin Timberlake’s ramen noodle hair. But wait, there’s more! American Beauty,  Titanic, The Blair Witch Project, The Sims, TLC’s Waterfalls, the Spice Girls, bullet time, BSB… it’s like the 90’s partied till 3AM, mixed all sorts of alcohol and threw up in the gutter. Like I said, awesome.

Bonus: Check out Lauren Alaina’s Ladies in the 90’s if you’re want your throwback with a little more country twang!

Random YouTube K-Hole: F-bombs Away

Random YouTube K-Hole: F-bombs Away

Remember when the f-word was so bad, saying it made a body feel positively wicked? It’s gone mainstream and all the rebellious energy its use imparted seems to have gone. Well, mostly. It’s still a great way to express some pretty turbulent emotions, as today’s trio will proceed to demonstrate.

F*ck You – CeeLo Green

Sometimes there’s just no other thing to say, when the one you care about takes everything you thought mattered and tramples it in the dust. The best revenge is being successful, and CeeLo illustrates this in his sassy, snappy ode to a former girlfriend. Its genius is in the use of a gospel-tinged melody so upbeat, it almost makes us forget what the song is about and the aggressive lyrical message from a jilted lover to his ex and the man she left him for.

IDGAF – Dua Lipa

Bringing out the dual in Dua Lipa, IDGAF’s stylish music video illustrates the warring emotions that arise when dealing with a jerk who’s broken your heart and wants to come back. It’s an angry, f-bombing ode from a dumpee to a dumper, and Dua Lipa, unlike CeeLo, plays it with a sullen, disinterested, slow-burning anger, rather than glee.

GTFO – Mariah Carey

Finally, the music video that started this all, Mariah Carey is back in the hizzy with a drunken little ditty, and you know what, I’m liking it. It’s been a while since she’s released a single and an accompanying music video, and GTFO is billed as a “lighthearted first listen” of her latest album. If this is Mimi’s idea of lighthearted, she’s got some serious issues, but it’s catchy, with lyrics that belie her delicate vocals. She’s angry, but she’s not going to be trashy about it, she’s just going to down some red wine and run herself a bath like a well-balanced adult who looks a mite too big for the house she lives in, but whatever. I am not going to be able to stop listening to  this today.

Random YouTube K-Hole: Tank Girls

Random YouTube K-Hole: Tank Girls

What is with being a mermaid these days? Everyone is like my childhood friend who was so obsessed with Ariel from The Little Mermaid, he grew up, moved to Australia, became a drag queen and put together a show called The Little Merdrag. I’ve never been one for a tail, but I can see the attraction. Half naked, perpetually wet, sings like a nightingale? Boom, sex. And sex sells. Mermaids are everywhere, and my only explanation for the obsession with this particular magical creature is that we all came from the sea and some buried part of our subconscious yearns for it again. Or it could just all boil down to one word: pretty!

Cher, The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)

What better way to introduce this particular k-hole’s theme than Cher, with the theme song to the movie Mermaids? My mom rented this on VHS back when Tops and Bottoms had a whole section devoted to movies you could rent, like Dumaguete’s very own bootleg Blockbuster. (In hindsight, I don’t think any of those tapes were originals at all.) She got this along with Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, and I remember a young me having a raging crush on Michael Schoeffling, the cute gardener Winona Ryder obsesses over. I don’t blame her one bit for going crazy and seducing him in a bell tower on the day JFK was shot. To this day I still have no idea why the movie was called Mermaids although Cher dons a mermaid costume for Halloween and little Christina Ricci is a swimmer who almost drowns, but who cares?

Sade, No Ordinary Love

The alluring Sade Adu is a sea siren who seduces a sailor during Fleet Week. I’m assuming it was Fleet Week, why else is he in that fun little costume? Running barefoot through the gritty city streets because mermaids are immune to tetanus, Sade throws her own rice grains in anticipation of her own wedding, but Fleet Week is over, the sailor is gone and she’s left on the dock sadly chugging seawater, unaware of how plastic bottles would soon come to pollute the ocean. (It was the nineties, we hadn’t trashed this world quite as much just yet.) With that lovely, seductive beat, Sade’s sultry vocals and the alternating themes of sadness and hope, this is still the best depiction of a music video mermaid.

Lady Gaga, Yoü and I

Never mind Nebraska being completely landlocked, here’s Lady Gaga with fins and a tail thrashing around in a bathtub somewhere outside Omaha, because art! Art, and Taylor Kinney. Although anatomical realities make human to mermaid sexy times an impossibility, I’d try doing it anyway if it was with Taylor Kinney, wouldn’t you? Yoü and I is a mess, but it’s a glorious mess, all bionic haute couture, boy drag and piano-playing in the middle of a cornfield. Gaga toes the line between avant-garde and just plain weird, a balance only she could get away with. Ah, the halcyon days before Artpop.

Nicki Minaj feat. Ariana Grande, Bed

And finally, the clip that started this particular k-hole. Nicki Minaj goes from one slithery creature to another in her latest music video, from anaconda to mermaid! Bed, which features preternaturally pony-tailed Ariana Grande, has all the hallmarks of a Nicki Minaj video – boobs, butt, and highlighter for daaaaaaayyys.  Other than that, it’s your standard girl on the beach/sea-side condo, inviting you over for a little Netflix and chill. If Sade’s version was about true love, Nicki’s version is a drunken Tinder hook-up that’ll last for all of two hours before you’re both bidding each other goodbye, washing the sand out of your nethers and booking an appointment at the free clinic the very next day. Oh well. Mermaids!

Random YouTube K-Hole: Tears for Fears

Random YouTube K-Hole: Tears for Fears

I’d been waiting for the official video of Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty before posting this particular k-hole about songs that deal with a specific kind of emotional catharsis. But before getting to the country queen’s latest oeuvre, I’m getting in a time machine and going all the way back to the past when Aerosmith and Alicia Silverstone ruled the video airwaves…

Aerosmith, Crying

I don’t know what you’re all going on about us being oppressed, female power was just as alive in 1993 as it is today. Alicia Silverstone and her healthy blonde mane acts out after seeing a very young, very attractive, Stephen Dorff inhabiting his standard persona of douchebag-you’d-still-bone cheating on her in a movie theatre. Proving to him and everyone else, including the guy who attempts to steal her backpack (look, Josh Holloway!), that she’s not going to take any shit unless it’s on her terms, this was the first of Alicia’s video collaborations with Aerosmith. She would go on to star in Amazing, and Crazy, to similarly enthusiastic acclaim. With a killer video and sweet vocals, Cryin’ is the Teenage Dream video of the 90’s, before Katy Perry (intentionally? unintentionally?) got her revisionist mitts all over the disaffected teenager storyline.

Justin Timberlake, Cry Me A River

Way before he became the Man of the Woods, Justin Timberlake was living out a revenge fantasy featuring Britney Spears a blonde who famously breaks his heart. He denied the song was about Britney of course, but we all knew he was lying, Liza Minelli! For a brief moment in the early aughts, those two turned a number of pre- and post-pubescent teenagers into a screaming Tyra Banks meme. (We were all rooting for you in matching denim, damnit!). With the help of Timbaland, Mr. Timberlake breaks into a not-so-mysterious blonde’s home like a crazed stalker, tap dances all over her furniture, has sex with a stranger in her bedroom and spies on her while she’s in the shower. Rude! Also, creepy. This video would’ve aged pretty well if it wasn’t for that bulky-ass cam-corder, reminding us all of the lengths we used to go to just to record things for posterity.

Ariana Grande, No Tears Left to Cry

Known more for her vocal chops than eye-catchingly original music videos, Ariana Grande doesn’t do anything to upset that particular status quo in this, her latest video for No Tears Left to Cry. The concept is pretty much blonde Inception on the discarded set of Marvel’s Dr. Strange and it’s a complete disconnect from the song, but who needs concepts and connectivity when you have a new hair colour? It could be the bleach, it could be having a perpetual ponytail, whatever the cause, Miss Grande’s state of mind is up, down, and all around. A bit of a surprise banger, No Tears Left to Cry  is probably going to go on heavy rotation from here to eternity. And by eternity, I mean for the rest of the summer. She’s here, it’s queer, get used to it.

Carrie Underwood, Cry Pretty

And finally, the blonde that kickstarted today’s quintet. Round of applause for Miss Underwood (no relation to Frank) who is back with another country ballad about falling apart, wasting mascara into the process. I’m not sure what she meant by saying her face got all fucked up and she doesn’t look the same; I only hope she’s not suffering from some extreme form of body/face dysmorphia, because girl is still looking good. I know some people who are so gay they practically sweat glitter, but Carrie Underwood is going the extra mile by actually crying glitter tears while singing Cry Pretty. A bit on the nose, but way to commit to a concept!