… and your video kicks for free
Arcade Fire – the mere mention of these words lately seems to bring out bloggers and commentators in a rash of hastily-slung insults and rabidly constructed defences. First, there was their by-all-accounts limp Oxegen performance; then they had the temerity to announce a date in the O2, follow it up with a second (after the first sold out in nanoseconds), and they had the cheek to charge €75 for the privilege (Jim Carroll and On the Record have been doing a grand job of stoking that particular Arcade Fire here).
Now, though, with a nose for publicity that Max Clifford would no doubt admire, the Fire are back in whatever passes for headlines in these digital days (Tweets? Status updates? Random binary pulses?) but for the right reasons – the video for their track We Used to Wait, which is really rather brilliant.
The online video is optimised for Google Chrome (I got it working fairly smoothly on Safari and Firefox last night, though) and you’ll need a fairly decent laptop with a nimble enough processor to make it run as smooth as Keira Knightley’s cheeks. But I think it’s worth it, so check it out here.
The video asks you for your childhood address and then harnesses Google Maps to make a hooded figure sprint around your hometown, like a cooler, fitter, Rocky Part One-er version of your teenage self (if this was an accurate video of my childhood I would have been moodily stalking around a field in spray-on black jeans and whatever Sepultura T-shirt was vaguely clean at the time, while glowering at the nature and stony grey soil, but that is a very different post for a different blog). You can even punish him by making him do repeated laps of whatever bit of structure takes your fancy. The video also asks you to write a message to your teenage self, and there’s all sorts of other fancy birds in flight graphics.
Now there are those who will groan in despair at the angst of it all, but I think the whole thing is very slick, quite sweet, and it made me interested in this band again (their latest album hasn’t done much to stoke my interest). Developers and designers and the like are very excited about the fact that it’s made in HTML5, which is apparently the future for computer coding and not a Simon Cowell-managed reincarnation of Five Star. Admittedly, the limited Google Maps coverage in Ireland means the video may not live up to its full potential if you were born in Hackballscross, say. However, it looks and feels like a major departure in terms of music videos and serves to illustrate how far we’ve come from the days when computer graphics in music videos were revolutionary, MTV was still relevant, and people actually paid good money for good music.
This Arcade Fire video made me appreciate and like the song an awful lot more than mere listens, and it had a decent amount of emotional content. A rare thing in a music video, although there are exceptions, so I’ll leave you with my favourite below (and no surprises here at all). So is the Arcade Fire video as much fun as I think it is, and what are the music videos that you can’t stop pressing play on?