Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend video(s): Thomas Dolby

Usually I try to post cool performance clips I've found, but for some reason this video crossed my mind the other day and I had to seek it out and watch it. Truth is, the only reason I'm posting this is so I can email the link to my brother and he'll laugh his ass off.

I hadn't listened to any of Dolby's music in many years, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it holds up fairly well. It's definitely a product of the eighties, but whereas much of the pop music from that era sounds dated due to the technology employed, Dolby's canned beats and synthesised "horns" sound sharp and bright, rather than the thin, tinny sounds that tend to bog down the music of his contemporaries.

As for the song itself it's... well it's clearly written by a producer. The arrangement is completely overstuffed. The lyrics are filled with clever puns and metaphors, but it's all just a bit too clever. Albums written by producers are kind of like movies directed by cinematographers: even the good ones are more surface than substance, more sounds than songs, more shots than script. Still, this one's fun and elaborately decorated, and bears up to a few repeat listens.

I think the most frustrating thing about the video is that too much time is spent on the kooky story about the reporter's dream. Whatever. I want to see more of the band. That singer rules.

The first time I ever heard Thomas Dolby was when I saw this video on Top of the Pops as a kid. I liked any videos with a lot of broad visual gags, and this one's over the top. To match the song, in which the entire chorus is sung in a chipmunk voice. Again, very Dolby, very slick and multi-layered production, although this one without the faux-ethnic accents that make the above song such a treat. But you don't watch something like this for the song; it's all about those ridiculous cheap video effects.

Which, come to think of it, may not have been very cheap at the time. For all I know this was the cutting edge of video editing technology.

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