Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Youtube Playlist

And now for something completely different.

For fun, I've put together a of various television and movie (and related) clips. These are mostly just odds and ends that don't really have anything in common except that they all have a strong music element. Some are parts of ad campaigns, some are nostalgic oddities from my childhood, and some are unclassifiable ephemera that wouldn't be showing up on this blog except in a form like this. However, I find them all very entertaining, and worth pointing out for recommendation. Hopefully, you'll find something in the mix that tickles your fancy too.

- In 1983, a group of young Japanese animators came together to create a special tribute video for a science fiction convention called Daicon. They'd done a more rudimentary short a few years earlier, called "Daicon 3," but nobody was expecting the massive leap in quality of "Daicon 4," still considered one of the most beloved touchstones of 80s anime fans and the otaku culture. And the animators who made it? They would go on to form Studio GAINAX, the creators of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and "Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagaan."

- Alice Cooper singing a love ballad duet with a bird puppet, from his appearance on "The Muppet Show" back in 1978. It was part of a string of appearances that were aiming to put the controversial rocker in settings that were incongruous with his dark rocker persona. The clip omits the punchline of the scene, but I don't think it needs it.

- "Square One Television" was a late 80s PBS children's show designed to teach math concepts. Using a combination of comedy sketches and video segments, "Square One" patterned itself after MTV. They made several parody music videos like this one. "Angle Dance," however, from my own recollection, had by far the most nerdy math puns.

- As every "Spinal Tap" fan knows, the members of that beloved parody heavy metal band are played by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. However, the trio also appear occasionally as an entirely different musical group, The Folksmen, who originated in a 1984 SNL sketch and went on to feature in 2003's folk music mockumentary, "A Mighty Wind." Here's their appearance on "Mad TV" promoting the movie. As with their appearances as Spinal Tap, it's hard to tell that these guys aren't the real thing.

- Satoshi Kon's 2003 anime is still one of the trippiest things I've ever seen. This extends to the exhilaratingly weird and appropriate opening credits sequence.

- An old "Sesame Street" film short, set to Janko Nilovic's "Portrait d'Un Robot," featuring old wind-up toys, (then) modern robots, space shuttles, and satellites.

- From Brian DePalma's "Carrie," this is the happiest moment in a movie better remembered for its bloody horrors - Carrie's first dance at the prom. In addition to the technically impressive spinning shot, Sissy Spacek and William Katt are at their most lovable. The song playing is "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me," sung by Katie Irving.

- A quick and charmingly unpolished music video put together for the soundtrack of the 2009 "Sherlock Holmes" movie. I love that we not only get to see composer Hans Zimmer at work, but many of the musicians behind the scenes who contributed to the score.

- A morbidly funny French animated short from Stephanie Marguerite & Emilie Tarascou about a man who has a little problem with drinking too much coffee. The song is by Oldelaf & Mr D.

- Another little oddball bit of marketing material, a music video from the director and leads of "(500) Days of Summer," for a song written and sung by Zooey Deschanel as part of the "She & Him" indie duo. Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt keep popping up together in various little one-off projects like this, but "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here" is my favorite of their collaborations. I even like it better than "(500) Days of Summer."

- Accordion act breaks should happen more often in real life.

- Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz" was one of the more overlooked films of 2012, probably because of its difficult subject matter. The film has a lot of flaws, but then it also has moments like this, where Michelle Willaims and Luke Kirby's characters go to an amusement park. This may be the best use of The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" ever.
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