MTV Generation

There was a time when it was possible to watch MTV without the torture of having to see reality shows inserted between music video programs. These reality shows, with shallow and overused plots revolving around a bunch of kids and their teenage angst have been the staple of music channels for years. Blame the shift on generation taste. The kids-turned-adults who now tune in to other cable channels are the ones who never changed.

But things were different over a decade ago. Being denied access to technology and budget to produce expensive videos, directors were often forced to harness their creativity to make up for the shortfall. Artistically rendered music videos with sublime and hidden stories could trigger a discourse on pop culture among children. Good merits heavily depended on how the song made sense after its music video interpretation.

Before MTV, there was the Video Hits Parade on Channel 2. Mom and I used to watch the show to pass time on lazy weekends. When Skycable finally linked our television sets with the rest of the world, one of the first music videos I saw was Alanis Morisettes' Ironic. The video was plain and there was nothing much to see. It features Morisette on a roadtrip with her three clones playing as passengers. A pastiche of her other selves doing silly things while singing the song form most of the scenes. For an average kid today, the video would not even struck a chord. But for us back then it was a trendsetter.

Ironic would go down in history as one of the best music videos of 1996. The end product maybe a far cry from Lady Gaga's creations but then, it may have inspired dozens of artists including the Fame Monster to stick with their dream and become performers themselves in the future.

In following the footsteps of lady Beckham, here are my top five music videos.

December 2 Chapter VII
Taken By Cars

Literal meanings of the song may have been lost to interpretation, but the video did not. Behind the bubble gum symbolisms, a hooded fox chasing an androgynous girl, soft lights twinkling in the dark and a wailing lady singing at the background is a brooding suicidal theme centered around the inescapable despair of loneliness.

Final Distance
Utada Hikaru

The Japanese have always been masters of rendering scenes with surreal elements. Final Distance is a ballad dedicated to Rena Yamashita, a young girl who was brutally stabbed in a school rampage in Japan. To reflect what Utada have felt at the senseless killing, (the girl had previously mentioned that she wanted to become a song writer like Utada when she grows up) Hikaru created two limbo-like worlds in the music video where the main protagonist is coddled by grotesque figures but remain trapped in her own prison. Before the video end, the protagonist reunites with her other self setting off the camera to pan out and reveal that the worlds were actually a floating island drifting in space.

Smashing Pumpkins

Gone is the age romanticized in this video. It follows a day in the life of three disaffected kids driving around in a Dodge Charger.

The music video is based on the concept of an idealized version of a teenage life, while also trying to capture the feeling of being bored as a teenager. The video struck me hard when I was in college. Somehow I understood the hidden message which was to enjoy the sights of life for one will never pass the same road again.

Billy Corgan once lamented "The video was the closest we've ever come to realizing everything we wanted" True to his words, we remember 1979 now as the Golden Age of Alternative music genre.

I Don't Want To Wait
Paula Cole

Paula Cole's music video depicts an immortal woman living through different times only to see her lovers cross the afterlife. Each period rolls into a new age when she runs around a room full of clocks. The fine gowns representing Elizabethan, Baroque and Pre-War periods capture one's imagination of timelessness. Her dance steps at the beginning (with Cole's arms flailing like the hands of time) mimics how things change while the protagonist remains the same. I used to spend an entire day tuned in to MTV just to see this video, but my efforts were all in vain. I Don't Want To Wait was the least aired in the music channel among my top five.

Here is Gone
Goo Goo Dolls

This video has produced a cult following. In my opinion, Here is Gone echoes 1979's concept of an idealized version of a teenage life. But the difference lies with how the coming of age took many forms and symbols here: the crawling caterpillar at the beginning turning into a moth at the song's closing, the time lapse shot of the sun as it journeys across the sky, a boy hurling a pebble hitting a road sign that says "end," a woman dancing on top of a broken car. For its rich imagery and feel good sound, Here is Gone stays as my favorite music video of all time.