Category Archives: Videographies

Exploring the symbolism of hats with Ne-Yo

You should be careful what hat you wear. Their meanings are many and diverse. And who better to guide us through this minefield of symbolism than Ne-Yo, at Number One again this week, who’s only ever seen without a hat on pain of death.

When we first meet Ne-Yo in Stay he’s expressing his humble roots and hard songwriting graft in a series of brightly coloured baseball caps. By So Sick he’s moved on to a woolly white beanie, which I’m not sure symbolises anything other than it looks fucking cold. In When You’re Mad a daring straw donkey’s hat comes into play, a reminder perhaps of Freud’s assertion that hats represent the male genitals. Mind you it’s often quicker to list the things that Freud DIDN’T say represented the male genitals. Later in the video a black beret appears – a clear statement from Ne-Yo, in the wake of his first flush of success, that he has fully become an artist.

It’s back to a plain black cap in Sexy Love, which sees Ne-Yo snogging girls and ignoring eviction notices in a dank apartment. In the same video there’s a sudden switch to a black fedora – the rags-to-riches narrative is clear. Because Of You is a greatest hits of hats so far but the one that catches my eye is the ‘tea-cosy’, presumably representing the security he feels in his nice new relationship. Then in Do You it’s time at last for a soft flat cap, imbued with all the wistfulness for days gone by that’s redolent in the song.

It’s a holiday fedora (!) for Can We Chill, in which Ne-Yo’s on location and chatting up every girl in sight. I think you can get those from machines on Blackpool Prom. Go On Girl seems to feature a plastic trilby – a comment no doubt on the superficiality of modern relationships in celebrity America. As a reaction perhaps, Closer launches Ne-Yo’s ‘Year of the Gentleman’ with a selection of gutter-dented fedoras, representative of a golden age of manners and romance. I like the cream one.

Miss Independent is an ode to female empowerment so we see Ne-Yo working in an office that’s otherwise staffed entirely by, er, leggy lovelies. Consequently his hat stays rakishly bent, perhaps expressing the angle of his penis. In Mad Ne-Yo has DIED and wears the sombre black hat appropriate to that state while regretfully haunting his lover and dwelling on that row they had. In a rare moment of equality his girlfriend gets to wear a hat too, but of course it’s a widow’s veil that she sports while clawing hysterically at his freshly dug grave. Part Of The List is a beautiful song and has a classy video to go with it. The hat is almost immaterial. I don’t mean that it’s flimsy. I mean it doesn’t matter.

Ne-Yo has all sorts of superpowers as part of the baffling theme for his last album – in Beautiful Monster he’s all force-blasts, icy rays and slow-mo tussles. But that’s besides the point; in his fight with the beautiful monster herself his hat gets shockingly blown off. As, presumably, does Ne-Yo after the cameras have rolled. Thankfully the hat’s back in Champagne Life – a fetching brown one to symbolise the richness and decadence of a millionaire lifestyle. Then it’s a shorter, almost porkpie hat in the lovely One In A Million, symbolising brutishness as he sex-pests his way around the city in pursuit of an understandably grumpy Galen Hooks.

So, the final stretch. And finality’s on everyone’s mind in Give Me Everything, an existential look at the last night of your life delivered in a reassuring Gatsby cap from the halfway-up-the stairs position favoured for bleak explorations of mortality since the days of the Muppets. I can’t even screencap most of Lazy Love as it’s basically soft porn in a hot tub, but you can see from the image above that the cap visor is as hard as everything else. And now there’s Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself), a frankly terrible song in which Ne-Yo dons a sober black fedora for a shameful bit of mansplaining. Honestly, I used to say that you could stick on anything from his catalogue for an example of how to write the perfect middle eight – well not any more, this one’s a repetitive shower of shit that nothing can redeem. Go back and listen to Part Of The List to find out how it’s done. And for the rest of this album campaign the solution for Ne-Yo is obvious. More hats. New hats. Let’s see a Balmoral. A tin helmet. An ushanka even. The symbolism need never end.

When animals attack Shakira

Shakira loves animals. But nature is cruel! Earlier this year she was attacked by a sealion who, she reckons, mistook her BlackBerry for a fish. She escaped with only a small scrape to her hand but of course the whole thing could have been fatal. 

Then the other week she posted a picture of herself cosying up to a killer whale. It seems she’s learnt nothing. Worse, there was no sign of her on Facebook or Twitter for days afterwards. We were all very worried.

So for all our sakes I’ve gone through her videos to find out just how much animal danger she’s been putting herself in through the years.

The video for her very first single Estoy Aquí opens with a shot of a chicken. Perhaps you think that’s an innocuous sort of an animal. No – in 2011 a man was stabbed to death by a chicken in California.

No Creo finds her petting a dog on a lawn. Harmless enough? Think again. In 2008 a man was shot dead by a dog in Texas.

In Ojos Así we see a snake – it’s all set up to look like Shakira’s charming it but we never see them in the same shot. That’s probably best. Four years ago a Louisiana guitar enthusiast tripped over a snake and fell into a toilet.

In Whenever, Wherever of course she dances in the path of a horsey stampede. Oh Shakira. A few months ago a horse blew up a medical centre in Kentucky.

There’s a matador dream sequence in Te Dejo Madrid as Shakira runs – with scissors! – from a stock footage bull, before breaking to play the harmonica. Last year a spillage of bull semen on a Tennessee highway caused traffic delays of several hours.

Dia de Enero sees her hanging out with a flock of deadly GULLS. Only two weeks ago a gang of gulls stole a Greggs steak bake from a teenage girl in Kirkcaldy high street.

And so She Wolf. It’d be churlish to complain about this one when a) it’s one of the best pop videos of all time b) the wolf only pops up briefly and isn’t on set with Shakira c) it’s all about getting in touch with your inner animal anyway. Shakira’s inner animal is amazing. And besides, in a much more interesting story than that football one that’s always being trotted out, wolves once brought peace to the First World War trenches.

NO, SHAKIRA!

Manners cost nothing – with Kylie Minogue

The first thing that came to mind when Kylie’s new video Timebomb launched last week was: you’ve changed, Kylie. There she was, swanning around, knocking people’s possessions out of their arms without a care in the world, stealing phones with a grin and jogging along filming herself… it’s not a good look.

What happened to that gentle girl who used to spend her videos having a little tidy up and a nice bubble bath, I wondered. So for all our sakes, but especially for Kylie’s, I’ve gone through her video catalogue to find the roots of this selfish new behaviour.

Scour the first ten years of Kylie’s career and you’ll find nothing but sweetness. There’s only a single scowl, as she flounces out of her bar job in It’s No Secret. And even that’s justified, in response to a grabby customer, so no-one could say a rot had set in.

And then finally in 1997, Kylie snaps. We find her Bonnie & Clydeing it up with Dexter Fletcher in Some Kind Of Bliss. We see her unleash her tendencies for hair-pulling, chair-throwing and general self-inflicted violence in Did It Again. And with her indie phase out of the way, Kylie returns to pop a new, inconsiderate woman.

As she writhes on the bar in Spinning Around there’s clearly no thought spared for hygiene or the welfare of other patrons. Hair everywhere, shoes on a work surface (possibly even following a trip to the Ladies), and we all know those hotpants go right up her crack. Don’t have the peanuts.

In On A Night Like This she deliberately smashes Rutger Hauer’s vase. To be fair, he’d left it lying around on the floor and wasn’t paying her much attention, but still. And in Please Stay she dances in stiletto heels on a pool table. That’s going to need resurfacing.

But is Come Into My World the worst offender? A blithe, indifferent Kylie saunters around a Paris intersection, duplicating herself with every circuit. And each new iteration of Kylie causes doubles of everyone around her to appear too, so that a potentially limitless amount of people going up and down ladders, throwing mattresses out of windows and fighting in scooter helmets is spawned. Ah, you might say, but Kylie’s just caught up in this madness like everyone else. Think again. She’s the centre of this universe – we watch from its core, whirling slowly around as she sings to us and pays no attention to the chaos around her even as every dropped shopping bag warps the world again. This impossible smearing of possible quantum states cannot hold – reality will be destroyed, and Kylie will take us all down with her. Come into my world indeed.

Then in Giving You Up, shortly before transforming into a twenty-foot woman, Kylie stops traffic – literally just to wiggle her arse at it. An abuse of the sanctity of the Belisha Beacon. And in All The Lovers, Kylie causes mayhem as people strip off and snog all around her, like in one of those Star Trek episodes where everyone gets a lust virus. More to the point, they spill coffee, milk and, er, marshmallows on her account. Someone’s going to have to clean that lot up.

All of which brings us here. Here, to her solipsistic Timebomb. Oh Kylie. For the love of God. (Good song.)

Kate Bush: Careers Officer

Are YOU a recent school leaver or graduate? Maybe you’re one of the long term unemployed, or have just been made redundant. Over the course of 30 years’ worth of pop videos, Kate Bush has tried out literally dozens of careers. So let’s see what we can learn from her adventures in the world of employment…

PLASTICS TESTER (Breathing)

Duties: You’ll be responsible for testing the durability and permeability of semi-rigid plastic structures Pros: Based in lovely rural surroundings with picnic area and free swimming facilities Cons: Possible radiation sickness Skills required: Patience, timing, lungs

SOLDIER (Army Dreamers)

Duties: War Pros: A very popular ‘bring your children to work’ policy is in operation, even on battle days Cons: Explosions Skills required: Stealth, shooting, dying

COMMUNITY EVENTS OFFICER (Sat In Your Lap)

Duties: Working with community members from disadvantaged backgrounds, you’ll encourage them to learn fun skills such as roller-skating, tumbling and performance arts Pros: You’ll work towards a final performance at which everyone can put their new abilities into practice Cons: Short term contract Skills required: Interpretative dance; general circus

TOUR OPERATOR – AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK (The Dreaming)

Duties: Lead a group of holidaymakers on the famous Aboriginal ‘Walkabout’ Pros: Spiritual awakening Cons: Catering facilities are limited Skills required: Ability to interpret local culture, ideally through dance

SECURITY CONSULTANT (There Goes A Tenner)

Duties: Test the robustness of financial institutions’ security arrangements through the staging of robberies Pros: A real sense of adventure Cons: Late hours Skills required: Tactical thinking, team leadership, boilersuit

BARN ASSISTANT (Suspended in Gaffa)

Duties: You’ll be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a lovely sunlit barn Pros: It’s a lovely sunlit barn! Cons: The farm is located on the borders of an interstitial vortex into which you may occasionally spin off Skills required: Interpretative dance

WEATHER MANAGER (Cloudbusting)

Duties: Responsible for facilitating appropriate weather conditions in agricultural areas, working initially as part of a team with a senior rainmaker Pros: Plenty of fresh air Cons: Frequent and rigorous Ministry inspections Skills required: Ability to operate and transport heavy machinery

PARTY PLANNER (Hounds Of Love)

Duties: Help people living in wooded areas to celebrate special occasions in a meaningful way Pros: Fun! Cons: Budget is limited so a few cheap party hats and balloons will often have to suffice Skills required: Intermediate tango

SKYWATCHER (The Big Sky)

Duties: Reporting to a team of astronauts and aviators, you’ll be responsible for keeping an eye on the celestial realm Pros: A bacofoil jumpsuit and a massive fuck-off pair of binoculars are standard issue Cons: We don’t have a dedicated observatory so you’ll be required to work on rooftops in all weather conditions. Occasional cricked neck Skills required: A good sense of balance and a head for heights are essential

EXTREME SOUND ENGINEER (Experiment IV)

Duties: Working secretly for the military, you’ll investigate the possibilities of developing a lethal sonic weapon Pros: You will have the opportunity to experiment on live subjects Cons: As with any experimental radiophonic work, there’s a possibility you’ll be sucked into the machinery and become a sort of sonic sprite. You will also be required to make tea Skills required: Music GCSE

LITERARY INTERPRETER (The Sensual World)

Duties: You’ll be required to create new versions of popular literary passages. They must evoke the original but be different enough to avoid copyright complications – the ideal candidate will be able to make the words really step out of the page! Pros: Your creativity will have full reign Cons: We will occasionally require you to work in burning woodland Skills required: Powers o’er a woman’s body; must not be allergic to peaches or seedcake

THIS WOMAN’S WORK – Ironically Kate is unemployed in this video.

TOUR OPERATOR – CARIBBEAN (Eat The Music)

Duties: Involve your tour group in traditional activities including ‘looking at fruit’, ‘dancing on fruit’ and ‘passing out on fruit’ Pros: The fruit is plentiful! Cons: There’s just so much fruit Skills required: Fruit

DANCE INSTRUCTOR (The Red Shoes)

Duties: You’ll have sole responsibility for running practice sessions and assisting stray dancers from other dimensions Pros: Dance studio comes fully equipped with magic mirror Cons: Devils Skills required: None, but appropriate footwear is essential

AVIAN VET (And So Is Love)

Duties: Ensure wellbeing of birds Pros: The birds do not object to having their little bodies kissed Cons: The birds do tend to die Skills required: Lamp-lighting

WARDROBE CURATOR – GRACELAND MUSEUM (King Of The Mountain)

Duties: Keep Elvis’s famous outfits in good order, ensuring that clothes are secure and all windows closed on windy days Pros: Dancing with the clothes is permitted Cons: You will be required to undertake damage limitation in the event of any new Elvis rumours surfacing Skills required: General laundry

HIMALAYAN HERITAGE OFFICER (Wild Man)

Duties: Working closely with local lamas, you’ll be responsible for managing public perception of the ‘Yeti’ brand Pros: Free coat Cons: Snowy conditions can lead to a difficult working environment Skills required: Animal husbandry, brand awareness, tea-making

Health and Safety with Jason Derulo

Poor Jason Derulo’s gone too far this time, as the below tweet shows. And we’re all very aroused sorry to see him so helpless in a neck brace and hospital gown. Let’s take a look at the health and safety record of his videos so far to see if he’s been taking many other risks. Because accidents are ALWAYS avoidable.

Jason Derulo with fractured neck

Whatcha Say: When not looking pensive on a sofa or standing in doorways ruing his foolish infidelity, Jason indulges in some very risky dancing on a narrow, unsecured fire escape.

Hazard rating: 7/10

In My Head: Dancing on a wet road outside a store, when a car could pull up at any moment. Stopping distances are at least doubled in damp conditions, Jason!

Hazard rating: 6/10

Ridin’ Solo: Even if Jason doesn’t take someone’s eye out with those spikes, driving at night with sunglasses on almost guarantees a tragedy.

Hazard rating: 9/10

What If: Yes, we KNOW Jason reverses time in this video so that his lovely girlfriend doesn’t get splattered on the road. But it should never have happened in the first place.

Hazard rating: 10/10 or 0/10, depending on timeline

The Sky’s The Limit: “It’s very dangerous to fire energy weapons in an enclosed space.”

Hazard rating: 3/10

Don’t Wanna Go Home: Another day, another slippery puddle. :-(

Hazard rating: 4/10

It Girl: NO, Jason!

Hazard rating: 8/10

Breathing: He’s going to catch his death standing around half-naked in that draughty warehouse. If he doesn’t break his arm doing handstands on that wall first. Oh Jason.

Hazard rating: 10/10

Fight For You: Finally, as though Jason doesn’t put himself in enough danger, his date in his last video decides to push a glass off the work surface while they’re snogging, FOR NO REASON AT ALL. Subsequent scenes of picking shards of glass out of each others’ feet not shown.

Hazard rating: 8/10

Get well soon, Jason!

Janet Jackson’s Homes & Gardens

Janet Jackson’s video for Control opens with a scene in which she argues with her parents about leaving home. She’s seen a real cute apartment in Westwood, she says, but her dad’s having none of it and insists she shouldn’t be living by herself. Spurning her mum’s hot cooking, Janet flounces out. In many of her subsequent videos, we get to see where she’s living. But was she right to ignore her parents’ advice? How’s her housekeeping? Let’s find out…

Let’s Wait Awhile: Never mind Westwood CA, the next time we see Janet she’s in an expensive-looking apartment in New York. We get to see a bit of it when she’s not too busy protesting her virginity, and it looks nice and clean. But can she keep up the standard?

The Pleasure Principle: Janet’s moved into an enormous, ridiculous duplex warehouse conversion. There are four cars in her lounge! When she kicks over a chair and strides upstairs to the mezzanine floor we see, instead of a bed, a large sculpted arch, perhaps representing her own ‘pleasure principle’. And famously, her mirror is in shreds. Her mother would be disappointed.

2300 Jackson Street: Has Janet admitted defeat? Here she is back at home with her family. Although confusingly they’re her real parents and siblings, not the ones from the Control video. I’m going to have to discount this as improbable on the grounds of not being fictional enough.

Miss You Much: No fixed abode (she’s in rehearsals).

(I like the Wikipedia description for this one: “Jackson enters the room and her dancers look at her. One dancer asks Jackson what she has been up to. She calls them nosey, and then demonstrates her love through song and dance.”)

Rhythm Nation: No fixed abode (breaking into factories).

Escapade: No fixed abode (hanging around at a Mardi Gras).

Alright: In a shock twist at the end of this video, we see that Janet has become homeless and is sleeping on a bench, dreaming of the 1930s. Were her parents right after all? :-(

Come Back To Me: Seeking her fortune elsewhere, Janet’s now skulking around an apartment in Paris of all places. Open the drapes and the windows a bit love, it’s a nice day! I mean I know she’s depressed, wallowing in memories of her boyfriend and all, but even in the flashbacks they’re eating off the floor! One word: FURNITURE.

Black Cat: No fixed abode (she’s in performance).

Love Will Never Do Without You: No fixed abode (frolicking on a beach).

That’s The Way Love Goes: Back in a spacious American home, either Janet’s living in a commune or she’s throwing some sort of stoner party. I’d clear those people out, Janet, they’re helping themselves to your stuff and wearing your sofa leather out. And keep an eye on that J-Lo.

If: No fixed abode (pervy nightclub).

Again: Appropriately for perhaps Janet’s loveliest song, it’s her nicest home yet. All sundrenched with adobe walls, wicker furniture, white linen and an adorable boyfriend. The only moment that briefly startles us from the reverie is when he pulls a necklace out of her crotch.

Because of Love: No fixed abode (tour montage).

Any Time, Any Place: Janet’s back in an apartment block, playing at peephole voyeurism with the fella in the opposite flat, letting herself in and having it off in a red chair. If that weren’t debauched enough, she’s back to her old bad habits of eating off the floor.

You Want This: Perhaps thrown out of the last apartment for obvious reasons, Janet’s now living out of a suitcase in a motel, with a girl gang. They pass the time by driving around the desert in sports cars terrorising men. She has quite literally lost all sense of right or wrong.

Whoops Now: No fixed abode (boating in Anguilla).

Scream: Janet’s parents have clearly stepped in by this point. “It’s just gone too far, hasn’t it Janet? Time you moved in with your brother.” But what with Michael Jackson being a bonkers popstar too, they end up living on a spaceship. Despite its futuristic charms — anti-grav Zen garden, interactive sculptures, room full of guitars and all — neither of them seem happy and it’s no time at all before Janet’s trying to break the toilet by jumping on it and Michael’s smashing all the vases.

Runaway: Back in New York in a modest, happy apartment (there’s a bike by the window and a cute dog), Janet’s still in thrall to her wild urges and jumps out of the window, having developed some sort of superpower of leaping between continents. Is it time we accepted she’s not a natural homemaker?

Twenty Foreplay: No fixed abode (swanning about in Hollywood).

Got ’til it’s Gone:  No fixed abode (putting things to rights in South Africa).

Together Again (Deeper Remix): Janet’s in a particularly lavish and beautiful apartment complex now. Well, lavish and beautiful as long as you don’t mind caterpillars crawling around everywhere.

I Get Lonely: No fixed abode. Wind tunnel & black bra.

Go Deep: What is Janet thinking?! She barges into a h0me-alone teenage boy’s house and holds a party! Disappointingly it turns out that she’s only done this in his dream, after he fell asleep fantasising about her. In this context the scene in which she and the lad both get covered in foam is most amusing. She’s like Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

Every Time: Hard to see the rest of the house, but she’s got a massive bath. Hopefully she won’t drown in it as Britney did in her own bath-based video for a song of the same name.

Doesn’t Really Matter: No fixed abode (getting freaky in Tokyo, although she sends a postcard home which we see going unread and trampled on).

All For You: No fixed abode (cartoon world with what appears to be a branch of Morrison’s in it).

Someone To Call My Lover: No fixed abode (on the road).

Son of a Gun: No fixed abode (on a voodoo rampage with Missy Elliott).

I Want You: No fixed abode (wandering through neighborhood).

All Nite (Don’t Stop): Further than ever from her mother’s dreams, Janet is seen living in a dirty squat with her new friends. They’ve got a good soundsystem, a lone sofa and a glitterball, but that’s about it.

Call on Me: No fixed abode (quinquereme with Nelly)

So Excited: Still living in a dirty squat, still kicking chairs over, and now Khia’s moved in too — her influence on Janet is all too clear, as she wanders around topless and has sex by a filthy urinal.

And that’s it. No subsequent Janet videos show us where she’s living. It’s 25 years since she turned her back on her parents, and this is where she ends up. Let’s remind ourselves of that fateful initial conversation, and let’s have a little think about our own life choices at the same time.