Tuesday, June 06, 2006

UNKLE featuring Thom Yorke - Rabbit In Your Headlights (2003)

***1/2 (of four)

I can spend weeks, it seems like, without ever happening upon a true high-quality music video on the major networks. That's when I break out my Directors Label DVD collections. Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Mark Romanek, Stephane Sednaoui - all are worth owning for any fan of the music video medium. Perhaps the briefest and most bizarre collection belongs to director Jonathan Glazer, whose most famous videos are Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" and Radiohead's "Karma Police."

"Rabbit In Your Headlights," from British trip-hop act UNKLE, is more a short film than a music video, with dialogue and sound effects frequently drowning out the music itself. A seemingly homeless man in a parka is walking through a highway tunnel, muttering to himself in traffic lanes. A few cars narrowly avoid hitting him, but soon the carnage begins - one car sideswipes the man, and he goes flying. But he gets back up, keeps walking and is soon nailed head on again.

Three or four more times this happens, and just when it appears he's about to collapse, he removes his clothing and continues walking. The next car that hits him - in the true money shot of the video - is demolished on impact, while the naked homeless man stands unharmed, arms outstretched in a Christ-figure pose.

The meaning of all this could be as complex as figuring out the metaphysical mysteries of the universe or as simple as enjoying the image of a man being hit by a car, but the cumulative visual effect of Glazer's video is miraculous and fascinating no matter how you approach it. And, if you're a fan of Radiohead, you're sure to enjoy the audio side of things as well.

Lil Jon featuring E-40 and Sean Paul of the YoungbloodZ - Snap Yo Fingers (2006)

** (of four)

It's been well over two years, and you still can't go to a bar in the suburbs without hearing drunk white boys impersonating Dave Chappelle impersonating Lil Jon and his three one-word catchphrases. ("Yayyyuhh!!" "Ohhh-KAY!!!" "Whattt??!") He's become this sick, cliched comic icon, and even though Lil Jon's persona immediately leant itself to imitation, Jon shows no signs of adding anything new to the mix. He still rocks the huge sunglasses, the dreads, the gold chains, the platinum teeth and the chalice full of Patron. Still gleefully gets on everyone's nerves.

Still, there's something oddly endearing about this idiot, and his hoarsely shouted choruses and simple synth lines have an element of catchiness. You can't take Lil Jon's music seriously, but you know it's not meant to be taken seriously either, so you can't exactly hate it. It's just's some dumbass shit that's there to be endured and possibly even enjoyed through a chemical buzz of any sort.

Hype Williams, still in his double-letterbox phase, nonetheless leaves the top and bottom bars black for most of the "Snap Yo Fingers" video. The rappers and handful of dancers mug in front of a blue screen on an empty soundstage, while spastic color tracers surround them and multihued strobe lights flash. It's not intolerable or outrageous, just somewhere in between. And you can be sure you'll hear a "Yayyyuhh!!" an "Ohhh-KAY!!!" and a "Whattt??!" before the video's end.