Mez recently wrote about her favourite music videos, and I wanted to reciprocate. The only trouble was, such a post as this wasn't suited to either of those blogs, so it's getting written here instead.
I wrote in comments over on that post that, growing up, my family didn't have satellite TV so I didn't have access to MTV and VH1, and with them a lot of music videos. My taste in music was limited to what I was exposed to, and music videos were hard to come by.
That said, with access to the internet since my late teenage years I have tried to go back and find videos -- when it occurs to me -- for my favourite songs.
In no particular order:
It's an uncomfortable truth for a lot of people, but I always like Hole better than Nirvana.
Hole were more than just Courtney Love. Eric Erlandson was (and, probably, still is) a brilliant song writer and this album also drew on the talents of people including Billy Corgan and Linda Perry. For some, this album wasn't as good as the raw grunge of Live Through This, but for me it was an album of its time: to make another album exactly the same would have sounded ridiculous. Celebrity Skin was a great song, with some typical Hole-lyrics ("Cinderella they aren't sluts like you") and harmonies from Melissa Auf der Maur. The video makes the song even better.
The video brings together all the best parts of the song.
Celebrity Skin, Hole
I have issues with both Hole and Smashing Pumpkins these days, since the failed solo careers of Courtney Love and Billy Corgan encouraged them to restart their old bands, but leaving out some critical members. I was OK with the Smashing Pumpkins relaunch (mostly) while it involved Jimmy Chamberlain, since it was his powerhouse drumming that gave them such a distinctive sound.
Band politics aside, there are many great videos for the Pumpkins. Do you choose the videos where the talented Mr Corgan still has hair, or the later almost Addams Family stylings of the (pretty lousy) album "Adore"? The obvious choice is the middle ground. "Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness", as an album, was flawed for me -- it showed a lack of self awareness to make an overblown double album. But it still had some incredible songs on it: "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" being one of them. The video suits the song perfectly.
Bullet with Butterfly Wings, Smashing Pumpkins
Perhaps my all-time favourite band The Pixies are largely a mystery to me in terms of videos: a band that I have to go back into their catalogue to see what, if any videos, they made.
The important thing with all my favourite bands is obviously the music first, and I tell people that The Pixies invented music (before them it was just tuning up). While that's not strictly true, they did more or less invent the alternative rock style we now take for granted with bands like Nirvana and Foo Fighters. It's well known that Nirvana's seminal "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was described by Dave Grohl at the time as a "Pixies rip off" and I've read amusing interviews with Grohl since were clueless journos ask him how he came up with Foo Fighters groundbreaking quiet-LOUD-quiet style, and he explains how the Pixies were doing it first in the '80s.
"Here Comes Your Man" might not have Frank Black's (or Black Francis) trademark screaming, but it is a classic song for them and one often mistakenly played on '90s radio stations (since it was released in the '80s). It also has a video fairly typical of the time: it's hard to tell now if it was meant to be a joke, because it's pretty bad. And that's what makes it good -- The Pixies were never about image for me. Or themselves, it seems.
Here Comes Your Man, Pixies
Yes, yes. Soundgarden. Chris Cornell is a rock god. Other than making misguided albums with Timbaland, he can do very little wrong. And even when he does, you just have to say the magic words "Temple of the Dog" and all is forgiven.
Mez already featured Black Hole Sun on her blog, so I'm going with something different. Rusty Cage. Another fantastic song from the time period, and another awful video so typical of that period. So bad it's now good.
Rusty Cage, Soundgarden
Pearl Jam. Where would we be without the big PJ? Eddie Vedder is about as close as we come to a messiah.
Pearl Jam also famously stopped making videos after "Jeremy" -- and that was a very long time ago. Many albums later, some good, some less good, but with some stand out songs, personal tragedies and amazing shows along the way, this video got made for "Do the Evolution".
I don't know what the story with it is, whether Pearl Jam made it, whether it was independent and then officially accepted, or whether it remains unofficial. Either way, this song is a blazing powerhouse of a song and it is made all the better with such an emotional video.
Do The Evolution, Pearl Jam
A band you rarely hear mentioned alongside these greats is one from the city of Bradford in West Yorkshire.
Terrorvision always had an uneasy relationship with success -- not that they didn't like it, but as they once put it, it would sort of come and go. Most albums would have a stand-out single and do quite well, but there was also usually several years between albums, and the momentum would fade.
The band found fame with their song "Oblivion" featuring a distinctive, catchy doo-wap hook, but the album it came from was also responsible for some of their heaviest songs. By far one of their best -- and heaviest -- songs combines one of the best videos.
Alice, What's the Matter is dark and almost surrealist, but compulsive viewing -- just like the song is compulsive listening.
Alice What's the Matter, Terrorvision
Keeping things surreal are Eels. From the album Electro shock Blues -- full of autobiographical songs about death and bereavement came "Last Stop This Town", it's beautiful and sad, and it sticks in your head.
It is accompanied by a video featuring anthropomorphic genetically modified vegetables. It makes no sense, has nothing to do with the song, but it is doubtlessly brilliant.
Last Stop This Town, Eels
I love the White Stripes. Love them. I loved how every album was different to the last, without them having to do interviews everywhere saying "we're reinventing ourselves!!" -- mainly because they weren't reinventing anything. They were doing what they always did, which was be consistently surprising. I loved their raw, stripped down sound. I loved the weird dynamic between Jack and Meg. And most of all, I love the song Hotel Yorba.
You might watch this video, and think "So what?" but it's good because it fits the song so well. It's not showy, it's just raw, and simple, and perfect.
Hotel Yorba, White Stripes
Our Lady Peace are criminally overlooked outside of the North American continent. I saw them play in London last year at the Canada Day celebrations, and then the next night in a very small venue. I sometimes try and request their songs on the radio, without success. I just don't understand they aren't better known here. But that's besides the point.
"Superman's Dead" was the first song by the band that I heard, and remains one of my favourites. I think the video is typical of the time: it seems to have nothing to do with the song itself, but is interesting to watch.
And as a fun fact, there's a slightly different version made for the USA: apparently the clown-type people were too scary, so that footage is removed.
Another fun fact: I almost posted about the song "One Man Army" which I also like, and has another strange, unrelated video. The video is widely regarded by fans and the band themselves as one of the worst ever made. I decided instead to go with a "good" one.
Superman's Dead, Our Lady Peace
Radiohead are a surprise inclusion, because if I had to list my top 10 bands they probably wouldn't make the list. Like a lot of people, I stopped listening after "OK Computer" and while I'm told some of their more recent stuff has got a lot better, I haven't really come back to them. But this is both a fantastic song and a famous video. The video is a short film (by a filmmaker whose name I don't know, or remember) and the usual footage of band playing that you get in almost every video, ever. The short (silent) film is incredibly powerful, and I've seen fans having animated discussions on forums about what the man says at the end -- to the point where they were practically beseeching anyone who could read lips to reveal the secret. I wanted to shout at them and explain it's not real, it's just a story, there's no big secret that "explains" everything. And for the record, it's pretty easy to tell from the man's lips that all he says is "I'll you what's wrong, I'll tell you what's wrong". And I only just noticed today, the short film is filmed in London -- even though the motorcycle cop seems to be American, I recognise Liverpool Street station anywhere.
Velvet Revolver were from that weird Noughties time of supergroups -- Chris Cornell was rocking out with Audioslave, and Scott Weiland had got together with the best musicians from Guns N' Roses to make Velvet Revolver.
This was a particularly good move, as when they performed live Scott could join them in covers of GNR songs and improve on the originals.
Slither was their first song, and set a very high bar -- one that, for me, they never quite reached again. What Scott Weiland is playing at now is the same old story, it seems, and it's a shame. But this song -- and the accompanying video, set in the catacombs of Paris -- is still brilliant.
Slither, Velvet Revolver