I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in the past five years I began to lose touch with popular music, particularly music videos. I've never adjusted to the shift from music videos being spoon-fed to me on TV to having to seek them out on the Internet. I'm always genuinely shocked when I discover that an artist filmed a video for a song. It's like finding out a candy I used to eat all the time as a kid is still being sold, but in seemingly every store in the country except the ones within five miles of me.
Today's column will be a journey into the current music and music videos that have entirely passed me by. I'm going to venture out into the wilds of the Internet and track down what's being released today, if for no other reason than to get a status report on a part of pop culture I've abandoned. So let's start off with ...
5Nickelback -- "Edge of a Revolution"
The world is in disarray. Governments are out of control. Terrorism runs rampant. Thankfully, we have Nickelback speaking out against the evils of the world in their new song "Edge of a Revolution." It's a protest song that doesn't know what it's protesting. The video is a scattershot of dramatic news footage that popped up after lead singer Chad Kroeger Googled the word "prostate" and misspelled it "protest," then wrote a song about the search results.
Right off the bat, I noticed that Kroeger has swapped out his flowing mane of Barbie pubes for Kyle Reese's head from The Terminator.
That, I'm afraid, is the only difference between Nickelback then (when I was musically aware) and now (as I stare at walls in silence for 12 hours a day). Lyrically, the band has made the leap from generic to thinking their lyrics are profound and meaningful but are about as graceful as a kangaroo being tased.
Hey, hey, just obey.
Your secret's safe with the NSA.
In God we trust or the CIA?
Standing on the edge of a revolution.
As far as I can tell, this video is among the first protest songs in recent mainstream pop culture, and it's a Nickelback song written in the style of an Occupy Wall Street bongo word association game. Those four lines are the same four lines Ron Paul scribbles on public restroom stalls when he takes a dump.
The band performs as a mishmash of unsettling images of global unrest is projected onto them, and none of the images were selected with a cohesive line of reasoning or logic. Nickelback is just as afraid of scary armies:
As they are of hurricanes:
That tyrannical bitch, the Queen of England, whom all of our problems can be traced back to:
And gorilla eyes:
Not gorillas, their eyes. Just their eyes.
The band must have set up their gear in front of an art-school installation, and the 4:19 runtime of the video was precisely clocked to match the response time of campus security.
Look, we live in scary times. There's no doubt about that. What's even scarier is that the only mainstream musical act to confront the frightening issues of today is Nickelback. Katy Perry won't be writing a ballad about Ferguson, Missouri. Pitbull won't be writing verses about Ukraine. All we have is Nickelback and their projector as the shining lights leading us through the darkness. May God have mercy on us all.
4Iggy Azalea Feat. Rita Ora -- "Black Widow"
Within five seconds, Michael Madsen enters a diner with all the gravitas of a man who's in juuuust enough of a self-medicated waking-coma to sleepwalk through his role as a person who so aggressively orders a grilled cheese sandwich that two women train to become samurai so they can kill him. Ridiculous? Yep! But samurai training as a means of revenge for rudely ordering grilled cheese is the actual plot of the video for Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora's song "Black Widow."
Azalea is a white woman from Australia who raps like a black woman from Harlem. She's doing vocal black face. Ora is ... well ...
... Ora is white Rihanna. The racial confusion in this video is suffocating.
If rappers had to perform the skits they put on their albums in front of a crowd, the only laughs they'd get would come from the sound beer bottles make when they shatter against teeth. So a rapper opening their music video with a comedy sketch is like a chef serving a jar of fart as an appetizer. The scene in which Madsen orders melted cheese on bread like he's ordering the assassination of Hitler inexplicably goes from mildly domestic violencey to comedy sketch when the obese female diner owner crawls over the counter because Madsen's vigorous sandwich demands have caused her vagina to erupt with sexual anticipation.
From there, the video turns into a take on Kill Bill. Azalea waves a sword in a dojo for eight seconds and becomes a warrior. Then a ninja comes in and throws a dart at her face, which turns out to be an order to kill Madsen.
Does the director think assassins send each other letters by sticking them to weapons and throwing them at each other's heads? Turns out the documentary on samurai the director watched in preparation was actually a dodgeball game.
After that, Ora plays backroom poker with T.I. and Paul Sorvino, which sounds like I'm throwing together two random names of people who would never actually meet to be funny, but I'm not, and it happened, and I'm really sad about the state of Sorvino.
And so is he.
I guess getting kicked in the stomach by White Rihanna is the only way he can financially support himself and his daughter.
Unemployment runs in the family.
White Rihanna and Kangaroo Black Voice meet at a club to kill Grilled Cheese Monster. They don't. They corner him in a dark alley, and absolutely out of nowhere, with no setup whatsoever, a black widow spider crawls out from his sleeve and bites his hand, killing him instantly.
All that training and senseless kicking of Sorvino was for nothing. Madsen was infested with deadly spiders the whole time. To be fair to the director who thought this was a good idea, Madsen looks like he carries spiders on his person all the time as a way to pick up chicks -- his "peacocking" affectation. The spider biting his hand was just one of those fortuitous happy accidents that happen when the cameras start rolling and movie magic is made.