5 Music Videos Ripped From Your Darkest Nightmares
Music videos have been the go-to outlet for musicians looking for creative ways to market their music for decades now. This dates back to before the dawn of MTV, as far back as the days when The Beatles stopped touring and started taking drugs while standing in front of cameras instead. If you're unfamiliar, that's a famous band from England, and they were known to get into some weird stuff on the visual side of things from time to time.
The weirdest part? That's three Ringos.
So it should come as no surprise that some of the most bizarre and unusual music videos of all time come not from the United States, the country that probably thinks they invented them altogether, but instead from all different parts of the globe. We talk about some of the most bizarre and unsettling music videos from overseas on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comics Maria Shehata and Sophia Benoit. I'm talking about that very same thing in this here column today. Let's get after it!
Serge Gainsbourg: "Chez Les Ye-Ye"
When it came to bringing the crazy, no one delivered quite as consistently as French pop star Serge Gainsbourg. I've written about him before while covering upbeat songs about Nazis and a creepy father-daughter duet about incest, and now here we are again. In this clip, we learn that Serge was insane pretty much as soon as his career started.
If it was somehow possible, this video would be my family seal. No, I don't care that it's in French. No, I don't know what it's about. No, I won't take the time to learn if you want to teach me. I have all of the necessary information about this video that I could ever need, which is that, while one guy stands almost completely still, singing the kind of song that sounds like it should credit "cigarettes" as a co-writer, another nearly identical-looking guy is in the background just completely ...
... losing ...
... his shit.
Wait, these videos are supposed to be terrifying! Nightmares come to life, you said! You're correct, and you obviously didn't watch the entire thing. Or maybe you did and just didn't notice it. I admit the first couple of times I saw this, I was merely captivated by the dancing lunatic in the background. I suspect a lot of people who watch it for the first time fixate on that part, all the while not even noticing that, around the halfway point of the video, everyone pulls out knives.
Did I say something wrong?
Not just any knives, either. They're goddamn switchblades.
Yes, the enthusiastic gentleman in the back has one too ...
... meaning he's doing the Carlton before we knew it was called the Carlton and knife tricks at the same time.
This is probably how street crime worked in early-1960s Paris. You're stopped by two dapper gentlemen who woo you with song and dance one minute, only to hold blades to your windpipe while demanding all your cash the next. The worst part? You don't even call the police, because you liked watching it happen so much.
Also, you don't speak French and a prostitute already robbed you an hour earlier, so they didn't get away with much anyway. Still, what a fun crime!
Wang Rong Rollin: "Chick Chick"
For some reason, when this video initially started making the rounds, it was billed as "the next 'Gangnam Style'" by the kind of people who say that kind of thing. On the surface, that seems reasonable. After all, it's an upbeat and completely ridiculous song by an Asian performer who, at various points, does that stupid horse-dance thing.
The differences between the two, though, are quite massive. The main one, possibly the only one, is enough of a divide to turn the songs into almost complete and total opposites. See, where "Gangnam Style" featured lyrics performed in a foreign language, "Chick Chick" features lyrics that consist exclusively of various fowl noises.
Notice that says "fowl" and not "foul," but either word works just fine as far as descriptions go. And, please understand, I get that the people behind this video are intentionally trying to be crazy, which should effectively make the whole thing a little less insane in the long run. But it just doesn't work that way this time. Who thinks to be this crazy?
Who surveys their surroundings, sees an attractive pop star, a stockpile of music, and recording equipment, and thinks to turn that into a catchy tune constructed entirely from chicken noises? And not just any chicken noises -- sassy chicken noises.
That's not the thinking of a person who plays by our rules. No, that's the thinking of a person who also happens to have a collection of these horror souvenirs lying around for when it's time to shoot a video.
Oh, and that video, that's what we're here to talk about, after all. Sure, this song is crazy, but it would be nothing without an endless stream of jaw-droppingly bizarre visuals to go along with it. My favorite? Why, this dog that vaguely resembles Hitler, of course ...
... because what the hell is that thing all about, you know? What's any of this about? It looks and sounds like Lady Gaga in the late stages of dying from avian flu. This is the fever dream that consumes your thinking immediately before the botulism you contracted from a KFC Loaded Potato Bowl finally finishes you off. If this song isn't being used on prisoners of war as a last-ditch torture method, I would be absolutely floored.
In fact, as batshit insane as the first minute of this song and video may be, if you can keep listening beyond the vocals that accompany this clip ...
... it's all but guaranteed that no government or adversary can break you. Because by that point you will have already endured the very worst torture this world has to offer.
OK, what's the verdict? Is this too obvious, or so obvious that no one would think to include it? I mean, it's a Radiohead song; I'm probably not showing a lot of people anything they haven't seen before, and I accept that. Still, this is a damn creepy video and, unlike a few other entries on this list, isn't completely painful to listen to from beginning to end. That's good, because you have to watch exactly that much for it to have the proper impact.
Fortunately, it's also the rare video that's every bit as interesting and entertaining as the song itself. It starts innocently enough, with some dude in a suit tripping over another dude in a suit who, for some reason, is just lying in the middle of the sidewalk.
A conversation as to what the exact fuck is going on ensues and, helpfully, it includes subtitles.
Of course, you won't be too surprised to know that the gist of the dialogue for most of the video boils down to this:
Walking Man: "Why are you lying on the ground?"
Lying Man: "I can't tell you."
Repeat for a few minutes while Radiohead rocks in the background and the crowd of curious onlookers grows more and more massive.
To amp up the creepiness, as with almost any Radiohead video, from time to time we also have to contend with Thom Yorke's lazy eye.
Finally, when the song is reaching its peak and the crowd is growing uncontrollably curious about why this man is just splayed-out on the ground, he finally cracks and offers to tell them, but the offer ...
... comes with a warning.
Do motherfuckers listen? Motherfuckers never listen. I mean, they listen when he finally tells them why he's so down, but they didn't listen to the warning beforehand ...
... so that happened. Are you satisfied? Now you're all on the ground and "Tom with an H" and company have a captive audience to rock to forever.
"Should we go ask why they're lying down, then?"
Here's hoping those people enjoy music made mostly with thrift-store electronics equipment and telephone switchboards. Because they're in store for a lot of that if they don't get off the ground soon.
Chiranjeevi: "Adavi Donga"
Warning: If you've suffered a past trauma that involved adults in terrifying animal masks, I'm sorry, but this entry is going to make getting through this column even more difficult. You probably thought that wasn't possible after the nightmare of that "Chick Chick" song, but I regret to inform you ...
... that you're incorrect.
At any rate, I first saw this video posted on a friend's Facebook page last week, and that version had more than 5 million views, so I accept that a lot of you might have seen this before.
If you haven't and are looking for an elevator pitch to compel you to watch the video, I'd tell you it looks like the dance scene that would play over the end credits of the Bollywood version of The Shining. Then you'd probably be like, "But Adam, that's kind of racist -- this clip is actually from a Tollywood film, which is an offshoot of Indian cinema where most of the films are produced in the Telugu language." That feels like an overreaction, if I'm being honest. You couldn't possibly expect me to know that right away. But it's true; this clip apparently comes from a Tollywood production called Adavi Donga, which you'll immediately note features Indian superstar Chiranjeevi in the lead role.
He must be so proud!
You'll also note that, despite clearly attempting to be a comedy, this is complete and total nightmare footage. For those unsure of why I mention The Shining: It's because you either don't remember this scene ...
Very bad dog!
... or are too young to have ever bothered to watch the movie at all, in which case, be ashamed. Youth is no excuse for ignorance and disrespect. That's The Shining, goddammit; go watch it, if for no other reason than to instill within yourself the healthy fear of adults in animal masks that we all need to survive this crazy life without becoming serial-killer statistics. Honestly, though, this shit should just be terrifying on its own ...
Oh holy shit, are those puppets?
... even if you don't have background information. If those just look like crudely crafted and completely life-ruining toys to you, don't worry; they come to life and form a Soul Train line at one point ...
... because nightmares know how to adapt. More proof of that can be found in this clip.
That scene in particular with the singing animal heads on the wall reminds me of the video for the 1987 George Harrison hit "Got My Mind Set On You" ...
... which sort of makes this video play like what it might look like if it turned out George was all wrong about Hinduism and instead went to hell for sullying his legacy with that terrible song. I might be overthinking things a bit. Either way, whether they intended it or not ...
... this video is damn terrifying.
Aphex Twin: "Come To Daddy"
Aphex Twin is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to electronic dance music. For one thing, I don't hate his songs, which is a rare dynamic indeed when it comes to my relationship with any artist of that genre.
Something else that sets him apart is that, unlike a number of his peers, he has no qualms about sharing his true identity with the public. In fact, his face is one of the main features of his albums and videos, and it's goddamn horrifying. See, he looks like this ...
As if you didn't already know that.
... but for creative purposes, he usually contorts his face to look something more like this ...
As if that's not creepy enough, he has a thing for releasing videos where almost all of the characters have his face as well. Case in point, have a gander at the absurdly unsettling video for "Come To Daddy" ...
... which takes a bit to get started, but when it does, buckle up. What makes things so slow at the beginning is a kindly old granny who, while strolling through what looks like either a war-torn section of London in some dystopian future or literally any other part of Europe right now, happens upon a pile of rubbish and, while examining it, gets the feeling she's being watched.
Bad news! She's totally right! After a television in that garbage pile suddenly powers on and starts asking for her soul ...
... she staggers off to a dark hallway (the best place to be when fleeing danger), and sees what was eyeing her from the shadows. It's a bunch of good-for-nothing kids, and guess who they all look like?
Right, that thing I said about Aphex Twin slapping a slightly sinister-looking version of his grill on just about everything he does has now extended to a group of children. It's like Littleman meets The Purge.
Eventually, those marauding man-kids happen upon that same television and, um, stare at it like this ...
... which is something I wish they wouldn't do. Anyway, after a few more minutes of vandalism ...
... and fighting ...
... the old woman does the only logical thing and camps out in front of that TV again for a bit, at which point, it gives birth ...
... to a professional DJ.
Does that face look vaguely familiar? If not, it will later in the video when it takes its true form.
The moral here? Throw away your ecstasy; replace it with birth control pills.
Adam is an electronic dance music legend and regular Twitter user. Follow him @adamtodbrown.
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For more from ATB, check out 6 Things I Learned Watching Every Wayans Bros Movie In A Day and 5 Albums You'll Learn More From Than Any History Book.