Literal Videos and Mullets with Headlights

Today I stumbled on this whole genre of YouTube clips I never knew about: the Literal Video. Pioneered apparently by Dusto McNeato, there are dozens of singer/songwriters explaining what happens in a video while you watch it. (It’s like the opposite of close-captioning.) I saw a bunch of them today, and they are funny enough as a group, but one stood out from the crowd for me, and not just because it’s the first one I saw. I have a soft spot in my heart for Bonnie Tyler and the big high-1970s/low-1980s musical productions, and I can’t stop watching this video.

Lessons I have learned from this video:

1. Glitter in the fencing helmet isn’t funny. Shame on you, glitter put-ers!
2. Angels are pervs.

I haven’t seen all the videos, of course, but the other one I thought was good was the They Might Be Giants “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” It’s not that funny, but it’s a good song, a good video, and the performance is pretty good. The Literal version captures what I think is the spirit of the song rather than mock it, but it’s not like it’s a song that requires mocking. My only complaint is that the video quality is so bad.

And because it’s been a YouTube sort of day, I’ve also been watching “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, which is a song I’ve always loved but which I’ve never seen the video of before today. So now we all get to watch it:

I don’t completely understand the point of the dragonfly lady doing the gogo dance inside the plastic tube, but this is a very early video and I dig the double keyboard action so I’m excusing it. I’m totally intrigued, too, by the idea that the song itself was inspired by the short story “The Sound-Sweep” by J. G. Ballard, about a boy in a world without music (whose job it is to vacuum the remnants of music) who discovers an opera singer hiding in the sewer. Perhaps that’s the lady dragonfly. I didn’t find any copies of the story online to read, but it’s out there. Someday!

Of course, any day spent with The Buggles and “Video Killed the Radio Star” has to put one onto the early days of MTV. This video was the first one ever played, you know. Musing about that makes one wonder just what the first MTV playlist was. One strategic Internet search later, we all now know, if the blog Stereogum can be trusted.

I’ll let you figure that out for yourselves. In the meantime, watch out for angels. They are effing creepy. Even the gayest guy in the world would agree.

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  • Barbara  On June 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Buggles video says: Embedding disabled by request.

  • Karen  On June 1, 2009 at 12:25 pm


    Aanndd… fixed. Thank you for the heads-up!

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