Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You Can Dance If You Want To

Young Love implores the increasingly stagnant world to get up and dance, dance, dance…

"Find a New Way" Directed by Josh Mond

There are a number of music videos that have the exact same plot as Young Love's “Find a New Way.” Attractive girl stifled by society finds emotional and sexual release through music and dancing. But what makes this particular version a little bit more fun than all the others (a great majority of which seem to have been made in the 80’s) is that in this particular case the band and their director not only have their collective tongues firmly in cheek, but they also seem to have an underlying purpose.

The opening Office Space exchange between the dorky co-worker and the beautiful girl works well to set up the light-hearted mood of the work, but it drags one joke out for too long. Thankfully the director immediately introduces us to the cinematic twist of the video, which is the “hand-screen” that plays a video of Young Love in bright shirts dancing in the cheesiest manner possible. The low-budget projections are an obvious reference to 80’s videos that popularized the form, and it also works as an allusion to the thematic links between the video and some of those earlier works. It’s both a wink and a smirk aimed at the Ipod generation, who have a world of technology and music at their fingertips but seem as placid as ever.

She quickly feels an overwhelming urge to move, and her toe-tapping leads to full fledged movement away from the confines of her cubicle. As she approaches the hallway, lights begin to lead her away from conformity and towards literal upliftment (she begins to gravitate). There is synchronization between the world around her and the music that begins to take shape and crystallizes once she enters the bathroom and begins to bring the music video to life on the walls around her.

As the woman dances in the bathroom one can’t help but notice that she isn’t doing all that much, in comparison to the ultra-complex dance moves of the latest Ciara or Chris Brown video we might feel a little under whelmed by this expression of freedom. Perhaps its meant to continue the joke or establish a sense of realism. More than anything, though, it serves as a reminder to the viewer that this isn’t your typical video showcasing dancing girls to sell sex; it’s a video about a girl who dances to be free. Nevertheless, it isn’t the most well executed dance scene in a bathroom ever.

The video breaks metaphorically open during the climax of the song when the beat acquires new synthesizers (it's not a great song, but it has its' moments) and the woman removes her shirt. What’s most interesting about this scene is the way in which the video, which was previously held in the hands of the woman, has been projected onto the wall and is now directly playing on her body. Finally the woman herself is projected on a nearby wall, thus she becomes completely engrossed and literally a part of the music. It’s through actual movement, participation with the music, that she allows herself to really feel its’ power. Not to say this particular song is of great magnitude, but the artists involved recognize the surreal ability of melody, movement and image to elevate one’s emotions.

Unlike previous forays into the concept of music and dance as freedom, this video is highly aware of this unique power that the music video has. The projector gimmick moving across the woman’s body is a comment on the particular ability of visual image to amplify a song’s affect. Ultimately the dance moves of the people on the screen aren’t going to make you want to necessarily physically dance, yet when combined with the music and the colorful and creative visuals it produces a desire to be active, break free from staring at your Ipod, maybe find “another way to dance,” or at the very least, move away from your stagnation.

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Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie