By The Beatles to The Eagles, soda artists have a background of slipping subliminal messages in their music. Actually, there are countless examples of songs comprising hidden meanings. However, what about music videos? It turns out that they’re just as full of hidden messages and bizarre symbolism. From subtle connections to old fans, to symbolic references …
From Beyonce’s “Formation” into Adele’s “Send My Love (for Your New Lover,” these visual clips slayed.
(NEW YORK) — Dave Chappelle has announced he’s kicking off a residency that August in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and he’s bringing some A-List songs and comedy acts with him. Dubbed Dave Chappelle: Live from Radio City, the show has the former star of the Comedy Central series Chappelle’s Show again collaborating with The Roots, in addition to Erykah Badu and Childish […]
From pioneers like Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers to modern-day YouTube-breakers like Important Lazer and M.I.A., electronic music boasts lots of visionaries keen to pour a good deal of love (and budget) into bringing their music to life. Here, we have counted down 20 more of the ideal dance movies ever — did your favourite make the cut?
Number20 Big Lazer –‘Pon De Floor’
Back in ’09 Big Lazer constituted of only Diplo and Switch, and Pon De Floor has been the single that introduced them into the world. In these days, Caribbean noises took center stage in the pair’s songs — that was way before Diplo would start calling on pop’s fine for toplines — it made sense that the movie to their breakthrough hit was an ode into Jamaica’s dance style-of-the-moment: daggering.
The following year, within a competitive fondness for its movement left a spate of broken penises in its wake, the Jamaican authorities would crack down on daggering by exposing all movies with “blatantly sexual content” out of television. The Pon De Floor clip stands as a bright, brash and strange reminder of this rather wonderful moment ever. (Interesting fact: it had been led by Eric Warheim of Tim & Eric fame.) [Katie Cunningham]
#19 The xx –‘Islands’
The xx’s self-titled debut album introduced us into some group that has been unshowy in each manner. From the restraint of these songs to the extreme shyness of their early live shows, those Londoners were not going to give us bombastic music movies.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the clip for Islands stands out of this record for its striking simplicity. The xx members feature at center stage, but the focus is squarely on the dancers who move around them in an unbroken loop. The repeating sequence feels perfectly suited to the dreamy depression of the vocals, demonstrating you only need one room and a smart conceit to make a video that is captivating.
There’s an additional bonus here also: watching Jamie xx, who might still be the group’s shyest member despite his impressive solo success, attempting to look invisible at the close of the couch. We view you, Jamie. [Jack Tregoning]
#18 Avalanches –‘Frontier Psychiatrist’
What an unenviable job it must’ve been to try and assemble a visual version of what you hear in an Avalanches song. The Melbourne group — who assembled their iconic debut record on samples, pinched from hundreds of disparate sources — have been already collages in themselves. How can you even start to put that into a music video?
To get Frontier Psychatrist American directors Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire (who’d go on to do these Old Spice advertisements) approached their job with the same spirit of playfulness that The Avalanches sewed into the tune, assembling a number act stuffed with oddballs and right-fitting misfits that bring each small part of the puzzle to existence. Watch it, recall why you loved it and try not to smile. [Dave Ruby Howe]
Number17 Chemical Brothers –‘Elektrobank’
Spike Jonze — among the masters of ’90s music movie with his wild, cartoonish style — played it straight for once for this improbably moving clip, essentially a short movie starring Sofia Coppola, fellow director (Lost in Translation) and Jonze’s future ex-wife.
Coppola plays a gymnast who copes with personal turmoil at a huge contest. The graceful performance (including a pro gymnast double) is a beautiful contrast to the Compounds’ pulverising beats and squelching sound, including The Prodigy’s Keith Murray. Much like Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice, what gets the clip unforgettable is its sincerity — no understanding satirical winks; it lets the attractiveness of the gymnastics be what they are. And also the melodrama is performed to the hilt; it might be a ’80s afterschool special. [Jim Poe]
Number16 Important Lazer & DJ Snake –‘Lean On’
1,535,399,281: that is just how many YouTube perspectives the movie for Lean On had last time we checked. That’s 1.5 billion eyes on Major Lazer’s handiwork, along with a figure equal to over 20-percent of the planet’s population. Those numbers alone could probably make Lean On a reference in this record, but the viewcount is not all that is important about Diplo’s very prosperous minute thus far.
As well as being a great deal of pleasure, Lean On is significant because it proved that dance fans want to watch their own artists in music movies — would it have been such a runaway success if Diplo, Jillionaire, Walshy Fire, DJ Snake and MØ weren’t at the movie, cutting shapes in their mixture of sportswear and Bollywood finery? Or in a even bigger question, could Lean On have become the undisputed song of the year with this movie? [Katie Cunningham]
#15 Justice –‘Stress’
There couldn’t have been a much better candidate to interpret the frenzied, aggressive intensity of Justice’s Stress to movie than incendiary French director Roman Gavras.
Conceived if the French electro duo were in the peak of their powers in 2008 as “a clip unairable on television for a course unairable on the radio” Gavras’ no-holds-barred depiction of a day in the life span of wayward French youths triggering calls of racial profiling and fetishising violence in the wake of the 2005 Paris riots. Wayward is a barely fitting description though, the themes of Stress stalk the outlying suburbs/banlieues of Paris enacting casual ultra-violence and civil destruction where they move, all backed by the ominous whir of Justice’s creation.
Speaking to Flux on the controversy that the music video generated upon its release, Gavras appeared to relish his status as a provocateur — two decades before the ginger genocide of M.I.A’s Born Free clip. “For a couple of months, I had been among the most despised men in France, but it had been enjoyable. It was amazing free promo…that you can only get that much media if you have sex with children.” [Dave Ruby Howe]
#14 Huge Strike –‘Teardrop’
London filmmaker Walter Stern made his name working with The Prodigy at the 90s, when he helmed their inflammatory movies such as Firestarter and Breathe. Those credentials created Stern a somewhat unexpected choice, subsequently, to take on one of Massive Attack’s most fragile songs.
The Bristol collective recruited Stern to bring his arresting visual design to their 1998 single Teardrop, which Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja called a “period of light relief” on their brooding third record Mezzanine. It was Stern’s thought to coordinate with the tune’s dreamy atmosphere with shots inside a uterus, as a human fetus lip-synchs along to Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals.
The concept sounds unnerving on paper, but the extreme closeups produce a strangely meditative mood that is great for both Teardrop. In addition, it helps that the unborn baby is so clearly an animatronic model made of silicon rather than, you know, the actual thing. The movie won a string of awards, entered a lifetime of permanent Rage rotation and also gave Stern a much-needed reprieve from filming mad Keith Flint. [Jack Tregoning]
#13 The Prodigy –‘Firestarter’
While most of dance music’s biggest stars seem painfully embarrassing on camera, The Prodigy were constructed for songs videos. The theatrical personas of Maxim and Keith Flint are created for electrical onscreen performances, with possibly the most overblown of all happening inside the scummy ‘gator-infested flat of Breathe.
Though other videos inspired more heat for The Prodigy, there is something starkly powerful regarding the Firestarter clip. Director Walter Stern took the shameful action inside a deserted London Underground tunnel, with Keith because the central star. The frontman’s unhinged shtick was at its most persuasive in the mid-90s, and he actually dialed it up here, holding the attention with his hectic charisma. Firestarter is so much the Keith Flint Show, in fact, that the participation of Liam Howlett, Leeroy Thornhill and Maxim is restricted to operating at the shadows and giving quizzical looks.
The movie did manage to stir up controversy in britain for giving kids nightmares, with some TV channels carrying it off day rotation. Without a doubt The Prodigy also discouraged a couple of people from adventuring through abandoned railroad tunnels at night. Nobody would like to meet a dancing Keith Flint in the dark. [Jack Tregoning]
#12 Duck Sauce –‘Big Bad Wolf’
“It’s no Windowlicker,” the director behind Big Bad Wolf defended when Rolling Stone went in on 2011’s most head-turning movie. “That was disturbing.”
Duck Sauce’s most memorable clip might not be Aphex Twin-level bizarre, but it sure does push the envelope. To be able to produce their movie tour de force, collaborators A-Trak and Armand Van Helden spent just two weeks on their hands and knees at green screen jumpsuits, heads at the crotches of other men. A good deal of impressive post-production later and they came away with a traditional boy-meets-girl story, only with some — err —unusual sexual acts.
For the ideal assessment of why Big Bad Wolf wants to go down with the greats, render it Kanye West: “You shot a risk as a artist to piss out of your mouth,” he reportedly told A-Trak on email. [Katie Cunningham]
#11 M.I.A. –‘Bad Girls’
When M.I.A. tied up with director Romain Gavras to make a movie for her 2010 tune Born Free, the collaborators came up with an incendiary short movie. Over nine intense moments, we observe a violent raid of an apartment block, and with the officers targeting only residents with red hair. It turned out to be a provocative political statement, using redheads because of stand-in for oppressed and vilified groups, and the two M.I.A. and Gavras recognized the controversy.
When the singer and filmmaker worked collectively in 2012 on Bad Ladies, they picked a much more celebratory tone. Mesmerised from YouTube movies of “Saudis drifting on two wheels” in the desert, they travelled to Morocco to give it a try. The result is bright, daring and bad-ass. On its release, Bad Girls sparked debate regarding its subversion of Arab stereotypes, while also bringing the visceral thrill of M.I.A. cruising the window out of a vehicle that is nearly airborne. Not a lot of pop movies combine style and substance similar to this one. [Jack Tregoning]
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An industrial area at Maspeth, Queens which was formerly a door and glass factory was turned to a mesmerizing temple complete with marigolds, meditation cushions, and a golden multifunctional installation of a sunlight for a one of a type stellar concert celebrating a newly released, and mostly unheard body of work from pioneering artist and spiritual leader, Alice Coltrane.
“Gospel, soul, funk, and chanting, all in a single, it was amazing,” said Johanna Gielbehous a Brooklyn-based filmmaker after listening to The Sai Anantham Singers sing Coltrane’s exquisite devotional songs.
Alice, the wife of this legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, has been a classically trained pianist, harpist, and a visionary musician regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. Her cosmic jazz and spiritual compositions are described as “prayers for humanity.”
For decades she has had a powerful underground cult following among music lovers, DJ’s from across the planet, and yogis. However, the bigger world doesn’t understand Ms. Coltrane’s greatness and this despite the fact that she left an exquisite musical catalog and also led to a remarkable life — she founded and was the spiritual leader of an ashram at California with countless devotees.
“I am so very happy,” explained Michelle Coltrane, Alice’s eldest child and only daughter who sang with the ensemble and wore her mother’s orange sari. “It felt wonderful to have the ability to celebrate my mom in such a special way.”
Even the six-hour musical extravaganza which transformed the The Knockown Center to Coltrane’s mandir complete with an altar, blue rug, and eight hundred yellow cushions imported from India on Sunday evening was the final night of this Red Bull Academy Music Festival.
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, John and Alice’s son, accompanied the ashram singers using a highly effective performance of his mommy’s ancient jazz compositions at the outside event.
The concert celebrated the one-hour compilation entitled, “The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda,” that premiered earlier this month from David Byrne’s music label Luaka Bop.
The album rocketed to number one on Billboard’s New Age and World music graphs. Luaka Bop agents said that the album would have topped jazz charts too but Billboard didn’t accept the album under the group, an unfortunate conclusion they said since Alice Coltrane’s jazz influence has been suspended in her devotional music.
These ten sacred songs were selected from four cassettes which Alice, also known by her Sanskrit title Turiya Sangitananda, softly recorded between 1982 and 1995 and released through her firm, Avatar Books, placed at Sai Anantam Ashram, the vedantic centre she founded in 1983. It is a body of work and also a chapter in Coltrane’ musical lifestyle that is mostly unknown out yogi circles and spiritual music aficionados.
The recent recognition of this masterful musician is long overdue. By all accounts Alice Coltrane was extraordinary.
Born Alice McLeod, Coltrane’s musical career began when she was a child from the dinosaurs of Detroit in which she was raised and born. She was a musical prodigy schooled in older time spirituals, blues and rhythm, and classically trained on the piano.
“There’s a picture of mother when she was like seven to the piano,” recalls Michelle. “Mom used to play at church and make a little cash and she’d give it to grandma.”
“Sometimes it strikes me how was she able to do this much, raise four kids, function as spiritual leader to so lots of men and women, teach, compose, perfect her art– it blows my mind when I feel all that she managed to do,” explained Michelle. “There’s certainly a genius to her and certainly her music.”
The brand new compilation has been created by jazz superstar Baker Bigsby who worked with Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and John Coltrane and has been the first recording engineer on all of Alice’s devotional records.
The compilation is still luminous. You find Alice chanting, singing, playing her harp, and resulting in a choir of all 24-celestial voices. There are eastern percussions, synthesizers, strings, and organs leading to a tasty mélange of sacred and soothing music.
“There’s certainly a genius to her and certainly her music.”
The audio is a reflection of Alice Turiyasangitananda ‘s spiritual devotion in the past four decades of her life and contain the musical world inside of this exceptional instrumentalist–from Igor Stravinsky to Bud Powell, from Detroit into India, from Africa to California, from Jesus into Rama, from older time spirituals and blues into ancient Sanskrit chanting. Words alone cannot behold the songs’s transcendental beauty and healing power–her music is a spiritual experience.
One reviewer wrote this, “listening to ‘Om Shanti,’ the very first tune in the compilation, is nothing less than an act of self-care.”
Yale Evelev, who co-owns Luaka Bop, has been blown away when he noticed Alice Turiyasangitananda’s devotional music one year ago at the suggestion of DJ Prince Language.
“Mine has been a visceral musical answer, Indian rapping, gospel,soulful this was music she devised, very revolutionary, and very sophisticated,” explained Evelev. The answer to the music, he says, continues to be astonishing. “There has been already appreciation for Alice’s music but with this launch we’ve observed something extraordinary.”
For several years nevertheless her musical function was lost inside her husband’s giant shadow.
“My mom was always pleased to talk about John’s music, it gave her pleasure; it’s the way she was. Sometimes it requires time and I only think this is the correct time politically and socially. After many years of bootlegged electronic variations, it’s wonderful to find a beautifully packaged and tangible collection of her work.”
In the summer of 1963, when Alice was 25, she was a part of a group led by vibrationist Terry Gibbs that started for The John Coltrane Quartet in the famed new york jazz temple, Birdland. It was there where she met John and two fell in love. They married in 1965, had three kids.
By 1967 John died of cancer departing Alice a widow with four young kids. Alice, who was on a spiritual quest with John researching Eastern music and spirituality, delved deeper to spiritual studies after his departure. She returned in India having a desire to leave secular life, and moved to Los Angeles from the 1970’s devoting her life and music to religious consciousness.
In 1975 she found the Vedantic Center within her home in Woodland Hills. Back in 1983 with a growing flock, she purchased nearly 50-acres of rolling mountains in Agoura Hills, California, just outside of Los Angeles and opened her ashram.
In 2017, no one would bat an eye since wellness, yoga, and meditation are ubiquitous. But in the 1970’s, maybe not so much. Alice was a black girl, a devoted yogi, a single mother of four, and also a masterful musician.
“Yes, my mom has been way ahead of her period,” noted Michelle. “She was a home-girl out of Detroit who founded an ashram from the west. Meditation is now a part of normal conversation, but back then, it was considered strange, and yoga has been viewed as only a bunch of folks who laid along with mats on the floor. But mother was always different.”
With a resurgence of function which uplifts and fuses musical influences from all over the world, it’s almost as though the spiritual teacher who expired in 2007 in age sixty-nine is reaching from beyond the cosmos to provide the world a much needed hug.
“Alice had a message of oneness, of inclusion, positivity, and admiration for one another,” says Evelev.
“She left this movie for us to love, because of our healing, and our expansion,” said her daughter Coltrane.
A new fan, Giebelhous agreed: “The extraordinary music welcomed and soothed us into a spiritual celebration of beauty and joy.”
Each month, we at NPR Music convene a panel of hosts and music directors from the public-radio family across the country. Their aim: to share the