Monday, October 19, 2015

Did Someone Ask For Another Youtube Playlist?

Time for yet another Youtube playlist of assorted clips related to movies, television, and web media with a strong musical element.  As usual, these are a mix of nostalgic selections and assorted pop culture ephemera that it's difficult to recommend in other contexts.  Commercials, promotional tie-ins, oddities, and more await.  They have absolutely nothing in common except that I enjoyed them and thought they were saving the links to and worth passing along.  Hopefully you'll find something in the mix that strikes your fancy.

Night Call - I think that Nicholas Winding Refn's "Drive" is far enough in the past that we could do with a reminder of how drop-dead gorgeous it is.  The title sequence set to Kavinsky's "Night Call" immediately recalls the 1980s, and sets a mood of scintillating coolness and isolation that carries through the rest of the film.  Take note that this clip is from a workprint with errors in the credits - notably the score is attributed to David Lynch's familiar collaborator Angelo Badalamenti, instead of the actual composer, Cliff Martinez.

Mitzi Gaynor: Let Go! - Singer, dancer, actor, and all-around entertainment bombshell Mitzi Gaynor was a fixture of 1950s film musicals.  She also headlined several television specials in the 1960s and 1970s featuring elaborate song-and-dance numbers.  "Let Go!" opened her Emmy-winning 1969 NBC special, and provides a good example of her energy and sexiness.  Bob Mackie is responsible for the dress, but the curves are all Mitzi.

Deep Deep Trouble - Remember the "Simpsons" album, "The Simpsons Sing the Blues"?  Timed to release with the second season after the show became a hit, the album spawned two hit singles that had specially animated music videos that ran with new episodes of the show in 1991.  Everyone remembers "Do the Bartman" written and produced by Michael Jackson, but I think "Deep Deep Trouble," with lyrics credited to Matt Groening, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the Fresh Prince (yes, that Fresh Prince), also deserves some love.  The music video was directed by Greg Vanzo.

Sound of Noise: Doctor Doctor - The 2010 Swedish musical "Sound of Noise," depicts the crimes of a gang of rogue musicians, who hold impromptu concerts in strange places, using everyday objects for instruments.  "Doctor, Doctor," is their first successful outing, where they take over an operating room during a news reporter's hemorrhoid surgery.  This is the full, uncut version of the musical number that appears in the finished film, released as a DVD extra.

I Never Harmed an Onion - The Muppet Show ran two minutes longer in the UK than it did in the US, which lead the creation of the "UK Spots," quick little songs or sketches that would help the UK episodes fill in that extra bit of time.  So Rowlf's rendition of "I Never Harmed an Onion" from the fourth episode of the first season was never available to US audiences until the DVD sets came along in the early 2000s, and the Henson folks started using the UK Spots as internet content.

Head: Daddy's Song - One of the most memorable moments from the notorious Monkees movie "Head," which was either a complete commercial disaster or a subversive cult triumph depending on who you ask.  This is the film's only musical number that actually resembles the kind of classic musical number that audiences were probably expecting, with Davy Jones singing vocals and a dance sequence.  Jones's partner here is Toni Basil, who was also the film's choreographer, and a few years later would be best known as the singer of the MTV favorite "Mickey."

X-Men OP 1 - When the '90s animated "X-men" series ran in Japan in 1994, entirely different opening sequences were created for it, along with different theme songs, to better appeal to Japanese audiences.  Considering the American one had so much English text, I think they have a point.  The Japanese opening is noticeably better animated than the original, with lots of action and more cameos by familiar characters.  The new song is "Rising" by the band Ambience.

A Bit of Fry and Laurie: Mystery - Some of my favorite bits of "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" were Hugh Laurie at the piano, performing his ridiculous songs.  I considered "America," which has a great punch of an ending, but I decided to go with "Mystery," from the 1987 pilot, which is longer and has a good slow build.  He also performed this one on an episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio" in 2006, which is easy enough to find online - but I prefer the delivery in the original.

Pork and Beans - Yes, it's the Weezer music video celebrating the memes of the pre-2008 internet.  Web media is definitely eligible for these playlists, and when I thought about all the various viral videos I could include, I kept coming back to "Pork and Beans," which pays tribute to dozens of them at once.  Hey, it's the Numa Numa guy!  And Afro-Ninja!  And Mr. Leave Britney Alone!  And History of Dance dude!  And Dramatic Chipmunk!  Other music videos have attempted similar conceits, but nobody's quite managed to capture the early days of Youtube fame quite like Weezer did.  There's also a follow-up version from 2009 out there that includes even more internet celebs.

Dilbert - Fifteen years ago, "Dilbert" briefly had its own cartoon series on the UPN network.  Without a doubt, the best part of the show was its Emmy-winning opening sequence with theme music by Danny Elfman.  The actual series was never as dynamic-looking, or wildly creative.  I always wondered why nobody ever tried to revive the show after UPN sank, but we already have "The Office," don't we?

D-TV Valentine: Hello - In the 1980s, somebody at Disney had the bright idea to take clips of their old animated films and recut them to modern pop songs, creating MTV style music videos, branded "D-TV."  Years later anime fans would flood the internet with AMVs using essentially the same concept, but the "D-TV" videos were official Disney product and they were very commercially successful.  Initially used as Disney Channel filler, "D-TV" ended up spawning three NBC prime time specials and a home video line.  To give you an idea of their appeal, I've linked one of the videos from the "D-TV Valentine" special, that sets the "twitterpation" sequence form "Bambi" to Lionel Richie's "Hello."

Boom De Yada - Just when you'd gotten the song out of your head.  The Discovery Channel's 2008 "I Love the World" campaign is still one of the best I've ever seen.

Conan's Free Bird - This one's not on the Youtube playlist linked above because I couldn't find a decent quality version anywhere on Youtube.  However, I had to end the list with this one.  Whatever you want to say about Conan O'Brien's short stint on "The Tonight Show," he went out on a very high note, rocking with Will Ferrell and friends to the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic.


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