Hello Steamroller friends & family. My name is Sean Rose and I am here to talk to you about music videos, the one thing in the world I love more than anything. And I am very excited!!
Yes, music videos. Music set to video, video set to music, etc etc. You know how it works. I love music videos because I love music, I love film, and I love seeing the two of them together working in perfect harmony. I spend most of my time writing about music, and for me, music is purely visual. Whenever I listen to a song I love, I am imagining a little video in my head. I'm makin up cool imaginary music videos all the time! So when I see a music video that fits my vision of a song perfectly, there is nothing like it. It's like seeing a dream of yours come to life. It's special.
Or maybe that doesn't happen! Maybe a music video offers a visual interpretation of a song you never saw coming, one that changes your interpretation of the song forever and all time. Sometimes this can ruin the song for you, granted, but not that often! Most of the time it's cool and great, and wow! It just makes the song even better!!
Now, some folks will tell you that music videos are a travesty and should not exist. That they degrade the pure quality of music or trick you into liking a song with sexy cool visuals. Those people are mostly over 40 so don't worry about them. You're young and you're amazing and you love music videos. Because why wouldn't you!
So pop open a Mountain Dew Code Red, my vibrant young friend, and let's talk about some music videos that I want to talk about, me, Sean Rose, your good friend who is a real interesting and excellent bud. Each week we'll spend time talking about music videos I love, and music videos I don't love so much. Don't worry too much about the latter - I will only highlight music videos I don't like for the sake of propping up music videos I do like, OK? Only to make a constructive point. No noxious hatemongering in this column!
So let's talk about this week's video: "Fat Lip" by Sum 41.
Oh gosh. Please, if you can, sit down and watch this video at least once if not twice. Heck, three times. Please try to watch it more than once and let it sink in. Let it sink in so deep, deep into your heart and mind, before you continue reading.
I have more than once referred to the "Fat Lip" video as the greatest music video ever made, a title I'm unsure about only when I'm not watching the video and maybe like half and hour AFTER watching it. As far as music videos go, it is perfect. It nails everything.
Hey! Favor to ask you. I don't know how you feel personally about Sum 41, but just for right now - drop it. Drop all your feelings and preconceived notions right now, and look me in the eyes on this one. For me, the most important thing about a good music video is how it represents a song. A perfect music video is one that embodies and visualizes a song to such a loving degree that it pushes the song into a Higher Plane. And on that level, I would argue that the video for "Fat Lip" by Sum 41 is perfect. JUST perfect.
Let's take a look at the facts. "Fat Lip" is uber-millennial punk pop at its most crass: snotty raps, lyrics about havin fun at other people's expense, anti-authoritarian messages, awesome metal guitars. A generation-Y 14-year-old's dream come true. The video IS the song, only visual. The song is all there, in the video.
The setting is exactly where you'd expect: Sum 41 playing in the middle of a skatepark, surrounded by scummy brat-haired kids that look like actual Sum 41 fans. And they're having an awesome time, doing everything they want to do without a single goddamn parent in sight. Boardin in a robot suit, playin around with live geese, dancin with HILARIOUS old men, moshing, jumping, carrying on. A pure portrait of pop punk youth. And Sum 41 themselves are never portrayed as separate from this, or above it - they're just as young and scummy as the kids they're playing for, dancin around with them and havin a grand old punk time. It is a beautiful, never-ending punk pop party.
And hey, did you notice? Barely any cops. BARELY. I counted a total of 5 seconds of cop screentime, and they're not even really doing anything - just gettin taunted by homeless man. Sum 41, and their gorgeous throng of empowered teenage angels, are unencumbered by the hand of the law. They have no time to recognize authority They ARE the authority. Lots of "Fat Lip"s millennial contemporaries featured videos where the cops bust the good time at the end (I'm lookin at you, "Nookie"), but "Fat Lip" does not do that. The party keeps going, and presumably never stops. The dream never dies. It lives on, forever.
I can't imagine what "Fat Lip" would be without this video. It would be a hilarious good time, sure. But it would not be a Utopia. Not without this video.
In terms of a music video perfectly exemplifying a song, I'm not sure how you do better than this one. Not only is it perfect for the song, it's perfect for the BAND: as Sum's first big mainstream video, it portrayed the band as the sleaziest, party-heartiest dudes on the planet, an image that would keep their careers afloat for many a year. Not to slag off their later work, but I don't think most kids nowadays are going to see Sum 41 live because of the "Pieces" video. They're going because they remember the "Fat Lip" video, a video that immortalized our collective image of Sum 41 forever and ever amen.
And that, my friends, is the power of music video.
Thanks for readin, folks, that's all for now. See your nice friendly faces next time!