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This blog is about music videos. If you want to know what I think of the songs, you can find my exciting and witty opinions at The Singles Jukebox.

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Chemical Brothers - Elektrobank.

There’s been lots of interesting discussion on the Young Person’s Trendy Tumblr today about irony in 90s music videos, after a Pitchfork writer posted his own list of 50 favourites from the decade. Obviously any Pitchfork list is going to be indie-heavy and US-centric, so to a dance-pop loving Brit there are some glaring omissions (not least “Vogue”! Hi there new followers!) and certain styles of video aren’t going to make the cut. My favourites on the list are almost all directed by Spike Jonze: Daft Punk, Pharcyde, the Beastie Boys and this awesome gymnastics routine for the Chemical Brothers. However amongst other awesome stuff not on the list (*cough* *ahem*) Jonze has done some right stinkers too.

Mike makes some excellent points about how and why many 90s indie artists used pastiches - trying to avoid alienating their audiences who think they’re cooler than the next person by having the band tip a wink to the 4th wall. We’re not taking this seriously, so we haven’t sold out! However this only makes for a truly great video if the thing being satirised was any good in the first place. Spike Jonze seamlessly spliced Weezer into an episode of Happy Days - boring, unfunny toss that was STILL ON THE TELLY when “Buddy Holly” came out, endlessly repeated on Channel 4. Weezer weren’t exactly my favourite band in the first place and Jim Fixing It for them to hang around with a past-it Henry Winkler didn’t do them any favours. Bland band hang around on the set of a bland sitcom being loveable heartthrobs. Ugh. This is possibly unfair to fans of the Fonz, but my point is this: piss-takes in general get old incredibly quickly unless a) the original is awesome b) the piss-take itself is funny, or at least adds something to the original. “Buddy Holly” fails twice for me.

How does “Elektrobank” succeed? Is it even ironic in the first place? We may have seen ultra-competitive gymnasts a thousand times before, and even this specific narrative is a famous one. Kerri Strug and her broken foot scoring a 9.712 on the final dramatic vault to win Olympic gold for the US team in Atlanta is one of the best sporting stories since that ice skater broke the other girl’s kneecaps. Jonze ups the spectacle by chucking in some non-canonical ribbon twirling and doubles the drama by the arrival of our heroine’s parents at the crucial moment! The whole thing is poking fun at Strug, and over-dramatic competitiveness in general: this isn’t even an important setting, it’s just the local schools championships or something. But no-one is nodding or winking — Jonze doesn’t care whether the audience take it seriously or not. The video verges way off the irony map and into uncharted awesomeness territory.

Then again, gymnastics is never not awesome, especially when set to pumping breakbeats. This is why I loathe Jonze’s “Praise You" video - how could you make something like this when you’ve got "Elektrobank" under your belt? I remember watching "Praise You" for the first time and wondering when they were going to drop the ‘being rubbish’ act and surprise the shoppers (or at least the viewers) with some super backflips or turning into zombies or something. I waited and waited but there was absolutely nothing of merit there.

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Get Far ft H-Boogie - The Radio.

What the hell is this? Someone has done a bagpipe-bosh track that is Not Good? Impossible! You know, someone really needs to properly bosh up Shoots And Ladders. Nick-nack paddy-wack BOSH BOSH BOSH! [does Fatboy Slim effect] Mary had a little l-l-l-l-l-l-amb-amb-amb-amb-amb-amb.

Anyway back to matters at hand. This video contains Forest Nymphs in daft outfits doing rhythmic gymnastics and taking turns to blowing Susan’s magic horn (hur hur hur). However the only powerful force they are summoning is MY SCORN. Mr Tumnus accompanies them with his trendy black Macbook.

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Omarion ft Gucci Mane - I Get It In.

The headstand is a move seldom employed by pop choreographers, and for good reason: just think of the ensuing clash with the pop hairdressers! It would be straightening irons at dawn. No such problems for Omarion’s team however, as he and his troupe have not only passed their BAGA Level 3 Gymnastics but have trimmed their crops short enough that no amount of inversion will muss them up.

In fact, such is the dedication of Omarion’s backing dancers that they have all squished their heads up to be the same size as his, to make sure the bit at 1.28 works properly. That was sweet of them.

(h/t @lexpretend for this!)

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Livvi Franc ft Pitbull - Now I’m That Bitch.

Of all the reputed weight-loss methods available, those machines where you stand up whilst a rubber belt jiggles round your waist seem the daftest. Think of the friction burns! I’m not sure why the already flat-stomached Livvi Franc is bothering with her bright yellow version (2.05) when she’s doing all that rhythmic gymnastics anyway. Maybe Beyonce got one for her birthday and Livvi was jealous?

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Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow.

Brace yourselves people, we have a 2009 video with a budget! BEP’s new effort looks slick and symmetrical and suitable for the 21st century.

Plus Will.i.am’s vocoder magically transforms a rifle into a trumpet and Fergie’s colour-changing leotard allows her to gain her BAGA Level 4 award. Infinitely better than this sort of thing (but somehow not quite as good as this).

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