It’s a feast for music video lovers today as new clips from Green Day, Kanye West and Ne-Yo all hit small screens.
Few mainstream bands do punk pop with as much bite these days as Green Day. “Know Your Enemy,” the first single from “21st Century Breakdown,” picks up where 2004’s “American Idiot” took off. The band is still spitting bile (in this case, slightly veiled) against the Bush Administration’s policies in the catchiest, least pedantic way possible. It’s protest music you can dance to.
The video for “Know Your Enemy” rolled out today on virtually all of MTV’s outlets. The performance clip, directed by Matthew Cullen, features the band playing behind barbed wire in Los Angeles, but it may as well be Guantanamo, as the trio is clearly condemning the failed U.S. policy through such lines as “Bringing on the fury/the choir infantry/revolt against the honor/obey” as well as “Silence is the enemy/Against your urgency.” It’s one of those clips that looks great. They spent a lot of money keeping it so uncluttered. There’s no real concept here, just a reintroduction to a band that’s been away too long.
Even though the blinding lights and setting seem to obviously reference a camp for “enemy combatants, But that’s what’s great about the high-energy clip. If someone chooses not to view it that way, the lyrics and visuals leave enough options to interpret the song in many other ways.
If Green Day confines their travels to one performance stage, Kanye West makes up for their stasis with the peripatetic clip for “Amazing,” his latest single from “808s and Heartbreak.” The hypnotic song has a sinister feel that borders on chilling when West raps “I’m a monster/I’m a killer/I’m know I’m wrong/I’m a problem that will never, ever be solved.”
The video takes the line “my reign is as far as your eyes can see ” literally and turns the song into a travelogue with aerial shots of Hawaii so gorgeous it’s possible to think you’re watching “Planet Earth” or the Nat Geo channel. Add in Young Jeezy’s rap in front of a burning fire and the clip does what videos are meant to do: it adds a level of interpretation to the songs that you would never glean from the lyrics, but nonetheless, suit the song perfectly.
If Green Day goes for straight performance and West aims for enigmatic, Ne-Yo goes for storytelling in his clip for ballad “Part of the List,” his latest single from his Grammy-nominated “Year of the Gentleman.” Ne-Yo is one of the handful of artists that can really convincingly act in his videos and in others’ clips (check out Keri Hilson’s clip for “Knock You Down,” which features him and West). The R&B crooner consistently comes up with the most romantic songs about strong women of almost any singer today. Here, he’s full of regret and heartache for a lost love who shows up with her new fiancé, but she’s not quite done with Ne-Yo yet-don’t tell that to Ne-Yo’s new girlfriend. Shot in color and black and white, there’s a slightly confusing/very disturbing tale end to the video that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Let us know if you understand the significance of the last five seconds.
Check out the videos below:
Green Day, “Know Your Enemy”
Kanye West, “Amazing”
Ne-Yo, “Part the List”