Can Videos Still Do Magic?
glamglare newsletter #4
What’s In a Video?
It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that there was a time when music videos were shown exclusively on TV. In Germany, where MTV was unavailable before the 90s, this was restricted to a single hour on Monday at 6 pm. Hence, the next day, the latest videos were the water cooler talk. Figuratively, because we did not have water coolers in Germany.
Today, videos are just one of the many channels musicians use to promote their music. Even in the age of TikTok, YouTube is still one of the most popular ways people consume music. So it makes sense to put something on there that is more visually appealing than just the cover art.
And it does not have to be expensive. In fact, it should not be costly because there are more efficient ways to use a budget for promotion than a professionally shot video. Phone cameras and free editing tools go a long way, and anybody can create a good video with some practice. Find a pretty or exciting place to shoot, let the band lip-sync the song, and done.
A too strong narrative anyway distracts from the music. So do hired actors. A video is a chance to see more of the musicians behind the song. Clips that are detached from the underlying music rarely work.
The same goes for interpretative dance. It seems easy: let a good dancer friend move to the music. But it has been done far too often, and interpretative dance does not speak to everybody.
Elke and I love music videos, and we still watch many of them weekly. Some we present in our “Video Picks of the Week” series or put them in the newsletter as a video “that should have a million views.”
I hope you enjoy watching them.
Song Picks of the Day
Little Suspicions - Giving Up The Ghost
"Giving Up The Ghost," the new single by Little Suspicions takes you by the hand and leads you to the Italian riviera, for a little evening stroll. Add some nostalgia and 60s flourishes, including lyric pieces in Italian and the result is an unforgettable and utterly irresistible song. Moritz Meyns (vocals), Conor Toner (guitar), Craig Barden (bass), and Joey Lyon (drums) create music that is instantly alluring, igniting a myriad of feelings. When asked about "Giving Up The Ghost" they say:
Bar to bar, drink to drink, bleary eyed little suspicions drift along in search for their lover. The song takes you on a star crossed lovers pub crawl from The Nags Head to The Crown, only for hopes to be dashed at empty bar stools, leaving only questions for how their partner feels and a sore head. The single's artwork is a visual representation of this feeling. Giving up the Ghost isn't our story, though. We found it easier to write this song as a confession from the perspective of the antagonist.
Listen to "Giving Up The Ghost," our Song Pick of the Day:
Connect with Little Suspicions here.
Aliénore - Paradise Lost
Aliénore wants to show you her inner world. "Paradise Lost," the fragile debut single of the Berlin-based, French-British singer/songwriter, starts as a quiet folk song, but it takes a sharp left turn for the bridge when the underworld makes an appearance. Aliénore says about the song:
"Paradise Lost is a sonic representation of an otherworldly landscape that came to me, channeling my musings on life and mortality. The lyrics are highly descriptive in order to take the listener on a journey into the unknown."
Listen to our Song Pick of the Day, "Paradise Lost," on your favorite streaming service or below:
Hallan - Sich Übergeben
British post-punk quartet Hallan seem to have enough if the title of their latest single is any indication. The urgently pulsating track is called "Sich Übergeben" and tackles a chain of situations that can make you sick to your stomach. Conor Celements' frenetic visceral vocal delivery brings the importance of the message home, lightened up by a pretty synth line and a mesmerizing beat. Asked about "Sich Übergeben,' out via Nice Swan Records, Hallan say:
"Sich Übergeben" (translating to "to vomit") deals with our British tendencies to spew forth from our gullets, unloading our ill-informed and rather unwanted opinions onto others, the interwebs and beyond. From our living room thrones we strategize and glamourise, acting upon misinformation through hypocritical means. It's not too long before spewing becomes physical, and suddenly a father figure spews from his plane upon the foreign sunnyland soil, covering the precious ground in British vomit, clutching a pint in one hand and his health-card in the other. His alien son looks on. 'Who is this man and who is my father?'
The usage of a German verb seems to intensify the importance of the message, or is it because I understand it so well? It feels like hitting the bull's eye, in a catchy wrapping. Listen to "Sich Übergeben," our Song Pick of the Day:
Connect with Hallan here.
Laura Toth - Na Na Na
Sweden-based singer Laura Toth is done with playing games. Either he's coming around or else. And she makes clear with the scat-sung chorus that she is ok with it, either way. "Na Na Na" is an energetic, fun pop song that may stick in your head for a while.
Listen to our Song Pick of the Day on your favorite streaming service or below:
This Coast Bias - still not ok
Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Clay Milford makes music under the moniker This Coast Bias, and his latest single "still not ok" is a beautiful example of catchy pop meets compelling guitar rock, topped off with pleasantly powerful vocals. Asked about his musical style, the Oklahoma City-based musician says:
I like to call the kind of music I write breakup pop. I always seem to end up writing music about things that annoy me in relationships, but don't most people do that?
Milford offers further about his musical upbringing:
I grew up on a hefty diet of disco and funk from my mom and rock from my dad. I might listen to Led Zeppelin for a week and then be sick of them and only wanna hear Donna Summer for a month straight. I don't think you should have to pick between genres as a listener or a musician, and these days, the lines are more and more blurred by the day anyway.
It always touches me to hear with what kind of music musicians grew up. Today's twenty-somethings are so lucky to be exposed to a plethora of great stuff! The record "collection" of my parents was not existing, safe a few 50s evergreens from my mom. Hence maybe my appetite to discover cool NEW music, and listening to This Coast Bias' other single releases, this IS a great new discovery. Listen to "still not ok," our Song Pick of the Day:
Connect with This Coast Bias here.
Twelve Ballet - I've Been There Too
We have been following Australian musicians Sam and Ben Hope, who record as Twelve Ballet, and their intimate, restrained pop music since 2016. So we missed them dearly after their last single "My Sweet, Darling's a Nice Word" in 2019. It turns out they took a hiatus, because life moves on, and they live now in different cities. But then singer Sam took the initiative and wrote and produced a new song, "I've Been There Too," mostly herself, while Ben did the drums and engineering part over the Christmas break.
"The song explores the feelings of uncertainty, change and loss - and the feeling of feeling lost within ourself and the perception/expectation we have of ourself versus what we do and say."
Read our Q&A with Twelve Ballet at the end of the newsletter and listen to our Song Pick of the Day, "I've Been There Too," below:
Celestial North - The Nature Of Light
Celestial North is a fascinating, multi-faceted musician, at home in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her pure and emotive vocals paired with her exquisite songwriting make me think of Kate Bush or Grimes. That's right because Celestial North's music defies being pressed in just one genre as she combines heavy synths with airy harp tone as in her latest release "The Nature Of Light" or super-soft piano tones over a shimmering bed of strings like in her captivating cover of R.E.M.'s "Nightswimming." In essence, her songs are marked by an ethereal, delicate vibe, and "The Nature Of Light" was inspired by her studies as a Herbalist. She says:
Innate knowledge imbued within us all and accessed through intimate, synergistic and intuitive relationships within our natural kingdoms.
The song features her young daughter Iris Bluebell and was written to inspire her children to walk into an unknown future with courage and love in their hearts. Beautiful! Listen to "The Nature Of Light," our Song Pick of the Day:
Connect with Celestial North here.
Meet Twelve Ballet
The music of Twelve Ballet hovers right at the edge between folk rock and synth pop and you never quite know which direction their next song goes. But whatever they do, it comes from a very personal place, soaked in sunlight and feel very much at home in Queensland with its all-year summer climate.
Read our Q&A from August 2019 with Sam and Ben here:
Who of you had the idea to start a band? Did you always make music together?
Ben has always been interested in playing music (queue flashbacks to 3 year old Ben dancing around the living room with a plastic guitar), but it was actually dad who had the idea of bringing Sam in as vocalist.
According to the liner notes, Sam is writing the lyrics and Ben the music. How do you get together and make a song out of it?
It's different every time; but for our latest single Ben has created a majority of the song first and then Sam came in and did the lyrics - being on the same wavelength helps! (Somehow we both ended up in relationships at the same time - our lives seem to run in parallel a lot)
Before Twelve Ballet you were making music as Glider Pilots. Why did you change your name?
We'd grown out of the name, both as people and as a band - the sound was changing and didn't match anymore, and since we came up up with the name as teens, whenever somebody said it we felt like we were 16 still, so along came Twelve Ballet.
How would you name your genre? Are there any musical reference points you are going for?
Indie...Alternative...it's always had a blues/folk influence from growing up listening to artists like Jack Johnson, Phil Collins and John Mayer.
This is totally off topic: I've never been to Australia, but I often hear about its sometimes not so friendly fauna. What was the scariest animal you have encountered so far?
It's not necessarily the scariest, but when we renovated our house we literally knocked down a wall and found a snake inside...and we have these birds called Curlews here that have these death like screams; they just live in the neighbourhoods - calling out all night, being a kid they gave you nightmares.
You released your debut album as Twelve Ballet last year. What are you up to next? Any plans to tour outside of Australia?
We would love to tour outside of Australia, a lot of our fans seem to be overseas, especially the US: but we need everyone to share it and get it out there; then maybe we just might be able to.
Last but not least, our favorite closing question: if you had the choice, which decade would you like to live in for its music, fashion, style etc?
Ben - mid to late 70s Sam - music of the 70s, but with 80s/90s clothes (literally trying to steal all of Elaine's looks from Seinfeld)