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Releasing Short Films with Albums

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Scott Roberts
Releasing Short Films with Albums
on Apr 21, 2011 at 3:07:30 pm

While it's certainly not a brand new concept, I think the idea that some music acts are doing is pretty sweet; releasing short films to visually go along with their albums. And I'm not talking about behind-the-scenes making of videos, but more so films that are almost narratives (but usually very experimental). And often are just interpretations of the work, while at the same time showing off the new music. I know people have been doing this dating back to Michael Jackson and such (probably some even earlier than that too), but maybe I'm just taking note right now because there are a few being released basically within a month of each other. And they are for acts I actually care about. For instance, i don't think I'd notice as much if it were Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber releasing short films with their albums, as those films would be pretentious and uninteresting, respectively.

I do think it creates not only buzz and excitement for upcoming or just released albums, but also creates a little mythical aura around the albums as well. Makes them seem almost like a little more than just an album. And from a business standpoint, the ailing music industry should do all it can like this to try and make the music more appealing.

I know Kanye West did this for his last album, and he was kind of praised as an arrogant genius for it. I don't really listen to Kanye, but I watched the film (titled Runaway), and it wasn't bad. I think it's a good example how you can visually interpret the music without just making a straight up music video. Here's a link to that video (it's got plenty of NSFW language as you should expect):

Last night the Beastie Boys debuted their 30 minute short film, Fight for Your Right Revisited, on Comedy Central. The film stars Seth Rogan, Elijah Wood, and Danny McBride as the Beastie boys, and it's basically just a nonsensical romp through New York, with the guys drinking and causing problems, then running into their future selves who time traveled back to the 1980s in a DeLorean. I found it hilarious and very much in the spirit of the Beastie Boys. And it seemed like 80% of the extras in this were recognizable celebrities. I've never seen so many three second non-speaking cameos! Off the top of my head, I remember supporting roles and/or cameos by Will Ferrell, Jack Black, John C Reilly, Will Arnett, Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, Orlando Bloom, Amy Poehler, David Cross, Adam Scott, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Kirsten Dunst, Mya Rudolph, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, and even the Beastie Boys themselves (humorously playing cops). It's good stuff if you're into it. I believe I posted the trailer already in the "Your Highness" thread.

Last week TV on the Radio released a new album (Nine Types of Light), and an hour long film to go with it. It was directed by numerous people, and is considered a visual interpretation of the album. It jumps between documentary style interviews, experimental concepts, and some segments that do just look like regular music videos. I wouldn't expect anyone to watch it all the way through unless you really like TV on the Radio, but there's a bunch of neat stuff sprinkled in there. On a sad note, they just lost their keyboardist to cancer yesterday, RIP. He did some good work. Here's the video:

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In about a month or so, Arcade Fire will be releasing a deluxe version of their amazing album, The Suburbs. And with that comes not only two more songs, but also a highly anticipated 30 minute short called Scenes from the Suburbs, which is directed by the great Spike Jonze. It appears to be a straight up narrative, having no resemblance to anything like a music video. I'm really excited for this, it looks pretty good. Here's the trailer:

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And of course if you want to see the long form visual interpretation of a Daft Punk album, then rent Tron: Legacy. Zing!

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