Music videos were a huge part of my adolescence, occurring as it did during the advent of music television. MTV launched in 1981 when I was 14 years old, but was only available in Canada on satellite. Video jockeys or veejays would get spoofed on SCTV ("The Gerry Todd Video Show:) that same year, but I'd been seeing them somewhere or another for some time by that point, maybe on shows like the New Music or Good Rockin' Tonight. In 1983 NBC's Friday Night Videos gave me a whole show devoted to this resurging medium (after all, musical shorts like Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes had been a part of the filmgoing experience since the 1920s) and Canada finally got its own music video channel in MuchMusic (later just Much) a year later.
Now those programs are gone and the dedicated channels are now seemingly devoted to celebrity culture and reality television, but my love for music videos is undiminished. Instead of hoping for a glimpse of a favourite on television, I can request practically every one I can remember with a simple internet search. A decade ago it was a chore to collect 80s videos for Audrey's 40th birthday, and this year I simply created a playlist on YouTube, since every television in the house can currently access it.
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a hobby, but video curation has definitely become an interest of mine. If I am puttering about in the basement or the lads are over and chilling prior to a gaming session, putting a shuffled assortment of videos on in the background is like having a radio on but with a visual component. Interesting enough to promote conversation but not typically so engaging as to prohibit it.
Just about every time I see a new video I am interested in seeing again it gets saved to a playlist: Metal Queens for heavy bands with female vocalists, Demo Reel for videos with good graphics or arresting visuals, Finnish Hymn for northern European metal bands and a general catch-all list for everything else (and some of the others as well) called M.T. Steve.
In order to have something playing while waiting for trick-or-treaters on Thursday night, I decided to put together a list of videos specifically for Hallowe'en called Trickster Treat - Videos for Halloween.
Some cuts were included because of relevant imagery like masks or monsters, while others made the cut because the music itself felt appropriately atmospheric. I am by no means a Backstreet Boys fan, but the video for Everybody has the whole group kitted up as classic monsters while visiting a castle, so it had to go in. Rihanna's Disturbia, on the other hand, is completely spooky (and maybe a little hot), but didn't do anything for me musically, so it got left out.
Some of them are old favourites like Michael Jackson's Thriller, while others are newer discoveries I've just stumbled across by letting Autoplay do its thing or by following links in the sidebar. Here are a few of the ones I wanted to bring to your attention:
Floor Jansen and Henk Poort - Phantom of the Opera
My household's devotion to Floor Jansen, the amazing (and tall!) vocalist for symphonic power metal band Nightwish is already a matter of public record, but it is only through Fenya that I discovered she had been appearing on a Dutch television show called Beste Zangers (Best Singers). On this show, vocalists from across Holland and representing a broad cross-section of styles take turns covering each other's music. Most of her costars had not heard of Floor prior to this, but have come to respect her raw power and electrifying performances. In this clip she is paired with probably the most well-known mainstream singer in the Netherlands, opera performer Henk Poort, for a stunning rendition of the title track from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. The performance is great, but it is the reactions of the other singers from the couch that I find most gratifying!
Postmodern Jukebox feat. Wayne Brady - Thriller (1930's Jazz Cover)
My buddy Jim switched me onto PMJ earlier this year and I am hooked; what started out as a make-work project for composer/musician Scott Bradlee and his friends has turned into a series of videos, albums and successful live tour. A rotating roster of musicians and special guests do period-style covers of modern pop and rock songs, from a New Orleans dirge rendition of Seven Nation Army to this Cotton-Club-inspired jazz version of a great track for Hallowe'en. Come for one of the funniest guys from Whose Line Is It Anyways?, stay for the tap-dancing zombie flappers.
Radiohead - Burn the Witch
Like a lot of folks, I run hot and cold on Radiohead, but there is no denying their ability to produce atmospheric music. This string-driven piece combines a tense, moving progression augmented by Thom Yorke's haunting vocals with sparse but evocative lyrics:
Red crosses on wooden doorsAnd if you float you burnLoose talk around tablesAbandon all reasonAvoid all eye contactDo not reactShoot the messengers
This is a low flying panic attackSing the song of sixpence that goesThen to top it all off, they wrap it in a harmless-looking yet-still-creepy video that looks like it was filmed on location in Playmobil Township!
The song and video are from 2016 but we only came across it a couple of weeks ago. I'm hearing it played more and more often in the kitchen as All Hallows Eve approaches, but also wish I could download the version done by the London Cello Quarter and Ruth Corey.
HIM - Wicked Game
Formerly known as His Infernal Majesty, this Finnish goth-rock outfit was one of that country's most successful bands. They covered Chris Isaak's melancholy love song in 2011, adding crunchy guitars and a faster tempo, but lost none of the mournful tone. It manages to stand out even amongst the nearly infinite number of covers of this excellent track, which Dazed Digital makes a strong case for being the most influential modern love song. I leave it to the viewer to decide who is prettier in this production: the assortment of models repping the Morticia Addams collection or lead singer Ville Valo.
If you are at loose ends this spooky season (or just in a mood for upbeat angst), please check out Trickster Treats (preferably on shuffle). I've probably overlooked some very worthy inclusions here, so please let me know what you think needs to be added!