TV Review - Grammy Category 80

Rihanna and Dudley O'Shaughnessy
in "We Found Love" music video
The 55th Annual Grammys air live on CBS, Sunday, February 10, 2013. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will hand-out 81 awards when it's all said and done.

There are simply too many for one person to ponder. I posted the list of my favorite music from 2012, which includes some nominees like Jack White, Carrie Underwood and Frank Ocean. I don't know enough about music to offer any real analysis nor any reasonable predictions.

You'll be able to see the results after the show airs by going to 81 trophies will be handed out. You won't see all 81. Some trophies will be awarded before the show goes on the air. One of which might be the award for Best Short Form Music Video, which is category 80, if you go to

Last year, two weeks before the Grammy nominees were announced, ABC aired the documentary about Michael Jackson called Michael Jackson: Bad 25. The documentary began by talking about the making of the music video for the song "Bad." Only back then, Jackson insisted on calling it a short film.

With that, Jackson revolutionized the way people looked at and made music videos. He wanted his music video to be more than just that. He wanted it to tell a story and to have a message. He wanted it to be a short film. He also was innovative and bold with videos that featured amazing or compelling visuals.

To me, Michael Jackson's video set a gold standard. That's why when I looked at the nominees for Best Short Form Music Video this year,  I couldn't help but compare them to that standard. I may not know music, but I know a little something about films. I've posted links to all the music videos, which can be found on YouTube here.

The first nominee is 'Houdini' by Foster the People. The video is essentially Weekend at Bernie's (1989). The exception is that the three guys that comprise the band Foster the People are Bernie in this example. Aside from when Michael Jackson turned himself into a zombie for the 'Thriller' video, I can't think of another example of a musician or band turning themselves into the walking dead.

The second nominee is 'No Church in the Wild' by Jay Z and Kanye West. The initial images of the video literally invoke the lyrics to the song's hook, sung by Frank Ocean. Ocean refrains "Human being in a mob." We then see a mob of young people charging at a line of police in riot gear. As the title of the song suggests, the lyrics reference a lot of religious ideas. Kanye's verse, which is the second verse, is mainly about sex and drugs, but Jay Z's verse is a bit more coherent and talks about a disconnection between inner-city life and religion or faith. The hook suggests, like animals in the wild, that there might just be a total disconnection. For the video, young people protesting here are depicted themselves as animals with very specific animal sounds like an ape's scream coinciding with the image of a young protestor also screaming. It might seem somewhat offensive.

M.I.A. in "Bad Girls" music video
The third nominee is 'Bad Girls' by M.I.A. The video is essentially The Fast and the Furious (2001) but only set among the women of Saudi Arabia. While 'No Church in the Wild' seemed to have been inspired by European unrest, this video seems to have been inspired by the Arab Spring 2011. The video thrusts energy and empowerment at the screen, but feels more notable for its stunt-work and not the message.

The fourth nominee is 'We Found Love' by Rihanna. The video stars Rihanna and British model Dudley O'Shaughnessy who like Rihanna has an Afro-Caribbean heritage but unlike the pop star also has an Irish heritage. His father is part Irish. O'Shaughnessy bears a passing resemblance to American actor Robert Ri'chard. It might just be me, but O'Shaughnessy is almost made up to also look like Chris Brown, Rihanna's real-life, on-again, off-again boyfriend. It moves one to wonder if the intense entirety of the relationship depicted here is autobiographical. Regardless, the cinematography, the camera movements and colors, the art direction, were all fantastic. It's beautiful, even when realizing ugliness like Rihanna vomiting, which has a poetic vibe to it.

The fifth nominee is 'Run Boy Run' by Woodkid. Unlike the other nominees Woodkid directed his own music video. Woodkid's real name is Yoann Lemoine. He's French, born just north of Paris. Besides creating indie rock, he's also a graphic designer who has directed videos for Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey. His work has been used for movies and video games. It's even been the inspiration for fashion collections. Most notably, he worked for legendary filmmaker Luc Besson for the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles (2006). This video is infused with the same sense of creativity and child-like wonder, except in haunting black-and-white, and with the verve of something like Michael Ende's The Neverending Story or Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are by way of Spike Jonze.

I have to say Woodkid's video is a very close second, but if I had to pick a winner for this Grammy category, my vote would go to Rihanna's 'We Found Love.' It comes down to that video telling a story, a love story in under 4 minutes and doing so powerfully and very well.


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