I love music videos. I used to watch them frequently and discovered a lot of great music doing so. I have decided that every now and then I will post about an interesting video to recall those times. Tonight's entry comes from the Foo Fighters.
Foo Fighters – My Hero
The Foo Fighters recently released a new album and all the press on it got me thinking about how the band made a lot of great music videos that were staples of my junior high and high school video watching days. I was never a huge fan of the band, but I was enough of one for a time to buy some of their albums. In doing "research" for this post, I was kind of surprised at how much they've released (both album and single output), and even if I don't really follow them, I've generally found songs I've heard over the past years solid and enjoyable. The Foo Fighters have a pretty defined aesthetic and they do what they do well. Also, Dave Grohl just seems like a genuinely cool guy. More power to the band for keeping at it all these years.
Anyways, I liked The Colour and the Shape and There Is Nothing Left to Lose a lot, and that was really the extent of the music I acquired by them. The run of videos from those two albums can stand with pretty much anyone for quality, creativity, humor, and/or rocking performances. Let me just list them: "Big Me," the Footos video, and yes, technically on the self-titled debut album but it had to be included, "Monkey Wrench," the requisite late 90s fish-eye performance video, "Everlong," the requisite 90s Michel Gondry classic, "Walking After You," the movie soundtrack cut, in this case X-Files, "Learn to Fly," the Eddie Murphy play-a-ton-of-characters video, with appearances by Tenacious D, "Breakout," at the drive in and also from a soundtrack, Me, Myself, and Irene, and "Next Year," Foos in Space. Damn. Nothing to sneer at there.
I left "My Hero" out of that list, because that's the one I've picked to highlight in this post. "Everlong" is probably their best, though that could be the Michel Gondry super fan in me talking, but I wasn't interested to put it here because I think it tends to get the props it deserves. "My Hero" is my favorite Foo Fighters song and a very cool video in its own right, yet seems to be under-appreciated. The frenetic energy and urgency of the video's story matches the power and bombast of the song musically. Lyrically, this song is about a general hero. The details are vague, because really, what is a hero? (Read that line in your best Sam Elliot voice). What I do like is how a line like "he's ordinary," gets visual representation in the fact that we never see the hero's face as he goes about saving people, animals, and objects from a burning building. While the subject matter falls more on the serious side and this is represented by a brave act, there is still some of the Foo Fighters trademark humor to be found. It's kind of funny that he has to keep going back into the building, and it is funny that the baby and dog have their eyes censored by a black bar.
The best thing about the video to me is the fact that is one long shot. Now, I suppose there could be subtle edits since the band keeps appearing in different rooms each time the guy goes back in, but part of me thinks the Foo Fighters would have scrambled to new locations while the camera was outside, so as to be true to the work of making a great video. They seem like the kind of guys that would do that. Yes, there are some brief cuts to band members at the beginning, but you can see that the main narrative keeps going in one continuous take. Whether in a music video from 1998 or a Martin Scorsese film, I dig these long shots. They require a lot of thought and careful choreography to pull off. I also think it helps emphasize the song itself. Certain actions and moments become synonymous with what we hear, as a sort of guidepost or rest stop to keep our bearings, in a way. That seems to make less sense in text than it did in my head. Just go with it.
So it's a video that probably took a little work to pull off, it fits the song, and let's not forget that while the band is more in the background, this is a rocking performance. I don't think that sweat is from the fire necessarily. With this video and several others, the Foo Fighters carved out a place for themselves in the pantheon of classic music videos. They may not hit these highs again, but it is pretty cool they are still active at least. Footos, anyone?