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IT’S LIKE THAT: Seeing the Music

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I made Nike look like a genius today.

While I was working out this afternoon, I felt a surge of adrenaline run through my body when The Killer’s “All These Things I’ve Done” shuffled through my iPod. If you don’t know the song, I’m sure you know the breakdown: I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier.

(left: Mary Lou Retton, one of the many great athletes appearing in the newest Nike commercial featuring the Killer’s, “All These Things I’ve Done.”

Like the recent Nike commercial that features the tune–I envisioned a quick montage of athletic achievement and struggle. But instead of Lance Armstrong, Mary Lou Retton, or antelopes galloping through the wild, I took center stage in this quick clip of cinema verite that played out in my head. You–or Nike–would have never known about it either, unless I told you (which I just did right now).

A previous Nike ad featuring Saul Williams’ “List of Demands (Reparations)” had the same effect on me. Because I grew up on Rocky soundtracks, or maybe because I have a knack for putting the right music to my workouts, both of these tracks were on my iPod Shuffle long before they became songs for commercials. In all fairness though, the Nike clips have given the songs a second life.

Somewhere in the back of my brain I’ve felt this feeling before, the sensation of hearing a song then automatically putting visuals with the music. Why am I having déjà vu? Ah yes, I remember now–the music video.

Remember those? They were the ultimate marriage of sight and sound.

If done correctly, a music video could either make a great song better or a mediocre song great. Before Radiohead made a video for “Just,” I thought the song was so-so. After seeing the video though, “Just” became (and to this day is still) my favorite Radohead tune of all-time. In 1992, I became a life-long Beastie Boys fan after watching their video for “So What’cha Want?” The distorted hip-hop tune mixed with the ever so simple visual of three dudes jumping around the forest in t-shirts and sock caps created the perfect booby-trap that triggered something deep within my soul.

Since the music video was put on life support at the turn of the century, music fans, like myself, have turned to other alternatives for music and video pairings. One of the most obvious sources these days is the television commercial. Sometimes they’re done with great results (M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” promoting the film Pineapple Express) and sometimes they’re not (Santogold’s “Lights Out” and “Creator” schlepping Bud Light Lime).

When a song and visuals don’t mix, disastrous results can occur. The Transplants’ tune, “Diamonds and Guns“–a catchy little number on their debut album–was ruined after Garnier Fructis made it their official theme song. I no longer picture the rough-and-tough Tim Armstrong, instead, all I see when I hear that song are good-looking teenage kids shampooing their hair. Band of Horses’ “The Funeral” lost some of its profound luster after it was used in a Ford Edge commercial. I still can’t get the image of that wide-eyed girl stupidly staring through the moon-roof out of my head.

But who am I to say if a song works for a commercial or not? Maybe someone connected with that Ford ad and has since become a fan of Band of Horses? I’m sure there are a bunch of Killers fans who don’t think “All These Things I’ve Done” is necessarily a perfect tune for a Nike commercial. To others, maybe Saul Williams’ song about reparations loses all meaning when placed in the context of selling sneakers (especially considering that the kids in China making Nike shoes may be asking for reparations themselves one day).

The marriage of music and video has always been subjective. I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t like The Rapture until hearing their song “Heaven” in a skateboard video. Behind the visuals of kick-tricks and rail-slides, it somehow all made sense to me. Just last night I got goose bumps after hearing Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia” in a Michael Phelps Olympic montage. And sometimes the beauty of sight and sound play out through my own eyes. If I’m listening to my iPod and the visuals around me (a mother walking down the sidewalk hand-in-hand with her child, teenage kids playing basketball, an old man hobbling down the street) connect with the music, the experience can give me the same satisfaction of a great music video.

So what I’m trying to say is this, with or without Nike, MTV, Garnier Fructis, sports montages, beer commercials, or homemade YouTube clips, the music video will always exist in one form or another and will always have the potential to transform a song into a magnificent life experience–even if it’s just inspiring you to do one more rep of dumbbell curls.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.