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Mike Doughty’s Top 12 Cheap Videos

Mike Doughty’s Top 12 Cheap Videos (photo)

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Check out the world premiere of Mike’s new video “Put It Down.”

What the world needs now is videos, cheap videos. MTV doesn’t play them, and VH1 only plays them before noon on weekdays, but we’re still watching them, on YouTube and everywhere else. Before the record business started tanking, they were laying out big bucks for mega-productions; now budgets are more modest. Rightfully so, I think; one of the worst things to happen to videos was when, as the art of video-making started to come into its own, MTV began putting the names of the directors on the video, right under the song title and record company credit. On the positive side, this began a kind of auteur era in videos — Mark Romanek, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Hype Williams — but, the music business being the music business, once they saw that one guy had a hit using a certain video director, everybody thought “If we use the same director, we’ll have a hit, too!” There was a period when you could watch BET for an hour and literally see nothing but videos by Hype Williams; that is, until Hype’s assistant director Little X started directing videos himself, and then every video was by Hype or Little X.

Fueled by the insane cash that was around when the CD was preeminent, labels thought nothing of spending $500,000 on a video. I remember being told that Warner Bros had little faith in me as a potential hit-maker because they budgeted only $120K for a video. I had a friend who lobbied his label for an extra $20K for a crowd scene in a video — a relatively modest rise from a $300K budget. Now artists — even established record-sellers — have trouble getting $20K in the first place. I tend to dislike the videos I made with Soul Coughing — it haunts me that we could’ve spent a bunch of people to film school for all the money our record company spent on them.

Lacking the big dosh, video-makers have to rely on inventiveness, not to mention the charisma of their performers — what they should’ve been relying on in the first place. Rob Barocci, Tina Fallon and I made the video for “Put It Down” for bupkis, less than $2,000 — we hope other artists and video-makers follow our lead, and the lead of others that are replacing fat budgets with creativity. To inspire, here’s a list of cheap (and perhaps cheap-looking) videos:

12. The Cure – “In Between Days”

That weird effect where the camera is zooming back and forth and Robert Smith keeping shoving it away and all around the room was done by mounting the camera on a shopping cart. Cheapo animation magnifies the charm.

11. A Tribe Called Quest – “We Got the Jazz/Buggin’ Out”

The fellas, sadly, are fairly uncharismatic, but the black and white footage matches the moodiness of the song. Even better is the rare instance of adding a brief video for a different song at the end — which strikes me as a really smart, inventive move for promoting an album that’s really an album, not just a hit single — “Buggin’ Out,” in which they put ping-pong balls on their eyes.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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