Sometimes I have a hard time separating a song from its video. I suppose it’s fair to asses the lyrics to some degree. You wouldn’t judge a movie without taking the dialogue into consideration. Well, maybe you would, if you had it muted to avoid waking up your partner, since they refused to watch it with you because they have “work” in the “morning” to make “money” in order to “live”. Sellllfish.
Let’s check out one of Kanye West’s latest efforts (ft. Bon Iver) “Lost in the World” from the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010).
The track opens with a sad robot a cappella group harmonizing. They seem to be introspective and worrying about the passage of time. Although, as robots, one would assume their immortality with regular maintenance.
Soon Kanye’s verses come in, telling a certain someone everything they are to him. His professions are poetically paradoxical: devil and angel? Freedom and jail? His stress and his masseuse? He also seems upset about the fake-assness of the party they’re attending.
It’s a social faux pas to go to a robot party and complain about how “fake” everyone is, Kanye. Particularly if you’re a hip hop artist who glorifies money.
He imagines that if he and his special lady are together when they die, at least they’ll “get laid in the afterlife.” They should have that inscribed on their wedding rings!
The concept of reality and present time is turned on its head as he claims he’s “up in the woods” to “run from the lights/run from the night” and simultaneously “new in the city” and “down for the night”. He’s either expressing his existential confusion as to where he wants to be in the world, metaphorically. Or, he’s just a bad lyricist. But, perhaps that’s why he’s “lost in the world”. You got me, West.
The song features harmonies throughout: some robots, some ladies, some Kanye. I’m not especially familiar with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, but the auto-tuned voices are apparently sampled from his song “Woods.” Those lyrics make sense. The ones that Kanye has added have befuddled things a bit. The track closes with some deep ‘n earthy drumming and chanting. It seems the best parts of the song are taken from another source.
Sometimes I have a hard time separating a song from its video; luckily, this time, they’re both pretty bad.
West is philosophizing about being lost in the world in his designer street clothes. How can you find yourself when you’re just a carbon copy of a magazine ad? I assume that was purposeful.
These white t-shirted models are dramatically dancing with choppy and disorienting close-ups. I’d think this video was a new edgy Gap ad, but, you know, black people.
This looks like a screensaver from 1997 called “Calming Kanye Clouds.”
That gorgeous woman is going through a tough time being lost in the world, too. Perhaps if she would ask someone for directions instead of having a sexy epileptic fit on some mirrors she would feel better.
“This was the last of my Kill Myself Kohl™ Eyeliner! Nooooo!”
The thrashing around might be arresting if it wasn’t so poorly shot. It’s the lazy music video equivalent of “I can’t tell which Transformer is winning in this Transformers fight!” Those disorienting close-ups certainly fit thematically (where are we?!), but paired with the graphic novel style city scape flying by and flashing about, they come off as sloppy: as if they only had forty-five minutes to shoot before the big cocaine party started. The dancing at the end to the coolest part of the song (the drums) is shot from chest-height up. Their whole bodies contorting would have suited the ominous chanting and deep drumming better. The aim could be that they look more like abstract splashes of black and white, but it seems just as likely that they had to hide their lack of a pants budget.
Nevermind. They’re fine with it.
Incidentally, Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” video has an epilepsy warning at the beginning. He should stick that up here, too.
This stripped down, black and white video fails at simplistic artistry and comes off as ‘first-year film student who has hot friends with an hour or two to spare.’