Thursday playlist: Eyes open, eyes shut

Múm – “They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded”


Bat for Lashes – “What’s a Girl to Do”


José González – “Down the Line”


Fields – “Song for the Fields”


The Chemical Brothers – “Do it Again”


Kanye West – “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’”


I’m always fascinated by the choices that a band and/or director makes when translating songs into video. Do you go for a literal interpretation — a sort of visual paraphrase — or do you go more abstract? For instance, I like the Múm video because I think it reflects the aesthetics of the song: cute, upbeat, but a little disturbing. The Bat for Lashes video follows a similar pattern, converting the mood of the song, but also redefining the concept of backup dancers.

The video for “Down the Line” veers from the literal music-to-video translations, as the song takes more of a back seat, functioning like a soundtrack to the story in the video. Apparently there will be seven total videos from José González’s In Our Nature, each an interpretation of a deadly sin and following the pig-man protagonist. Which sin do you think this one is? I’m guessing Wrath, but only because of the end.

Next is the Fields video which completely changed the song for me; I heard a sing-along Fleetwood Mac sound at first, but the video makes the song much more somber, even though I’m still not completely sure what it means. I can’t stop watching the Chemical Brothers video, so I think it wins the prize for Best Music Video for an Insanely Annoying Song. If you feel up to the challenge, try closing your eyes while you play the video. I barely lasted 20 seconds.

Finally is the web sensation, Zach Galifainakis’ interpretation of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’.” It’s worth watching just for Will Oldham’s inability to keep a straight face, not to mention Galifainakis’ spittle-filled beard.

9 responses to “Thursday playlist: Eyes open, eyes shut”

  1. Dave says:

    Okay, this business about not commenting on the playlists is a bit fucked up. You don’t have to watch the videos first if you don’t want to.

    I say: Welcome, guest poster Miller! That last video is hilarious. Would someone please explain Kanye West to me, as I have only vague ideas and am probably completely off?

  2. Miller says:

    Thanks Dave! Your playlist from last week inspired me to take a different approach. I think this is and will be a fun series.

    As for Kanye West, I actually think he’s best known as the guy who said President Bush hates black people after Hurricane Katrina. As for his music, I’m only familiar with the bits and peices I hear on the radio and t.v., but he’s one of the biggest hip hop artists around. Not sure if that answers much.

    Oh! I forgot to mention that Will Oldham makes an appearance in R. Kelly’s 15th installement of the “hip hopera” Trapped in the Closet. Please don’t ask me to explain that to you, but you can waste some hours you will never get back if you want to check it out on

  3. Jeremy Zitter says:

    mum is my favorite!

  4. lisa t. says:

    nice, miller. welcome to tgw!

    what a fun thursday playlist. i really like the fields song, but not the video– and i really like the chemical brothers video, but not the song (same as you).

    funny mask-wearing atv/bike themes in 1/3 of the vids above, too. hm.

  5. AW says:

    Welcome Miller, and welcome your playlist. I look forward to more.

  6. Dave says:

    Finally got time to watch the rest of them. That Chemical Brothers video is such a refreshing antidote to the unbearable Babel.

    And the song would probably be fun in a club, especially remixed the right way.

  7. stephanie Wells says:

    That first one is absolutely mesmerizing. could watch it forever and I just might. The girl on the bike is pretty darn compelling too. I think I need more denouement of the pigman saga to fully understand, though.

  8. Miller says:

    Thanks, everyone, for the comments. Lisa T., nice observation on the whole semi-theme running throughout a lot of these. And I also find myself disliking that Fields video more an more; it just doesn’t seem to fit with the song.

    Dave: I’m totally with you on the Babel antidote, although I still cannot stand that song. It’s like catchy nails on a chalkboard–I can’t get it out of my head.

    Stephanie, as for the pigman saga, I watched the second video for “Killing for Love” at and I’m still not sold. This time he’s naked throughout; I’m still not seeing any sort of connection between the song and the video. I think such pretty songs shouldn’t be assigned such a supporting role.

  9. Jeremy Zitter says:

    I finally got around to watching all of these videos (except the mum one, of course). Couldn’t stop giggling throughout “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’.”