Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dieselpunk Lists: Dieselpunk Style Music Videos

"I am scared easily, here is a list of my adrenaline - production: 1: small children, 2: policemen, 3: high places, 4: that my next movie will not be as good as the last one." - Alfred Hitchcock

I have to admit that lists are something I really like. Therefore, this is the first of an occasional series of various lists of Dieselpunk themed topics.

There are several music videos that, while the songs themselves lack anything that one would lead one to call them "Dieselpunk," the video productions all have Dieselpunk characteristics.

Madonna: Express Yourself

Probably the most Dieselpunk of all of the videos is Madonna's "Express Yourself." This video pays a clear tribute in its imagery as well as its storyline, what little storyline there is to her video, to the 1927 classic movie Metropolis. The end of the video is a special tribute to Metropolis with the words, "Without the heart there can be no understanding between the hands and the mind," which are nearly identical to the statement made near the end of the original movie.

Pat Benatar: Shadows of the Night

The video begins with Benatar working as a Rosie the Riveter in a factory during World War II. She looks over at a propaganda poster and slips into a daydream of being fighter pilot. While I can forgive the multiple historical inaccuracies throughout the video being that it’s a daydream, the most serious problem is that it portrays the women factory workers as though they were somehow not part of the war effort when in fact they played a vital role. Otherwise, it’s a fun video and, of course, one can always enjoy seeing someone hunting Nazis.

Depeche Mode: Precious

This video simply oozes decodence. Yet at the same time it includes a strong fantasy element in its presentation. That being said one gets a slight Steampunk feel to it with appearance of the mechanical sea creatures so one could possibly make a claim that it crosses both genres.

Gorillaz: Dirty Harry

One might say that this video has a Post-apocalyptic Piecraftian theme to it with the World War II paramilitary machinery and uniforms along with the impression of some form of post-disaster era with the desert setting.

Gorillaz: On Melancholy Hill

Once again, Gorillaz goes Dieselpunk. This video begins with "pirates" flying World War II era fighter craft attacking a cruise ship in which a girl wearing a mask grabs an automatic weapon from a brief case and fights back but fails to save the ship. She's later saved by a giant who rises from the ocean. After the sinking of the ship, the video cuts to a fleet of small bizarre submarines who are some unknown mission. It certainly ends with the possibility of a sequel.

Lady Gaga: Alejandro

In Alejandro, Lady Gaga gives us a video with a clear Dystopian Piecraftian feel to it. The paramilitary uniforms and neo-fascist, totalitarian imagery oddly combined with transvestite eroticism and bondage certainly places this video strongly with Dieselpunk.

My Chemical Romance: Welcome to the Black Parade

The combination of the largely black and white cinematography, the manner by which the action slows and stops like a hand-cranked camera, its disconnected and jerky editing, the use of the iris transitions, the woman who turns around wearing a WWI era gas mask and so much more all screams early Diesel Era. In addition, the landscape of a devastated city certainly could place it in a Post-Apocalyptic Piecraftian genre.

My Chemical Romance: The Ghost of You

Finally, there’s the outstanding video to the MCR song, The Ghost of You. In the video, the band portrays a group of GI's during World War II. The scenes alternate between a USO dance and their participation in the Normandy invasion. The dedication to realism of the Normandy invasion during the video is amazing. Through the creative direction and editing of the video, The Ghost of You does an amazing job of portraying not only the horror of the war but also the heroism of the Greatest Generation in a truly creative fashion.


Tiyana said...

Hi Larry! Just to let you know, I've been reading your blog on and off, though I've never commented until now. (I discovered dieselpunk accidentally while doing research for a novel I'm working on.) Anyway, I get so excited reading about dieselpunk that I write verbose replies and then feel obliged to refrain from posting them, haha. Though today, I'm certain I can keep things relatively brief.

I love, love, love the last music video you shared. Visually, I think it's so captivating, and it's interesting to see this aesthetic combined with rock music, for sure.

Have you ever heard of a group called Caravan Palace? They're French and have come up with their own music style called electroswing. I love how they are able to maintain the essential swing style (particularly in their violin guitar parts, very similar to Django Reinhardt's musical style) even though they mix in the more modern electronic element.

A successful blend, I think.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Hi Tiyana! I'm so glad you enjoy blog and that your especially enjoyed this post on videos. Please feel free to post your comments anytime.

I have indeed heard of Caravan Palace and they're great! They're on my radar for an future post. Another electro-swing band you might like is Tape Five.

Thank you so much for posting your comments.

Tiyana said...

Ooo! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check them out. :)

cagliostro said...

hello there's a lot to read on your blog, well for a start i choosed a music linked post.May i suggest two videos which are not directly dieselpunk but which somewhat have some components.
Duran duran new moon on monday 1983 is set in an french village and is inspired by ww2 nazi occupation and resistance. I think they wanted it to look great but the mix of modern and past is very awful (the motorbike helmets for exemple..)
La union a spanish pop band, homnbre lobo en paris (werewolf in paris)1983 is dark 30-40's inspired by a famous french autor Boris Van.
Imagine i have to virtualy go to America to discover french artists... i didn't know abourt Caravan Palace !