Part 4 in a series.
It sometimes seemed like MTV in the 1990s was little more than a video résumé for one Adam Spiegel, aka Spike Jonze. He seemed to be the guy directing all the damned videos, and some of the era’s most inventive concepts were his. Here’s a sample.
Up first, let’s watch some television. Like, that time when Weezer guest starred on Happy Days.
After that there’s a new cop show on. It’s called “Sabotage.”
There was nothing especially earth-shattering about The Breeders’ “Cannonball,” but damn was it a big hit, and I suspect a large part of the reason emerged from the way Jonze captured the likeable quirkiness of the Deal sisters.
You know the look that video had in the ’90s? Jonze, perhaps more than anyone, is responsible. “Hang On,” by the tragically underappreciated Teenage Fanclub, illustrates the point.
Then there was “If I Only Had a Brain” from MC 900ft Jesus. Clever, clever. The thing about Jonze was that if he did your video, you were just about guaranteed play on MTV.
If I’ve never mentioned it before, I freakin’ loved Elastica. Jonze’s campy, futuristic Ghostbusters take on “Car Song” was a perfect vehicle (if you will) for Justine Frischmann’s deadpan style.
The video for REM’s “Crush with Eyeliner featured some more of that “’90s look” thing I was talking about.
Let’s close it out with “Da Funk” by Daft Punk, which appears high on most Best Video of the 1990s lists, and for good reason. Jonze had a sense for urban atomization, and if you’ve ever felt lost in a new place, you’re probably going to feel some empathy for the protagonist.