Monday, September 12, 2011

Shut Up, Video Director

Little Big Town: Go Big or Go Home Monochrome

Sometimes, video directors think that just because a song is gentle, the video for it also needs to be quiet and soft. This is not so. This is especially not so when a song achieves its gentility because the singer is merely controlling great force — of emotion and vocal chords.

Case in point: the newest video from Little Big Town, “Shut Up Train.” This is one of the stellar songs from their recent album The Reason Why, and The Inky Jukebox is thrilled they have decided to showcase it on its own. It’s one of those songs that rolls along like that train, chug-chug-chugging at an even pace until it can’t hold back and explodes. The premise is that the singer can’t sleep and blames the train, when in fact it’s her memories that keep her awake. Ultimately, she concedes defeat, claiming “I give up: you win” at the end of the last verse, which is the lynchpin that releases all that emotion. The line is repeated while the rest of the band, acting as backing singers, flood in with the chorus one more rousing time.

Here’s what’s wrong with the video.

It has been shot in a hotel room. The singer is presumably at home, complaining about a regular train, not in a rather luxury suite which would have thick windows and not wake its guests with train noise.

It’s in black and white. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, except that whenever they shoot Kimberley they overexpose her, making her seem like a dour raccoon with her blonde mane and black eyeliner. Also, black and white for a soft song is laying it on a bit thick.

It’s mostly in close-up. The boxed-in faces made The Inky Jukebox feel claustrophobic, and force you to focus on the individuals when this is inherently a group song. Also, they look really really miserable. They are not miserable: look.

The lighting for the group shots is shit. The spotlight that shines through the group members from behind blinds me and makes me want to change the channel. The hotel room is clearly shot with pro lights and does not evoke actual home or hotel room lighting.

It’s all been done before. Madonna. Alanis Morisette. Sugarland. All of them did the whole singing the lyrics and then stopping while the song continued lark. All it does is remind you of videos where this technique has been employed far better. It’s got cliché all over it.

It does not stay true to the song: there is no build up so that we can appreciate the emotional breakthrough at the end. The editing is choppy and repetitive, going back and forth from Karen writhing about fully dressed and not sleeping in her expensive hotel room singing to the camera, and the group, who look like outtakes from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video quad shot.

Queen: Also miserable
The Inky Jukebox has seen them perform this song live; it was great. How about you bring that all on home to me instead?

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