An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!
Having written this column for over a year, I find it’s occasionally challenging to bring something new to the table each week. Not that there isn’t enough music out there, but that I constantly want to share more from artists that I’ve already featured. When this sort of itch gets at me, I find the best thing to do is to remove my earbuds and to take a step back from my self-curated listening habits. It’s actually pretty damn neat to let go of the responsibility of what to listen to and I really should do it more often because music, in some form or another, is always all around us. In cabs and Ubers, over the PA systems in stores, and even in passing cars when you walk around the city. It’s not always going to be great music, but the relinquishing of DJ duties is quite relaxing.
In doing this, I found my “seed” song this week in a convenience store and from it, the theme of stop motion videos. While scouring YouTube for examples to share I found that there are so many incredible examples of what I’d want to call visual earworms–if that didn’t sound so gross. The songs the videos were made for are quite good, but in most cases the insane amount of work involved in the videos can almost eclipse the music.
Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer”
If I did anything right this week, it was walking into a store when this was playing. I doubt there’s anyone out there that would deny the staying power and earwormy-ness (totally a word) of this 1986 song. Staying at or around the top of the charts for quite some time all across the world, this song, it’s safe to say, has some street cred. The real treat is the video for it that had to have captivated MTV audiences back when videos were still a very big deal for music. When a video is produced by the studio that made Wallace and Gromit and directed by the same person who helmed the first season of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, you really can’t go wrong. You can even see a lasting influence of “Sledgehammer” on modern music videos like Kina Grannis’ “In Your Arms.”
Oren Lavie – “Her Morning Elegance”
Continuing the stop motion theme, I found there are quite a few videos out there that accomplish more than just the cool frame-by-frame effect. Some actually use it to manipulate our perspective of the scene. “Sledgehammer”, although weird, is pretty straightforward with Gabriel singing to the camera while effects happen to him. A video like this one for Oren Lavie’s 2007 “Her Morning Elegance” depicts what’s best described as a dream sequence in two dimensions using three dimensional space. The video tells a story of a woman’s dream using various sheets, pillows and clothes while the “frame” of the bed never changes. Walking through a city, flying through the air, and swimming in the sea are all beautifully shown with bedding. Not to steal a word from the song’s title, but there is a certain elegance to successfully telling a story with those restrictions.
Shugo Tokumaru – “Katachi”
Much like with the previous song, there’s a beauty in simplicity. The thing is that these videos are anything but simple. The time involved to prep everything for a video like “Her Morning Elegance” involves frame-by-frame placement of two people and a bedroom’s worth of props….and then there are videos like this one from Japanese singer-songwriter Shugo Tokumaru that involve so much more. “Katachi” means “form” or “shape” in Japanese so it’s fitting that the video follows an seemingly endless and ever-changing flow of varying shapes. Each of the approximately 2000 layers were cut from PVC sheets and choreographed perfectly with the music. Imagine the time and patience you’d need to correctly layer each piece in the right order and to not mess up anything between each frame.
Videos like these are simply astonishing. So much time and effort go into one final product that only lasts a few minutes. Faces were painted, clay was sculpted, and props delicately and precisely placed for literal fractions of a second of screen time. These videos deserve far more credit and awe than we give them.
With the massive amount of stop motion videos out in the internet, it’s likely I completely missed your favorite. Share it in the comments below or on our social media feeds!
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)