Posted on April 25, 2017
Six years later, the Beastie Boys' Fight for Your Right Revisited still reigns supreme over all other long-form music videos. It showcases the humor and revelry of the Beastie Boys while giving us a new found respect for the excretory system.
When a musician gets big – not girth wise – beyond the threshold of pop superstar status, many believe they should double as film stars. Unfortunately, as good as they are at performing, many can't act (thank you, Taylor Swift). With any luck, a wary producer or record company will convince the artist that their acting abilities would be best used in a long form music video.
Since four or five minutes of screen time performing their song isn't quite enough, they turn their hit song into a large epic production. Often costing up to a million dollars for an over-hyped advertisement for the album. Musicians and their entourage come up with a short film that showcases real life issues like singing, dancing and blowing stuff up. It is usually developed after an intense brainstorming session with talented filmmakers or simply from a coke-fueled romp in Vegas.
Sometimes it can be a political or sociological manifesto and sometimes it's simply an excuse for the performer to jump out of a plane pretending to be James Bond. Either way, these grossly exaggerated perspectives examine a world that these artists know all too well from the movies they watch.
When making our choice for the greatest long-form music video, the choice was not hard. Let's take a look at some of the runner-up's and the reasons why they are good and the grounds by which they represent an artist that is absolutely full of themselves.
One of these exceptions would be Michael Jackson's Thriller. At the height of his career, he hired John Landis to direct a tribute to classic horror. Jackson spent 14 minutes taking a girl to the movies and then dancing with a bunch of the undead. Unlike many after him, this video came directly from the heart. It showcased the life of this legendary singer. Jackson was essentially telling a tale of what was to come – turning into a monster and dancing with a troop of zombies while scaring young children.
Proving she can indeed use 150-year-old telecommunications devices, the long form version of Lady Gaga's Telephone examines the intensity of women in prison. The random acts of mass murder and the love two divas can have for each other. It also explores the boundaries of fashion sense and how cool it is to rip off the latest Quentin Tarantino prop.
Another great example of exploring a deep-seeded concern among musicians is the obsession based themes and visuals in Stan by Eminem. Part autobiography and part Lifetime movie of the week, Stan is a dark tale of Marshall Mathers ignoring a fan and inadvertently leads said fan to commit a murder-suicide. Most people don't know that this was filmed as a pilot for a show that would allow Eminem to rap about other fans he has disappointed each week.
One more honorable mention is Green Day's Wake Me Up When September Ends, a song about a teenage girl running out of eyeshadow the night before school starts. Drifting slightly from the core elements, the video shows the story of a young man joining the Marines to get rich and getting shipped off to (insert name of generic Middle Eastern country). Assuming he can sleep through the explosions, it seems like the guy wants to be woken up at the end of September. He's gotta get ready for Oktoberfest!
Now for the men of the hour (or the five minutes it takes you to read this). A fun and sexy tune with just the right attitude and more than likely, a true look at the life of the Beastie Boys. At least we'd like to think they drink, break stuff and travel through time. They also like to urinate on each other.
In 2011, as a tribute to their 1987 release Fight for Your Right, the Beastie Boys produced a 30-minute long form video that basically destroyed all previous contenders for the proverbial Music Movie crown. Leveraging the will of rock stars before them, Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock devastate the neighborhood with little repercussion.
The film starts with Beastie Boy stand-ins Seth Rogan, Danny McBride and Frodo stepping out of a smoke filled room with the title song playing in the background. They head downstairs and are greeted by Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci (according to IMDB). The group then have a nonsensical conversation about pies and sledgehammers, two beacons of teen rebellion.
As they wander down the street they bash in a convenience store and steal some beer. Walking down the street, the Fellowship of the Beastie Boys shake up the beer and shoot it all over themselves and a random Will Arnet appearance. They go to a swanky diner to steal some wine and meet an old Sam the Bartender from Cheers and Ted Danson's wife.
Overall, the video presents real life to its apex of debauchery mixed with top-of-the-line 1980's visual effects. This lead to a limo ride with some Van Halen girls on acid and of course we got the obligatory Will Farell cameo. At the mid-point of the opus, a mariachi Ron Burgundy plays way too much cowbell in a breakdown section.
The final half continues the homage to the 1980's, with a famed DeLorean. Like the legendary film trilogy that follows an evil scientist and his unruly teenage cohort traveling through time to menace Biff Tannen and his relatives, a future version of the band (Jack Black, John C Reilly, and more Will Ferrel) comes back to menace their younger counterparts.
The result is a dance-off that ends in a self-deprecating group of urination. Not just a little pee, we're talking about water hoses that would make Donald Trump sell a golf course to get some. Now this urination scene is the climax of the film, possibly being the only time in which bodily fluid was used as the deciding action piece for a film. Sorry, that's not even remotely true.
The film ends with the real Beastie Boys arresting their future and past counterparts. This leaves you, the viewer, with a sociological question that haunts you for the rest of your life. It ranks up there with classics like A Clockwork Orange, The Matrix and Madea Goes to Jail. You have to ask yourself, if your future self urinates on your past self, is it like marking your territory or simply a gross thing to do? Do the molecules from the food consumed by your future self end up in the same foods your past self eats in the future or have you just created a paradox?
We're sure that's where the Beastie Boys were going with this piece and why it ranks above all other contenders. It should be added immediately to the Library of Congress's National Film Archives.
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