Ever since The Beatles began making artistic promotional videos in the mid 1960s and of course with the explosion of MTV on the scene in the early 80s, videos have played an important role in music. But you can tell when a band or artist actually puts some thought and time into their videos rather than just leaving it up to someone else. Naturally, these bands are usually more successful as fans really seem to engage with an artistic and well-crafted video. One of the bands that have been extremely successful with their videos is 21st century rock & rollers Cage The Elephant. It is evident that the band is deeply involved with the conception and production of their videos, and possess a knowledge of cinematic history. So, here are Cage The Elephant’s top seven videos.
7.“Take It Or Leave It”
How could you possibly go wrong with roller disco? The video for the second single from 2013’s Melophobia transports CTE back to the golden age of roller disco, 1976. The video is heavily stylized, with grainy 70s style footage of the band performing for a roller disco expo in Topeka Kansas of all places. Actor Juliette Lewis, who knows a thing or two about roller-skating as she was a championship caliber roller skater back in the day, introduces the band and is seen skating in the video. Check out some of the roller skaters’ fancy moves and the vintage 70s garb.
The song has some grunge leanings and it is interesting that the biggest grunge band of all time, Nirvana, hailed from Aberdeen. The video is a hip bit of stop motion Claymation that tells the story of a lonely monster who just wants a little friendship from the people who live in the city across the bay where he lives in an old volcano, also a possible reference to the Seattle area. The monster makes forays into the city but only ends up accidentally killing people. No matter how hard he tries he just can’t seem to make friends. It’s a cute video but also a little sad.
5. “Mess Around”
Cage The Elephant shows off their knowledge of cinema by paying homage to one of film’s greatest and earliest innovators, turn of the 20th century French filmmaker George Méliès. Méliès is perhaps most well known for his groundbreaking film “A Trip to the Moon,” you know the one where the protagonist fires himself from a cannon and his spaceship crashes into the eye of the moon. It is one of the most iconic images in cinematic history. The video for “Mess Around” off 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty features clips from “A Trip to the Moon” and another iconic Méliès film, “The Impossible Voyage.”
4. “Around My Head”
Okay, it may be a little morbid but hilariously morbid and clever as hell. The song itself, off of 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday, on the surface appears to be about losing someone you love and then that someone haunts your very existence. But the video tells a different story. Haunts is the key word here. Let’s just say that the reason the protagonist’s love interest is gone is because she’s dead. And how the protagonist handles the situation is pretty shocking but also funny. You’ve got to check it out.
3. “Come A Little Closer”
Once again utilizing animation, the video for CTE’s big hit from Melophobia is a psychedelic romp through a fantastic world filled with strange creatures and surreal landscapes where lead singer Matt Shultz and band are confronted with some sticky situations that they escape using a bit of magic. Words don’t really do the video justice though. Definitely take a closer look at this one.
2. “Shake Me Down”
This video will do just that, and that’s what makes it so good. Directed by Isaac Rentz, the video follows a middle-aged jogger whose day takes a surreal turn when he finds a strange entrance to a cave a la Alice In Wonderland. But it turns out that he may not have gone jogging at all in a twist ending. The video gained critical attention and was nominated for Best Rock Video at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.
1. “Cigarette Daydreams”
The video for the fourth single from Melophobia made number one because it is more than just a video; it’s a brilliant short film. The video was directed by Mark Pellington and stars CTE lead singer Matt Shultz’s wife Juliette Buchs. Pellington is an accomplished filmmaker who has worked with an eclectic group of landmark acts such as U2, Nine Inch Nails, Bruce Springsteen, and Public Enemy. The video plays like a French New Wave film, think Jean-Luc Goddard. It follows Buch’s character as she is trying to escape something. It is full of flashing images that harken back to early Russian montage; see Sergei Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin.” The images represent the main characters consciousness as she flees something that she can’t escape until the incendiary climax of the video. It is truly a work of art.