Interpretive dance makes a splash in art-rock vids

I’ve noticed an unabashedly weird trend in music lately: an onslaught of interpretive dance in virally-successful videos. Interpretive dance, much like “new-age” (which I discussed in a previous post), seems an unlikely candidate to return to mainstream popularity, simply by the virtue of how BIZARRE it is. We continually hear that our pop-culture sphere is characterized by unattainable, photoshop perfect visions of the human body, so the rise of un-self-conscious movement through using one’s body as a palate for artistic expression seems most unexpected.

Thom Yorke’s frequently-spoofed dance for Lotus Flower from King of Limbs is one of the most prominent examples of the popularity of this kooky trend… the video has over 11 million views, sheesh! It is necessary to note that Radiohead’s exceptionally-devoted legion of fans would rabidly consume any  new release from the deity of Thom Yorke, but it’s still interesting to consider how Yorke’s weird moves may have impacted our cultural consciousness.

The screen-shots at the top of this post are from “Bizness,” the first single from Tune-Yards’ 2011 release whokill. Merill Garbus has been bringin’ the WEIRD since her group’s inception, check out her super-low budget first video “Real Live Flesh” from Bird-Brains. The visually striking video for “Bizness,” directed by Mimi Cave, makes a link between the un-self-conscious nature of childhood with adult artistry through some seriously silly faces. Check it out:

Sufjan Stevens’s video for “Too Much,” the second single from his 2010 release Age of Adz, shows experimental dance with a surreal, space-age, mechanized feel. Stevens’ tour for Adz featured slightly clumsy, enthusiastic dance moves courtesy of Stevens and his backup singers who encouraged the audience to dance along (especially during the 25-minute-epic “Impossible Soul”). See the slightly-awkward, visually engaging  just-released trailer of “musical cosmonaut Sufjan Stevens and his Astral Masters of Song and Dance” from Asthmatic Kitty. Here is “Too Much,” directed by Deborah Johnson (which was projected on a huge screen during his performance of the song, fyi.)

Similar to “Bizness,” Stevens’ video is characterized by jump shots, a flurried pace and a neon, rainbow-bright aesthetic. These vids have seen considerable viral success, and I wonder if the fast pace, unavoidably bright color-scheme has something to do with it.In our quick-clicking, short-attention internet culture, are jumpy shots and bright colors the only way to lure viewers in and keep them engaged?

And our final example comes from the NSFW-ish video for Battles’ 2011 single “Ice Cream” from their upcoming album Gloss Drop.  Directed by Canada, this video gives off that seedy American Apparel vibe with plenty of shots of girls licking various objects (pinecones! ow), pretty foolproof strategy in guaranteeing viral success. The video features an interpretive dance breakdown from 1:30-2:05.

Whattya think? Do you dig interpretive dance in music vids or is it a little too out-there for your taste?

My vote: the weirder, the better!