Friday, January 8, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: Owl City - "Fireflies"

Gotta say right off the bat, this video is just creepy. I know they were trying for artsy and symbolic, but we took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

We start off rather simply, with close-ups on the lead singer (I guess that’s who he is, it’s not like he’s wearing a name tag) powering up a rather antiquated synthesizer thing, flipping switches and turning dials. Then the odd, child-like music starts, and we’re off.

We get a long shot, and discover the guy is sitting in somebody’s bedroom, hopefully his, playing this fancy but old piano. The room is crammed with all kinds of toys, but most of these things are old-school, like they’ve been sitting in the room since the days when you could get cigarettes for 50 cents a pack.

Oh look, the piano has magic powers. When the guy hits certain buttons, things start turning on in the room: lights, an old record player (hey kids, do you know what THAT is) and toys. It also activates this primitive digital type pad thing, that helpfully types out the lyrics (all by itself!) when the camera cuts to it. That’s very sweet, helping out the slow learners who might be listening.

Then a couple of old TV’s come to life, but there doesn’t seem to be much on, so my guess is that they don’t get cable in this house, which is tragic and sad, since nobody IN the house can actually watch this video.

Then we have a bit where the guy is singing and playing softly, and we learn that the piano keys also activate little dome lights on top of the piano. This is interesting for about three seconds, but jump cuts showing this magical connection go on forever. Somebody thinks it’s very important that we see this, but I don’t get it.

Oh my, the music gets louder and even more toys and things in the room whir and blink to life. More things than you can really focus on. I’m starting to be a little troubled by this video. Why must there be so much activity? Why aren’t there any NEW toys? Is this guy poor or just lazy?

Okay, we have a quick shot showing that the guy isn’t wearing any shoes, so I’m guessing the poverty explanation is the proper option. Or maybe he’s showing that he’s a free spirit, like all those hippie singers back in the 70’s showed on stage just before they overdosed.

And then there’s a disco ball spinning. Yay. We like disco balls. Then the chain snaps and the thing crashes to the ground. God this video is depressing.

Then the music gets louder again, and we have a shot of the record player spinning faster, just in case you weren’t paying attention and didn’t realize that the music had changed. There’s this toy thing sitting on the record while it spins madly, so you know it’s going to fly off at some point and put an eye out or maybe even kill you if the impact point is a critical one.

Let’s see, so far we have poverty, depression, possible injury and death, and a non-functioning disco ball. This is one feel-good video, let me tell ya.

Meanwhile, more toys are coming to life, until it seems like thousands of things are spinning, clapping, bashing cymbals, crashing into the wall and generally creating a situation of severe potential threat. But the guy keeps playing his little piano like this happens all the time and you might as well sing.

Quick shot of the namesake fireflies flitting around in a jar, and that’s real pretty and all, but we only see them for a second and it’s not enough time to calm down and quit worrying about the toys that might kill you.

Then the guy hits another piano button and a blimp flies out of the closet, which is exactly what you would expect to happen, right? The thing floats around the room while the manic toys whir and clank and appear poised to overrun the planet. To reinforce this mood of panic and anxiety, we have about 400 jump shots in a row, so many that your eyes start to twitch and you begin to wonder if you’re going to need medication when this song is over.

Oh no! Some claw thing just reached down and snatched up one of the toy dinosaurs. Do you think it was Sarah Palin trying to eliminate all evidence of evolution?

Finally, we get to the slow ending of the song, where the guy is singing in that Cher-tribute digitized voice. (Hey, both of those people have songs with “believe” in the lyrics. Maybe this IS Cher. She’s finally been able to turn back time! And change her sex.)

The guy starts hitting more switches, and now we’re basically in rewind, as things around the room start turning off and the toys wind down. (It’s just like that decompression feeling at the end of the tilt-a-whirl ride.) He finally turns off the last few switches and then sits at the piano with his head down, looking sad.

Two things, guy. What did you do with the fireflies? We only got a brief glimpse of them. They were the only things that brought any happiness to me in this video. And dude, clean your room. My mother would have whacked me good if my room ever looked like that….

Click here to watch the video on YouTube:

1 comment:

  1. This dude was obviously a kid at one point in time and either didn't know how to go outdoors and make friends when his mommy told him to, or was the kid on the block with the most toys. Can we say.. CLOSET TOY FREEEK! ROFL