Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: Train - “Hey, Soul Sister”

As the video starts rolling, the camera pans down from the sky and focuses on a little corner café, where the band members are just kicking off an impromptu jam session as they stand outside the café. Apparently this is one of the risks involved with dining at corner cafes. Rude musicians can suddenly break into song when all you want is your cobb salad with the dressing on the side.

There’s a handy street sign informing us that this hoedown is taking place at the corner of “Echo Park Av” and something else. That name rings a faint bell, so this is probably some really famous place that means a lot to people who live in California. For the rest of the country, there is no emotional attachment whatsoever. We just know that we shouldn’t eat at this place if we have a migraine.

Before the song gets very far, we are completely distracted by the band member playing what might be a ukulele or perhaps just a guitar that somebody left in the dryer too long. This dude looks just like Howie Mandell, which is actually a frightening thought if you let your mind dwell on it. Whoever he is, he’s very proud of his toy guitar.

Then we jump to an apartment of some kind, where all the furniture and accessories are completely white. Since this is not a realistic design choice, we know right away that something tragic is going to take place with the furnishings. There’s a woman sitting in the midst of all this, looking a little confused, maybe because the white shapes are all blending together and she’s really not certain where the door might be. She’s probably very hungry and sad.

Then we jump over to another apartment, this one inhabited by some guy dressed in black. We can’t really see HIS furniture just yet, so we don’t know if his belongings have a monochromatic theme as well, but we CAN see that there is a large, blank canvas on one wall. (I’m guessing all the hip, young people who live near cafes with spontaneous live entertainment have canvases on their walls.)

Oh look, the next line of the song lyrics suddenly appears on the canvas. That was very thoughtful on someone’s part. I don’t think I could have continued living if I didn’t know exactly what Pat Monahan was singing right at that moment. I am truly blessed.

Well, look at THAT. The next set of lyrics appears, and starts sliding off the canvas, along the wall, out the window and across the building. This is certainly a surprising development. Words shouldn’t really do that, you know? I’m starting to get a little unsettled and we’re just thirty seconds into the show.

Then we have more shots of the band members, Howie included, as they jam along to the perky fake happiness of the song and do cute little dances. Pat Monahan does get credit for perfecting the bed-head look that is still fashionable, but he will not be appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” anytime soon. Just sayin.

Then we realize that the slightly-creepy lyrics are now crawling around on all of the buildings are starting to leak on the sidewalks. I really don’t care for this. I know it’s supposed to be whimsical and fun, but it’s not coming across like that for me. It looks more like, I don’t know, the evil spread of the Dictionary Virus. I’m sure that if this video was playing in Hong Kong, the citizens would be running for those surgical masks they are so fond of.

More shots of the band dancing and singing. Pat has a really big chin, never noticed that before. Not a bad thing, just an observation, I’m trying to give you all the details you need. He still can’t dance, though, jittering around like somebody misplaced a stethoscope. And I hope someone tells the band that the crawling lyrics are now just above them, infesting the building where the café lives. I really don’t trust those words.

Uh oh, it’s too late. The lyrics are now appearing on other people sitting around and reading the paper because they are already bored with the chirpy song. I knew it. Those words are evil. But wait. The people don’t seem to mind. In fact, they seem quite pleased to be sporting the alphabet on their bodies. So are these crawling lyrics good or bad? I’m so confused.

Meanwhile, Pat and the gang are still playing and singing, completely unaware that mobile words have taken over the planet. The lyrics are all over the street, joined by these vicious thick arrows that are pointing in all directions, adding perplexity and mayhem to the scene.

Then, horror of horrors, the words and black lines invade the pristine all-white apartment, appearing on the walls and vases and couches. Sad girl ignores all of this and just pours herself a nice cup of coffee. Why is no one paying attention to what is happening around them? THIS is how criminals get elected to public office and nations go to war. Wake up and smell the copy!

Okay, we’re back to Pat and the bouncing band. It seems Pat got a memo from the corporate office while we were gone, and he’s stopped trying to dance. Now he’s making hand gestures that look like something out of a really bad junior high play. Big, bold and just too much, especially since he’s currently singing about his “untrimmed chest” Do those two words belong together in a song? I don’t think so.

Then we spend a while cutting back and forth between the band and the sad girl in her now zebra-themed apartment. She seems to be in a better mood, having had her coffee and all, but she’s still not paying any attention to the letter invasion, instead choosing to read a large white book that doesn’t appear to have a title. (I guess the title decided to join the Noah’s Ark line of scampering letters as they frolic about town with mad abandon.)

Finally, sad girl notices the arrows vibrating all over her apartment, determines that they might actually be trying to get her attention, then she rushes out the door, happily following the arrows. This would not happen in Texas. Here, people would pull out a shotgun and shoot the arrows, then ask questions later. But I guess they do things differently in California.

Then we have a shot of the guy dressed in black jogging out of HIS apartment, also following the arrows. We haven’t seen him in a while, so who knows what he was up to, but at least he’s not dancing or reading nameless books.

The next few scenes involve sad white girl and brooding black guy wandering along the city blocks, following the helpful arrows that are leading them to their destination. I would assume they will eventually meet cute and have mixed-race children.

And the video ends with them doing exactly that, with their bipolar selves staggering toward each other in front of the very café where the Last Train to Rockville is finishing up their set. Pat finally quits dancing and making grand gestures, much to everyone’s relief, and the metropolis-dominating words are no longer in sight. You can see the diners in the café visibly relax as they realize that the alphabet is once again their friend. And the sun quietly sets on the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sesame Street.

Today’s video was brought to you by the letters “B” and “W”….

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube:


1 comment:

  1. Boringly scary and such FOOLERY! Agreed.., you're liable to get shot in Texas!