Sunday, June 5, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Matchbox Twenty - “3AM”

We start out on some urban street late at night, where we apparently have some road construction going on while Rob Thomas moseys down a sidewalk, looking sad and despondent. (And he also looks to be about 12 years old. Has it been that long since this video came out? Geez.) I guess Rob didn’t hear my question, since he just keeps walking and looking tragically unsatisfied.

Cut to a lobby or some such where they have lots of payphones. (Which means that this must be an antique store, right?) Anyway, Rob’s there, and he’s still not happy about whatever. He does a few dramatic poses, then quickly gets bored with that and finally decides to actually start singing the song, which is a good idea, this being a music video and all.

Then we start getting some photo stills rolling across the screen, the product of someone trying to be artistic with a limited budget, and one of the first shots involves Rob peering out of some stark shadows. This is not a good image for him. He looks exactly like he’s about to murder an entire church choir with a pogo stick, and then do something unseemly with their undergarments.

Back to Rob in the middle of all those seedy payphones and, based on the way he’s wandering about and doesn’t seem to know where the camera is, he’s probably drunk. Not that it matters, because some of the other folks using or standing near the payphones are having a lot more difficult time with life. (Just what is that one guy with the odd hair doing in that phone booth? Is he even breathing?)

More shots of shuffling people milling about who either don’t have a quarter or just don’t have anywhere else to go. (“I’m bored and broke. Let’s go watch people talk to other people that we can’t see and everybody is depressed. Yay!”) Rob is very invested in continuing to stroll about in this place while repeatedly doing something insistent with his left hand.

Cut to a sidewalk somewhere, with Rob sitting on the curb and pouting, right next to a pile of perfectly good ice cubes that some fool has thrown on the pavement. (Was somebody hearing voices from the freezer?) As a dude with a cowboy hat walks behind him, we get more artsy stills of Rob and Cowboy looking bereft and underappreciated. We’re just a monotone narrator away from a documentary about poverty and neglect in the inner city.

And then we have another area with phone booths, but this place seems to be a little spiffier, possibly a fancy hotel or maybe a mental hospital with phones that don’t actually work but the patients don’t know that, keeping them occupied while the staff watches Ellen DeGeneres in the break room.

Before we can learn any more detail, we have Rob standing outside an all-night drugstore, peering into one of the front windows and watching a blonde woman shop. (This is really kind of creepy, Rob. Why are you doing this? And you DO realize that everyone can see you, right, with your face pressed up against the glass? Bad stalker!)

We go back to the artsy stills, with shots of a very bored checkout girl hating her job, the Blonde trying to decide which box of powder will best soothe moist areas, and Rob on the verge of mass homicide. The Blonde finally pays for her selections, and then she and her bra-less nipples leave the store. Rob just stands there and watches her go, with an expression on his face that doesn’t look very healthy.

We have some live-action filler shots of Rob singing all alone, Rob kicking at that pile of ice (Seriously, what has that ice done to anybody? Leave it alone!), and Rob doing an interpretive dance next to one of those helicopter rides for kiddies where you put a quarter in, it bumps up and down three times, and then it’s done, leaving the kid to howl in anguish for another quarter while you question the dark side of procreation.

More artsy shots, and I think these snaps are of the other band members. I’m only guessing, because I don’t know any of them personally, we don’t hang, and it really doesn’t matter in the end. There’s just some pictures of people caught at odd moments mixed in with images of trashcans and fruit.

Now Rob is back on the street again, walking in the middle of it because that’s completely safe to do in a city where everyone appears to have emotional issues. A car pulls up with two people inside, stopping right at Rob’s feet. While the woman stays in the car and acts simultaneously sultry and offended by something, the shirtless man gets out of the car and approaches Rob so we can better see his tattoos and smooth skin. Just as I’m thinking of the many thousands of gay-porn films with scenes that start like this, we cut away. Dang.

Shot of Rob and the ice, both of them melting.

Back to the middle of the street, where it turns out that all the shirtless man wanted was to bum a cigarette. Really? He’s jones-ing for some nicotine, so he’s going to drive around in a car and wait until the lead singer of a rock band steps into his flight pattern? Why didn’t he just go to that store where The Blonde and her nipples shop? They both seem to be open all night.

Anyway, it’s the really dramatic part of the song, so we cut to the band performing in yet another lobby with payphones while it rains outside. (Just like the song!) Rob is very fond of this scene, jumping about energetically and not seeming to mind that the camera person cannot keep the camera still, making the images jump and flicker like those horrid 8-millimeter vacation films your grandpa would force you to watch as a youngster when all you wanted to do was go play outside and learn new cuss words.

And that’s how we wind down the song, with the band jamming and the rain falling. Sure, we have a few more artsy photos, but we’ve learned to not trust them very much and can just let them go. The final shot is of Rob back in that first lobby, doing some kind of shuffle-step tribute to Fred Astaire while dirty people breathe on receivers and continue to not be concerned with fashion or personal hygiene. How nice. And I hope The Blonde got things dried up. I’ve been really worried about her…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

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