Sunday, July 3, 2011
Backup Dancers From Hell: One Republic - “Good Life”
We start out with shots of some drab place out in the country, maybe an old farm, with rotting fences and a whole bunch of nothing. Quick glimpse of lead singer Ryan Tedder rudely looking away from us and playing an imaginary drum set while gazing at overgrown, abandoned fields where still nothing is going on, although at one time I’m sure these fields were witness to banjo-playing and hillbillies with little regard for the family tree of their sex partners.
Ryan discovers a section of fence and seems to find it fascinating. This is all innocent and fun at first, but as the video plays out, we keep seeing him near that fence, and we begin to question his motives.
The other band members start joining in, playing their instruments and such. Ryan says a short prayer, pats on his belly and chest a bit, because he’s got the music in him, and then he starts to whistle, his facial expression that of an angelic choirboy. This is a lie, of course, because you can’t be in a successful band in this country and still be capable of both purity and whistling.
Hold up, something’s going on. The camera pulls back a little bit, and we can see that someone is holding up a board with the video of the band playing on it. Oh, so we’re going with technical gimmickry here. That’s nice, because I was already a little tired of Ryan playing a Jewish Cowboy in Amish country. Then the person holding the board changes, to a woman with magenta hair who seems intent on chewing the upper right corner of the board. She’s probably evil. Or at least hungry.
And that’s our theme for a while, with a variety of people and backgrounds holding up this board so we can watch the band jam over yonder in the leftover set from Places in the Heart. Then the camera zooms back in so the band scenes fill the screen again, and we watch while Ryan poses near fences and tree stumps while wailing the song, never once losing his odd hat or the firm belief that we actually want to look at that hat.
And here come the hands once more, with the Holding People changing at a quicker pace. This, of course, causes us to pay more attention to the outer rim and the flashing colors than the actual band, so I’m not sure this was a well-thought-out artistic decision. (I do catch enough of the main action to realize that Ryan has a fondness for standing on the edge of a broken bridge that leads nowhere. I’m sure he can get a song out of the experience.)
Full-screen jam scenes again, with the band now camped-out in the middle of a dirt road. They seem to be having a good time and feel safe, but I’m here to tell ya, having been raised in the country, some 15-year-old hopped up on homemade hooch is going to come barreling along that dirt road sooner or later, swerving recklessly in a windowless pickup, and will not see your asses until it’s too late. Word.
And we’re back to people holding the board, only now they are passing it around to one another in a twisted version of Hot Potato. Just when I’m thinking we really need to move on from that concept, they switch to three separate people holding three separate boards at the same time. This totally changes everything and I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what they do next.
But then they go back to just one holder at a time, and I am emotionally devastated. They start letting us see more of the Holding People, zooming in and out, with some of the actors taking desperate measures to appear totally charming and possibly land a TV series. (Hey, it takes less effort than that to get on some shows, like Dancing with the Stars and Fox News.)
We go back to full-screen and now the band is walking single-file through the fields, with most of them looking off to the right, possibly in fear. (See? I told you that pickup would show up sooner or later, with them getting forced off the road in a dusty whirl of rusted metal and manure fertilizer, having to leave their instruments behind for the locals to pick up and use in some ongoing feud about bovine ownership and grazing rights.)
And here we go again with the Holding People, and they’ve added some shots where four holders appear at the same time, but the luster on this technical extravaganza is quickly fading. It would be fine if Ryan and the gang were actually doing something inspiring in those fields, but how many times can Ryan walk by that same stretch of broke-down fence and that one guy who looks like he stole Bob Dylan’s hair?
I pick up the phone, intent on calling the video producers and suggesting an alternate take (Godzilla suddenly shows up in the field, or maybe one of the Holders takes the board hostage and refuses to give it back unless cherry limeades arrive as ransom, something like that), but they refuse to immediately take my call and I am placed on hold.
Meanwhile, the video plays on, with more of the same. They do seem to be spending a little more time on giving the Holders some character (hey, is that Joan Jett lying on that green lawn, and Hugo from Lost posing as a homeless biker?), which gives us a little variety, but they’re all just holding this damn board. I never thought I would say this, but I’m actually ready for a totally unnecessary line dance.
Wait, the band is back on that dirt road, so I guess they didn’t learn anything from the backwoods hit-and-run. Ryan is holding a tambourine during this part, and making odd hand gestures that possibly indicate he has lost a contact lens. This is interrupted by a Holder with such vibrantly-orange nail polish that I actually feel my corneas melting.
And basically, that’s how the rest of the video goes. People hold things, Ryan keeps showing up on that bridge to nowhere, and shots of the instrument-less band doing the single-file marching thing like The Brady Bunch headed toward that cave with the idol and the annoying revelation that Bobby and Cindy live to be in the next episode.
We go to full-screen for the final image, with Ryan whistling and then wandering along next to his new love, the voiceless but apparently highly-alluring stretch of rotting fence. It’s nice that he’s found someone, but does he really understand the splinter angle?
Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.