Friday, May 1, 2009

Retrovideo Friday: "Forget your virtual reality..."

This week's installment of Retrovideo Friday is yet another mid-to-late-nineties video. It's also one of the best examples of a simple video done right.

This Week's Pick: "Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai (Year: 1996 - UK, 1997 - US)

The first time I saw Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" (a single from the 1996 album Travelling Without Moving) on TV was on the now-defunct cable music video channel, "The Box." The channel was designed for viewers who wanted to request and pay for music videos to go on the air. As a result, there were many chances to watch videos for some of the most popular songs of the moment. There were also a few random opportunities to catch really wacky, obscure videos.

"Virtual Insanity" — for all its simple zaniness — did not end up falling into the second category of videos. I saw it repeat numerous times on the first day I caught it on the air. And I remember seeing it play on MTV and VH1 many times. While the song got a lot of radio play, its video was even more popular. Directed by Jonathan Glazer (whose resume includes classic Radiohead and Blur videos), the video focused on Jay Kay, the main man behind Jamiroquai, dancing around in a stark white and blue room.

Except the room was no ordinary room — the room itself seemed to have a moving floor, and the little furniture in it kept sliding all over the place. So despite being very plain in its color scheme and not having too many things on the screen, the video was enough of a visual trip for people to obsess over how it had been filmed.

It turns out that it wasn't all that complicated. In a 1997 interview, Glazer told Entertainment Weekly there had been no computer tricks involved. "What we did was put the whole set on wheels and attach the camera to one wall. The furniture also had little wheels, and we had guys moving the set and the furniture [outside of the frame]. The floor never moved. It was like a magician's trick," he said. [Entertainment Weekly]

The video went on to earn multiple MTV awards, including "Breakthrough Video" and "Video of the Year." And the song's cool funk remained memorable enough for it to get covered by Blake Lewis on American Idol a couple of years ago.

But enough about all that. You can just see what the big deal about "Virtual Insanity" is by going here.

1 comment:

  1. And this also brought about a new style of hats worn on 'Hat Day' at school.