Friday, August 14, 2009
0.01 We open with a young and nigh on unrecognisable Magda Szubanski on the skins – really hammering away to somehow produce what sounds like someone tapping a few plastic pens on their desk. Throughout the rest of the clip, Magda will continue this earnest style of playing, which can charitably be described as ‘workmanlike’.
0.04 A panning shot gives us a tantalising glimpse of a handsome orange pirate shirted bass-player, and the next cut almost provides us with his identity – but alas, a fine curtain of oily locks prevents us from instantly recognising his chiselled features.
0.08 Aaaah: tracking down a bank of keyboards, we can already tell that they are arranged in descending order of smoothness, and for this track we’re going to reach way down to the smoooooth smooth bottom.
0.14 The keyboard player himself, Mr Wayne Cook of Steppenwolf, certainly merits that satisfied grin he’s wearing. Sure, he’s knocking some super smooth keys here and know he has a hit, but here’s a spoiler: he also knows that he’s about to pull out one of Rock’s Finest Moments of Ultimate Power in about two minutes time.
0.16 And here he is, the Moses of Rock, our gently-mulleted guide through the wastelands, lead singer Peter Beckett whose real name is probably Derek, I think we can all agree.
You can tell that Derek is British from the outset as his expression seems permanently set to “resentful”. In fact the whole clip can be read as a struggle between his innate annoyance at his basic lot in life and the commercial need to appear sexy and cool with his rock god status.
0.24 I don’t know who this guy is. He looks like he’s uncomfortable being in shot. Sort of like he once committed a crime and was positively identified but managed to flee across state lines and start up a new life. But the thought that someone who knew him back west may one day turn on the tube and see him, and pick up the phone and start in effect a chain-reaction that could only end with him doing twenty to life with a cellmate name Bearclaw, well, no wonder he’s trembling slightly.
0.25-0.36 The guys look like they’re essentially taking a break here, which is a pretty bold move twenty-five seconds into the song. Magda probably isn’t too happy up the back since her solid protestant work ethic at least demands that every put in a bit of effort until this thing is properly moving, but she’s silent on the issue. And we haven’t even had a good look at our orange pirate yet.
0.37 There we go, Derek’s soon-to-be trademark look of petty injustice. “What do you mean there’s no more orange juice in the green room? SOD THIS.”
0.43 Cook’s jaunty keyboard work definitely suggests he has something wicked up his sleeve. “Oh, the guys are gonna LOVE this,” he smiles to himself.
0.48 “I was parked there for maybe a minute,” thinks Derek, “and it wasn’t even marked as a towaway zone. And what’s that bloody Steppenwolf session guy up to back there? He better not try any cheap rock theatrics. This is MY clip.”
0.52 More sneery Derek- WAIT A MINUTE! The orange pirate is none other than Ridge Forrester from the Bold and the Beautiful! What the dickens?
0.59 Magda’s not one to lose focus in the presence of daytime soap royalty, and continues her steadfast work with all of the polish of an afterschool lollipop lady.
1.22 Our first really good look at Ridge, and my word that pirate shirt is even more impressive than we’d at first realised.
1.26 Magda can see the song’s half-way mark coming up soon and is looking forward to finishing up so she can get home to a nice pie and some steamed vegies, and perhaps something nice will be on the box. It’s nice to unwind after a long day like that, isn’t it?
1.32 “All day long,” sings Derek, “wearing a mask of false bravado… trying to keep up a smile and hide the tears…” Well, you’re not REALLY, are you Derek? I mean, I’d say you’re less trying to keep up a smile and more wearing a mask that speaks volumes about the venue’s poor plumbing.
2.04 I can’t properly see here but it looks as if they are either playing on a white floor (not good commercial sense as it would surely get scuffed) or else they have the smog machine cranked up to create a foot mist, as if these man-gods were actually on some heavenly plane itself, and not the cheap studio that charges $40 an hour if you bring your own PA. Or it could just be a refraction from all the hairspray floating around.
2.11 It’s obvious why Ridge has been so forcibly absented from this clip. His apollonian cheekbones, like the mountainous ranges from which he draws his name, along with his darkly glittering eyes, flexible morals and outstanding ability to rock a four-string make him the group’s only real contender for proper Rock Star Status.
2.18 The hairspray thesis has been confirmed.
Not much going on for the next 15 seconds, so just take a minute to ready yourself for what’s coming up at 2.34.
2.34 Which would be Rock’s Finest Moment of Ultimate Power. Accompanied with a little shoulder roll flourish at the end.
2.41 Derek sneaks in an urgent gesture to the Mysterious Guy, which says “did you SEE that arsehole? Did you SEE it? He’s a freakin’ session musician!” Mysterious Guy tries not to draw attention to himself.
2.45 Derek continues his rage – his movements scream “I’M the star here. ME.”
2.47 Ridge half-pulls off another awesome rock moment, possibly just to enrage Derek further. Oh you coy fox, Ridge.
2.50 Derek is now all “Look, I don’t care anymore, I really don’t. I’m over it. OVER. IT.”
2.59 Ridge just keeps amping up the jolly rock antics, and the group’s cohesion continues to suffer. It looks like they might not even be able to keep it together until the end of the song. This will be a shame.
3.14 This super smooth vocal breakdown and fade proves it – this whole thing was a shambles and the guys aren’t going to finish it. They were wrong. Better to just trail off now and get their deposit back.
3.17 OH NO YOU DON’T! NOT ON MAGDA’S WATCH! Her expression is 100% “GET BACK TO WORK, BOYS”.
3.15 And work they do! You can see the steely determination with which they round out the song; the only thing holding them back now is Derek’s surly, outraged schoolboy prefect look, which stubbornly refuses to go away.
3.28 Ridge is perhaps getting a little too enthusiastic with is bass here. He may be trying to arouse Derek, however, by discussing past conquests in graphic detail.
3.36 Derek returns a look to Ridge that says “Fuck OFF, I know how to be sexy!”
3.39 Always the morale-booster, Magda bangs the drums while howling “Do it, Derek, do it!”
3.45 And our lead singer FINALLY brings sexy back, or at least has an ice cube dropped down his back in order to do a passable imitation.
THAT’S A WRAP.
In the comments on YouTube, a number of people recall it as the ‘mop song’ – it was used in a commercial for mops in the US, apparently. I can only imagine how it feels when your manager sits you down to break the big news that your No. 1 hit track is up for some filthy lucre: an advertising deal! Let’s buy a 747! Hold on lads, it’s… it’s for mops.
The silence that followed that announcement must have been profound. These bright young men offered to sell their souls to the devil and the highest bid came from a mop company. And they said yes.
This may explain Derek’s expression, actually.