There is no doubt it, but 2020 has been a truly traumatic year for the rock ‘n’ roll Überverse, with live shows all but non-existent in the vast majority of places, and income streams completely decimated for many of those involved in the music business. The latter is a feeling we know all too well here at ÜRHQ, as we ourselves have not earned a penny since the Northern Ireland entertainments industry went into lockdown on 14 March. However, one thing that has shown through is the enormous creativity of many, many hundreds of artists, and equal numbers of those working behind the scenes, in adapting to the changed global landscape – one which, in many cases, may indeed be changed forever: streamed shows, whether live or pre-recorded, have virtually (sic) become the norm, and no doubt will remain so, especially here in the Über Kingdom, for quite some time to come…
Another area of the business that inevitably has been forced to adapt is that of video production, with the ability to film promotional clips severely hampered by multiple waves of lockdown restrictions severely hampering the ability of bands and crews to come together to create previously envisaged ideas. Some bands, especially at the more extreme end of the spectrum, took their chances by raging against the machine, defying curfews and risking prosecution to film their videos and bring them to their fans. Others adapted to the changed circumstances by using the internet and its various tools to record “virtual” performances; others adopted the ever-faithful tactic of animation, while the ever-faithful lyric and visualizer formats also continued to play a key role… As a result, we at ÜRHQ continued to find ourselves wading through piles of submissions for our ‘Video Of The Week’ feature, and we continue to marvel at the enormous creativity which has been shown in using this particular artform – and I do truly believe that, when done well, it is a form of art in its own right – to promote music throughout the most traumatic year which the Überverse has experienced, certainly in my lifetime.
And, so, as 2020 heads towards its cursed demise, we thought it appropriate, in time-honoured fashion, to look back over the year that is now rapidly disappearing behind us and look back at the video clips which have embedded themselves in our memory banks as epitomizing the best that the genre has had to offer over the past 12 months, and especially in the restricted environment in which it has found itself working for the vast majority of that time. And, again in time-honoured fashion, we present our top five selections in reverse order…
By the time June rolled around, there appeared to be some light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of the first wave of lockdowns being eased; but, nevertheless, with three months of darkness behind us, we all needed some cheering up – and that is when German folk rockers Feuerschwanz stepped into the breach with their wonderfully inane, OTT and funny (as we described it at the time) video for their interpretation of the dance floor smash ‘Ding’. Originally recorded and released by the Berlin pop act Seeed, Feuerschwanz recruited Rage Of Light/Ad Infinitum/MalefistuM vocalist Melissa Bonny to give the track a full metal makeover for the second single to be lifted from their covers album, ‘Die Sieben Todsünden’, released as part of the deluxe version of the band’s latest full-length offering, ‘Das Elfte Gebot’:
4 MATTY JAMES CASSIDY
The first wave of lockdowns here in the Über Kingdom actually proved to be an extremely productive period for Northern Ireland troubadour Matty James Cassidy, wrote and and released two full albums and an EP over the course of just a few months: but, then, he always has been a prodigious writer, and not one to sit twiddling his thumbs – at least not without a guitar on his lap! This wonderful, ‘Peaky Blinders’-inspired video was for the title track of the second of those albums, ‘Old Souls’, and was filmed in and around the singer-songwriter’s native County Fermanagh:
3 THE RETICENT
Coming at number three in our (very personal) selection is something that came at us from totally left of centre back in April, but proved to be a song, and a video, that needed space to breathe, space to inhabit itself, and the listener/viewer, space to be absorbed, enjoyed, and enveloped… Unusually for us, it’s also a cover, of which we’re not normally fans, but this re-interpretation of ‘Fade To Black’ – one of my favourite Metallica songs – proved to be “simply breath-taking”. It saw Chris Hathcock, the founder of North Carolina prog metallers The Reticent, totally strip the song back to its bare essence, taking its original message of the despair that can lead people to suicide and applying it to those suffering from another of the world’s most debilitating, and humiliating, illnesses – Alzheimer’s. It also, in a way, proved to be an extremely poignant and apposite anthem for the times in which we found ourselves at the time – and continue find ourselves:
2 WARD XVI
Our very worthy runner-up for the title of ‘Video Of The Year’ comes from a band who are no strangers to these pages, and who are well known for their dramatic musical story lines and theatrical stage shows, which during the pan(dem)ic they replaced with a series of gloriously ambitious videos. We are talking, of course, about Midlands high concept goth-horror rockers Ward XVI, who once again ventured deep into the recesses of Whittingham Asylum to present us with perhaps their most chilling video yet, in the shape of ‘Shadows’, which brought the epic final song on their absolutely stunning second album, ‘Metamorphosis’, to traumatic life. Both the song and video included a guest appearance from Russ from Footprints In The Custard, who also contributed vocals to this BoRhap evoking slice of madness:
As said at the outset of this round up, there is no doubt that 2020 has been a hugely traumatic year for everyone, whether or not they have experienced direct personal loss result of this horrible pandemic. For us, there is one song, and one video, which epitomizes this past year, and that is the wonderful ‘Garden Of Remembrance’, the second single to be lifted from Fish’s final solo album, ‘Weltschmerz’. Although written about trauma of a different kind – not least the loss of his father to dementia – Fish, through both his fragile, powerful and deeply affecting lyrics and vocal delivery and this accompanying “haunting, poignant and reflective video” provided an honest and highly personal soundtrack to a year which he no doubt could not have foreseen when he wrote the song:
So, there you go. These are the five videos that have stood out, over and above the hundreds, nay thousands, of clips that we have watched, and absorbed, over the past 12 months. To us, they are exemplars of the video art, and a testimony to the creativity of everyone involved, not just in these particular videos but in the form itself. They are a testament to the value that art, both sonically and visually, has in our lives: how it is able to uplift us, and at the same time help us to reflect; how it provokes thought and discussion, and in the most positive of ways.
We look forward to bringing you more uplifting, reflective and rewarding music and videos in 2021. In the meantime, in time-honoured ÜR fashion… keep ‘er lit, keep ‘er between the hedges and #StaySafe \m/
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