As a child, I spent many hours wondering why Paul Simon’s roadie looked so pissed off. There he was, the little guy from the “You Can Call Me Al” video, dragging drums and guitars in and out of a pink room while Simon himself sat happily singing the song. Occasionally, the roadie would sit twiddling his thumbs, looking bored singing the backing vocals, until he was allowed to break away with a strange whistle or a solo of low.
What was this guy’s problem? I had only vaguely heard of Paul Simon at that age – he was a sixties boxer who had turned to bridge design before getting into African music, I had heard – but I got the feeling of the bulging-eyed excitement of all the top pops presenters presenting the video that it was a big deal. So surely this backstage grunt should be grateful to have such a strong supporting role in the video for his first hit in years, his fifteen minutes of fame slipping away with every brooding attempt to sing lead. Insolence!
It took a good couple of weeks before I realized that the guy I thought was Paul Simon was actually a comedian called Chevy Chase from something called saturday night live, and his moody sidekick was Simon himself. I had totally missed the joke of the music video‘s first major cameo, and this week felt out of the guest star loop as well.
Stormzy’s ten-minute video for new single ‘Mel Made Me Do It’ is roughly 81% celebrity cameos, 3% expensive cars, 8% black pride statement, 6% National Trust sightseeing and 2% Stormzy. jacket cleaned. Among its bombardment of famous faces, many are celebrity glasses box– famous level (Jonathan Ross, Usain Bolt, Louis Theroux, Gabrielle, Ian Wright, Trevor Nelson), other famous grime scene heroes (Mega-Man, JME, Little Simz, Dave).
But when several minutes of the video were devoted to Stormzy standing in a stately bedroom with his finger to his lips next to what appeared to be a little-known regional Iberian mayor, I began to wonder if Stormzy was being used for a positive publicity in the wake. of a fraud of embezzlement of public funds or a bunga-bunga scandal of which he was unaware. Kind of like the time the One Direction kissed David Cameron in the video for their Comic Relief cover of “One Way Or Another” in 2013, which aged about as well as the average Brexit referendum.
Apparently though, as my friends who find the sport interesting informed me, that official dude with Stormzy was some guy named Jose Mourinho who has something to do with football, and he was the real star of the video. And, my own footballing ignorance (or should it be footiean?) aside, the level of amazement in the press and public around Mourinho’s appearance seems to suggest that by going all out Stormzy did well. cameo video.
In the wake of “You Can Call Me Al,” you see, several rules and trends have become clear in the art of music video cameos. For starters, as it very quickly became apparent that even the most talented comic had trouble getting off to a backing track in a fun way, bringing in comedians quickly became old hat. We all remember Chevy Chase, but who’s still talking about Eddie Murphy’s appearance in Michael Jackson’s 1992 “Remember The Time” video? Or does he consider Ali G not breaking dancing and commenting on Madonna’s “babylons” in her 2000 music video “Music” as a culmination of Sasha Baron Cohen’s oeuvre? Would you even look up from a particularly evil Quordle to watch James Corden’s appearance in anything? Exactly.
Instead, movie stars quickly became the dream cast. After all, while most musicians had the screen magnetism of a wet tea bag, actors had a natural charisma in front of the camera and had been selling movie theme song singles by osmosis for years. Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” would have blown the charts for 16 weeks if the video hadn’t made it look like Kevin Costner knocked him out between archery contests. flaming arch?
Additionally, major Hollywood stars were appearing in A-lister music videos throughout the 90s, where there was an equal trade-off of prestige to be had. Meanwhile, more independent British artists had to settle for who they could squeeze out of the Groucho that afternoon, wear a bowler hat and chase a girl like Benny Hill. But the arrival of Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon Of Choice” in 2001, in which Christopher Walken danced and flew through the lobby of the LA Marriott, completely flipped the script. Here’s an Oscar-winning film legend ready to perform, with a lot of dedication and effort – it wasn’t just about singing a chorus with the car running and one eye on the check – in a video for a big British DJ beat that used to be in the Housemartins. Directed, no less, by Spike Jonze. The wow factor of the encounter – the music video equivalent of a Bernie Ecclestone wedding – upped the ante. Rock was going to need a bigger budget.
Yet over time, while Harry Dean Stanton, Luke Perry and Owen Wilson starred in The Killers’ charity Christmas singles videos, Bruce Willis sued 2-D and Murdoc in the Gorillaz ‘Pen’ music video, Jake Gyllenhaal played drunken tennis with him. Vampire Weekend’s ‘Giving Up The Gun’ and a heavily pregnant Natalie Portman seemed to confuse the filming of James Blake’s ‘My Willing Heart’ with another perfume ad, even indie video stars went normal and daily, recording themselves barely on the hypeometer.
As a result, over the past decade, celebrity music video cameos have been more of a numbers game. Like the Avengers Quick Assemble, this is the number of stars you can get on the board at any given time. Stormzy is just the latest promoter; in 2013, Arcade Fire mastered the form in their “Here Comes The Night Time” video, in which a disco band playing in faux papier-mâché heads included both Ben Stiller and Bono, while James Franco, Rainn Wilson , Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman all pass in front of the lens. Gone are the days of simply arming those you met in Graham Norton’s green room; today you’re aiming for the video equivalent of Robert Altman The playeror Kanye’s “Famous” nude wax works come to life.
However, there’s still merit in unexpected, eccentric, or imaginative cameos. Kate Moss danced to “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” by The White Stripes. Eric Cantona playing a lonely alcoholic king for Liam Gallagher’s butler in “Once.” Dave Grohl as Secret Satan in Tenacious D’s “Tribute.” And, yes, José Mourinho silencing the world in the company of grime royalty. Dropping him silently in such a cavalcade of stars was a masterstroke that makes the game even better. Whoever it was that Mel pushed him to do, kudos.