I Want My MTV: Praise You by Fatboy Slim - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

I Want My MTV: Praise You by Fatboy Slim

We've come a long long way together.
Throughout our series of retrospectives exploring the making of some of the groundbreaking, inovative and inspirational music videos which proved to be a huge success, entering heavy rotation on MTV, we've primarily looked at promos which have tended to be very expensive; Michael Jackson's Thriller, Duran Duran's The Wild Boys and David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes being perfect examples of this. If you watch any of those three music videos it's not hard to see why they cost so much, but $1,000,000+ budgets are not the norm, most videos are produced on far, far less. However, very few, if any, have come in at just $800!

Praise You, the third single from Fatboy Slim's mega-selling album You've Come a Long Way, Baby, was released in January 1999, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart and in Iceland, number four in Canada, number six in Ireland, and number 36 in the United States. Like all of Fatboy Slim's (Norman Cook) tracks from the album, Praise You was comprised of a series of samples and loops, including the prominent vocal sample from the opening of Take Yo' Praise by Camille Yarbrough, a piano sample from the track Balance and Rehearsal from a JBL test album entitled Sessions, a guitar sample from the opening of It's a Small World from the Disneyland Records-released album Mickey Mouse Disco, and the theme from the cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. A sort of cobbled together collection of bits that together equaled more than the sum of their parts. That same spirit was employed for the music video...

Directed by Being John Malkovich's Spike Jonze, co-directed by Roman Coppola (the son of Francis Ford Coppola, and co-writer of the Wes Anderson 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom), the video for Praise You was shot guerrilla-style – that is, on location without obtaining permission from the owners of the property – in front of many puzzled onlookers outside the Fox Bruin Theater in Westwood, Los Angeles, California.

Jonze himself starred in the music video under the pseudonym Richard Koufey, you can see him busting some moves in the gif below, and was joined by a fictional dance group: The Torrance Community Dance Group.
Jonze worked for free! Basically, he was a big fan of Fatboy Slim and had earlier pitched to make the video for The Rockafeller Skank. When that didn't happen he recorded and sent his own solo dance video of "Skank" as a gift; performing his quite unique New York B-Boy style moves. Jonze's 'alternative' music video was so well received by Slim that the fictional Torrance Community Dance Group concept was green-lighted for the official video for Praise You. There could've been a larger budget, but Jonze opted to 'keep it real' and really stick to the basic guerrilla-style, with a cheap handheld video camera and portable stereo.

In the video, Jonze and the dance group, acting as a flash mob, dance to Praise You as it plays on their portable stereo, drawing quite a crowd of onlookers. Eventually, one of the theater employees turns off their stereo and asks them to move on. The scene is kept in the video, and as Jonze's Richard Koufey explores continuing in a different location, Norman Cook can be briefly seen peering over Jonze shoulder...
The Praise You video won three major awards at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards: Breakthrough Video, Best Direction (awarded to "Torrance Community Dance Group"), and Best Choreography (awarded to "Richard Koufey & Michael Rooney"). Jonze's Torrance Community Dance Group also put on a performance to the song at the awards. One which cost significantly more to stage than the $800 spent on the music video...

Praise You is a perfect example of how an innovative director can produce an exceptionally memorable music video on a shoestring. The result was so impressive that, in 2001, Praise You topped the chart of the 100 best videos of all time in a poll taken to mark the 20th anniversary of MTV.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad