September 13, 2005
Greetings to all my video programming friends from coast to coast! It’s Andy Gesner and the staff from HIP Video Promo with an exciting announcement! This next clip we present to you is a huge milestone for us here at HIP. This is the 200th video that we have promoted here at HIP HQ and we could not be more ecstatic that it is for one of our favorite bands! We’re thrilled to bring you the latest and most compelling video yet from a group that has been lighting up both sides of the Atlantic. In the United Kingdom, 2005 has been the year of Bloc Party. The stylish quartet has stormed the British pop charts with single after single, played the biggest stages in the nation, and collaborated with The Streets and The Chemical Brothers, and had their songs remixed by (among others) Nick Zinner, Mogwai, and Ladytron. Their British celebrity has spilled over into America, where Bloc Party has become one of the hippest names to drop. Massive commercial success in America seems inevitable.
It’s easy to root for these guys – and not just because their fusion of post-punk urgency and Britpop tunefulness is so intoxicating. Bloc Party has something that their dance-rock peers lack: a social conscience. For a chart-topper, Silent Alarm is surprisingly polemical. Many of its tracks take an explicit and well-articulated progressive stance, and the band’s condemnation of military solutions – and, by extension, laddish aggressiveness – pervades the set. Songs such as “Helicopter” and “Price Of Gas” are remarkably direct and unflinching in their critique, and are written in the terse, stingingly poetic voice of a prophetic true believe. Yet singer Kele Okereke is energetic and optimistic enough that the group’s politics never get in the way of the groove – and thus, the comparisons of Silent Alarm to Gang of Four’s Entertainment! are completely warranted. Not since the heyday of Blur has a pop band made intelligent social commentary so irresistibly danceable.
“Helicopter” is a perfect example of the group’s ability to balance punk integrity and anthemic pop grandeur. It’s an angular, invigorating, sweat-soaked track, buoyed by the alternately slashing and percussive guitar playing of Russell Lissack. And it carries with it an antiwar sentiment that is simultaneously dispirited and hopeful. “Are you hoping for a miracle?” asks Okereke, begging for time, looking for a fix, screwing up his confidence to shake hands with a hurricane.
A song with imagery this intense required an uncommon clip, and the minivegas team – directors of promotional spots featuring Keane, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, and too many other cutting-edge British bands to list – has delivered. Even those who found prior Bloc Party videos extraordinary (we certainly did) will be shocked by the inventiveness of the “Helicopter” clip. It is an animated adventure reminiscent of Yellow Submarine and Fantastic Planet.
We’re shown a cartoon version of the band at practice; the group members are rendered in considerable detail, and Britpop fans can rest assured that their stylish threads and cool haircuts are well-represented. Midway through their performance, any pretense toward realism shatters as an insect crawling on the floor grows to the size of a helicopter. The bandmembers mount the monster and are taken on a mindblowing tour of unimaginable landscapes: giant flowers, spacecraft, hulking towers, interstellar frontiers. Superficially fantastic, the clip is also a wry commentary on genetic modification, environmental poisoning, and the polluting effects of war. But just as it is entirely possible to enjoy Bloc Party’s music without engaging too closely with their politics, the “Helicopter” clip can be seen as a purely visceral thrill-ride. The message is always there, waiting to be discovered by those who are intrigued enough to find it.
Here at HIP we are thrilled to be working with Adam Shore and the super cool folks at VICE to bring you yet another brilliant clip from this summer’s biggest buzz band. If you need more info, call Andy Gesner at 732-613-1778, or e-mail info@HIPVideoPromo.com.
For info on Bloc Party’s previous video “Banquet”, click HERE