Monday, March 13, 2006

Video of the week: Pumping On Your Stereo

One of Britain's best rock groups, Supergrass are as cartoonish as they are exuberant. Their best songs sound like they've come from an episode of Fraggle Rock (you know, the one where all the muppets lived under a lighthouse and consulted a garbage heap for wisdom.) Added to which, drummer Danny could have been the character-study for Animal.

So it can't have been a great leap of imagination to turn the band into real muppets for this video. The idea is really quite simple. Supergrass are seen giving a straight performance of the song, except their heads have been grafted onto 12-foot tall fuzzy creatures created by the Jim Henson workshop.

Many video directors would have been content to let that be the end of it. See, for example, Weezer's lacklustre promo for Keep Fishin' - where Kermit et al run around, knocking things over and mugging for the camera as if they'd taken comedy lessons from Mr Blobby. Stadler & Waldorff would have had plenty to boo about after sitting through that one. Except, of course, because this is a pop promo, the grumpy old men turn out to be big fans of emo rock and give Weezer a ringing endorsement. Utter nonsense.

Luckily, Supergrass were being filmed by genius directing duo Hammer&Tongs - most recently seen at the helm of the Hitchikers' Guide film. Making full use of the Henson puppeteers, their video is visually inventive, cheekily playful and totally in keeping with Supergrass's sound.

Best of all, there's a complete lack of kitsch irony and clever-clever winks to the audience. Everything is played totally straight - as if Supergrass are secretly like this all the time.

And who knows, perhaps they are?

PS If you pay close attention, you can glimpse all the puppeteers when the pyrotechnics go off at the end.

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