Facing the Music

Just by way of a change I thought I’d put up these two classic videos featuring very different singers. One connection between them is that both of them are records that I bought when they came out. The other is that both videos essentially consist of nothing but close-ups of the artiste’s face. The first is Private Life, by Grace Jones

and the second was a big hit for Sinead O’Connor in 1990:

Incidentally I once saw Sinead O’Connor in person at the Zap Club in Brighton when I literally bumped into her trying to get to the bar. When she turned around I was staggered to see such a beautiful face looking at me, although to be honest I did for a moment assume she was a boy…

Anyway, that wasn’t the point of this post. In fact I was wondering if anyone can think of any other pop videos done like this, entirely in close-up? Answers through the comments box please!

14 Responses to “Facing the Music”

  1. Radiohead – No Surprises.

    A word of warning though. Thom Yorke is not nearly as attractive as the two examples you give, especially once the goldfish bowl over his head is completely full of water.

  2. telescoper Says:

    I assume they are a popular beat combo of some sort.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Grace Jones, amazing looks, unexceptional singer and musical style – for which reasons she was perfectly cast in A View To A Kill, the best of the Roger Moore Bond films.

  4. >> I assume they are a popular beat combo of some sort.

    Yes, and much better than Grace or Sinead – but as we all know, snobby musical arguments will get us nowhere 🙂

    • telescoper Says:

      Of course I was just pretending to be an old fogey. I remember that Radiohead made a record with a young tearaway trumpet player called Humphrey Lyttelton…

  5. telescoper Says:

    I loved Grace Jones at the time, during the 80s. Along with Private Life I also liked Warm Leatherette . They sound a bit dated now, but who from the 80s doesn’t? I still think the mask at the beginning of the video is totally brilliant.

    • Mark McCaughrean Says:

      The clear answer to “who from the 80s doesn’t … sound a bit dated now” is Talk Talk, as in their 1988 “Spirit of Eden”. OK, I admit that their earlier albums were very 1980s, but “Spirit of Eden” is, IMHO, utterly brilliant and utterly timeless.

      And as luck would have it, the video for “I Believe in You” pretty much qualifies for the all-in-close-up-on-the-singer criterion after the first 10 seconds. As the YouTube comments make clear, however, Mark Hollis was completely against making such a video, but was forced to do so under the terms of his contract with EMI. And, famously of course, the cretins at EMI so hated “Spirit of Eden” that they sued the band for wasting the year it took them to make it, which led to Talk Talk moving to the revived jazz label Verve for their equally fantastic 1991 “Laughing Stock”.

      Sorry; a bit of a Talk Talk fan boy, I’m afraid 🙂

    • Mark McCaughrean Says:

      Ugh – EMI win again. By linking to their higher-quality version of the I Believe in You on YouTube, you discover that embedding is disabled.

      So here’s a lower-quality but (hopefully) viewable version. Either way, watch it.

  6. Christopher S. Johnson Says:

    Björk – Hunter

  7. Tim Harries Says:

    Of course there is Godley and Creme with “Cry” – although not just one
    face it still has effectively a single closeup

  8. A View To A Kill, the best of the Roger Moore Bond films

    No, that would be The Spy Who Loved Me.

    Best Bond film of all time? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It has only one flaw: Lazenby instead of Connery. Nevertheless, still the best Bond film. (Contrary to popular belief, Lazenby wasn’t deemed a failure at the time. He was offered more Bond films, but declined on the advice of his agent, fearing that he would be type-cast into the role and find it difficult to get other work!) Second place? From Russia With Love.

    Personally, I am partial to Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies because I was in Berlin and Hamburg around the times they were made (obviously shot on location), although cinematically they aren’t among the best.

    I’ve seen all the Bond films except the new ones with Craig. Maybe I’ll see them sometime, but from what I understand most of the stuff which made Bond interesting (the girls, the cars, the jokes, the eyebrows, the gadgets, the drinks) are gone.

    What I particularly like about the Bond films is that I think they capture the Zeitgeist better than most other media. This probably has to do with the fact that the whole point of making a film is that it is not realistic (otherwise, just look out the window), so reality is usually distorted in some way in most films. With Bond, the emphasis is not on contemporary society (all the more so since Bond and colleagues remain the same while the world ages decades), so society comes through unfiltered. Want to know what music, fashion, language etc were like in a certain year? Watch the corresponding Bond film. The latest fads (LED watches, bungee jumping) also occur.

    • telescoper Says:

      I disagree. The best James Bond film was undoubtedly Dr No, starring Mark Brake.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Well Phillip, we seem to have pretty divergent views on good Bond films but I agree with you that George Lazenby did a good job and had an undeserved bad press. My all-time fave is Thunderball. Most underrated: Licence to Kill, whic is rather like Daniel Craig’s Bond.
      (Damp at Lords cricket ground)

  9. Steve Cann Says:


    Elvis Costello – I Wanna Be Loved, from around 1984. Not one of his best songs, I think, but an interesting video nonetheless.


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