Sunday, January 27, 2013
Classic Music Video of the Week: Faith No More, "Epic"
Conventional wisdom tells us that the rock music scene was moribund and dominated by awful hair metal in the late 80s and early 90s, until Nirvana came on the scene with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the end of 1991, and banished the likes of Warrant and Poison to the musical netherworld that spawned them.
While this is a mostly fair interpretation of the nature of mainstream rock at the time, it misses the fact that much more interesting music was already bubbling up well in advance of "Teen Spirit." A great example is "Epic," by Faith No More, a video MTV practically played to death in the summer of 1990. There's rapping, a monstrous guitar solo, and sideways rhythms, things you'd never see together back in those days. (The airplay prompted me to go out and get a cassingle of this song at Wal-Mart for the princely sum of 99 cents.)
This was a pretty clear case of a group doing music much more progressive and challenging than the likes of Nelson or Skid Row, but getting away with it because of an eye-catching video. Most of the video is in the band performance genre, with lead singer Michael Patton doing all kinds of manic things and mugging for the camera in a self-consciously over the top fashion. He punches himself in the head with boxing gloves, flexes his muscles in a rainstorm, etc. The end, however, made it an MTV classic.
After a few minutes of hard-hitting prog metal music, "Epic" closes with a mournful piano line, juxtaposed with a fish out of water flopping on the ground in slow motion. Once the piano player gets up from his bench, the piano gets blowed up real good. The end of "Epic" is trash music video making at its most intriguing. Gratuitous explosions and seemingly profound surreal images without any inherent meaning are as good as it got for bored teenagers like myself in the days before the internet.