Inspired at Zone... Spike Jonze
Image © 1994 Geffen Records
Copywriter Tom Nash tells us why, in his eyes, music video director Spike Jonze is an icon...
There was a time when MTV showed actual music videos, not just staged reality shows and brattish 16th birthday parties. In the 90s, every other video on the channel seemed to herald the arrival of the next big directorial talent, from twisted gothboy Chris Cunningham to Gallic dreamer Michel Gondry. But it was Spike Jonze who set the template.
The reedy-voiced wunderkind started out taking photographs for seminal BMX magazine Freestylin’ before he got his big break shooting (and starring) in Sonic Youth’s 100% video. But it was his video for Weezer’s Buddy Holly that was to prove hugely influential. Splicing together clips of Happy Days with the band’s performance was a stroke of pop culture genius, a knowing nod to a generation’s worship of the Fonz.
His homage to 70s cop shows in the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage video cemented his position as a master of the three-minute pop promo. And the hits just kept on coming. He made Christopher Walken dance, the Pharcyde rap backwards and Bjork the star of her very own musical. Hollywood soon came knocking.
It was as a 14-year-old, sat on a friend’s sofa watching MTV, deep in the Essex suburbs, that I realised there was more to music videos than simply filming a band prancing and miming. They could tell stories. Pretty darn cool stories. Spike Jonze was the only music video director I knew the name of, but his trademark visual wit and style made me want to play with words and pictures when I grew up.