Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Strange Phenomenon -- Blood Pop or Cake?

There's something going around. And it's not the carousel in Schenley Plaza. (Or a record...) No, it's True Blood fanvid makers and an obsession with Evanescence.

I was searching some YouTube videos for my last post earlier and I kept seeing the same things pop up on my search. Every other set-to-music clip I clicked on was from Evanescence. In just a few minutes of searching, I found 10 different clips that used an Evanescence song. 10. And it's not over yet. I can't add them to my playlist all day, so here are the search results. That's a lot of that... stuff.

Okay, I dimly recall Evanescence being one of Sookie's songs to sing in the car, but unless all those people read so closely that they all remember that one line from one book (which I doubt), and made the connection, I'd understand. But if that were the case, we'd have The Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood over Eric's smirking and Sookie's glares. And I'm sorry to say so, but Book Sookie does not have as rich a music palette as does Show Sookie.

Now, I'll admit it. I am a music snob. You can clap if you want, offer me buttons and party hats and cake, but I'm not going to quit being one. I will forever be a music snob, but something that I'm willing to change? You people, and if I could, Book Sookie Stackhouse. But don't get the wrong idea. I just want to help.

Here's my theory for the Evanescence/True Blood phenomenon:

You're listening to Top 40, MTV before they discover the indie stuff after the album's been out for a year or two and someone decides to use it in a movie... Exhibit A: M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," (Original and Pineapple Express) Exhibit B: Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole." (Original and Twilight - still don't understand this, btw. Listen to the lyrics. Think of Edward and Bella. Oh yeah, that's them. Oh, and just to prove my point about the overexposedness here's a video from the baseball scene with what? EVANESCENCE.)

You need some dark pop to match up to your dark and dirty vampire show. Think about it. What is out there? I'm no popular music connoisseur, but I can't think of one other than Evanescence. Again, another movie soundtrack pick up (Daredevil), but the difference between Evanescence and Muse is that one is good and the other is... not. The first set of videos contain the song probably the one you'll remember from Daredevil, "Bring Me To Life." The second set features "My Immortal" over an actual scene from the film.

But I don't blame you if you like them, or if you use them in a True Blood video. You're already a better pop culture person in my estimation because you care enough about True Blood to post a video (unless it's about Bill... just kidding. I want to like Bill, but Eric keeps winking at me.). Anyway, you don't know anything better.

I'll tell you a secret: Once upon a time, I listened to some pretty embarrassing music. And I will not utter those words here, but let's just say I was a kid in the 90's so you can probably guess my shame. It actually took good television soundtracks for me to make that transition from what I would now call, "I'll never tell and will deny it if it gets out," to "I like that song I heard on T.V." to "I have no idea who they are." You'll be hearing that last one in no time. And you'll be hearing those shame bands... never.

Here we go:

Alison's Lessons in Dark Pop/Rock, What to Apply to True Blood Scenes, and How It's Already Been Done Right

How It's Already Been Done Right:

My choice for the True Blood music video done right is this one by smvgrey74. It's a tribute to Godric set to Band Of Horse's "The Funeral."

I'll you why this is such an amazing video. Check the comments. At least 3 people's first comment was, "What's the song?" The fact that smvgrey chose a more obscure piece means several things:

1. Her work is unique. -- Check the number of True Blood fan videos that use an Evanescence song. Now check the number that use a Band Of Horses song. Well, here are the results, and as far as I can see, besides smvgrey's, there's zero.

2. She's using music to its full advantage. -- The best fanvids match up both music and lyrics to the clips. Anyone can choose a song. It's not that hard. Choosing one that fits means a lot more. It will strengthen the emotion, the humor and the romance. There's nothing like a good song.

3. She's exposing people to new music. -- One of the reasons I love True Blood so much is the amazing soundtrack. Now that's not only the score, but the songs chosen by the professionals. Let's not forget that every episode title is a song. That's True Blood at its core. It's about good music. The same goes for a fan video. Maybe I'm a little biased about her song choice since I know and love the band already. But it makes me smile to see that so many people loved it too.

It's like smvgrey made a big cake and she's sharing the new recipe with everyone. That's how the indie goes mainstream. It's word of mouth at first. Sure, now most of that word of mouth is actually typed and beamed out to millions of people on the internet, but there's still your good old magazines and radio. They know what's what. I'd go on to say that great underground music is just as delicious and elusive as Caroline Holliday Bellefleur's chocolate cake. And if you've read the novels, you know how amazing that is. You only get it when someone dies.

What to apply to True Blood scenes:

I'd say that more than music style, it's the lyrics that you should concentrate on. I'm not saying that it's a good idea to set romantic exchanges to yodel music if they're talking about something similar, but it's better to stray musically than lyrically. Think about it this way: You're telling a story, they're telling a story. You just want those stories to mesh well. The music added to a scene isn't telling the story of what you're watching onscreen. It's telling the story of what the characters are feeling. You can tell that Bill's a vampire just by looking. You don't need to chose a song that says, "I'm a vampire," literally. Although that isn't always a bad thing. Choose the feeling behind that. The "I'm tortured," "I want to be loved," or "I'm emo." (That last one was a joke. I'm making friends all over the place today.)

Alison's Lessons in Dark Pop/Rock:

Maybe these won't all help you out with a video, but they'll help your playlists. If you're looking to expand your dark-themed pop/rock and more specifically, your True Blood fan video tracks, I'd start with these:

From a general vampire place: Radiohead -- An oldie but a REALLY goodie. Maybe with Thom Yorke's vocals you can't always understand the lyrics, but they're dark and clever and amazing. I'd point to "We Suck Young Blood." Queens of the Stone Age -- Tend to be heavy on the rock, but I'd suggest "The Blood Is The Love" for Vampires. (For more vampire songs see my old Playlist post: "A Fangy Salut.")

From a character-based POV: The Twilight Sad or Yeah Yeah Yeahs -- "Modern Romance" A good Bill and Sookie one, originally sung by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but covered by The Twilight Sad. (Lyrics here.) Neither band is usually this mellow, but this is a sort of a track by track and not blanket rule deal.

The best Evanescence replacement I can suggest, both in general and from a True Blood fan video standpoint is Bat For Lashes -- That is, if you're looking for something a little closer to Evanescence's brand of pop (If Evanescence and Cat Power had a baby that was smarter than one of them...). For TB I'd chose "I'm On Fire" (Lorena and Bill, anyone? From Sookie's POV. It's also a Springsteen cover altered a bit.) or "What's a Girl to Do" (For some Bill/Eric reflection! Plus the video is weird and I love it.) or "Glass" (From an FotS place, sort of a Sarah Newlin finding her knight, Jason questy feel.) (All lyrics here.)

Reason You Should Not Hate Me:

Listen. I'm sorry if this offends you Evanescence lovers out there. But if you can't giggle at the sheer volume of Evanescence/True Blood fanvids, then there is something wrong with you. I'll tell you right now, it's not because they're the best band ever. It's because they're more exposed. I also really like all the Evanescence fanvideos I chose, excepting the music. If you're uncomfortable with the way I've used your work, contact me and I'll take it down. I hope you understand that I'm not criticizing anyone personally. Except for Evanescence. And I hope you'll think about these alternatives for future videos or search out the more obscure of the genres.

P.S. If @SookieBonTemps does another song contest, I'm screwed. I'll have a lot more competition if anyone actually reads this.


  1. Really interesting post!! And I see you're a music expert :)

  2. Hi there, strangely i found this post many months later and i have to say i'm quite honored that you've taken some time to look at my videos and really appreciate what i've been trying to do. For me it's not about picking a radio pop song that everyone is crazy for. I can go months without making a video because if i don't hear the right song it's just not going to happen for me. And i love opening the door to new music for people, i spend lots of time finding obscure music that is current and past, and music is more than sound but emotion. take care, keep watching!

  3. btw in your post you mention the song "I'm on fire"...funny you should mention this song because this particular cover made it on my playlist last week

    being a fellow music snob i thought you might appreciate
    by the Chromatics


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