Something different to kick off your weekend this lovely Friday is our review of the Niteskool Productions’ latest pop-culture music video smash-up, ‘Over’ by Jordan Looney (Ft. Mt. Eden). Although nothing particularly different in the way of aesthetics or style, it can hardly be argued that the Northwestern-based production company has gone to great lengths to diffuse viewers in a maelstrom of color, light, and sound. Qualities relevant in any film, video, or photography, to be sure (after all, what is video production but a collection of these elements), however there’s just something so much more conducive about ‘Over’ that makes it hard to ignore – like watching someone eat a candy-coated Pokemon theme song.
The video starts out with an iconic 8-bit “start” menu reminiscent of classic Mario Bros. or Zelda, denoting immediately a sense of nostalgia – the gangs of children clamoring at their local shoe repair shops and Walmarts for those glimmering packs of glorified cardboard have now grown up. After a miniaturized 8-bit Jo-Lo materializes on-screen (hey, at least we’re not referring to him as J-Lo) and comically punches out a similarly stylized bunny, the camera pans over onto an underground loft bedecked in a Brite-Lite infused cacophony of Fitzgerald-like chaos: Grant Wood’s American Gothic shares the walls with streams of neon green, -white, and –blue Christmas lights; young twenty-somethings carry around bottles of bubbly and crunk juice (no idea); Dr. Dre vinyl records and taxidermy heads of rams and deer poised with equal stationary. Jo-Lo, being fawned over by two attractive co-eds, looks straight into the camera with lucid ambivalence. Time literally freezes as Jordan makes his way around the room, like an artist surveying a field of finished sculptures… or maybe a god walking among men. His voice enraptures us, spitting rhymes not so much made up of words but of undiluted sights and tactility.
There’s no use trying to pretend otherwise – the visuals, iconography, and overall output of this video is quite stunning. Combing dub beats through the circuitous background vocals of a female chorus, we have little trouble getting lost in the atmospheric dreamland of cinematographer Mikhail Tsirtsan, VFX Supervisor Kashif Malik, and Set Designer Marek Ranbom’s wanderlust of visual eye-candy. Aside from an impressive visual repertoire of stopped-in-midair ping pong balls, cigarette smoke, and strategically placed balloons in seemingly mid-flight, the filmmakers show off a unique talent of being able to combine videogame throwbacks – coins, mushrooms, Mario again, underwater ellipses – in a way that at no point do you feel is too hokey or distracting. You’ve been here before – a nightmarish meandering of Red Bull-fueled button-mashing, where the only voice of reason is the one asking/telling you “Continue? 5… 4…”
The effort of Niteskool Productions to bring to our retinas and cochlea an experience that is at the same time both very familiar and very different – a style posited in and out of this video as ‘Nerd Hop’ – is undoubtedly one which will find itself more and more relevant as the digital gaming world becomes ever closer intertwined with our society as a whole. Will everyone love it? Probably not – but such is it with any genre of music, especially one at the crossroads of two heavily embittered and battling styles. Nonetheless, this examiner is confident that anyone who has ever had the pleasure – going on privilege – to hold a Nintendo controller or go batty over the annoying come-ons of an incorrigible Navi, will find a treat in Northwestern University’s ‘Over.’
Niteskool Productions has long been a tradition of Northwestern University, providing live entertainment and music video production for over 23 years. All Artists are Northwestern students and/or alumni and each year a music video is produced for one specially selected act. This video for Jordan Looney (class of ’11) was completed with the expertise of 70+ Northwestern students of all disciplines. To follow Niteskool in the future, like them on Facebook HERE and Twitter (@niteskool).
Cinematographer Mikhail Tsirtsan, VFX Supervisor Kashif Malik, Gaffer Ned McGregor, Camera Operator Nate Bartlett, 1st AD Ted Pacult, Costume Designer Gina Garcia, Set Designer Marek Ranbom, Production Designer Sarah Sherman, and Head Erector Jason Dillion.