[My Throwback music columns are originally hosted on the ReDigi.com blog.] Auteur David Fincher, known for such dark and engrossing directorial endeavors like Fight Club, Se7en, and more recently The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, got his start in the now nearly lost art of music videos. From pillars of pop music like Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, and Madonna, to industrial alternative powerhouses like Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle, his vignettes of cinema in music videos were rarely light-hearted and always raw, erotic, visceral, and visually stunning.
1. George Michael “Freedom! 90″ – George Michael‘s timeless throwback to Aretha Franklin’s “Think”, Fincher gave the pop anthem of independence visual representation with a bevy of brooding, strutting supermodels in lux scenarios, lip-syncing Micheal’s defiant lyrics.
2. A Perfect Circle, “Judith“ – Another video Fincher stamps his signature on without one of his cinematic story lines, instead relying on his frequent artistic strokes such as smoke effected lighting, fuzzed out images, and freaky frame manipulation.
3. Aerosmith, “Janie’s Got A Gun“ – In a 1990 pre-C.S.I. world, Aerosmith’s rock n’roll revenge tale was driven home by Fincher crossing the police line to show the anguished aftermath of incest, from a tormented Janie crying in her bed as her father slinks away, to the murder she commits to silence his sick desires.
4. Billy Idol, “Cradle of Love“ – Observing the lusty Lolita-style teenager antagonizing a suffering middle-aged stuffed shirt, Idol wailed from the scenes as pop art on the walls, supposedly filmed from the waist up and to accommodate a motorcycle accident injury.
5. Madonna, ”Bad Girl/Vogue/Express Yourself/Oh Father“ – From Christopher Walken’s brilliantly bizarre “Bad Girl” cameo to the gritty Metropolis dystopia and gender-bending antics in “Express Yourself”, Madonna and Fincher’s collaboration on this quartet of early nineties noir boosted her best dancehall pop and brought the eerie narratives of her darker moments to life (or in some cases, death). His super stylized shots, high contrast black and white, and stark visuals helped make her songs unforgettable.