Music Review: "Say Please" by Monsters of Folk

1/03/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Britt Sondreal

Music videos should be fun to watch. They are mini-films supporting the protagonist of a song, and when we click “play” for the first time, we hope to be transported. Good music videos offer their own small worlds built of imagination, beauty, humor, seduction and shock--in short, the extraordinary. Occasionally, they even challenge or enrich our understanding of the song itself.

“Say Please,” a music video created for Monsters of Folk, the new megawatt talent collaboration of Jim James, M. Ward, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, is a great example of just that.

All the right theatrical elements are here--characters, costumes, stage, atmosphere, good lighting--and they serve to create a magical moment through which the song broadcasts its chorus, “Hold out your hand, darlin’… say please.” The scene opens on James, Ward and Mogis as turn-of-the-century soldiers who slowly make their way through evening fields towards an open-air celebration where Oberst is strumming his guitar for a gathering crowd under a string of lights. They step up to the mikes and begin to play--while their audience whizzes past on rollerskates in endless circles.

On a interpretive level, the video is a compelling translation of the song’s themes--the passage of time and life cycles (we catch brief shots of children, a bride and groom, and older men in the rollerskating crowd), the struggle to hope and the need for relationship to maintain “balance.” Characters in the video seem to float past the band’s stage, going nowhere in particular but going together underneath a canopy of “lantern dreams,” as the song poetically suggests. On a visual level, the delicacy of this strange moment, shining in the midst of what we imagine is probably war, has been handled with subtle grace by the director Lance Acord. (Acord, best known as a cinematographer and DP for such films as “Where the Wild Things Are,” also directed Bjork’s whimsical “It’s Oh So Quiet” video and won an MTV cinematography award for the infamous Fatboy Slim video “Weapon of Choice.”)

All in all, “Say Please” offers just what a music video should--a miniature gem of cinema set to a killer soundtrack.

View the video for "Say Please" below. What are you thoughts?

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