Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful”

  We start out with a nice shot of a beach at sunset, or possibly sunrise, it’s never really clear what’s going on when saltwater is involved, and everything is very peaceful. But two seconds later we get a “Directed By” credit popping up on the screen, and instantly everyone in the viewing audience is horrified that this might be one of those artsy vanity videos full of symbolism, heartbreak and people wearing grunge clothing whilst looking sad.

  Happily, our fears of a Swedish black-and-white film about loss and desperation are quickly quelled. As the opening notes of the song kick in (the notes that always make me think Danny and Sandy are about to sing on the bleachers at Rydell high), we get a shot of the One Direction guys lined up on a sort of cliff thing at this beach. They seem non-depressed and they’re all wearing cute outfits, so it’s all good. (The one blond guy is standing apart from the others, so he might have done something he shouldn’t have, but there are no other signs of disharmony and we don’t see Yoko Ono trying to break up the band.)

  We get a few different shots of the beach from various angles, because if you’re going to hire a cinematographer you might as well put him to work, then we get a close-up of the guy who sings first in the song. (Sorry, I don’t know the names of any of the band members, which probably makes me the Anti-Christ in the eyes of all 12-year-old girls, but I’m old and don’t care.) Singer A warbles for a bit, while a gentle sea breeze reminds us why it’s sometimes very important to get haircuts.

  Then we roll into a travel montage explaining that the guys all piled into an outdated camper van earlier in the day so that they could drive to this here beach. (I’m glad they shared that with us, because I don’t know if I could have fully enjoyed the video if they hadn’t explained that particular detail.) As the guys wander around on the sand, Singer B gets his close-up, then all five of them suddenly run up the side of a hill for no apparent reason. (I guess impromptu mountain-climbing is very trendy with the youngsters these days.)

  Right about here we get our first glimpse of The Girl flipping her hair just as the guys are singing about how overwhelming it is when she does that, so kudos to the editor.(Side note: If you pause the video during the flip, it appears that Girl is actually a bit terrified of her unruly locks as they whip around her head, so maybe “overwhelming” is not necessarily a good thing, but we’ll see how it plays out.)

  Cut to The Girl and her Girlfriends tooling along a highway in a VW Beetle with the top down, the old-school kind of Beetle before they revamped the vehicle and made them look like a toy you would get out of a gumball machine. Girl is not paying proper attention, and her cute little hat gets caught by the wind and goes flying off to Jesus, a second sign that Girl might not be sure of where she’s at or what she’s doing. But she’s cute, so we’ll forgive her at this point.

  Now the guys have taken over one of those long stairways that lead down to the beach, so they can give a mini-concert on one of the landings. Then they’re suddenly back at the water’s edge, so they’ve obviously been drinking Red Bull and they can’t stay still. Back to the stairs, back to the water, tight shot of them standing in a circle like they’re about to kick off a Wiccan ceremony, in the water, on the beach, back on the stairs. This probably explains why The Girl has to flip her hair around so much in the first place, since she’s trying to keep them in sight as they dash about like ants on steroids.

  (Side note, part two:  A little after the one-minute mark, one of the guys grabs his crotch. So two-thousand-and-late, right? I thought we’d moved beyond that. Carry on.)

  Another montage, this one involving the guys getting their stuff out of the camper van and screwing around with a soccer ball. This is followed by the lone blond guy getting his close-up, but he’s not actually singing in the shot, so he might still be in time-out from whatever he did earlier in the video. Then they find a giant piece of driftwood so they can climb on top of it and knock each other into the sand. (My version of festive beach-time activities is far less physical and much more alcoholic. Each to his own, though.)

  Singer C gets his solo appearance (he’s the crotch-grabber, by the way, in case you need to update your diary with the little lock that breaks quite easily so I don’t know why there’s a lock in the first place).  I guess word has already gotten out about his affinity for fondling, because the camera is kept firmly above his waist.

  Then The Girl and The Girlfriends roll up in the vintage bug, which is really impressive because they’re driving on the sand and using a stick shift and all of them are busy waving at the guys instead of watching where the car is going. The Girls pile out, there are hugs all around, and then the whole gang goes thundering over the dunes, propelled by their youthful exuberance and fluctuating hormones. They even scramble over the big-ass dead tree instead of calmly walking around it, so they definitely have some carbs to burn off.

  The Girls vanish for a bit so the Guys can walk and sing on the beach some more, which kicks off another montage of hair-flipping, mini-concerts on the stairs, the Guys back in that Wiccan circle, the Guys with their arms around each other in budding little bromances, and lots of splashing and running. (At one point, we see the Guys gallivanting back DOWN that huge hill, despite having just been spotted on the beach, so I’m beginning to suspect that there might be TWO One Direction bands, the original and a posse of clones that can be used to confuse the paparazzi  and/or make double the revenue until somebody figures it out.)

  Shot of The Girl and her hair sprawled on a beach towel, then a loving solo shot of one of The Girlfriends, so there might have been some recasting decisions while the Guys were jacking around on that pointless hill. Does Girlfriend B have a chance at overtaking Main Girlfriend based on online polling during the playing of the video? Stay tuned! (Note to the agent of Main Girl: tell your client that accessories are very important in this business and she should have held on that hat a little tighter while riding in the car. You piss off the wardrobe people and your career can plummet.)

  Anyway, we next have a shot of the guys all shirtless as they splash in the water, because you have to hit all the right demographics. (Well, except for the Blond Guy. What is up with him?) Then we’re back on the beach with the camera twirling around in a circle so the guys keep appearing and disappearing, making it seem like there are hundreds of One Directioners, an image that thrills the tweens (more of them to marry!) and causes the parents to reach for anxiety medication.

  Next up, as the sun is lowering, is some type of clap-along during the “na-na” chorus. This goes on for a while, so they throw in a few random shots of people being wrapped in blankets and then hurled down the beach (not sure what’s going on there, hope the proper insurance papers were signed). We eventually get to the really quiet part of the song where one of the Guys nuzzles up to The Girl (I guess she was able to fight off the second-tier girlfriend and remain the star) and tries to woo her with words. To be fair, it’s a bit difficult maintaining your composure when someone is bellowing right in your face, but Girl does an admirable job and only seems to be on the verge of laughing for one brief second.

  We wind things down with that inexplicable tradition of setting off sparklers as night falls on the beach. (I always thought this was kind of dangerous, especially if somebody has gotten into the alcohol, and you KNOW someone did, probably the crotch-grabber. Who wants a burning piece of metal shoved at their head by people who are wobbly and have blurred vision? Seriously.) But nobody asked me, so away the bouncing teens go, running and waving danger flame like they’re trying to help Air Force one land nearby.

  We wrap it up with a montage of all the revelries from throughout the day, just in case you didn’t write it all down in your security-breached diary. Singing and dancing and a mystifying lack of costume changes and campfire stories and death sparklers. The last shot is of The Guys disappearing around a bend in the beach. Without The Girls. No idea what that’s all about, but I hope they have fun wherever they are going…

Click Here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

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