Andrew Unterberger | 08/22/2013 | PopDust
Have you seen the video for Avril Lavigne’s “Rock N Roll” yet? If not, it’s like we just don’t know you at all, man. Avril’s super-schticky new video is probably one of the year’s best and definitely one of the year’s zaniest, and the vision for that can be traced back largely to one man: Director Chris Marrs Piliero, who’s already made a career out of filming these kind of loony, unpredictable, celebrity-cameo-strewn music videos, for pop stars and alt-rockers alike. Piliero’s vids have been some of the funniest and most memorable of the decade thusfar, to the point where it’s just about worth auto-watching any vid with his name attached to it.
Looking for some quality examples of Piliero’s work, perhaps even some ones you might already be familiar with? Well, good thing music videos are easily accessed on the internet in 2013, then!
BLACK KEYS, “TIGHTEN UP” & “HOWLIN’ FOR YOU”
Piliero’s first two videos for the Black Keys (he’d also direct their later “Baddest Man Alive” not only marked his MTV breakthrough, but helped turn the Black Keys from cult blues-rock band to one of the nation’s biggest mainstream touring and recording acts. “Tighten Up” was the big hit, featuring kid lookalikes of the Keys fighting over the same girl at the playground, and winning the last-ever Breakthrough Video award at the VMAs, but “Howlin’ For You” is far more in Piliero’s trademark style–cheesily cinematic, filled with dialogue, and chockful of cameos, from the like of Tricia Helfer, Corbin Bernsen and Todd Bridges.
Probably the best music video of her brief-but-illustrious pop career, the trippy espionage comedy of “Blow” was the perfect fit for K-Money’s sleazy, campy, pop star style. It starts off with Ke$ha telling a story at a cocktail party to a couple of well-dressed unicorn people (“I said, ‘Bear, you have till the count of zero to put your pants back on and apologize to the president’”) and just gets stranger from there, eventually breaking into a laser-tag showdown with none other than James Van Der Beek, who also gets to trade barbs with the singer herself (“I don’t appreciate you slanderbeeking my name, K Money Sign Ha”) during the song’s bridge. And they’re right–munster cheese is like edible lactose gold.
BRITNEY SPEARS, “I WANNA GO”
Britney Spears probably wouldn’t be your first guess for a pop star to make a music video paying tribute to Terminator 2, Kill Bill, and most of all, stoner comedy classic Half Baked (down to a starring role for Guillermo Diaz), but that’s the good influence that Piliero seems to have. “I Wanna Go” reversed a bad trend of Britney videos trying too hard to re-capture her long gone triple-threat magic, and instead made her seem kinda chill and funny for the first time in ages. (Piliero also directed Spears’ more melodramatic follow-up “Criminal,” but we were a little less fond of that one.)
MKTO, “THANK YOU”
Pop duo MKTO’s clip for “Thank You” is a little cornier than the rest of Piliero’s fare here–likely due to the youth of the performers–featuring a silly plot where MKTO go around freeing the youth of America from their adult oppressors using balloons (or something). It does have a typically Piliero intro, though, where the duo watches a Senator give an unusually pessimistic televised address (“Our national debt is at over 15 trillion dollars. If you haven’t lost your job yet, you probably will”), and it also has that trademark celebrity cameo–in this case, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from LOST actor Harold Perrineau, who played the father of MKTO member Malcolm David Kelly’s character Walt on the show.
AVRIL LAVIGNE, “ROCK N ROLL”
And now, of course, the video that brought us all here–Avril’s latest masterwork, featuring ostentatious product placement, lobster fights, “Sk8er Boi” plot summaries, “November Rain” video recreations, and makeout sessions with Danica McKellar, even done with Wonder Years-style after-the-fact narration. It’s totally ridiculous, makes no sense whatsoever, and has at least five ideas too many, but it’s a blast for all these reasons, and arguably the apotheosis of Piliero’s now-easily recognizable style. We hope he and Avril get back together again real soon.