March 6, 2008

Beat of the Week (3-6-08): Kanye West, "Flashing Lights"

Print More

First, a story: I was sitting in Uris the other night, during what must have been the least efficient, most unnecessary all-nighter I or anyone else has ever experienced. Right around 4 a.m. I was scouring YouTube for music videos to watch, and I stumbled across Kanye West’s new “Flashing Lights” video.

Having seen the video for “Stronger,” which was pretty flashy, with lots of crazy effects and bright colors, I was expecting something appropriately over-the-top. Maybe I should’ve known better. “Stronger” is, through and through, a party song, while “Flashing Lights” is slower and moodier, but actually a much more remarkable track — consider the orchestral arrangements that run all throughout the song, or a pumping, imperfect synth tap-tap-tapping and that smooth, soulful voice that echoes “Flaaaash. Lights. Lights.”

So, maybe I shouldn’t have expected Kanye clubbin’ on video for three-and-a-half minutes. But the delivered product diverged so wildly from my expectations that I spent those three-and-a-half minutes, my mouth agape, without words. I was shocked? Stunned? Confused maybe?

For those of you who haven’t seen the video, here’s a brief recap: A Mustang drives into view and parks in front of a night-time desert vista. The driver’s door pops open and a beautiful woman in a tiny, black dress steps out, away from the car and towards the camera. Next thing you know, off comes that tiny black dress; she throws it to the ground and pours what I’m assuming must be gasoline all over it, then sets it ablaze.

Next, our mysterious supermodel, covered only by lingerie, her large ba-donk-a-donk exposed, walks back over to the car and pops open the trunk. Inside, Kanye West is tied up, mouth duct-taped shut, eyes wide with fear. She strokes his face, kisses him on the cheek. Then she whips out a shovel and bludgeons him to death … I beg your pardon? What the hell just happened?

Now, I’ve seen stranger music videos, like the one where Robbie Williams tears off all his skin (yeah …). But the “Flashing Lights” video still caught me off guard. So often, rappers have these God complexes that are manifest in their music videos — they’re decked out in chains and furs, sipping champagne and chillin’ in hot tubs. Compare that to this. Damn.

The video, needless to say, got me thinking. What did it all mean? Why did that woman tie Kanye up and drive him into the desert to knock him off? Was hers’ the largest bottom ever committed to film?

Seriously, I couldn’t deal with the ambiguity of it all, and I ended up scouring the Internet for the next couple of hours trying to piece together what exactly Kanye was trying to insinuate. Instead of studying. Whoops.