Watched on the Treadmill: 40 Minutes of Dance Videos

Watched on the Treadmill: 40 Minutes of Dance Videos

No pain, no gain.

3. Brian Anthony: “WhatsitgonnaB”

Each of these videos finds a new way of blowing my mind, and this one does it by waiting until it is almost half over before revealing that it is in fact from an extremely bizarre source. Watch it up to about 1:04, with the big reveal at 1:15. It’s okay, I didn’t believe it either.

Before about 1:04, this is a normal dance video, but after 1:15 it is revealed this is actually from a “Music Inspired by the Film” remix project for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. This movie was notable of course for:

  1. Being an unapologetic, profitable piece of crap that was a sequel to an unapologetic, profitable piece of crap
  2. Starring Lawrence Fischburne without anybody knowing it starred Lawrence Fischburne
  3. Writing a case study in cowardice. They were too scared to take the chance of putting Galactus in a giant purple helmet because some people might not like it, so instead they made him a generic, nondescript sci fi villain, which nobody really liked.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video of a song from a movie that included clips from that movie be so totally unconcerned with letting you know it is from a movie. But apparently, this whole Silver Surfer Techno Remix thing actually worked; supposedly it was quite popular overseas (where, interestingly enough, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer made more than half of its box office take).

Apparently, this is sort of what Brian Anthony does; in this research, I found he also did a remixed dance track for the sountrack to Dragonball: Abomination, the live-action Dragon Ball Z movie. So, good on him for haivng no qualms about totally disregarding the movies he is making songs for. He’ll live longer.

The Silver Surfer definitely works as a techno icon, I have to say. Despite the video not fitting in with the Fantastic Four sequel at all, the Silver Surfer fits pretty perfectly into the video. The song is about a guy propositioning somebody for sexual relations (“about” is used loosely). This guy is surrounded by women and doesn’t let on that he’s into dudes or anything, but he seems quite gay, and everyting moves really fast in a way that is kinetic but doesn’t carry narrative force. Brian Anthony is a lot like the Silver Surfer — if you stop and think about him too much, he doesn’t make any sense at all except as a gay icon, which he sort of isn’t for reasons that aren’t entirely clear except that maybe he isn’t quite famous enough. So, whatever, he does his thing for a few minutes and you move on to the next thing.

Oh, and except that Brian Anthony doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, while the Silver Surfer has a disambiguation page with at least five solid hits.

Disambiguation? Ha, yeah right.

4. Cascada: Miracle

Finally, a song we sort of recognize. Sort of. This song is from the album “Every Time We Touch,” by Cascada, which is fitting, because it is pretty much the same song as “Every Time We Touch,” by Cascada (except for being strictly worse). Here, for comparison:

Now, “Miracle” is a bad song. I knew it from the first few lines.

Boy meets girl
You were my dream, my world
But I was blind
You cheated on me from behind.

I’m starting to get bored of people saying “Really? Really?” as a joke, but “Really? Really?” I don’t know exactly how you cheat on somebody from behind. I know how you cheat on somebody behind their back, but that’s mostly redundant anyway, because it’s pretty damn rare to cheat on someone to their face. But yeah, I guess if you get behind somebody back, and then you get ready to cheat on that person, but wait … no, move your knee it’s in the way. Ouch! Dammit! Sorry, sorry.

Seriously, “You cheated from me from behind” is the worst line I’ve heard in a song in a long time. And of course, after this woman has not only been humiliated by her boyfriend, but has humiliated herself in front of everybody by choosing a really awkward way to describe it, what is the song about? Why, getting him back of course! What did you think it was about?


Why do so many songs give such terrible, terrible relationship advice? Somebody should sue these people.

This song reminds me a lot of one of the worst relationship songs of all time, because it not only gives women terrible ideas about how to conduct relationships, but it encourages the absolute worst in men by promoting a dangerous counterfactual fantasy — the best “stalker-/ephebophiliac-encouragement” song not made by the Police (who made several), “Sometimes” by Britney Spears:

Sometimes I run
Sometimes I hide
Sometimes I’m scared of you
But all I really want is to hold you tight
Treat you right
Be with you day and night.
Baby all I need is time.

Okay, maybe I heard this song as more sinister than it was intended, but I posit that all Britney Spears music is by design more sinister than it lets on – it’s part of the aesthetic. I mean, have you listened to Slave 4 U lately? No? Just me then. Okay. Back to Cascada.

Cascada’s song is full of codependent nonsense. It’s addressed to the guy who cheated on her, asking him for a miracle, which, um, puts him on a bit of a pedestal, to say the least. Then it rhymes “miracle” with “be your girl” which is just embarrassing. Then it tries to entice the guy by saying he should give her a chance to see if he was made for her. This of course is not information that the guy would generally be interested in knowing – he’d be far more interested if she was made for him. Her beliefs about what he is destined to do are not something he cares very much about, because he just cheated on her.

Also, this whole exercise is going toward confirming a fundamentally misled idea of how this relationship works – she is using her love, her adoration for this guy as proof that the relationship must continue. She is with him day and night, she really really loves him, all this other stuff – but the reason the relationship has to stop is because the guy cheated on her, “from behind,” no less! She then says “One day you’ll see, it can happen to me” — using her own desperation and envy of other women in an attempt to persuade her cheating boyfriend to take her back. None of the supporting arguments Cascada is providing are relevant to the question at hand.

Plus, whenever it gets back to the chorus, I’m almost certain it’s going to jump into “But every time we touch, I get this feeling …” and then it’s disappointing because this is the inferior Cascada song, and life is too short for inferior Cascada songs.

5. Frederick Ford: “Turn My World Around”

Okay guys, prepare yourselves. We’re going back to Jacinta country. And I don’t mean Austin or Australia. Here be dragons.

This video leaves me kind of speechless. It may be one of the worst music videos ever made.

If “Frederick Ford” sounds like a porn name, it’s because, judging from the YouTube comments, he used to do porn, or still does it. And I can’t/don’t want to do any research on him, because the sites you get when you google him are blocked on this computer for being pornography. So, you know what, I’m going to not do any research on this rat-lookin’ dude.

I mean, I want him to succeed and everything, because who doesn’t love parachutes or whatever, but, to quote one of the YouTube comments:

“worst thing ive ever seen in my life. someone needs to burn that rotating box”

You may wonder why I kept watching these videos. Well, for one thing, they were bizarre and hilarious — always unexpected. Some of them were even pretty good. For another, I was running pretty hard, and the uptempo music was good to keep the pace up. For a third, well, I did it for you guys. And for a fourth, the likelihood of finding something worse if I changed the channel was pretty high. Watching commercials while running on a treadmill sucks. So, Excelsior!

6. Lasgo: “Out of My Mind”

The fonts in this video are what convinced me to actually follow through and write this thing, because they are awesome. If they gave an award for best use of fonts in a music video, this should win all of them. Maybe putting the fonts next to postmodern interpretations of classic sex symbols also got my Overthinking going. You’ve got the cool bubbly sanserif retro-even-for-the-80s font for the pink microphone costume, the Blade Runner / Star Trek TNG font for the road race costume, the broader, more elegant but still sci-fi white font for the elegantly overwrought robo-costume, the breezy cursive-inspired sanserif for the angel costume, the blocky serif outline font for the boxer costume (which doesn’t show up until late in the video), and the most obliquely referenced font, which is the actual “Lasgo” font on the packaging for the doll.

There are three angles at play in this video – there’s the fonts, the costumes (or themes) and the colors. They all come in sets – the racecar girl is always red and always has the Blade Runner / TNG font, but there are parts of the video where the text really jumps out, or the costumes really jump out, or the colors are oscillated quickly enough that the rest recedes.

This plays off the dance aesthetic that informs a lot of these videos – this is music that speaks to an altered state of consciousness where people respond to really blown-out symbols – where things are iconic, motivations are boiled down, and subtletly is lost in the bass and the lights. Everything strives for the iconic. Lasgo uses this as a platform for discussing modes of femininity – not in a particularly original way, but with cool design and nice execution. Of course, all the women are the same person in different costumes. This speaks to the idea that notions of “woman” are reductive, reflecting rather than a signification of a single person a mere facet or aspect of what that person might project when viewed from a particular vantage point. Same woman, different clothes. Same words, different fonts. Form and function are linked, though — race car girl is a different character than angel girl, and “love” means different things in the different fonts.

As I mentioned in my past articles on dance music, one of the things I really like about dance music is how it hammers home the connection of form and function. Dance music is form with purpose – it is made to make you dance. This video illustrates how the changing forms in the colors, fonts and costumes changes the function of the woman in the video, without it changing the “actual” woman, which in turn teaches us something about ourselves and our depth and complexity as human beings.

11 Comments on “Watched on the Treadmill: 40 Minutes of Dance Videos”

  1. Rob #

    An interesting point on that Basshunter video – it’s part three of a bizarrely ambitious series of videos, hence the dumping of the boyfriend at the start. The story is summarised a ‘megamix’ that you can find on Youtube, which is 8 minutes of eurotrance but will fill you in on how we got this far and where the romance progresses. Most of the plot arcs are contrived around getting the women into bikinis and the men into swim shorts. And by the way – I know all this because the megamix once played whilst I was on a treadmill in the gym. If nothing else the storyline kept my mind off the pain of running!


  2. Chris #

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable piece, but that may be in no small part due to the fact it is eerily similar to a series of essays I was working on in which I provided a thorough analysis of songs that appear on “Worst Songs Ever” lists. Alas, that project is on hiatus due to, you know, actual work, but at least I could briefly relive it vicariously through this video enhanced essay.

    Additionally, and tangentially, it reminded me of a piece Chuck Klosterman once wrote in which he watched VH1 Classic for, I believe, 24 hours. However, if I recall his essay correctly, at the time VH1 Classic showed videos in eight hour blocks, so he ended up seeing the same videos three times. You were not as unlucky, however, plus you got a workout in, so that’s a bonus.

    I wish I had something more substantive to add to this comment, but for now that simply isn’t the case.


  3. Fig #

    To further dwell on Basshunter, the interesting thing is that two of his most popular songs in Swedish are about a chat room bot and Warcraft, respectively. I believe he (or some nebulous “they”) rewrote at least “Boten Anna” in English to be much less interesting–maybe they thought it would appeal more to an international market that way? I’m not sure about the rest of his songs, but at least “Boten Anna” and “DotA” appealed to a nerdier market.


  4. Simber #

    Cool stuff. Interestingly I know only very few of these songs, except Lasgo and Armand van Helden (even though I’m an avid follower of thrashy dance music). I’m led to believe there’s a taste difference between the European continent and the UK/US. You guys seem to appreciate dance tracks that have more song-like structures, whereas Europeans love steadily intensifying grooves.
    The video that is unavoidable on Dance-TV like channels at the moment is ‘One’ by the Swedish House Mafia and Pharrel:
    Is that played with you aswell? I like the clinical/raw contrast in the video and the fact that it refers (somewhat, though inconsistently) to how dance music is actually made, instead of having pretty girls play phantom guitars. It might be a little too slow for serious running, though.


    • fenzel #


      Just as conjecture, I’d say something like that is true. American dance crowds, in my experience, love bass and love hooks. The “steadily building groove” isn’t as popular, and is often reserved for novelty songs. The bar for what “techno” is is very low, and people are alienated very easily by songs that aren’t song-like. The European EDM artists who break through here tend to have good hooks and write things that feel like songs. A good example of the American sensibility for dance music, listen to pretty much any track by Timbaland.

      This is I think because singing along with a song is really big on dance floors. The women often dance separately from the men (who are often somewhat loathe to really dance — it’s still considered a gay or European thing to do in a lot of places, at least sober), and people either grind or sing along to their favorite songs with their friends.

      The American “rhythmic” radio format is a combination of dance, pop and hip hop — outside of certain niches, you tend not to run into electronic music in a vacuum, it is also juxtaposed with pop music and rap music, both of which are very anchored in song structure. Especially when you’re dealing with a rap song, there are verses you usually can’t understand with lots of text that resolve into hooks — and that resolution is pretty huge for how dancing works in America.

      Pharrel has been a bit of a no-show in the States lately; I haven’t heard anything from him in a while. But then again, I’m in Boston, which isn’t exactly cutting edge with dance music (because of the ethnic homogeneity across neighborhoods). I haven’t encountered this song before — maybe some of my New York friends have.

      By the way, I would be incorrect to discount the very important influence of Latin DJs in the United States — that’s a whole other world that is as American as a lot of this other stuff. But even there, I think you see a preference for song structure — perhaps the most obvious example of that being the rise of Reggaeton, which of course made its commercial crossover in the American territory of Puerto Rico.


  5. cat #

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but I would imagine the Singing in the Rain video to be a mimicry of sorts of Gene Kelly’s dance with his mirror self in that movie. Nice blend of the technology it takes to create the effect (mirror self, self-assembling components), the advanced technical ability required for the dance moves, and the simplicity of the scene (uncomplicated metaphor and dancing in the rain with oneself/uncomplicated metaphor and dancing in a subway with junk).

    Also, what kind of gym are you going to? I get mostly the current Top 40 or the Top 40 of the last few decades.

    I couldn’t actually make it through most of the videos but the Cascada one has an incredibly confusing message. It starts off simple enough, her significant other has apparently been unfaithful but she’s still in love with him. This can go one of two ways. Either it becomes an empowering song about how she’s leaving him or a song about how she decides to stay. It doesn’t exactly become either”.

    “I need miracle/I want to be your girl/Give me a chance to see/That you are made for me/I need a miracle/Please let me be your girl/One day you’ll see/It can happen to me”. Wait, what? What is this song about? Were the beginnings of two songs added together? Why does she need a miracle? Isn’t she already “his girl”? What is she asking from him? I suppose, being generous, you could read it as her asking him to prove that he can live up to her dream and act like he was “made for her”. But then why does she ask him to let him be her girl? What will he see one day? It sounds like a song about a cheating boyfriend was mashed together with a song about pining for an unrequited love. Otherwise, it’s about an emotionally abusive relationship where even though he’s cheated on her, she not only forgives him but feels like it’s up to her to prove she can be “his girl”. “Day and night/I’m always by your side/Cause I know, for sure/My love is real, my feelings pure.” Sigh…


    • fenzel #


      “Also, what kind of gym are you going to? I get mostly the current Top 40 or the Top 40 of the last few decades.”

      I go to a Boston Sports Club. Not all Boston Sports Clubs have these video channels. This one didn’t even used to have them on all the machines. But they took a survey of their members and I think people said they liked it, because after the survey they added a couple video channels and put them on all the machines.

      Although I miss the “Rock of Ages” channel. The “Classic Rock” channel isn’t nearly as good — not enough metal.

      “Otherwise, it’s about an emotionally abusive relationship where even though he’s cheated on her, she not only forgives him but feels like it’s up to her to prove she can be “his girl”.”

      Yeah, this is how I read the song. Very effed up.


  6. cat #

    Tonight Fever Inside Together My Soul Control All The Time A Sign Love Love My Mind A Sign Love Love Together My Soul Control Soul All The Time A Sign Love Love A Sign

    Above are all the words in order that appear on screen in the Lasgo “Out of My Mind” video. Tell me there isn’t something sinister there. It’s either bad news for the woman singing or the audience. Cue montage of every movie/television show using the concept of music as mind control. Maybe it’s just all the talk of controlling souls…


  7. Brimstone #

    I was watching dance videos at a pub yesterday. most of them were really sexualized, in blatant and strange ways

    dance music confuses and frightens me. it’s very popular in Aus tho


  8. Heather (An Underthinker) #

    I am super jealous that your gym offers this channel.


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