In the past 24 hours, two major recording artists have released dance-heavy videos. The first is Britney Spears, whose Jonas Åkerlund-directed video for "Hold It Against Me" is full of slick moves by Spears and a phalanx of backup dancers. The second, surprisingly, is Radiohead, who cede the floor to Thom Yorke and let him slip and slide all over the clip for "Lotus Flower." Let's watch the two clips and put them in music's most unlikely dance-off ever!
Britney Spears, "Hold It Against Me"
Radiohead, "Lotus Flower"
TIME SPENT DANCING
THOM: Thom flies solo in the whole clip, although maybe "flies" is the wrong verb to use for his collection of herky-jerky moves.
BRITNEY: Britney's dance sequences are interspersed with shots of her in a floaty white dress while surrounded by TVs airing clips from her storied past, close-ups of her putting on makeup and staring into the camera, surveillance-camera-aping footage, and lots and lots of product placement.
THOM: You have to give him props for doing the whole thing on his own. And at the 3:02 mark, he shows how he can segue the Spaz-Out into the Drunk Man Collapse and not fall!
BRITNEY: Sure, Thom isn't forced to face off with himself in a knock-down, drag-out fight. But aside from that scrum and some lively steps at the end, Britney mostly lets her backup dancers—and a guy in a Silence of the Lambs getup?—do the heavy lifting.
THOM: Nice hat, dude.
BRITNEY: The black getup she sports at the end is way too short-black-tight, a la most of her most unfortunate looks. But Britney's big white dress, which then gets ruined by tempera paint (and the stains of her teenpop past), is even more gorgeous when it's all messed up. Although it's too bad that she has to tumble to the ground immediately after that happens.
INNER TORMENT LEVEL
THOM: At the 2:31 mark, when he begins doing the "I Hate What Is Going On In My Headphones Right Now," he seems pretty upset. Maybe a mischevious sound guy piped in "Creep!"
BRITNEY: I mean, she caps off a scene where she blast-paints TVs that are showing her old videos with a fight between herself and... herself. Is this clip actually a weird sequel to "Gimme More?"
THOM: As any YouTube viewer knows, watching a single dude do his thing in a room can be absolutely compelling for at least five minutes or so.
BRITNEY: The spectacle of watching a Britney Spears video is a high-entertainment prospect, but a video that alludes repeatedly to her dealing with her inner demons and feeling oppressed by her past sort of tempers that excitement a bit.
OVERALL WINNER: THOM
Yes, the lead singer of Radiohead has bested the princess of late-'90s teenpop... in a dance-off. This might be up there with the Amy Winehouse/Herbie Hancock Album of the Year Grammy faceoff in the pantheon of Strange Results In Music, but 2011 is all about unexpected outcomes!