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July 3, 2011 5:19 PM   Subscribe

They Might Be Giants is conducting a video contest for the first single from their upcoming 15th studio album.

The winner will ultimately be determined by comedian John Hodgman, who previously narrated their concept album/DVD Venue Songs in character as a Deranged Millionaire who challenges the band to write a new song for every venue they visit on tour. In an odd turn of coincidence, Hodgman also played The Other Father in Coraline, except for one scene, sung by John Linnell (the band was slated to write several additional songs for the movie, but the musical angle was eventually dropped, though at least one song eventually got an album release.)

TMBG's first and most well-known experiment with technology was Dial-a-Song, an answering machine modified to play back pre-recorded songs, which ran off-and-on for 20 years until 2008. The number and concept was briefly revived by unrelated musicians, but as of the posting of this FPP, the number gives only a busy signal.
posted by kagredon (23 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
15th! Christ. Hooray, TMBG. Thank you for ... always being there, always being inventive, always being catchy, always being crazy cool. And thanks for making records for my kids, too!
posted by cavalier at 5:42 PM on July 3, 2011


This sort of thing is pretty popular these days. The National has a video contest out for their song in Portal.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:59 PM on July 3, 2011


Have They Might Be Giants ever actually had what one might term a "hit record"?
posted by philip-random at 6:11 PM on July 3, 2011


Flood went gold in 1993 and now is platinum.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:18 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The first link (They) is 404. I suspect a Wikipedia link for TMBG is not strictly necessary anyway.
posted by ardgedee at 6:47 PM on July 3, 2011


Flood and Lincoln each put a few songs on MTV back in the day (as well as "Don't Let's Start" off the first album). It didn't necessarily translate to rockstar-level fame, but it definitely helped them sell records, back tours, build a fanbase and remain working musicians for a lot longer than most hitmakers can manage.
posted by ardgedee at 6:53 PM on July 3, 2011


TMBG are like My First Indie Band. I was introduced to them at CTY (Center for Talented Youth), a strange hothouse Smart Kids Camp. Heard Birdhouse In Your Soul for the first time, got a strange kiss from a long term crush. They played Birdhouse at every one of our dances, along with American Pie. Their songs have just the right amount of darkness, but there's too much nostalgia bound up with them to figure out if they're a good band.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:58 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I walked in shoes made by Anna Ng at the Nike Factory in Hanoi. They fit real nice. I wore them at Disney and rode the Small World ride.
posted by humanfont at 7:04 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have They Might Be Giants ever actually had what one might term a "hit record"?

Birdhouse In Your Soul went to #3 in the US and #6 in the UK, and Istanbul (Not Constantinople) was in such heavy rotation at MTV for a while it sparked a minor revolt amongst my circle of MTV-as-wallpaper watching friends.

Anyway, there's been a lot of this kind of thing, as LIB pointed out. Guster recently had a contest for their song Bad Bad World.

There's been a lot of other such things. I'm glad that TMBG is getting in on it. Crowdsourcing music videos is a great idea overall, IMO.
posted by hippybear at 7:16 PM on July 3, 2011


Ahem! Always: "MetaFilter's John Hodgman"
posted by ColdChef at 7:27 PM on July 3, 2011


Crowdsourcing music videos is a great idea overall, IMO.

I'm not sure. Isn't that work and money that could go to film makers and animators? My friend directed me in a video as part of something like this, and it was tons of work. OTOH, Werner Herzog told him to do it, and it seems like every major director these days started out with music videos, so its probably worth it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:29 PM on July 3, 2011


I'm not sure. Isn't that work and money that could go to film makers and animators?

Didn't you get the memo? The Twenty-Teens are all about personal interactions with your fans, letting them contribute to the greater project of your official career offerings. Trent really booted it all to the fore it all with his remix.nin.com, other bands have found other ways to follow suit.

Anyway, when Guster did it, they hired film makers and animators to do all the other songs on the album, and did the crowdsource-contest for only one track.

Frankly, I'm amazed that music videos still exist, after Music Television became MTV and finally admitted they weren't actually interested in what got them started in the first place.

I'm still waiting for an equivalent of Pandora for music videos with a bit of a random choice thrown in every third song or so. I'd even pay money for that service if it were done right. *sigh*
posted by hippybear at 7:41 PM on July 3, 2011


Apart from TMBG, what other bands currently have contests open?
posted by pxe2000 at 7:49 PM on July 3, 2011


Frankly, I'm amazed that music videos still exist, after Music Television became MTV and finally admitted they weren't actually interested in what got them started in the first place.

This probably deserves a post on its own, but Aussie show RAGE plays music videos all night on Friday and Saturday. Beyond that, people listen to heaps of music on YouTube. If I want to get people interested in a band I like it's easier if they have a decent looking official video, and it makes me feel less dodgy than linking to a song + a picture of album art.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:53 PM on July 3, 2011


Well, that's my point. There are all manner of ways to get music videos now. And I'm surprised that there are new ones being made and they're still working as marketing tools. When MTV quit playing videos, and then MTV2 quit playing them, I was pretty much convinced that particular art form had run its course.

Apart from TMBG, what other bands currently have contests open?

Well, Valve/The National (as LIB mentioned earlier in the thread)...

Elton John just wrapped one up not too long ago... (That's not your question, I know.)

I'm sure you can do the same research I'm doing. They happen pretty regularly these days.
posted by hippybear at 8:00 PM on July 3, 2011


In fact, here's an aggregator of all kinds of video contests online, not just music videos...
posted by hippybear at 8:02 PM on July 3, 2011


Thanks, hippybear -- most of the hits for "music video contest" have turned up spam, so I figured I'd ask.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:02 PM on July 3, 2011


I can keep track of the ones for Australian bands that I hear about and post them here, but like the 'make a video for every track on the album' they only seem noteworthy if its Your Favorite Band. Or one of the best indie bands teaming up with one of the best game companies.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:04 PM on July 3, 2011


When MTV quit playing videos, and then MTV2 quit playing them, I was pretty much convinced that particular art form had run its course.

What MTV's disinterest seems to have done is get rid of most of the high-end, big budget, high-gloss, commercial shit.

Thanks, guys.

Meanwhile, so-called artists keep getting drawn to the medium because it's a comparatively cheap place to muck around and be abstract.

This is good.
posted by philip-random at 8:57 PM on July 3, 2011


There are all manner of ways to get music videos now.

Antville is something of a Metafilter-for-music-videos.
posted by progosk at 12:37 AM on July 4, 2011


I have a lot of love for TMBG, but as a creative professional I get really tired of these kinds of contests. On the one hand it gives amateurs a shot at some publicity, but there are so many underpaid/out of work professionals that we really don't need more amateurs taking those few jobs there are.
Really, $1000 for a music video? Hard times.
posted by charles kaapjes at 2:09 AM on July 5, 2011


I get a little leery of any sentence that contains the words "taking our jobs." They're not actually your jobs - they're jobs that belong to whoever wins them, be they seasoned professional or someone who just rolled in off the street.

I'm not a videographer, but I am a writer, a field in which there's currently a lot of dissent about people who write for free, or "for exposure," or HuffPo it up. (Most of the dissent comes from those upset that cheap-as-free amateurs are undercutting their professional rates.)

I like to get paid for most things I do, but also recognize that it's all a negotiation of different factors. Certain kinds of exposure could be worth a great deal. And some projects are enormously emotionally satisfying, enough to make low or no pay worthwhile. Such might be the case here.

I thought about all this when I saw the TMBG contest. Knowing TMBG, it seems less cynical than it might, even if the idea is indeed a little worn. Sometimes crowdsourcing is a cheap way of saying "do our work for us." And maybe it's just a matter of personal trust, but when TMBG does it, I think it's more a way of saying, "come play."
posted by bicyclefish at 9:40 PM on July 5, 2011


I didn't mean to say they were taking our jobs. I do feel there is potentially a lot of expertise going to waste when increasingly advertising companies are cutting budgets by thinking up competitions in stead of choosing a professional of their liking and just paying them a fair price for their work.

As it is, you are probably right that I'm being to cynical where TMBG is involved.
posted by charles kaapjes at 5:43 AM on July 6, 2011


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