Apr. 24th, 2014

fengi: (Tubey)
In 1997 Natalie Imbruglia, a preternaturally attractive Australian pop star, released "Torn", her only American hit. I first heard it when I found a promotional VHS of the video lying in the street. I assume it had been tossed there by an employee from a record store a block away.

This was the video.

A few things struck me about this video.

First, the moment which is clearly designed to encourage boys to kiss the screen in a mocking yet ultimately pathetic fashion. I tested it by showing it to a creepy nice guy colleague who responded exactly as anticipated. He then expressed mock rage over knowing such an unattainable perfect gamine hipster girl existed. Underneath the ironic fuming, however, was all too genuine resentment at women like that could be permitted to walk the earth without ever having to fuck him.

Second, the video occurred deep enough into the meta era that it deconstructs itself as it goes on, emphasizing how everything in it is a mere facade. By the end Natalie is the single genuine object, bopping around in the remains of a presentation which ended even before it was complete.

For Americans Imbruglia was a one hit wonder. In Australia, however, her career has spanned nearly two decades (mostly modeling and acting) and four albums.

In "Smoke" the last video off her first album Imbruglia was in a white void her very self struggling to remain tangible as the tune progressed.

In 2001, "That Day", the first single off her second album was advertised with this video:

As in the previous clips, Imbruglia addresses at the camera while the surround images are less than cooperative. This time, however, she is wandering down a dimly lit tunnel, vaguely menaced by faceless, shadowy forms who barely acknowledge her presence. It has a Stygian feel, a journey into the underworld, though at the end she walks into the light. Perhaps not the best imagery to use for a 2001 release, which may be why it was never shown stateside.

The first single off her third album, "Shiver" was visualized in a more dramatic fashion. With a spy themed action interrupting the direct camera address.

Again, however, the Imbruglia seems to be struggling against the video itself. She first appears burning her identity and wandering a field almost like a ghost, then engaged in an action packed escape from men who clearly mean her harm. By the end she is alone, pushing aside a box full of discarded personal documents in an apartment which vaguely resembles the one in her first video. As the camera pulls back, one thinks it's going to be another set, but it's just a doorway.

There's a video for her most recent hit single "Scars" in 2010, but it's not on YouTube as far as I can tell. This may be due to a contract dispute which has prevented the release of the album in the UK and US after the previous single tanked.

I'm imagining it starts a black screen in which Imbruglia's lips are briefly and barely sceen through a wash of static and digital glitches. Eventually the camera pulls back to reveal the black is a discarded leather jacket on the edge of some barren cliff. Nearby a few scuff marks that might be bootprints seem to lead off the edge.

POSTSCRIPT: The first unsuccessful single off her last album, Want, has a video in which Imbruglia picks up the camera and turns it on her self for sexytime rolling around, then casts it aside in gesture of meta-dismissal. Alas, it apparently did not work, despite having a one syllable title like nearly all her work.