The Greatest Video You’ve Ever Seen 004: Cibo Matto “Sugar Water”


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Looking back at some of the weird things that happened in music in 1996, the wonderfully odd video, “Sugar Water” from Cibo Matto, is not out of place. 1996 was a volatile year. Check out what Wikipedia has to say about it:

January 16 – authorities open fire on Jimmy Buffett’s seaplane, Hemisphere Dancer, mistaking it for a drug trafficker’s plane. U2 singer Bono and Island Records executive, Chris Blackwell, are also on the plane; no one is injured.

This would have been like The Day the Music Died, Part Deux. OK, maybe not, but at least we wouldn’t have had to suffer through a string of bad U2 albums. [Editor’s Note: ducks disagree sometimes, viva la diversidad]

February 4 – Former Milli-Vanilli band member Rob Pilatus is hospitalized when a man hits him over the head with a baseball bat in Hollywood, while Pilatus is attempting to steal the man’s car.

This was a change for Milli-Vanilli dude. Usually people were trying to hit him over the head with baseball bats just because he was the douche from Milli-Vanilli.

March 16 – Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s 16th consecutive week stay at No. 1 in the American charts with “One Sweet Day” ended when Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” hit #1. “One Sweet Day” is the longest consecutive week stay at No. 1 in the Billboard Hot 100’s history.

What are the odds that the worst song ever recorded would be surpassed on the charts by the next worst song ever recorded? That’s just the kind of year 1996 was.

April 3 – M.C. Hammer files for bankruptcy.

This is how I got my sweet pair of Hammer pants made from finely woven gold for such a bargain basement price. Good day for me, bad day for Hammer. I live in those things around the house.

September 7 — Rapper Tupac Shakur is shot four times in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, while leaving the MGM Grand hotel after seeing the Mike Tyson versus Bruce Seldon boxing match, in what is apparently a drive-by shooting.

And the FBI still  hasn’t copped to it.

See? I told you 1996 was a crazy year. Just think about this: Three days after Sublime’s Brad Nowell died of a heroin overdose, Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan OD’d on heroin and cocaine. In the ambulance, he was pronounced dead for two minutes, but he came back to life. In 1996, God chose Depeche Mode over Sublime. Are we better off? I’ll let you make the call.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes, “Sugar Water”, by Cibo Matto.

Cibo Matto was a couple of funky Japanese chicks, one of which was dating Sean Lennon for a time. They made a cheeky little album called Viva! La Woman in 1996. You know the one: most of the songs had food connections in their titles. Remember? The most famous was “Know Your Chicken”.

However, “Sugar Water” is the better song and video. Pay special attention to the zen koan-like lyrics and try to unravel them.

And then there are the visuals. Michel Gondry (of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame) directed the video. This is a narrative video, but it is played out from two points of view and from opposing directions of time. Confused yet? Just wait. I couldn’t really figure this video out too well, until I studied like the Zapruder Tape and found the reflection point, where the two opposing sides of the story meet and switch places.

Even more excitingly, this video was shot in one take (or, rather, two reflective, convergent/divergent takes. Gondry had already experimented with this technique in 1994 with the video for the song “Lucas With the Lid Off” (watch it on Youtube, or on Youku)

Upon analysis, it’s easy to see why this video fit perfectly in 1996. I am not going to break this one down. I’m going to let you check it out and explore for yourself. This video fucks with my head. I hope it does yours.

Maestro, let’s begin The Greatest Video You’ve Ever Seen.


A couple of bonus, propaganda-like video notes:

Last night was the first official day of Splitworks’ JUE Fest. Here is a video preview of that prolonged shindig . Big ups to Archie, Kaine, Jeremy, and everyone else over there for another big event.


Secondly, as part of said JUE Festival, Heatwolves! The Overlord is putting together a little tour of his amorous dance party, LOVE BANG (Sorry, don’t know how to make those cool triangles, too lazy to look it up. Very Hipster Runoff-y, though.) One cat-loving member of his nefarious Super Ayi Cleaning Team has put together an amusing promotional video, featuring the music of headliners Bicep and various ravenous cats. Ergo:

Finally, on another JUE — and video — related note, this Sunday, from 3 PM til late, Sub-Culture TV is in effect. Let me tell you, these fucking lunatics have forgotten more about crazy film and TV culture than this humble correspondent will ever know. So you can be assured you’ll see some wacky shit. Check it out

That is all for now. Resume writing angry Weibos to Pizza Marzano.



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