Pioneering director Michel Gondry is responsible for some of the most memorable music video imagery of the past 20 years — the Lego dioramas in the White Stripes’ VMAs-sweeping “Fell in Love With a Girl,” the backwards adventures of Cibo Matto in “Sugar Water,” the surreal dream sequences of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” the elaborate Busby Berkeley-in-space choreography of Daft Punk’s “Around the World,” and of course, multiple amazing clips for Bjork.
Now the French visionary has turned his eye to the world of album art, crafting a spectacular and ambitious promo for Pandora’s #SoundsLikeYou campaign. Reminiscent of Gondry’s one-take “Lucas With the Lid Off” video from his early career, the clip depicts a runner racing through wall-sized, 3D recreations of some of music’s most recognizable album covers, including the Doors’ Morrison Hotel, Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Devo’s Freedom of Choice, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, David Bowie’s Blackstar, Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, and the Weeknd’s Starboy.
“For me, it’s a real time-travel experience, and I wish it could last for days and days,” Gondry tells Yahoo Music. “I was invited by Pandora to create a journey through the most iconic music albums from both the past and the present. Music is an immersive and emotional experience. Each album cover represents a world of memories and feelings that you have experienced while listening to the music. It seemed natural to me that the viewer should experience this immersion. That’s why I decided to recreate each cover like an experiential landscape — a world in itself. All the album covers were sets built together in a big studio so the camera just had to follow our runner through them.”
Producer Raffi Adlan elaborates: “Each album cover is a three-dimensional, practical set-build — some in excess of 25 feet tall — orchestrated in an interactive fashion onto a single stage, with the intention of being completely fluid in terms of transition between them. A primary challenge of ours was creating a seamless marriage between the existing album artwork and Michel’s imaginative interpretation of a tactile world within which the character can explore. We were given the task of upholding the integrity of the album artwork of iconic bands, while creating real and unexpected environments that reveal them.”
Ironically, even though Pandora is a streaming music service, Pandora ECD Julie Scelzo feels the #SoundsLikeYou campaign is a celebration of vinyl culture. “Vinyl album sales were the highest in 2016 than they have been since 1988,” she points out. “People are more familiar with album cover artwork than they have been on 28 years. New releases are even being released in vinyl. This film celebrates the iconic covers, both old and new.”
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