WHAT: The official music video for the song “Never Wintersbone You” by Chicago indie rock stalwarts Joan of Arc.
WHO: The band’s Melina Ausikaitis and Todd Mattei directed the video, with Ausikaitis also taking on the puppet and set design/diorama responsibilities.
WHY WE CARE: Back in the early ’80s, “In the Air Tonight” was an extremely cool song. It was featured in the pilot of Miami Vice, dominated airwaves, and made Phil Collins–a guy whose main hobby is collecting memorabilia connected to the Alamo–an unlikely sex symbol. (And, like, that drum fill!) Of course, as happens with most things that are that cool in their time, the song is extremely uncool now, its saturation in pop culture so thorough and complete that it’s impossible to take it seriously on its own merits. Which makes it ripe for mockery (see: The Hangover), but also ripe for a much more interesting sort of artistic reinterpretation. That’s what the video for “Never Wintersbone You” accomplishes.
The video is a shot-for-shot remake of the video for “In the Air Tonight,” albeit a compressed one (this track is two minutes shorter than Collins’s original), with the band members’ faces standing in for the extreme-close-up black-and-white shots of Collins’s mug, and a puppet version of Phil Collins standing in for the full-body version of Collins himself. It’s a good lark, but it’s not just a lark. There’s an apocryphal story about “In the Air Tonight” in which Collins watched from afar as a man declined to save the life of a drowning man, only for that man to show up at Collins’s show the next night. It’s not true (Collins says “I don’t know what this song is about”), but that urban legend gets re-told in the lyrics to “Never Wintersbone You” from Collins’s perspective, creating an alternate reality where the myth of “In The Air Tonight” is real, and Phil Collins is a puppet. We should all wish to live in such a world.