Often, there are music videos that end up creating more controversy than the song itself. Think Duran Duran’s ‘Girls On Film‘, or The Prodigy’s infamous ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. In each of these cases, critics have argued that the song probably wouldn’t have gained the success it did if it weren’t for the video. Considering that music videos are created for promotional purposes, then isn’t the music video doing exactly what it was supposed to if it makes the song famous?
Justice’s ‘Stress‘ is a prime example of this. Despite being a brilliantly crafted song, claustrophobic in its nature, and designed in such a way that it would serve well on the soundtrack to some post-millennial horror movie, it was the music video that attracted the most attention. Running almost two whole minutes longer than the original song, the video sees a gang of youths running wild in the streets of Paris, participating in senseless violence, all whilst dressed in stylish jackets adorned with the cross from Justice’s accompanying album.
The video attracted all forms of controversy from all manner of critics. The video was banned from French TV, music publications either loved or hated it, and its legacy as one of the most controversial videos of all time has been guaranteed. It’s a bizarre mash-up of A Clockwork Orange and the Grand Theft Auto series that is completely confronting, namely in the sense that these are events that could be happening at any point in time by any number of youths.
Despite its confronting nature, the video does include some iconic scenes, such as the group of youths walking through the city streets in their trademark jackets, or a humorous moment in which one of the gang’s members kick in their car’s radio once Justice’s previous hit ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ comes on. While I would like to say that this song grew on me based solely on its own musical merits, I would be lying if I were to say that the music video had no effect on me at all.