The seemingly adored new video for Kanye’s third 808s & Heartbreak single, “Amazing,” is nothing but hype; thanks both to director Hype Williams’ namesake, and more so to the over zealous (and apparently) easy to please music-blogosphere.
Much to my astonishment, the Internet seems to be instantly heralding “Amazing” as a high-budget masterpiece, with various blogs calling it “simply amazing” and “eye catching.” Pitchfork even wrote that the video “has some seriously high production values” and you “just don’t see that kind of dough being spent on videos much these days.” Thankfully they add that the video is “Shot on location in Hawaii! They rented a helicopter!” – which gives some much needed clarity. The bottom-line is: “Amazing” shouldn’t have cost very much, and if it did, the money was unnecessarily blown.
I would quote some other pro-“Amazing” blogs, but most of their compliments are too nauseating to copy/paste. It goes without saying that a lot of people unjustifiably give Kanye the benefit of the doubt, and merely concede that anything Yeezy-branded must be amazing. I mean sure, the scenery chosen for this video is beautiful and all, but come on, you don’t even have to look closely to notice that the helicopter footage is painfully flawed.
In the version of the video originally posted to Billionaire Boys Club (yes, there are two slightly different versions of the video floating around, but nobody else seems to notice this) the majority of the heli-shots either erroneously show part of a helicopter, a hair on the lens, a fish-eyed vignette, or a combination of these three problems, and in the slightly newer version of the video posted to Vimeo (the one I have embedded in this review) you can see that they’ve changed the heli-shots to remove the hairs, vignettes, heli, etc, but simultaneously seem to have created some sort of visual distortion and shakiness in the footage; so the “secret replacement video” isn’t much of an improvement on the original.
If you want an example of helicopter footage done correctly, on a relatively modest budget, you don’t have to look any further than independent action-sports films to see that the filmmakers who can afford to use Wescams and Tyler Mounts (one of which was probably used for “Amazing”) can operate them properly, with the end results putting Kanye’s video to shame.
Additionally, there appear to be some noticeable frame-rate/shutter-speed issues in a lot of the footage. This may not be of significance to every viewer, but to eyes who can notice the problem it makes the difference between good production, and production by a crew who doesn’t understand how to use their equipment. Moreover, the footage switches back and forth from wide-screen to full-screen, which is a blatantly rookie move. The production mistakes in this video are amateur, acceptable perhaps in certain situations, but not to be dismissed when you consider the resources Kanye brings to the table.
On top of the half-assed “high production values,” the video isn’t particularly inspired. And by “isn’t particularly inspired,” I mean it’s neither inspired, or inspiring, at all. Jumping from one silhouetted Kanye head-shot to another – on a boat, by a fire, in the jungle, on a mountain top – and then showing a couple head-shots of Young Jeezy for his verses, all whilst cutting to the heli-footage for the chorus… well that isn’t exactly original… and yes, there is a token busty black girl crawling around in a bikini near the fire.
One blog actually suggested that Kanye may have been green-screened into the scenic shots; while I really doubt this is the case, it wouldn’t be all that difficult to believe considering the abundance of mediocrity in this should-be-amazing video. And can’t you just imagine Kanye stressing about the thought of getting some dirt on his signature-kicks?
The majority of Big 4 funded music videos are formulaic money pits, and Kanye’s “Amazing” really shouldn’t be considered some sort of change from form, let alone a masterpiece. The only thing amazing about Kanye’s “Amazing” video is the indubitably staggering cost of his crews vacation to Hawaii… I believe in the film industry they call this “pulling an Oceans Twelve.”