Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Happy Tuesday: Michel Gondry's low-key video for Mia Doi Todd

February 2, 2010 |  4:50 pm

Pop & Hiss is all tuckered out from the Grammys. All those high-concept but results-poor mash-ups between performers! All those beautiful people with their well-muscled legs and shiny hair and expensive outfits! We love Lady Gaga (though we still don't think the music matches the stage mojo), but isn't it nice to wash it all down on an ordinary Tuesday with a video from one of our own townspeople?

Enter the humble Mia Doi Todd. The mellow minx with the wavy tresses has been making Laurel Canyon pop for the last handful of years and it seems she only gets more comfortable with each passing groove. For her new song, "Open Your Heart," to be included on a forthcoming ninth album, she enlisted director Michel Gondry, who shot this lightly choreographed video in superbly understated fashion.

According to Todd, Gondry challenged her to write a song that would be "vibrant, upbeat and universal to match the visual palette." The shooting, completed in two days last summer, was a family affair: Todd's mother and aunts helped assuage the effects of the heat by handing out cold hand towels. Even better, mutual friend Jon Brion produced and orchestrated the track after the video had been edited, coordinating the sounds and arrangements to the images.

We've all seen Gondry go nuts with puppets, time-shifts, reality-bending set designs and loads else we probably will never know about in movies such as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Be Kind Rewind." But for Todd's song, he follows through on a simple idea: Film ordinary people (recruits from the Riverside Community College marching band) in color-coordinated clothes executing easy dance moves against a backdrop of Los Angeles' most banal but secretly fascinating locales. Think that mini-mall with the Yoshinoya and the check-cashing place and the dry cleaners. Yes, that one.

This won't be the only Gondry-Todd collaboration. The French filmmaker will also be playing the drums for his new friend at her Tuesday night February residency at Spaceland, starting tonight.

-- Margaret Wappler