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15 Music Videos Filmed In One Shot

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When a musical act and a director feel like doing something really challenging, they make a music video in a single take. 

1. OK Go // “The Writing's on the Wall” (4:17)

OK Go is known for their elaborate, unbroken single shot music videos, including "White Knuckles," "A Million Ways to Die," and "Here It Goes Again." Their latest, "The Writing's On the Wall," features 20 optical illusions captured in one shot. The music video took two months to plan and about 65 takes to execute; the band and directors Aaron Duffy, Damian Kulash, Jr., and Bob Partington were influenced by Swiss artist Felice Varini, who is known for his geometric perspective sculptures. "The Writing's on the Wall" gained more than 7 million views on YouTube within only a week after it premiered in June 2014.

2. Gin Blossoms // “Allison Road” (3:26)

In 1994, the Gin Blossoms released their sixth single "Allison Road" from their sophomore effort New Miserable Experience. The music video featured a single steadicam shot moving from room to room capturing a collection of television sets playing the Gin Blossoms performing the pop rock song.

3. Feist // “1234” (3:21)

In early 2007, the single "1234" launched Canadian singer-songwriter Feist into mainstream popularity in the U.S. Patrick Daughters directed the music video, which featured an impressive and colorful choreographed dance routine captured in one continuous tracking shot. "1234" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video, and Pitchfork Media named it one of the best of the decade.

4. Lorde // “Tennis Court” (3:22)

Lorde's single-take music video for "Tennis Court," directed by Joel Kefali (who also directed the video for "Royals"), featured the New Zealand pop star staring into the camera, lip-syncing only the "Yeah" bits at the end of each verse and during the chorus.

5. Cibo Matto // “Sugar Water” (4:02)

Michel Gondry directed the music video for Cibo Matto's 1996 single "Sugar Water." It featured one long continuous shot displayed in split screen with parallel action. Although the scene was exactly the same, the left side of the screen started at the beginning and was moving forward, while the right side started from the end in reverse.

6. Weezer // “Undone" (The Sweater Song) (4:15)

In 1994, Spike Jonze directed Weezer's first music video. "Undone (The Sweater Song)" featured the band playing in front of a blue backdrop with a pack of dogs racing in and out of the camera's frame. While Jonze captured the performance in one unbroken slow motion steadicam shot, the director had Weezer perform to a sped up version of the song to get the slow motion effect in camera. It took about 20 takes to complete the shot, but towards the end, the band started to take the music video less seriously, which shows in their performance. It premiered on MTV and immediately became a smash hit with the music channel's young viewers.

7. Spoon // "The Underdog" (3:48)

In 2007, Keven McAlester directed the music video for "The Underdog," Spoon's first single from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The unbroken steadicam shot featured the indie rock band playing the song with an El Mariachi horns section and a number of percussionists in various rooms of an Austin, Texas recording studio.

8. Radiohead // “No Surprises” (3:46)

The music video, directed by Grant Gee, features Thom Yorke's head inside of a dome helmet with the song's lyrics reflected (in reverse) on its plastic shield. At the start of the song's second verse, the helmet begins to slowly fill with water, submerging a clearly uncomfortable Yorke for nearly a minute.

9. Taylor Swift // “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (3:35)

Taylor Swift's music video for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is an elaborate production featuring multiple sets and costume changes, all captured in one single shot. It follows Swift going through a nasty break up and experiencing flashbacks of the destructive relationship, as her band, dressed as furry woodland creatures, joyfully perform. It's a fun music video for a very fun and poppy song.

10. Michael Penn // “Try” (3:09)

Paul Thomas Anderson shot the music video for Michael Penn's "Try" during post-production of the director's film Boogie Nights in 1997. It was shot in the longest hallway in Los Angeles and features Penn performing the single while walking through the hallway. It also features three actors—Thomas Jane, Melora Walters, and Philip Seymour Hoffman—who also appeared in Boogie Nights. In fact, Hoffman wears a Angels Live in My Town (one of the fictional adult films in Boogie Nights) jacket as a reference to Anderson's sophomore effort.

11. Lisa Loeb // “Stay (I Missed You)" (3:05)

Ethan Hawke's directorial debut was the music video for Lisa Loeb's debut single "Stay" in 1994. It featured Loeb in an empty New York City loft performing the song in one single take. The song was featured on the Reality Bites soundtrack and was a #1 song for three weeks. Loeb was also the first recording artist to have a #1 hit song on the Billboard Hot 100 without being signed to a record label. In 2013, Lisa Loeb re-created the single take music video for Billboard Magazine in their New York City offices.

12. Vampire Weekend // “Oxford Comma” (3:39)

In 2008, Richard Ayoade directed the music video for Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma." It featured the band performing the song while lead singer and guitarist Ezra Koenig walks through a farm as a film crew shoots a movie in the background.

13. Metric // “Gimme Sympathy” (3:50)

In 2009, Canadian indie rock band Metric released "Gimme Sympathy," the first single from their fourth studio album "Fantasies." Its music video was captured in one long extended shot and featured the band performing in an empty gymnasium; halfway through the song all of the band members switch instruments.

Lou Reed was the inspiration behind the song. Metric lead singer Emily Haines wrote in Rolling Stone after Reed's death in 2013, "When Lou Reed asked me, 'Emily Haines, who would you rather be, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones,' I shot back, 'The Velvet Underground.' Quick thinking, sure, but also the truth. In our song 'Gimme Sympathy,' we lament the fact that none of us living today are likely to achieve the stature or saturation the signature acts of that era enjoyed."

14. Metronomy // "Love Letters” (3:07)

In 2014, Michel Gondry directed the music video for Metronomy's "Love Letters." In it, the band performed the song in a six-sided box with various cutouts, as the camera spun around with a 360 degree view. Depending on where the camera landed, you could see Metronomy in various scenarios including in a recording studio, on a laptop, in a concert hall, and on a road trip.

15. Bob Dylan // “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (2:19)

Although it's a film clip from D.A. Pennebaker's 1964 documentary Dont Look Back, Rolling Stone considers Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" to be the precursor to the modern day music video. The two-minute clip featured Dylan displaying a number of cue cards with the lyrics to the song, as he revealed one after another. It was shot in the back alley of the Savoy Hotel in London, England; Allen Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth can be seen in the background chatting.

The promotional film clip was highly influential to many recording artists, including The Flaming Lips, Belle & Sebastian, and the punk band Anti-Flag, who all attempted to mimic its style.

BONUS: Spice Girls // “Wannabe” (3:56)

The music video for the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" appears to be shot in one take, although there are apparently two very subtle edits. At the time of its release in 1996, the video was considered controversial thanks to its risqué content. Virgin Records asked for re-shoots and an alternative version for the American market, but the Spice Girls refused because they were very proud of how the music video turned out. It won Best Dance Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

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"Weird Al" Yankovic Is Getting the Funko Treatment
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Though the New York Toy Fair—the largest trade show for playthings in the western hemisphere—won't officially kick off until Saturday, February 17, kids and kids-at-heart are already finding much to get excited about as the world's biggest toy companies ready to unleash their newest wares on the world. One item that has gotten us—and fans of fine parody songs everywhere—excited is "Weird Al" Yankovic's induction into the Funko Pop! family. The accordion-loving songwriter behind hits like "Eat It," "White & Nerdy," "Amish Paradise," and "Smells Like Nirvana" shared the news via Twitter, and included what we can only hope is a final rendering of his miniaturized, blockheaded vinyl likeness:

In late December, Funko announced that a Weird Al toy would be coming in 2018 as part of the beloved brand's Pop Rocks series. Though we know he'll be joined by Alice Cooper, Kurt Cobain, Elton John, and the members of Mötley Crüe, there's no word yet on exactly when you’ll be able to get your hands on Pop! Al. But knowing that he's coming is enough … for now.

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11 Fun Facts About The Wedding Singer
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

On February 13, 1998, Adam Sandler gave Valentine’s Day sweethearts a retro treat with The Wedding Singer, a 1980s-set rom-com about a heartbroken wedding singer named Robbie Hart (Sandler) who falls in love with a waitress/bride-to-be whose married name will leave her as Julia Gulia (Drew Barrymore).

At this point in Sandler’s career, he was known more for his puerile comedies like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, not as a romantic leading man. The Wedding Singer changed all that. After earning its $18 million budget back during its opening weekend alone, The Wedding Singer went on to gross $123 million worldwide—making it Sandler’s highest-grossing movie to date at the time.

Besides being a bona fide box office hit, the film’s two ’80s-heavy soundtracks—which included tunes by The Police, David Bowie, The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, and The Smiths—were also popular. For the film’s 20th anniversary, here are 11 fun facts about The Wedding Singer.

1. THE DIRECTOR’S OWN REAL-LIFE HEARTBREAK ALLOWED HIM TO TAP INTO THE FILM’S EMOTION.

Longtime Sandler friend and collaborator Frank Coraci directed The Wedding Singer, and said that his own experience with having his heart broken was part of what allowed him to tap into the movie’s unique balance of humor and heartfelt romance.

“I remember lying in bed and not being able to move, so it was easy to tap into that pretty quickly,” Coraci told The Hollywood News of his own heartbreak, which happened a couple of years before the movie came along. “I think the distance between those two things was good. It let me look at it differently and allowed it to be funny. I think if had happened before, The Wedding Singer would have been one seriously depressing movie.”

2. THE IDEA TO SET THE FILM IN THE 1980S CAME FROM THE RADIO.

The Wedding Singer was written by Tim Herlihy, a longtime collaborator of Sandler’s who, in addition to writing for Saturday Night Live, wrote the scripts for Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy (among other Sandler-starring films). Sandler mentioned to Herlihy that he wanted to do “a film about a wedding singer who gets left at the altar.” For his part, Herlihy let the radio inspire him. “I was listening to the radio show Lost in the ’80s, and I said, ‘I want to do a movie set in the 1980s. So of course, we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a story about a wedding singer in the 1980s?’”

3. SANDLER WANTED TO MAKE A “PRO-LOVE” FILM.

While promoting the movie on Late Night With Conan O’Brien in 1998, Sandler said, “We wanted to make a romantic comedy that was heavy on the laughs. It was nice to do a movie that was pro-marriage and pro-love.” He explained men have a difficult time falling in love. “You got guys who say they don’t want to be in love, but those are usually guys who have been hurt before.”

4. THE MOVIE DOESN’T FEATURE ANY SEX SCENES, AND THERE’S A REASON FOR THAT.

In the same interview, Conan O’Brien asked Sandler why there weren’t any sex scenes in the film, which seemed odd for a rom-com. Sandler was candid with his answer: “The main reason for not having a sex scene is I’m not good at sex,” he said. “I started when I was pretty young and I was always like, you’ll get better. And I got older and it’s still not good.”

5. BARRYMORE APPROACHED SANDLER ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER.

Since the release of The Wedding Singer, Sandler and Drew Barrymore have gone on to star in 50 First Dates (2004) and Blended (2014) together, but their original collaboration was really the actress’s doing. Barrymore told Howard Stern she was interested in working with Sandler because “[I thought] I want to be a modern weird Hepburn, Tracy old Hollywood couple.” Sandler agreed to meet with her. “We looked like the worst blind date you’ve ever seen,” Barrymore recalled, referencing how she had purple hair and wore a leopard coat. Still, as Barrymore told The Huffington Post, she was convinced that she and Sandler were “cinematic soul mates,” and wasn’t afraid to tell him so. Soon after this meeting, the script for The Wedding Singer came along.

6. THE “RAPPING GRANNY” LIVED TO BE 101.

At the age of 84, Ellen Albertini Dow portrayed Robbie’s neighbor Rosie, a.k.a. “The Rapping Granny.” During a wedding scene in the movie, Rosie gets on stage and raps to The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” However, when the filmmakers asked Dow to perform the rap, she admitted she wasn’t familiar with that style of music.

In a 2008 radio interview, she recounted how Sandler and Coraci approached her with the idea. They told her, “‘We think it might be funny for an older woman to do rap,’” Dow explained. “And I said, ‘What is that?’ I had no idea what rap was. They took me to a soundstage and handed me this rap song. I went in the booth and it was very foreign to me. I said, ‘Can I move a little to it?’ They said, ‘Oh, sure.’ I’m not bragging, but I danced all my life, and I played the piano, so I know music. I started to move to it and I got it right it away. I got it very fast and loved it and had fun with it.” Her rapping success led to her rapping in a Life Savers commercial, and she even considered recording a rap record for children. In 2015, Dow died at the age of 101.

7. IT’S THE FIRST SANDLER FILM TO INCLUDE A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE.

In previous Sandler films, women mainly existed only as love interests. Herlihy, however, changed that with The Wedding Singer. “Drew elevated things for us,” the screenwriter told Esquire. “The scenes with her and Christine [Taylor]—the scenes with her without Adam—[were all great]. You look at the first movies and there’s not a lot without Adam because we did test screening and they said, ‘Get rid of that scene.’ But this time with Drew we were able to do that and have those scenes survive to the movie.”

8. THE CREATORS OF THE WEDDING SINGER BROADWAY MUSICAL KNEW IT WAS “BORN TO SING.”

The success of the film inspired a Broadway musical adaptation that ended up earning five Tony Award nominations and eight Drama Desk Award nods. Matthew Sklar composed the music, and Chad Beguelin wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book with Herlihy. It premiered in Seattle in January 2006 and then officially opened on Broadway in April 2006.

In the fall of 2007, the musical toured nationally, then eventually landed overseas in London, Abu Dhabi, the Philippines, and Australia. Beguelin said the musical came from him pitching a movie idea to New Line Cinema. “They asked me, ‘What would you do with our catalogue?’ Well, I thought The Wedding Singer was born to sing,” he said. They felt a musical could convey stronger feelings than what was on the screen. “In the movie, you get a close-up of Drew Barrymore looking distraught at her reflection in a wedding dress, but you can’t do that on stage,” Beguelin said. “That’s where you write a song.”

9. BARRYMORE WANTED THE AUDIENCE TO “HOLD THE BOWL OF LOVE.”

In a 1998 interview, Barrymore explained what drew her to the character of Julia: “She has an ease that follows her and that’s the energy that she exudes, and I really, really like that about her. And she’s a happy girl.”

Barrymore further said she wanted people to be happy and for the movie to cause the audience “to hold the bowl of love and have those hearts in their eyes and all of that good mushy stuff we live for."

10. BILLY IDOL STARRED IN THE FILM TO APPEASE HIS SON—AND TEENAGERS.

Billy Idol, whose song “White Wedding” appears on the soundtrack, portrays himself during a climactic scene on a plane. “My son loved Adam Sandler and I thought: ‘I’m going to have to see it anyway, so why not be in it?,’” Idol said. “I gained a number of diehard teenage fans through doing it, who are adults now and are still turning up to my gigs.”

“There’s something about Billy Idol hanging on a plane, knocking back champagne, and getting involved with my love life,” Sandler said of Idol’s cameo. “Everybody thought that’d be fun.”

11. BOY GEORGE WAS A FAN OF BOY GEORGE.

In the film, transgender actress Alexis Arquette played a character named George, who had similarities to the iconic Culture Club frontman Boy George. Wedding Singer George even sings the band’s 1982 hit song “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” at a wedding in the movie. Arquette passed away on September 11, 2016, and around the same time the real Boy George paid homage to the actress at a concert in Maryland. He dedicated “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” to Alexis and her family.

“Alexis played me in The Wedding Singer, very hilariously,” he said. “When I went to [see] The Wedding Singer, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When I saw Alexis doing an impersonation of me, I was rolling around on the floor laughing.”

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