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Bright Lights in the Basement

The fanciest thing about Jack White's music video is his hat.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
Getty Images
The fanciest thing about Jack White's music video is his hat.

MTV didn't invent the music video. But Nigel Godrich thinks it may have destroyed it. And if anyone should know, it's him. He's the award-winning producer behind the music of big-name bands like Radiohead and Travis. And now he has a new goal: to liberate the music video from the clutches of commercial TV.

Godrich has created a show called From the Basement Actually, "From the Internet" is more like it. You can download the entire first episode or individual songs from both his Web site and iTunes for about $2 a song, with 5 songs per episode.

There are no elaborate dance routines with pythons and leather and no car chases set to a thumping bass. Godrich simply invited artists like Radiohead's Thom Yorke and the White Stripes into a London studio and turned them loose. For one song, Jack White whips out an acoustic guitar while Meg White sits on the floor tapping bongo drums between her legs. Then Thom Yorke leans over a piano and plays a song that may or may not appear on an upcoming Radiohead album (which Godrich is currently producing).

Cameras linger on hands and faces. Steve Reid and Kieran Hebden (of Four Tet fame) sink into a drum-induced trance during their improvised rock jam.

The second episode is due in February, and the somber hipster Beck is slated to appear.

Thomas Pierce is spending a year at NPR as a part of the Joan B. Kroc Fellowship and likes music videos where somber hipsters brandish muskets like guitars.

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Thomas Pierce