Performance videos can suck if some thought doesn’t go into it. One look at the video for “Mercy” and yeah, your first thought is, “where’s the effort?” Well, what do you know about shooting a music video in the first place? We’re spectators just like you, and never graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts either, but we know a good idea when we see one. So to put it plainly, yes, this “Mercy” video is as good as it should be.
First and foremost, it’s a one-shot video. Last time we caught a decent one-shot visual in rap was J. Cole’s “Who Dat?” It must be a R-O-C thing (coincidentally) why Nabil Elderkin took this approach for Kanye and co.’s “Mercy.” Fall back if you think Yeezy is biting. He’s probably seen other non-rap one-shot videos like OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass.” Only connection “Mercy” has to OK Go’s ambitious yet kitschy video is that the cast is all black against a mostly a white garage, like a set of dominoes. And if you caught that OK Go clip, the domino effect of each object transferring energy to the other is how Kanye, Pusha, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz perform. As one starts, the other stops.
It’s crazy to think that a song this big, would be stripped down to just the following ingredients: 4 rappers (plus a slew of shadowy cameos by other G.O.O.D. Music members), black and white, 1 Lamborghini Murciélago, and a garage. The rest is left up to after effects. Is it a bad thing to take songs of epic proportions and whittle them down to their bare bones? It’s ballsy, that’s what it is. Less is more is the direction of most of the pieces coming from Kanye’s camp these days. “No Church in the Wild” reinterprets the lyrics from The Throne, keeping Kanye, Jay-Z and Frank Ocean out of the picture. The rest is a story unrelated to what’s rapped on wax. “Paris,” also from The Throne, sure it’s a monster, but it’s the little one that shrieks the idea that size does not matter; it’s the motion in the ocean. The concert footage, of what’s probably an amalgamation of all the numerous takes of “Paris” is clearly part of the reason why they perform it ad nauseam. C’mon, everyone knows to shoot any video, you don’t get it all on the first try, unless you’re OK Go. But it remains to be seen how many takes there were for “Mercy.” One thing is for sure, don’t let the simplicity of the video confuse that this was slight work.