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Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes Hardcover – December 22, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this look back on the music video genre, film and music critic Austerlitz does an admirable job explaining how early pioneers like the Beatles and Bob Dylan paved the way for the Madonnas and Michael Jacksons of the 1980s, the decade in which the music video thrived. Unfortunately, Austerlitz muddles his historical narrative by arranging it more by theme than by chronology. Focusing on specific directors like Michel Gondry and Paul Hunter, topics such as comedy and minimalism, and the groundbreaking concepts and techniques of videos such as Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and the Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U," Austerlitz proves an erudite authority, clearly articulating what makes videos such as the Replacements' "Bastards of Young" and Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" so important to the canon. But this specificity comes at the expense of a broader, more sociological take: hot-button subjects such as homosexuality are addressed, but Austerlitz rarely connects these to the prevailing cultural climate. Similarly, Austerlitz's assessment can be succinct and spot-on, as in his consideration of Nirvana's legacy, but these moments are too few and far between. Still, film and music aficionados will find themselves smiling at discussion of their favorites and chuckling over Austerlitz's skewering of less successful specimens; like his subject, Austerlitz's efforts can be described as "part disposable crap, part ... genius."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

'Money captures music video at an important turning point. As the Internet becomes our primary outlet for video viewing, we need writers like Saul Austerlitz - music fanatics who've watched more episodes of 120 Minutes than clinically recommended - to remind us of the medium's bygone halcyon era.' (Andrew Leahy, New Music, 2006)


, Playboy.com, December 21, 2006.
(Eric Wilinski)

'His [Saul Austerlitz] love-hate relationship with his subject...results in a study that's as informative...as it is entertaining. Four stars'
~ Mojo, March 2007


'Music videos finally get their proper due as a legitimate art form for rigorous analysis...Austerlitz is nothing if not thorough. He opens the book with an introduction that does a nice job of explaining just what this mutant media object connotes to the masses.'
Marc Weingarten, Paste, Issue 28
(Marc Weingarten)

"Praise is due Austerlitz for his diligence, open-mindedness and patience; watching as many videos as he has would have fried most others' brains.

A New York critic who specializes in film and music, Austerlitz writes for publications mainstream, specialist and what started out alternative, like Spin. 'Money for Nothing,' his first book, is a niche product. Its primary appeal will be to other critics; if its marketed effectively, it should also appeal to music, video and film fans, and those eager to break into those businesses...Austerlitz is a gifted critic; he's particularly OK in my book because he, too, can't stand Creed front man Scott Stapp or Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. Austerlitz likes the genre once known as alternative rock, shuns heavy metal and 'nu metal,' disses many hip-hop videos (for reasons similar to his dislike of heavy metal videos), considers Eminem subversive and powerfully political, and proffers kind words not only about music videos auteurs like Spike Jonze and Michael Gondry (his faves) but also about various musical groups. When band and video come together well, his interpretation can be dense, warm and illuminating..."
(SFGate.com)

"It's about time someone wrote a comprehensive tome to the music video. From the very early days of music shorts to You Tube, Brooklyn-based music critic Saul Austerlitz has a lot to talk about...this in-depth analysis of hundreds of videos is done in an interesting way that will teach you tons about bands, MTV and the 80's. If you only read a few pages, check out the author's list of his top 100 videos."

(Chart)

-Mention. Publishers Weekly/ January 15, 2007

(Publishers Weekly)

"...Austerlitz does anice job of documenting how the cleverest video directors have boosted theircredibility by paying homage to cinematic landmark; he knows how to connectSinead O'Connor to Maria Falconetti's silent-era Joan of Arc. And "Money forNothing" shows just how much Hollywood has, in turn, been influenced by MTV."-James Sullivan, The Boston Globe, June18, 2007 (The Boston Globe)

'Money captures music video at an important turning point. As the Internet becomes our primary outlet for video viewing, we need writers like Saul Austerlitz - music fanatics who've watched more episodes of 120 Minutes than clinically recommended - to remind us of the medium's bygone halcyon era.' (Sanford Lakoff)


(Sanford Lakoff)

'Music videos finally get their proper due as a legitimate art form for rigorous analysis...Austerlitz is nothing if not thorough. He opens the book with an introduction that does a nice job of explaining just what this mutant media object connotes to the masses.'
Marc Weingarten, Paste, Issue 28
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Praise is due Austerlitz for his diligence, open-mindedness and patience; watching as many videos as he has would have fried most others’ brains.

A New York critic who specializes in film and music, Austerlitz writes for publications mainstream, specialist and what started out alternative, like Spin. 'Money for Nothing,’ his first book, is a niche product. Its primary appeal will be to other critics; if its marketed effectively, it should also appeal to music, video and film fans, and those eager to break into those businesses…Austerlitz is a gifted critic; he’s particularly OK in my book because he, too, can’t stand Creed front man Scott Stapp or Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. Austerlitz likes the genre once known as alternative rock, shuns heavy metal and 'nu metal,’ disses many hip-hop videos (for reasons similar to his dislike of heavy metal videos), considers Eminem subversive and powerfully political, and proffers kind words not only about music videos auteurs like Spike Jonze and Michael Gondry (his faves) but also about various musical groups. When band and video come together well, his interpretation can be dense, warm and illuminating…"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"It’s about time someone wrote a comprehensive tome to the music video. From the very early days of music shorts to You Tube, Brooklyn-based music critic Saul Austerlitz has a lot to talk about…this in-depth analysis of hundreds of videos is done in an interesting way that will teach you tons about bands, MTV and the 80’s. If you only read a few pages, check out the author’s list of his top 100 videos."

(Sanford Lakoff)

-Mention. Publishers Weekly/ January 15, 2007

(Sanford Lakoff)

“…Austerlitz does anice job of documenting how the cleverest video directors have boosted theircredibility by paying homage to cinematic landmark; he knows how to connectSinead O’Connor to Maria Falconetti’s silent-era Joan of Arc. And “Money forNothing” shows just how much Hollywood has, in turn, been influenced by MTV.”-James Sullivan, The Boston Globe, June18, 2007 (Sanford Lakoff)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (December 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082641818X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826418180
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,351,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Saul Austerlitz is a writer and critic. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, the Village Voice, The National, the San Francisco Chronicle, Spin, Rolling Stone, Paste, and other publications. He is the author of Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes (Continuum, 2007), and Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy (Chicago Review Press, 2010). Money for Nothing is being made into a forthcoming documentary film, for which he has written the script. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Becky.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Smokler on January 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a child of the 80's who grew up in front of MTV, I have been waiting for a book like this to arrive. Music videos have been one of the most innovative and influential forms of media for the last twenty years, but there has been surprisingly little scholarship on the genre.

In that sense, Austerlitz is breaking new ground with this book. He is a savy tour guide for the visual landscape we all share. From the music video's early days, to the hair metal 80's into the ganster 90's, he manages to articulate in witty and insightful prose the nuances and salient features of the genre as a whole, and specific high points in particular.

With the explosion of youtube, and other self produced video formats, its about time we have some serious thinking published on the subject. Austerlitz does just that. At the same time, this is a book for the music video fan. Those of us who remember the glory days of Motley Crue's reign on DIAL-MTV, or that graffiti set of Parents Just Don't Understand, upto the great Guns and Roses triology will be thrilled to hear a wise and equally passionate voice take us back through these videos.

I only hope the sequal will shed some light on Trapped In the Closet.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reuben M. Silberman on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The history of music videos is unwritten, even though the appeal of this strange, incandescent art form should be just as oversized for people of all ages as it is for those of us who grew up in the eighties and nineties. Austerlitz is a witty, thoughtful guide who writes with a gentle mix of scholarship and loving irreverence. Read this book no matter who you are--and then go to YouTube and burn his top 100 videos into the back of your brain.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Olken on January 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Austerlitz is an insightful and funny guide through the world of music video, and it's a tour worth taking. I spent a good portion of my adolescence looking on in horror at the flopping fish in Faith No More's "Epic," taking style cues from MC Hammer, and watching the worms crawl around Peter Gabriel's head, but my middle school eyes didn't see much past the flash. For those of you like me who loved it (but maybe didn't get it) the first time around, this book is an eye-opener - as when Austerlitz takes points to the beginnings of music video in WWII "Soundies" - while still holding on to the fun and nostalgia of an afternoon (or maybe a good, solid year) watching VH1. There's plenty in here for cinephile, music geek, or the merely curious. In short: buy it, read it, and enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
MONEY FOR NOTHING: A HISTORY OF THE MUSIC VIDEO FROM THE BEATLES TO THE WHITE STRIPES is a 'must' for any collection strong in media history. Such collections will find the narrowed focus on music videos to be involving: it covers the earliest days of the music video when fusions of animated films, Hollywood musicals and more preceded MTV clips. The blend of pop music and short films fostered by the Beatles would sweep the music world - but had its roots in early Hollywood history. From the development of music-backed promotional films to 1970s alternative experiments with the medium, MONEY FOR NOTHING is packed with insights perfect for college-level media history holdings.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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