Ed. note: It’s no secret that we’re big lovers of YouTube “tribute” clips–those fan-made videos in which users create musical homages to their favorite pop-culture properties. The only problem is that 3/4 of these mini-movies revolve around Star Wars, the Harry Potter films or Gilmore Girls, usually all at once. So from now on, Idolator intern Kate Richardson will be scouring the video sites, looking for the most unlikely objects of affection. In this entry, she takes a spin with two of the the many, many tributes to Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights:
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is a movie so preposterous, so perfectly tailored to the needs of preteen girls, that it was destined for tribute-video greatness. Set in Cuba on the eve of revolution, it follows a straight-laced American teenager (Romola Garai) as she falls for an adorably accented waiter (Diego Luna). And he can dance! The two pair up for culture clash and a playful montage or two as they practice for the Latin ballroom competition, and they even find time to have sex in a tent on the beach. Alas, the revolution is a total buzzkill, and Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” counts as authentic 1950s Cuban music. You wouldn’t think that any of these elements would lend themselves to techno-pop or indie country, but the tribute-video community is nothing if not surprising.
Song: “I Like the Way” by Darren Hayes (the guy from Savage Garden)
Concept: DD:HN as goth night at a gay nightclub.
This video feels wrong all over. Darren Hayes’ moody, industrial attempt at distancing himself from Savage Garden should be legally required to remain at least 100 yards away from DD:HN. No matter how much you slow it down, a Cuban dance party in the town square is never going to mesh with mediocre electronica. The effect is somewhat unsettling, almost like those clips of animals that are fast-forwarded and rewound in quick succession to make them look like they’re dancing, except this clip is even less amusing. This song/subject combination gets some points for creativity and execution, but nothing can save this video from its own creepiness.
Best music-to-image sync-up moment: The two sequences between 1:40 and 3:16 are visually darker and fairly well-matched to the song. Romola Garai’s distressed expression as she watches the writhing Latinos at the local club is particularly appropriate for the music.
Silliest music-to-image sync-up moment: Definitely the first minute and a half. The song itself combined with Diego Luna thrusting in slow motion is an amusing sensory experience.
Song: “The Greatest” by Cat Power
Concept: DD:HNs as a pouty, Braffish love story.
In a way, this video is almost even more confusing. While the song and visuals are really not too jarring of a combination, watching Cat Power and all her nutty indie-lady pretensions in union with the mindless sequel to Dirty Dancing is a bit like biting into a tuna and jelly sandwich. The movie isn’t outrageously bad enough to garner detached ironic appreciation, so the video is presumably pretty earnest, and its biggest accomplishment is casting a tone so entirely different from that of the actual movie: As accompanied by the Cat Power track, the movie is suddenly a wilting love story told in longing gazes and slow dances. Whether or not that’s an improvement on the real thing is anybody’s guess.
Best music-to-image sync-up moment: The emotionally fraught almost-kiss midway through seems appropriately frowny for the sad violins.
Silliest music-to-image sync-up moment: Since this video wisely does not include any frantic pelvic thrusts or Latin dance numbers, it avoids truly silly specific moments. However, it is a tribute to Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights set to Cat Power, so I’m just going to say the whole thing.
Verdict: It’s a close call, as both videos are equally mystifying conceptually, but first prize in this Latin ballroom contest goes to the Cat Power video because it’s generally less offensive.