It was only going to be a matter of time before I did this one. Tenacious D videos are usually more narrative based than most music videos. This applies even to relatively simple songs (such as “Classico”, from The Pick of Destiny – I’m talking about the scene from the film, since the animated music video for that one makes very little sense) but especially to complex songs like “Tribute”. I think this video is very funny, but it’s also a very good demonstration of a music video combining both performance and narrative.
1. The film opens without music as Jack Black walks onto the screen and stands in front of the studio where he intends to record, which is, as Kyle Gass correctly observes, “one of those lame karaoke things.” Close ups of their faces are used to show Jables persuading him to record in the “studio”.
2. The band enter the “studio”, as shown by a two shot. A close up is used to show JB inserting coins into the machine. When Kage complains that you have to record other people’s songs, Jables attempts some “studio engineering”, with humorous close ups on the wires he pulls out of the device. Then Kage begins to play.
3. The song proper kicks off with a two shot of the duo wearing headphones and standing under a mic like in a real studio set up. “This is the greatest and best song in the world,” announces Jables. “Tribute.”
4. The image fades to show the pair walking down a road through the desert, as narrated by Jables. They are shot from different camera angles. Suddenly, there shines a “shiny demon”! He resembles the archetypal image of the devil, complete with goat’s feet and large horns, and fire at his feet suggesting he has come from Hell.
5. The image cuts back to the “studio”, where JB cries “and he said…” and takes a deep breath. Then there is a close up of the demon, who sings “Play the best song in the world, or I’ll eat your souls!” There is a shot where the camera is positioned behind the demon’s head, looking down on the D. Back in the “studio”, JB narrates and the image cuts back to JB and KG saying “OK.” Jables puts down his pack, and Kage reaches for his guitar.
6. During the next verse there are frequent cuts between the “studio” and the road. In the “studio”, JB gestures wildly, pointing at his eyes as he sings “look into my eyes” and gets humorously confused about the numbers of fingers he is holding up. Out on the road, he dances madly, with jump cuts used to show him striking various poses, whilst KG plays the guitar. The demon flinches and stares in apparent disbelief, eventually covering his ears. The image fades…
7. “Needless to say,” explains Jables from inside the “studio”, “the beast was stunned.” He mimes its reactions, from wide-eyed surprise to hanging its head.
8. Back on the road again, the beast snorts comically before asking “Be you angels?” The band reply “Nay! We are but men!” Jables undoes his shirt (possibly to indicate manliness) and there is a close up of his face as he cries “ROCK!”
9. This is the really awesome part. The two sing in harmony and a bright purple light floods out from behind them, like something divine. The demon shrinks away from the glare. Back in the “studio”, they sing under the flashing white lights, the contrast providing an ironic parallel.
10. Meanwhile, outside the studio, the music is heard much dimmer, giving the impression that the listener is outside, but it is nevertheless loud enough to turn the heads of passers-by. Inside (the music is loud again) the duo carry on regardless.
11. The D advances on the demon, singing their characteristic nonsense sounds. The demon backs away, waving his hands in front of his face. Jables delivers a triumphant kick as though on stage.
12. The demon’s expression of fear turns to a kind of sour-grapesy expression. He produces an electric guitar out of thin air and launches into an aggressive solo. Kage looks stunned and Jables mouths “What the…?”. The demon looks smug, licks the neck of his guitar and points mockingly at them.
13. In the “studio” JB rips out the mic, kicks down the door and bursts into the corridor, followed by Kage. They begin to sing to the passers-by, including an old lady who fends Jables off with a handbag.
14. Inexplicably, out on the road, a beaming KG is now playing the electric guitar solo on his acoustic guitar. The demon stares on in disbelief. The image cuts back to the corridor, where a police officer seizes the duo.
15. Cut to the desert, where the demon starts to shrink into the ground. Cut back to the corridor, where the police officer drags away the band. Cut back to the desert, where the demon shrinks to a tiny flame and disappears. Jables and Kage turn and nod at one another as the lights dim and the song abruptly ends.
16. In a rather blatant example of plugging and product placement, there is a close up of Tenacious D, the album which includes “Tribute”, falling into the CD slot on the machine. The elderly lady picks it up, and the guitar plays a few more notes. The lady’s eyes glow red and she cackles maniacally.
You can watch the video of this on YouTube, but it’s the censored version, I’m afraid. It doesn’t really lose any of the humour from that, though.
Much of this video was referenced in the “Beelzeboss (Final Showdown)” sequence in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.