29 April 2013

Removing a song’s video from the content of its lyrics and music through surrealism brings the film into the forefront as a piece of art in its own right. With a protagonist who looks like he’s gone AWOL from a Dali painting to investigate Britpop, Hammer & Tongs’s video for Blur’s 1999 hit Coffee and TV features the anthropomorphised milk carton ‘Milky’ in a quest to find the band’s missing guitarist Graham Coxon

As Milky braves his way through an unfamiliar human world, he creates a dreamlike land where a walking, talking, dancing milk carton is a completely natural occurrence. Despite the mild peril of a family losing a child and a milk carton losing his love (a carton of strawberry milk is at one point heartbreakingly crushed underfoot before her time) all ends happily with reunions all round and normality restored.

Although loosely linked to the general sense of feeling lost communicated within the song, the surreal nature of the video and its standalone plot allows it to exist as a piece of cinema that can be enjoyed independently of the music it accompanies.

Designed and purpose-made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Milky became a Britpop icon, appearing on T-Shirts, as a figurine and at one point even an MSN emoticon. Fourteen years after his first appearance a Google image search for ‘Milky’ still returns our hero as its first results, which arguably goes at least some way to proving the endurance of the music video as an art form regardless of its changing context and place within the music world.