Filmmaker Michel Gondry Brings Classic Album Covers to Life in a Visually-Packed Commercial: Purple Rain, Beggars Banquet, Nevermind & More

File this under “why didn’t I see this ear­li­er?”

Here’s a too short but visu­al­ly packed Michel Gondry-direct­ed com­mer­cial for the Pan­do­ra app. Here, he indulges in all the things that make Gondry so beloved: large sets, in-cam­era effects, huge props, and a visu­al wit.

For the “Sounds Like You” cam­paign, Gondry has a short-haired young woman run­ning through var­i­ous rooms and land­scapes, all of which reveal them­selves to be album cov­ers from the famous (Metallica’s Mas­ter of Pup­pets) to the more recent (Big Sean’s Moves). We even get a Bowie shout-out and it’s not what you’d expect. We’d say more, but hey it’s so short, why spoil the sur­prise. It does how­ev­er feel like Gondry has been hired to do some­thing he’s already done–somewhere before he got the call you can hear an ad exec say­ing “hey, who’s avail­able, who can do a Gondry-like thing with this cam­paign?”

Indeed, it is very rem­i­nis­cent of his real­i­ty-bend­ing video for the Chem­i­cal Broth­ers’ “Let For­ev­er Be” (includ­ing the run­ning woman):

And chore­o­graph­ing a series of tableaux is also sim­i­lar to Gondry’s “Lucas with the Lid Off” from 1994:

So, yes, in a world where a third of all music videos are bit­ing from Gondry’s career, it’s good to see the best imi­ta­tor of Gondry is the man him­self.

(But if bring­ing album cov­ers to life is your jam, have you watched “Dave” yet?)

Album cov­ers ref­er­enced in the video include:

0:08 The Doors — Mor­ri­son Hotel (1970)

0:12 Prince — Pur­ple Rain (1984)

0:17 The Rolling Stones — Beg­gars Ban­quet (1968)

0:20 Metal­li­ca — Mas­ter of Pup­pets (1986)

0:26 The Week­nd — Star­boy (2016)

0:28 Devo — Free­dom of Choice (1980)

0:31 Nir­vana — Nev­er­mind (1991)

0:38 Drake — Noth­ing Was the Same (2013)

0:39 The Cure ‎– A For­est (1980)

0:46 Joy Divi­sion — Unknown Plea­sures (1979)

0:49 David Bowie ‎– ★ (Black­star) (2016)

0:55 Big Sean — I Decid­ed. (2017)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Michel Gondry’s Finest Music Videos for Björk, Radio­head & More: The Last of the Music Video Gods

French Film­mak­er Michel Gondry Cre­ates a Steamy New Music Video for The White Stripes

Direc­tor Michel Gondry Makes a Charm­ing Film on His iPhone, Prov­ing That We Could Be Mak­ing Movies, Not Tak­ing Self­ies


Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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