Wilco: Dawned On Me

The video for Wilco's new track Dawned On Me is the result of a collaboration with King Features: it's the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon in more than 30 years. Directed by Darren Romanelli, the animation is faithful to the ones you remember watching as child, and it's a great song to boot.


If you're not familiar with the work of Wilco, you should be. Particularly worth a listen are Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born. But their latest studio album The Whole Love, where this track Dawned On Me is taken from, is solid, too. If you like it, Wilco are on tour now. Also, we never write out urls in full, but today, I'm going to have to. [wilcospinach.com]

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Oh man, I really wanted to like this, as I adore this song and the new Wilco record, but the animation was really aimless and it overused the same loops for each of the the band members, even when the music changed or stopped. It was distracting and disconnected from the music.

The scenario didn't really make sense, and I don't mean in a "how did they all fit in that can" kind of way. I mean that none of the actions were motivated. Other than Popeye wolloping Bluto, I couldn't really tell what the characters were doing or why. Was Popeye saluting Jeff Tweedy at the end? If so, why did Tweedy just wave back to him as if he had just finished performing in a ballet and was thanking the audience up in the balcony?

Why did, when Olive showed up, just the bassist's heart pop out, only for him to ignore her entirely for the rest of the video? For that matter, why doesn't Tweedy express any interest in Olive at any point? After the "dueling flowers" scene, I was expecting it to go a few rounds of comedic back and forth between him and Popeye (like, after the flowers, Popeye pulls out a candy heart, Tweedy pulls out a chocolate cake, etc.), but it just ends.

I"m being picky, and it's not a complete tragedy, but it looks like it was made very quickly and using as little animation as they could get away with. To be fair, those old-style bouncy characters are extremely difficult to generate animation for, and there are parts that they obviously put a lot of effort into, but as a whole, it feels cheap. Even the backgrounds look poorly composited. "Limited animation" can be done well, but this style demands more.

And the flickering was way overdone, but perhaps it was exaggerated in order to give more life to the limited animation?

Animation budget aside, it still could have been so much better. I might have had the band, instead of Popeye, eat spinach and go after Bluto, or have actually lip-synced the lyrics, or at least created more than one half-measure long loop for each member of the band. it might have been better just to not have animated the band "performing" in the video at all.