Beck Is Where It's At

Two turntables and a microphone in this week's road to the 53rd GRAMMY Awards edition of Forgotten Videos
  • Beck in "Where It's At"
January 27, 2011 -- 11:50 am PST

Welcome to Forgotten Videos, the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards edition, showcasing past GRAMMY winners. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week until the GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 13, we'll feature a video from a GRAMMY-winning artist that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, just for old times' sake. We just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

"Where It's At"

What did it take for an up-and-coming artist to have success in the mid-'90s alternative world? Two turntables and a microphone. At least that's what it took for Beck, who scored a modest hit with this track off Odelay, his sophomore major label studio album. The album spawned three other Billboard Hot 100 charters in "Devil's Haircut," "Jack-Ass" and "The New Pollution." Difficult to categorize, Beck's music spans hip-hop, blues, trash-rock, pop, soul, and even lounge music.

The scenes from this video aren't easy to categorize either, or even piece together. At the start, we're introduced to a golden mountainous sunset before Beck appears on-screen with bright orange-vested community service workers who all appear determined to clean up whatever mess has been made along the seemingly never-traveled dirt road. Next we see Beck dressed like a '60s used car salesmen on a platform in the middle of a parking lot uttering the words "Where it's at/(I got two turntables and a microphone)," seemingly as a protest of some sort. Then there's a robot, a belly dancer and Beck dressed in a pirate-styled long coat, backed by a magenta-tinted background in an homage to Trout Mask Replica-era Captain Beefheart.

Beck's post-modern artistic style should come as no surprise; his father is string arranger/conductor David Campbell, and his mother, Bibbe Hansen, was known for her regular visits to Andy Warhol's studio, the Factory. Beck proved to be too cool for school when he traded in formal education for street performance and poetry slams in Los Angeles. He has landed four albums in the top 10 on the Billboard 200, his highest charter to date being 2005's Guero (No. 2). He won two GRAMMY Awards in 1996; Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Where It's At" and Best Alternative Music Performance for Odelay. He picked up the latter GRAMMY again in 1999 for Mutations.

Three GRAMMYs, two turntables and a microphone. That's where it's at.

Got two turntables and a microphone? How about a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment. And don't forget to tune in to the 53rd GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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