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Best Overall: Mather House
Mather’s video, featuring a rap based on Cardi B’s “Bartier Cardi,” is a joy to watch. Its cinematography is not only impressive—especially right at the beginning—but is also tastefully so, rarely claiming the spotlight. The focus stays on the two charismatic frontwomen, who rap with increasing authority as the video goes on and deliver some of the year’s best burns on other houses: “Lev, you a wannabe Mather.” Throw in a cameo by Louie of Louie’s Suprette (a convenience store next to Mather), and you have all the makings of a winner. Maybe getting Mather isn’t so bad, after all.
Best Cinematography: Dunster House
The cinematography of the Dunster video is hands-down the best of the year––hardly a surprise from the house that brought us a dazzling “La La Land”-inspired video last year and an equally impressive “Star Wars” parody the year before. It’s difficult not to marvel at the time and effort that surely went into this “Holding out for a Hero” parody. The choreography is also beautifully planned and executed, and the combination of exciting camerawork and beautiful dancing should keep you engaged for the duration of the video.
Best Cinematography Runner-up: Pforzheimer House
The Pfoho video, inspired by the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” has great cinematography as well—probably second-best to Dunster. As one of the few videos this year that does not center around a song, it deserves accolades for that unconventional choice, particularly since all of this year’s other non-musical videos become boring before they end (more on them later). Unlike its counterparts, Pfoho’s video is riveting from start to finish.
Best Celebrity Homage: Eliot
Anyone who’s seen an interview with Cardi B can imagine what entertaining thing she’d say if she learned that Harvard students lifted not one, but two of her songs for their Housing Day videos this year. Maybe she’d repeat her frank assessment of her fiancé’s marriage proposal: “It’s the right thing to do.” And if she learned that the two Cardi-inspired videos were among the year’s best, maybe she’d make one of her signature wordless sounds. “Bodak Eliot," based on “Bodak Yellow,” has strong choreography. And its star––decked out in full Cardi B regalia––has an exceptionally compelling presence on screen. Like Mather’s video, the aforementioned one based on another Cardi B song, the Eliot video gets in some good digs at other houses: “I don’t bother with the Quad, don’t let Quincy bother me."
Worst Theme: Quincy
At six minutes, “Fly Quincy” is the longest of this year’s videos, and it really should not be. Sure, Quincy House probably has enough cool features to fill hours of footage, but that’s not the point. A good Housing Day video is entertaining, but this one is merely informative, with some bungled attempts at entertainment. For instance, the phrase “Fly Quincy” comes off as nothing more than proof that someone in Quincy had seen the “Fly Emirates” ad campaign. Good for them! Seriously, though, what is the point of the air travel motif? Is it supposed to be funny? On the bright side, I’d never seen the inside of the Quincy Cube library before, and it was cool to get a glimpse.
Worst Effort: Adams
The creatively titled “Adams Housing Day Video 2018” serves to convey one piece of information: Adams is very close to the Yard. It’s hard to disagree that Yard proximity is a desirable feature in a house, and Adams is probably the closest house to many parts of the Yard, but this video accomplishes nothing besides getting that point across. The overwhelming impression is that its creators were not trying too hard.
Worst Impression of Billy Joel: Kirkland
Much like “Fly Quincy,” it’s difficult to tell what this video is aiming for. It is based on an unofficial 2014 Kirkland video, in which students chanted “Kirkland House, Kirkland House” to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” while a “slideshow” comprised of one unimpressive picture of Kirkland played. While that video was a minimalist masterpiece that made a virtue out of ostentatiously low effort levels, this one tries a bit too hard for it to have the same effect. It has coherent lyrics and an actual multi-photo slideshow, which suggests that it is not aiming for slacker funniness, but nothing in the video is compelling enough to make it anything but a tone-deaf imitation of past greatness.
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