Charles Bridge: the MTV years

Kanye West - 'Diamonds from Sierra Leone', photo: YouTube

The hugely successful American musician Kanye West was in Prague recently making what is being described as a movie to accompany his as yet untitled new album. The rapper kept fans informed about his time in the Czech capital via Twitter, saying he had been doing 16-hour shoots and describing filming here as “like a child’s delusions become reality!”

It’s not the first film Kanye West has made in Prague, either. Five years ago he shot much of the video for his hit Diamonds from Sierra Leone in the Old Town. In the black-and-white promo, the rap star is seen looking moody on a deserted Charles Bridge, playing two harpsichords in a church at the same time, and driving around cobbled streets in a vintage Lamborghini (bizarrely with the gull-wing doors open).

Kanye West - 'Diamonds from Sierra Leone', photo: YouTube
The most memorable use of the city in a music video was probably for Never Tear Us Apart by the Australian group INXS. There are cheesy moments, like a saxophone solo on the walls of the Jewish cemetery, but Prague still looks phenomenal in the promo. And its sights must have been especially impressive to Western audiences in 1988, when few would have seen the Old Town, Charles Bridge or Kampa with their own eyes.

By the way, INXS got their money’s worth on that trip; they also shot a clip for the single New Sensation at the magnificent Art Nouveau building Obecní dům (Municipal House).

In more recent times, the UK band Primal Scream filmed part of the video for their song Jailbird in Prague, including live footage of a gig at Lucerna’s Grand Hall that I myself attended in, I think, 1994.

About a decade later the big shorts wearing US band Linkin Park made a rather expensive looking promo for their single Numb in the city. It adheres to the Charles Bridge and rent-a-church tradition, though there is also a “subplot” about an angsty female student at what appears to be Charles University’s Arts faculty.

Sticking with Prague, music and film, the English band Radiohead recently made headlines for providing the audio masters of a show they did in the city last summer to a group of Czech fans who have put together a full-length concert film from footage shot on cheap handheld cameras.

In that live film the group’s Johnny Greenwood is seen wearing a Český Rozhlas (Czech Radio) t-shirt. Heaven knows where the guitarist got the shirt, but I can tell you that particular design is most often worn by security guards and manual workers here at the station.