Kanye West’s “Monster” Video: An Annotated Guide

An initial cut of the video for Kanye West’s “Monster” surfaced on YouTube this morning, and it’s just as extravagant/over-blown/ambitious as you might expect. Adopting the requisite cultural trope of the last couple of years, it’s vampire/zombie-themed, with a smattering of gore and lots of dead bodies. Dead female bodies, it has to be said. And no, there’s no sign of Bon Iver. Watch the clip and read our shot-for-shot analysis of the monstrous extravaganza after the jump.

0:03 – A girl in her underwear swings from the ceiling.

0:05 – She’s dead.

0:10 – But she’s wearing heels!

0:22 – Rick Ross sits on a chintzy armchair, surrounded by more dangling women. Unlike them, Rick has clothes on. Thank God.

0:33 – A shirtless Kanye gets felt up by a bunch of disembodied female hands. It’s hard being ‘Ye, y’see. But everybody knows he’s a motherfuckin’ monster!

0:40 – Close-up on Kanye’s grill and blinding white teeth. He clearly pays his dentist nearly as much as his stylist.

0:52 – Wait! The disembodied hands aren’t disembodied at all – they’re attached to zombies! Zombies that look kinda like dead versions of the models from Robert Palmer’s ‘80s videos!

0:56 – Cut to Kanye on a bed with two more scantily clad dead women. We’re sensing a theme here. He delicately drapes one corpse’s arm around the other. So it looks like they’re getting it on. Nice.

1:22 – A living woman, at last. She’s dragging a dead body, by the looks of it. Still not many clothes. But freaky heels. Like the sort of thing the killer from Seven would design if he was into patent leather footwear instead of esoteric sex toys.

1:38 – A crowd of zombies is gathering outside Kanye’s window. Perhaps they’re not amused by his arranging their fellows in ersatz faux-lesbian poses. Either way, it’s all going a bit Thriller.

1:50 – Have you ever had sex with a pharaoh? / Put the pussy in a sarcophagus / Now she claiming that I bruised her esophagus / Head of the class, she just wanna swallow shit.” Surely even Pitchfork would have to admit that this four-line abortion is the most cringeworthy “rhyme” of the year.

2:22 – Getty Images watermark! Whoops – that’ll have to go in the final cut…

2:38 – Jay-Z makes an entrance, looking dapper in a snappy suit, with “Wonderwall”-style reflections flashing in his sunglasses. He’s accompanied by a dead woman on a couch. Obviously.

2:53 – Skipping schoolgirl zombies!

3:28 – Kanye reprises the chorus. The camera zooms out to reveal he’s holding a severed head. A female one. Of course.

3:36 – “I’mma need to see your fucking hands!” Cut to a severed hand on some steps. Slick.

3:37 – Nicki Minaj time! She’s in her Roman Zolanski incarnation, dressed up like a cartoon dominatrix and waving a riding crop menacingly at some unfortunate who’s tied to a chair and hooded, Abu Ghraib-style.

4:07 – The hood comes off and the victim is revealed to be… also Nicki Minaj! Oh, the post-modern self-referentialism of it all.

4:57 – Nicki’s verse ends with evil Nicki giving good Nicki a lap dance. If only the two of them would put aside their differences and get together to work out why her album sucked so badly.

5:00 – 5:51 – Non-descript musical bit. Gyrating zombies. Kanye with more dead women. Outro.

5:52 – A zombie arm reaches through the front door and turns off the light. But wait! What’s gonna happen to Kanye?? The suspense!

5:53 – Fade to black. The ending will remain forever ambiguous. Sigh.