by S.L. Fevre, Cleopatra Parnell, Vanessa Tottle, & Gabe Valdez
Let’s take this chance to meet our writers.
S.L. Fevre joins us for only the second time from Los Angeles. An actress, model, and experimental filmmaker, she brings on board a unique industry experience. She also contributes hip hop and rap expertise, but is a fan of narco rock and modern grunge as well.
Cleopatra Parnell kept us down to earth in our 3-part conversation on Lana Del Rey’s “Tropico” and helped us select for our Best Music Videos of 2013 series. A musician and alt-model living in “Austin, Texas, greatest city in the world” she puts the priority on good stories, humor, and solid lyrics in thrash metal, “epic Viking rock,” punk, and house music videos.
Vanessa Tottle has written for us quite a lot. Her most recent solo articles were her touching E3 reaction and her searing declaration of war after the Isla Vista shootings. She’s a fan of folk, alternative, and Asian pop music, but couldn’t care less what the music is if your video conveys a message.
If you follow us, you might already know I’m a film critic living in Massachusetts. I have some particular tastes – I like brash, experimental music videos, good dance if you’ve got it, that place where electronica and hip hop meet, and what’s left of alternative music.
P.S. Due to music copyright law, we can only feature some videos here. Click on each title to watch every video directly on YouTube.
25. Really Don’t Care – Demi Lovato feat. Cher Lloyd
directed by Ryan Pallotta
This video unabashedly makes a statement. Demi Lovato has the following that only being a Disney music and TV star can give you – her demographic is youthful and open-minded. Not all of them have decided their politics, but they will soon, since she’s been around for a while. What better time to make a statement that “My Jesus loves everybody,” than at the L.A. Pride Parade? -Cleopatra Parnell
24. Sweatpants/Urn – Childish Gambino feat. Problem
directed by Hiro Murai
Self-congratulation meets extreme self-awareness in a riff on Being John Malkovich and a rip on the ego that fame brought. It’s too egotistical in the end, which is where Hiro Murai tags “Urn,” a soulful, dreamlike cry from under the burdens and expectations of black history. -S.L. Fevre
23. 90s Music – Kimbra
directed by Justin Francis
I still don’t know how I feel about Kimbra’s deconstructionist pop by-way-of world music schtick. At times it’s transcendental, at other times it feels amateurish. Sometimes both in the very same song, like in “90s Music.” Either way, it’s growing on me, and I think she’s the half of that Gotye song from two years back that’s most worth paying attention to. The video has more to do with antiquated visual art movements than music videos. The result is equal parts “What am I watching?” and “I want to play it 5 times in a row.” Nearly always, the latter thought wins. -Gabe Valdez
22. Busy Earnin’ – Jungle
directed by Oliver Pearch
Laid back dance choreography goes a long way for me, especially when the lead is this winning. Is it a perfectly executed dance piece or is it a crew having a good time on a rainy Sunday? It hits both marks very easily, which fits the song’s smooth, mid-tempo groove. -Vanessa Tottle
21. Au Revoir – Chancellor Warhol
directed by Casey Culver
Kanye West opened a door for rappers to make careers of killing off their gangster god identities. Bugattis, bling, guns, and champagne were the measurements of success. Now, they’re the emperor’s new clothes, hiding shame like fig leaves. Both of Casey Culver’s videos on the list [William Wolf’s “King of Sorrow” featured yesterday -ed.] insist the more you boast, the worse off you are and the more you own, the less responsible you are. -S.L. Fevre
20. No Rest for the Wicked – Lykke Li
directed by Tarik Saleh
Sweden is in a political fight for its future that mirrors Europe’s own. Its artists are fighting hard against rising racist and fascist leaders who demand closing borders and “acceptable” forms of segregation. If we learned one thing from how the Great Depression led to World War 2, it’s that tough times make ugly politicians rise up by creating scapegoats. Every country has a favorite race to blame, and the history of Sweden is interlocked closely with Nazi Germany’s. What Sweden, Europe, and the U.S. all fight over is whether we learned that one thing or history repeats itself. The role of performance today is to be the conscience that refuses repetition. -Cleopatra Parnell
19. Crime – Real Estate
directed by Tom Scharpling
Andy Daly auctioning pieces of the video. Blood Lord extreme sports vampire gangs who stop chasing a girl to admire an old man’s photo album and get turned into a barbershop quartet. There are a lot of super serious messages in music videos. For once, it’s nice to stop and enjoy something silly. -Cleopatra Parnell
18. Sword in Mouth, Fire Eyes – Norma Jean
directed by Eli Berg
Norma Jean are like the pop version of Tool, a sort of diet-version Porcupine Tree. They tell the classic tale of a shark following a man to his office and taking over his job. It’s hilarious, but there’s something more lurking underneath the video’s immediate comedy, a Kafka-esque metaphor for the fear that drives us at breakneck pace even for the most mundane job. If that starts getting to you too much, just replay the scene where the shark fixes the office copier. -Gabe Valdez
17. Down on My Luck – Vic Mensa
directed by Ben Dickinson
Think Groundhog’s Day at a club, all boiled down to a three-minute song. It’s a daunting task, but it’s deftly handled through some wicked smart choreography and editing. There’s little more to say about this video; it’s a comedy that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. -Gabe Valdez
16. Black – The-Dream
directed by Daniel Sannwald
According to the Supreme Court, three of the four writers of this article don’t own their bodies in the United States of America. Two of the four have been asked by police if they’re here legally because of their name or appearance. Three of them have had thousands of dollars legally stolen by trusted employers. Two of us have had research legally stolen by employers. All four have multiple friends suffering PTSD. All four know someone who was shot in a foreign war. Three of us know someone who was shot on U.S. soil. The fourth knows someone who shot and killed their child while cleaning a loaded gun. All of us know someone who has lost their house. All four of us have taken a friend who’s suffered sexual assault to the hospital. Two of us have taken a friend who’s been rufied to the hospital. All of us grew up with the American dream, two in Texas, one in Illinois, one in Wisconsin. Heartland, straight up the middle. Some had rough childhoods, some had wholesome ones, but all of us believed that dream of equality and fairness growing up. Now we live on four ends of a country, in as different situations as you can imagine. Yet all of us are fucking pissed. And all of us bet you are, too. -Vanessa Tottle
Watch this blog for the continuation of our rankings.
Here, you can check out #35-26.