Category Archives: Music Videos

The 12 Best Music Videos of March

Take Flight Lindsey Stirling

by S.L. Fevre, Cleopatra Parnell, Amanda Smith & Gabriel Valdez

Don’t worry, we’re still writing original content for this site, too! We better be, cause this takes a long time to put together. Over 150 music videos were watched. Here are the top 12:

12. “Stole the Show” – Kygo ft. Parson James
dir. Saman Kesh
prod. Geoff McLean

Invaded by aliens? Time to throw a party. That was my favorite part of Independence Day, at least. Too bad they had to blow up the party. “Stole the Show” asks, what if they just came here for dance-offs instead? In other words, “Stole the Show” is better than Independence Day.

11. “Take Flight” – Lindsey Stirling
dir. Joe Sill
prod. Nick Erickson

Can someone just give Lindsey Stirling her own TV channel already? No musician has better adapted positive messaging into a music video career. Her videos always tell stories, they have fun doing so, they sometimes address difficult themes, and they encourage their viewers toward change. The idea that “Take Flight” might be one of her lesser MVs shows you just how much she’s dominated the medium.

10. “When We Were Kings” – Ikey
dir. Xaivia Inniss

Watch a fever dream. Watch it break into delirium. Watch the delirium break into anger. This is reaction to a once great people enslaved, ghettoized, reduced to victims of police brutality – to “niggers, bitches, killers, hoes” by the media, who are murdered in the streets on camera with no recourse even as they’re defined as villains to the establishment and usurpers of white privilege.

9. “Wake” – Dems
dir. Tom Mustill

Give this one a minute to sink in. What it’s doing isn’t apparent at first, but once you figure it out, it’s a well-needed shock to the system.

8. “Bloodstream” – Ed Sheeran & Rudimental
dir. Emil Nava
prod. Danyi Deats

You’d be forgiven if you forgot how good an actor Ray Liotta is. He’s been in so many one-note comedies and B-films lately, you might have overlooked his intensity and pathos. But few can translate character so effectively in the space of four wordless minutes. Everything else removed from the MV – and there are a lot of other reasons to like it – this is a singular performance by Liotta.

7. “Realiti” – Grimes
dir/prod. Grimes

This song is a demo from Grimes’s lost album. Let’s repeat that: this thoroughly awesome and addictively danceable high point in Grimes’ career is just an unfinished demo. What makes the video great is the way it’s shot – it reflects her work with director Emily Kai Bock, who shot her video for “Oblivion” in 2012. Grimes mixes over-hued and saturated scenes, location shots too front- or back-lit, and deepened shadows, all married to the neon, unnaturally lit city night – it evokes the passage of time via lighting and color instead of narrative.

6. “Closer” – JP Cooper

The pain of miscarriage can be hard to convey. One in every four pregnancies ends in one, and yet we fail to educate about the risks and realities. Instead, we teach women to feel as if something’s wrong with them. We teach men to feel as if they didn’t do enough. We teach ourselves to second-guess and feel ashamed. In some places, we even imprison women for them. “Closer” reaches out to communicate a story of loss and pain, of futures that will never be. It’s a momentous music video, and hopefully it can connect to others who have suffered similar pain.

5. “Gibberish” – MAX
dir. Greg Jardin
prod. Jennifer Heath, Garen Barsegian

The definition of a song that’s too clean. It’s catchy, but it needs to sink deeper into its grooves, overlap its tracks a little more, let that brass reverb more. It needs to dirty up. Either way, the music video is pretty spectacular, a mix of forward and reverse motion married through complex choreography, camera trickery, and clever use of CGI.

4. “Lionsong” – Bjork
dir. Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin
prod. Stephanie Bargas

Essentially performance art, but what else did you expect from Bjork? If you answered, “An awesome song,” then you’re going to be pretty pleased with “Lionsong.” The performance is alternately heartfelt and cheeky in true Bjork style, but the odd enhancements to her legs, her costume turning into a galaxy – it all becomes something more. For the life of us, we can’t tell you why. We can’t pin a meaning to it or a reason it digs so deep. It just does. That’s the power of Bjork. She gets under your skin and into your subconscious and you can’t say how. It’s like she’s always lived there.

3. “Glass & Patron” – FKA twigs
dir. FKA twigs
prod. Dominic Thomas

FKA twigs continues to know exactly what she’s doing, even if the rest of us don’t. Her music videos exist in the surreal mindspace between fashion, dance, and identity. As the MV’s director, she can mirror the dissonance between our stereotypes and realities through her lighting, costuming, and editing. Stylist Karen Clarkson deserves special acclaim for the costume choices, make up and hair, as does editor Julia Knight, who delivers a nuanced and complicated edit that brings all of it into vibrant life.

2. “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” – Run the Jewels ft. Zack de la Rocha
dir. A.G. Rojas
prod. Park Pictures

We’re not going to put it better than Run the Jewels did, so in their words: “We were tasked with making something that expressed the intensity of senseless violence without eclipsing our humanity. For me, it was important to write a story that didn’t paint a simplistic portrait of the characters of the Cop and Kid. They’re not stereotypes…the film begins and it feels like they have been fighting for days, they’re exhausted, not a single punch is thrown, their violence is communicated through clumsy, raw emotion. They’ve already fought their way past their judgments and learned hatred toward one another.”

1. “St. Jude” – Florence + The Machine
dir. Vincent Haycock

It’s difficult to define music as having “quiet power,” especially that of Florence Welch. Yet how else to describe “St. Jude,” a soul-felt ballad of imperfection, regrets, and changed directions? It’s essentially the cinematic opposite of Welch’s last video, the powerfully angry MV of the month for February, “What Kind of Man.” That told its story through multiple timelines (or realities) and quick editing – “St. Jude” is all one shot. It reflects on life in a similarly apposite way. As communicated early in the video, this is the calm after the storm, the magic hours of dusk where you sit and contemplate as the world dwindles to darkness. The anger’s passed. What’s next? Florence + The Machine are doing something spectacular here, stringing together chapters of emotion that reflect on a life much in the same way an album is meant to.

It’s worth noting that the same choreographer – Ryan Heffington – has choreographed our January (“Elastic Heart” by Sia), February, and March music videos of the month. He also choreographed our music video of the year for 2014, Sia’s “Chandelier,” as well as another in our 2014 top ten, Arcade Fire’s “We Exist.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

14 rappers from 14 countries perform in “Hip Hop is Hip Hop.” It’s a brilliant introduction to how rap is used in different cultures. Click if only because the profits all go to children’s education via UNICEF.

K-Pop gets another shout-out with Fiestar’s stylish dance video “You’re Pitiful.”

Modest Mouse endorses party anarchy in “Lampshades on Fire.”

How did Lucy Rose’s “Our Eyes” not make it onto the list? Whatever, just watch her get eaten by a variety of animals, it’s fun.

While the rest of the country deals with homophobic idiocy from Indiana, Steve Grand delivers “Time,” a music video that reminds us everyone faces the same stories and struggles no matter their sexuality.

More Bjork! Bjork’s “Family” is offered as a “moving album cover” instead of a music video. We still think it counts.

Go Watch This: “Gibberish” by MAX & Hoodie Allen

by Gabriel Valdez

In celebration of the YouTube Music Awards, the internet video giant released 13 commissioned music videos, their artists ranging from FKA twigs to Ed Sheeran. Some of these are better than others and, of course, we’ll count them through in our Best of March round-up at the end of the month (see the Best of February here).

Here’s the complete list of what was just released – it’s a strong group of music videos – but among the best of these is a bit of magic put out by MAX and Hoodie Allen. It’s called “Gibberish” and it uses clever choreography, special effects, and plain, old visual trickery to create a video that travels forwards and backwards in time all at once.

The metaphor it creates for how people in a relationship communicate past each other is pretty exceptional, but it’s always a complement to the music and dancing itself – it prioritizes style and a “how’d they do that?” factor over making you think too hard. In other words, it’s good to get you through the middle-of-the-week grind. Check it out above.

Go Watch This: Lindsey Stirling’s “Roundtable Rival”

by Gabriel Valdez

As we scour our way through dozens of music videos each week, we sometimes come across something we’ve missed. This site’s always been about trying different things out, especially when it means teaming different writers together, and late last year that means we gave music videos a break to try other things.

Now that we’ve brought that coverage back to stay, we’re finding a few gems we didn’t feature, like “Roundtable Rival.” In this case, that means discovering that Lindsey Stirling totally stole the idea that I was gonna steal from Six String Samurai. (No, it’s not really stealing.)

If you’re unfamiliar with Stirling, I could say something snarky like, “That must’ve been one comfortable rock,” but instead I’ll point you to her channel, where she combines playing the violin with her unique brand of hip hop and folk dancing – usually all at once – to create some of the most imaginative (and positive) music videos being made in the industry today.

The 10 Best Music Videos of February

What Kind of Man Florence and The Machine 2

by S.L. Fevre, Cleopatra Parnell, Amanda Smith & Gabriel Valdez

After a year of writers experimenting with different features and articles, we’re bringing back the ones we liked the best. This means a return of our music video coverage. These actually take more work than anything else, but we love this kind of filmmaking too much to abandon talking about it.

What follows is our selection of the 10 best music videos from the last month, with some honorable mentions.

Please be aware that our #2 video of the month comes with a pretty severe trigger warning.

10. “Can’t Control My Love” by Total Giovanni
directed by Sherwin Akbarzadeh

Boy falls in love with girl. Boy sees how other boys treat the girl. Boy is inspired to reject the patriarchy by hallucinations of a glam band. Boy is rewarded with gummy worms. That’s not exactly how it works in the real world, but…whatever, it’s close enough.

9. “JAY Z: A Dissertation on the Diaspora of the Black Soul” by Goodbye Tomorrow

If you’re on board with the idea that rap’s going through a funk, you haven’t been paying attention to the right rap. There’s a conscience that’s returned to much of the industry, driven by the economic collapse of the middle class and recent racial violence. Goodbye Tomorrow’s first video is a trippy, angry lamentation on how African-Americans are portrayed in the media and how this portrayal carries over into everyday life.

8. “Champagne Kisses” by Jessie Ware
directed by Chris Sweeney

It all feels as if Bat for Lashes got hold of a Nine Inch Nails video and plastered everything over in pastel. There’s a dreamlike quality of yearning here, of not wanting to wake up from whatever dissociated feeling we’ve managed to trap ourselves in. It comes together in such a strange, bittersweet way. There’s a tone here that isn’t common. It feels like peeking into someone’s psyche where we shouldn’t be.

7. “Goodbye” by Who Is Fancy

This is a trio of videos, each to the same song. Each time, a different artist is presented as singing the song. The other two can be seen here and here. Each is guided through the exact same music video, made up and fashion accessorized closer and closer to the point of visually becoming a pop star. Together, the individuality of the singer is removed and replaced with a commercialized image. Just like the image at the end of each video isn’t real, we don’t know which of the three singers – if any of them – is the real one. It’s a clever commentary on modern pop and the identity of the singer has remained – up to this point – anonymous.

6. “Julia” by Jungle
directed by J & Oliver Hadlee Pearch

Jungle posted the #2 album of the year for us last year and you can hear why. Even better, they continue to put out some of the best dance videos to accompany these songs. The connection from song to dance isn’t always apparent, but it doesn’t seem to matter when the emotion of the dance takes hold. It’s not so much based on logic or narrative as how the dancers seem to feel the song, and how they interpret and communicate that feeling to the audience.

5. “Perfect Ruin” by Kwabs
directed by George Belfield
produced by Jessica Wylie

At least someone’s taking advantage of the snow. Filmed in the Swedish winter, Kwabs captures the essence of a lonely emotional journey, the way a moment of loss can both uplift and break the soul. It reflects the simplicity and beauty of the song itself – the instrumentation always complements, but never impedes, Kwabs’s voice. It’s peaceful, it’s contemplative, and it’s utterly beautiful to watch.

4. “Blame” by Denai Moore
directed by Simon Cahn

The best music videos reflect what appeals to us about music itself – they leave themselves open to interpretation. A young woman sits in the back of a police car. A man chases after. Is he trying to save her? Is he trying to catch her? Is he scared for her, angry with her? If he’s scared, is she being taken away unjustly? If he’s angry, is he trying to capture her or does he blame her for something? Is the police car trying to protect her or drag her to prison? There doesn’t even seem to be a driver. Even the end reveal is intentionally obscure. Has she caused a death, or is she dying? Is the whole thing a metaphor – she’s slipping away and he rages at this? We don’t know. We can’t know. And that’s what makes “Blame” – paired with its beautiful song – so important and rewatchable. What the video is about will always be a mystery, but it’s a mystery that communicates important possibilities.

3. “I Can’t Breathe” by Pussy Riot
directed & produced by Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot, the Russian punk movement that protested Russian president Vladimir Putin, includes the two members here who served nearly two years in Russian jails for “hooliganism.” There’s argument over what Pussy Riot stands for, whether they should serve as a voice of protest, and the same talking heads in our news media who called them heroes for standing up to Putin tore them down once they protested the United States’ own militant police elements, as they do here in a powerful response to the choking death of Eric Garner committed by a New York City police officer.

So call Pussy Riot what you want, but only do it after you serve two years in Russian jails, return to the country to be whipped by police, and take the Kremlin to the European Court of Human Rights.

THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CARRIES A SEVERE TRIGGER WARNING. SKIP TO OUR #1 CHOICE IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO SEE IT.

2. “Buried” by Shlohmo
directed by Lance Drake
produced by Danielle Hinde, Jessica Zeta

The best, most meaningful horror movie of the year may be this 6-minute music video. Where to even start? It’s a brutal depiction of a pregnant woman eluding and confronting the kidnapper she’s just escaped on the seemingly uncaring streets of a midnight Los Angeles. The style and imagery behind this is in turn beautiful and appalling. The ties on a bed. A brief glimpse of a missing poster, weather-worn and forgotten for months. The editing of flowers opening, that god damn cinder block. This is a brilliant and very, very tough piece of filmmaking.

1. What Kind of Man – Florence + The Machine
directed by Vincent Haycock
produced by Jackie Bisbee, Mary Ann Marino, Alex Fisch

At the end of this video, check to see if your entire body is tensed. No artist in her videos exposes the crazy dreams, alternate realities, and fears going on inside her head better than Florence Welch. We connect to them because we all have those things happening in our heads, we’re all possessed by these inhibitions and fears, we’re all convinced of constant rebirths and better versions of ourselves to the point where we can’t identify the true changes in ourselves from the false ones.

Watching a Florence + The Machine video can sometimes seem like therapy – it’s cathartic and dreadful, healing and existentially terrifying all at once. More than any of her other videos, this taps into all the different narratives happening in our heads, all the possibilities we play out, all the inner selves and the memories they embody struggling to get free. And as director Vincent Haycock pointed out, Welch is fearless. There’s nothing she won’t do in a performance. You can see that here. You can see what’s laid out before us that most of us wouldn’t dare, all the inner clockworks and those things we’re afraid to say and admit. If only we were all so brave.

Honorable Mentions

“Black Mambo” by Glass Animals

“Empty Nesters” by Toro y Moi

“FourFiveSeconds” by Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney

“I Luv It” by Sunny & Gabe ft. D.R.A.M.

Go Watch This: “Chasin A Rainbow” by Railroad Earth

by Gabe Valdez

The music video for Railroad Earth’s “Chasin’ a Rainbow” is a great one. Full disclosure: it’s co-directed by a friend of mine, Stephen Gifford (the other director is Rick Sebeck) from Philadelphia production studio Pretty Damn Sweet.

This means two things: 1) I get to be amused by his posts about an airline losing camera equipment that is pretty vital to his continued sanity (a helpful airline employee found it the next day); and 2) I get the notice when this remarkable music video goes up.

We follow a number of children working in the coal mines – there are nuances of steampunk here – when one comes across a bit of magic that gives them a potential escape.

I don’t think it’s just about being a kid, though. It’s about those dreams we thought we’d one day achieve and the muck and mire that so easily detour us. It’s a great video, and I’ll freely admit to tearing up at the end. Go watch it!

(Users in most countries will have to click through to YouTube – copyright and all. It’s worth it.)

Go Watch This: “Every Other Freckle” by Alt-J

Every Other Freckle boy

by Amanda Smith & Gabe Valdez

[NSFW warning for the videos.]

At the end of every week, we messily exchange a bunch of stuff we’ve watched, hoping our own passions will spark with another writer and we can gain some traction on article ideas. The most contentious topic is music videos, I’m guessing since we’re running a Best Of list of them every month.

There’s one we haven’t been able to stop talking about since it ran, and that’s Alt-J’s “Every Other Freckle.” It’s actually two music videos, a “Boy” and a “Girl” version, and the way they interplay is one of the boldest music video statements of the year.

Two videos, one centered on a man, one on a woman. Both attractive. Not very safe for work. The images in between their close-ups are the same – buffalo stampeding, seagulls soaring, a cat pouncing on things. Each video on its own is cute, well-filmed, and seems like a celebration of sex and the human body, no matter the gender. When paired together, though, the message becomes wholly different.

The storming caveman in the “Boy” video seems like something subconscious in the male ego, a drive toward violence. When viewed in the “Girl” video, that violence suddenly has a target. The seagull, seemingly a musical accompaniment in the “Boy” video, becomes a yearning to escape in the “Girl” version.

Watch the videos synched together, side-by-side, and each reacts to the images of the other, and to slight syncopations in the delivery of certain metaphors.

Violence that seems aimless in the “Boy” video becomes a direct confrontation, a male assertion of dominance. Images of gathering fruit in the “Boy” video that seem out of place suddenly become a disturbing metaphor in the “Girl” video – he looks determined, she looks fearful as the armful of apples falls from each of their grasps. The genius of the paired videos is that they shift the lyrics themselves from clever and funny in “Boy” to scary and harmful in “Girl.”

The metaphors in one video don’t hold complete meaning until you view its partner, and suddenly it all turns from contemplations of beauty to a portrayal of obsession, violence, and possession. It’s a brilliant statement. This isn’t a full analysis – if it were, we’d be talking about its Garden of Eden metaphors and how slick the editing is. This is a “We Can’t Wait Till the End of the Month to Tell You About This So Go Watch Now Because We’re Obsessed With It!”

Watch one and then the other, or synch them up to run side-by-side. But do watch them.

The Best Music Videos of August 2014

Shake It Off Taylor Swift

selected by Cleopatra Parnell & Gabriel Valdez

We’re launching a new feature, highlighting the best music videos of the past month. With the help of our writers, we’ll sift through so, so many bad music videos just to bring you the very best we find. In fact, I think Vanessa Tottle’s still watching K-Pop videos. Tell us what you think of the new feature. With no further ado, our Top 10 for August 2014.

10. Ahhh Sh*t – G-Unit
dir. Timo Albert

Composed almost entirely from real-world footage of police brutality, it mirrors G-Unit’s straightforward lyrics:

“Now why the f*ck did you call them cops?
Put your hands up, you still getting shot.”

It’s not any more complicated than that, and after these last few months of brutality, watching a militarized police force roll out to fire on civilians, treat cameras like loaded weapons, close air space and arrest press in violation of the First Amendment…it’s shocking.

As a site mainly covering film and music videos, Vanessa and I have discussed writing articles on Ferguson, but it’s frankly neither of our areas of expertise, and we don’t want our own voices to distract from those more appropriate to the discussion. I’ve also been waging my own crusade as of late, which you’ll see spark some notable changes to the site soon.

Suffice to say, the equipping of police forces with needless military gear, combined with a complete lack of training to use it, has exacerbated the already difficult relationship our minority communities have with an historically “separate but equal” brand of law and justice.

“Ahhh Shit” may not be the greatest artistic monument to what I hope is a true turning point, but it is on spot, angry as it has the right to be, and it’s the first time phrases like “f*ck the police” have held real weight and meaning for me. Suddenly, I don’t dismiss that phrase. I listen to what comes next.

9. Time Machine – Jason Chen
dir. Paolo Ongkeko
prod. Don Le

This is how you use a low-budget wisely. “Time Machine” isn’t groundbreaking or superbly polished, but it is effective in telling a story and adding design touches that make it feel unique and worth rewatching. To me, that counts for more than a perfected set or the best editing techniques. Sometimes, effort and care show through the work more than the production budget does, and this is one of those times. It’s cute without being cloying, and the charm of its two leads (Chen and Red Hong Yi) goes far in making it such a watchable MV.

8. Go – Grimes feat. Blood Diamonds
dir. Claire & Mac Boucher
prod. Lana Kim, Jett Steiger, Rachel Nederveld, Summer McCloskey

Grimes has always felt like Sia meets World of Warcraft, and the MV for “Go” alternates between club dancing and some pretty hardcore LARPing. That’s when she’s not playing in water or being fondled by mimes. This vid’s weird, but there’s something about it that really works. It’s eminently watchable, it’s suggestive (of what, I have no clue), and it complements its music perfectly.

7. Happy Little Pill – Troye Sivan
dir. Jeremy Koren (Grey Ghost)

Owing more than a little of its imagery and visual composition to Nine Inch Nails’ “The Perfect Drug,” Koren cleverly evolves Mark Romanek’s 90s music video. Koren’s is less Edward Gorey, more Bret Easton Ellis – instead of reflecting Trent Reznor’s wild, self-medicated mood swings from depression to mania, Koren conveys a muted, professionally-medicated world of emotional dispossession. It’s a deceptively brilliant audio-visual tone poem.

6. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift
dir. Mark Romanek

Speaking of Mark Romanek, this guy’s really branched out from his 90s, Goth S&M days. I’m not much of a Taylor Swift fan, but even I have to admit this is a truly positive celebration of imperfections and receiving criticism. It features some good dancing (particularly from one of my favorite poppers, Fik-Shun Stegall), some bad dancing, and a lot of great visual comedy on the part of Swift and choreographer Tyce Diorio. Best yet, it’s the ultimate YouTube comment-defeating song.

5. My Copycat – Orange Caramel
dir. and prod. Digipedi Studio

For this exercise, Vanessa sent me a whole lot of J-Pop and K-Pop (Japanese and Korean pop music). At one point, I had to put my foot down, and the word “intervention” may have been mentioned.

Some of it is pretty good, though. We continue to see a lot of clever music videos coming from South Korea. Whoever came up with the concept for “My Copycat” needs a raise and a promotion and possibly some sort of medal. You remember those side-by-side pictures where you have to circle the differences from one to the next? This is that, except the difficulty ramps up over three-plus minutes, and there are certifiably nutty “Where’s Waldo” interludes. In fact, this whole thing feels like some weird peek into an alternate “Where’s Waldo” universe.

4. Don’t – Ed Sheeran
dir. Emil Nava
prod. Lanette Phillips, Luga Podesta, Brandon Bonfiglio, Danyi Deats-Barrett

Note to self: if I ever make an autobiographical music video about my rise from rags to riches, cast a popping, bone-breaking hip-hop ingenue like Philiph Chbeeb who can dance across fencetops to play me. Also, make riches.

I’m a huge fan of the dancing in this video and how it’s filmed. There’s not too much full-body cinematography, the camera instead focusing on isolations and building out a character. It’s a wise choice in connecting the visuals and lyrics to tell a story, relying on Chbeeb and the choreography by NappyTabs (Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo) to bring out the dance.

If director Emil Nava’s name sounds familiar, we named his emotionally compelling dance video “Wrong or Right” by Kwabs as the #6 video from the first half of 2014.

3. #Cake – Shabazz Palaces
dir. Hiro Murai
prod. Danielle Hinde, Kimberly Stuckwisch, Jason Colon

I’ve never been so terrified of the repeated suggestion to “eat some cake.” What is this video, a strange, midnight run of iconic mystical imagery tilted on its side, of 100-foot arms reaching from the rooftops, and the repeated insistence to “eat some cake.” It’s narcissistic, it’s creepy, it has a nude goddess figure (I’m assuming) as tall as a skyscraper, it’s all about how Gaza is like Seattle and Neptune, and it really wants you to “eat some cake.” This is a crazy video that fits right in with Shabazz Palaces’ breathtakingly poignant weirdness.

2. Crow – 18+

I’m fond of saying I really like David Lynch movies, except for the ones David Lynch is involved in. Meaning I tend to like modern surrealism, just not Lynch’s brand. Well, “Crow” out-Lynches Lynch himself.

Surrealism often relies on the subconscious to make visual choices – images may seem random, especially when juxtaposed against other, seemingly random images. In “Crow,” these images together don’t necessarily create a narrative so much as they build an overpowering tone. By the end, the whole video holds a deep, quiet, and slightly creepy power over me. Waves crash upon a shore on a screen that cuts right down the middle of some weirdly exploitative anime. The feeling evoked is inexplicable, but Cleopatra and I (and Vanessa), all agreed that it’s present and palpable.

Fittingly, no one knows quite who directed this, and 18+ have remained a rarity in this day and age – a mysterious and unidentified musical duo. Who knows, this really could be a David Lynch side project. If it is, I guess I’ll be eating crow.

1. Jazz – Mick Jenkins
dir. Nathan R. Smith
prod. Julia Elaine Mills

To find words to describe Mick Jenkins’s “Jazz” is to speak through tears. It’s an overwhelmingly powerful message in a month that’s given us Ferguson, MO, while its metaphor of selling water as if it’s gold is disturbingly timely in a month that saw Detroit attempt to shut off water to entire communities.

We live in a country that’s losing it, pure and simple. Early last decade, the few remaining voices of opposition we had to “patriotic” foreign wars resided in the community of stand-up comics. It was an odd alliance. Early this decade, the most relevant protests are being made from a resurgent hip-hop community that’s proved inclusive to African-American, Hispanic, and Native American rappers, and returned the genre to its social justice roots.

“Jazz” is going to be in contention for our video of the year, I’ll tell you that right now. More importantly, there may be no better artistic flagship for the current moment.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

I Can’t Stop Drinking About You – Bebe Rexha
dir. Mike MiHail

Bang Bang – Jessie J. feat. Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
dir. Hannah Lux Davis

Heart Made Up on You – R5
dir. Thom Glunt

Superheroes – The Script
dir. Vaughan Arnell

Runaway – Pell
dir. Matt Robertson

Monument – Royksopp & Robyn
dir. Max Vitali

Special thanks to Amanda Smith and Vanessa Tottle for helping Cleopatra and I view and research more than 70 music videos from the month of August.