Tag Archives: Jungle

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.

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The Best Music Videos of 2014 (So Far) — #25-16

90s Music Kimbra

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.

-Gabe Valdez

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.