by Cleopatra Parnell, Vanessa Tottle, & Gabriel Valdez
special thanks to Hayley Williams
We continue into the maddest portion of the countdown with music videos that aren’t so downbeat, but are wackier and occasionally more adult. (Parental guidance suggested!)
Because of that and Vevo’s hosting, you may have to click through to YouTube to watch some of these:
#20: It’s You – Duck Sauce
directed by Phil Andelman
Duck Sauce are two DJs who are most famous for their house mixes of Tori Amos. There’s no deep message to this one that I can sort out, but it’s indescribably wacky.
#19: I Love You – Woodkid
directed by Yoanna Lemoine
The latest entry in a continuous narrative meant to span Woodkid’s entire album The Golden Age, we’re ostensibly told the story of a man who loses his love and drowns himself. What the story really tells is how a loss of faith can turn a man unfeeling, and how the instruments of his younger passion seem to wither as he grows cynical. This is one of the most stately videos to come out last year.
#18: The Stars (Are Out Tonight) – David Bowie
directed by Floria Sigismondi
Floria Sigismondi, director of The Runaways, just has a talent for fusing fashion and celebrity to tell multilayered stories. This one follows the message of Bowie’s song pretty closely, presenting an unsettling domesticity that takes to task our obsession with and emulation of celebrity, as well as our demand of that same emulation from our loved ones. Starring David Bowie and Tilda Swinton alternately as a nice, suburban married couple, themselves, each other, and various Freudian dreamstates.
#17: Hard Out Here – Lilly Allen
directed by Chris Sweeney
Lily Allen got in more trouble for featuring a music video with twerking models and champagne moneyshots than the performers she’s satirizing. You could say her critics missed the point, but I’m pretty sure they got it – they just didn’t like that she was making it so effectively.
#16: Your Life Is A Lie – MGMT
directed by Tom Kuntz
At least Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” was good for something, namely this two-minute takedown by MGMT. It’s cleverly absurd, visually rich, and incisive in its criticism. What’s wrong with us? How did we not rank this higher?
#15: King and Lionheart – Of Monsters and Men
directed by WeWereMonkeys
Please meet one of our new favorite 80s movies.
#14: Jubilee Street – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
directed by John Hillcoat
Ray Winstone stars as a man addicted to his meetings with a prostitute. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric video on its face, but it’s also a damning consideration of the male ego. It plays with the passage of time, the evolution of a place, and examines one’s stubborn steadfastness to refuse the reality of past actions.
#13: Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Rey
directed by Chris Sweeney
With a brilliant performance video, Chris Sweeney’s second entry on this list blends bright colors with a muted presentation. It communicates power through very simple artistry, evoking Lana Del Rey’s obsession with 70s glamour and the classical, Fantasia-influenced orchestral presentations of the 40s.
#12: Ohio – Patty Griffin feat. Robert Plant
directed by Roy Taylor
Gabe here. I’m not a big fan of country music, but my album of the year last year was Patty Griffin’s American Kid. It’s a reflective series of songs that surpasses simple messages and meanings and instead seeks to invoke the most pensive and difficult times in our lives, the times we learned our way through trouble. Someone once told me never to use the word “masterpiece” in criticism. Screw that guy, because it’s a good word and American Kid is exactly that. This video creates a powerful sense of place using only paper cutouts, magic lamps, and creative lighting that allow the viewer to spend a relaxing and thoughtful day along the Ohio River.
#11: Pursuit – Gesaffelstein
directed by Fleur and Manu
Welcome to the polar opposite, a Cyberpunk Rorschach Test of classical, industrial, and military imagery. It seems to declare the beginning of a new age of corporate aristocracy, the age of the test group and power through military faith, the age of excluding anything less than the image of technical perfection, achieved only by applying the same sleek designer lines to women and whole societies as we do to cars and strike fighters. It’s a video that just becomes scarier the more you watch it.
Videos #30-21 ran on Tuesday, April 8.
Videos #10-1 will run on Tuesday, April 15.