“Bits of yellow paper, addressed from you to me…”
Here’s another example of when a performance-based video can score themselves a hall pass here at Y,WGAV! Perhaps you’re familiar with Michel Gondry; the legendary French director behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and countless classic music videos for Bjork, Steriogram, Foo Fighters, The White Stripes, Kylie… just to name a few. It’s pretty safe to say that the guy is one of my heroes, whose work has shaped the blog’s motives for even existing.
When I found out that Love Letters would be his first music video in three years – following a Bjork clip from back in 2011 – I couldn’t have clicked fast enough. Although it quite literally centres around the band performing the song, I knew that there would be more to it. It’s Gondry, after all. He manages to find a way. After a few views, I was completely taken – it’s not what’s happening in the confines of the performance, it’s the scenery that surrounds it. As the camera spins, it takes us to a different, beautifully-painted backdrop. The concept is so simple, but it adds so much to the song. Dammit, Gondry, you’ve done it again!
“But if I was to say I regret it, would it change a thing?”
Sometimes, you just gotta break the rules. I’m usually pretty stringent on not including “performance” videos unless it’s an extreme circumstance. Yesterday, this video came out. I’d consider it pretty fucking extreme circumstances – Haim, the sisters doing it for themselves, have delivered one of the coolest looking pop videos in a damn long time. Like, the thing looks spectacular. And all eyes, naturally, are on them.
Yes, there are some simple performance shots, but that’s not what you’re watching for. Check out when the three are stripped of their instruments and deliver the song with some truly slick choreography as provided by one Fatima Robinson. That name may not seem all that familiar, but perhaps the videos for As Long as You Love Me by the Backstreet Boys and Try Again by the late, great Aaliyah do? That’s Fatima’s work. She brings a vintage style to the clip, all rhythm and popping limbs; while director Warren Fu (Daft Punk, The Killers, The Strokes) adds a sheen and a few well-tapped filters; as well as some sharp camera cuts. The best thing about If I Could Change Your Mind, overall, is the fact it’s a glossy pop video that looks fantastic and doesn’t include a single product placement. We’re kicking it old school here, and that’s exactly what fits.
“We all self conscious, I’m just the first to admit it…”
Last week marked ten years since Kanye West released his debut album, The College Dropout. It’s an album that remains one of my all-time favourite records, one that I continually revisit and sporadically obsess over. Although it wasn’t my first Kanye album – that honour went to the following year’s Late Registration – this record remains my pick of the litter. With this milestone – as well as the exciting news that Yeezy will be back here in May – I thought I’d look at one of my favourite Kanye videos from this era.
Yes, the imagery of Jesus Walks and the blunt-hammer satire of The New Workout Plan are fantastic in their own right. I could have easily written about either of them – but there’s something about the video for All Falls Down that I have always been drawn to. The point-of-view camera work is exceptional, as is the audio tweaking depending on where exactly Kanye finds himself. Even though they don’t really speak in the video, the relationship seems to explain itself between Kanye and the woman he’s dropping at the airport. On top of that, Kanye putting himself through the airport scanner remains one of my favourite moments in 2000s music videos. It’s a very clever and very striking video, one that hits the emotional nerves of the song. It’s a perfect complement – and a relatively simple clip that contrasts with the grandeur that comes with Yeezy these days. Not that I have a problem with that, of course. It’s just that sometimes I like to kick it old school. Maybe you will, too.
I’ll decide in a moment’s time, to turn away, leave it all behind…”
The contrast between the last two videos released from Moby‘s new album Innocents could not be greater. The Perfect Life, a collaboration between the big M and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, was as extravagant as you’d expect – all rooftop parties and mariachi outfits. This time around, however, we’re dealing with a much more lush and blissed-out song, featuring the dreamy vocals of Damien Jurado. It only fits that we’re dealing with a much more subdued and simple clip – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a wonderful thing in its own right.
Almost Home follows the adventures of a stuffed rabbit and his travels across the country. It’s filmed on super-8, Moby himself cameos as a limo driver and the whole thing apparently had a budget of roughly 10 bucks. It’s a very basic clip, interspersed with footage of Jurado busting it out somewhere completely unrelated to the story. I am simply warmed by its utter charm – Moby doesn’t do videos like this one very often. They serve as a strong reminder of not only how goddamn underrated Moby is, but how sometimes a little rabbit and some steady handheld work is all you need to win the heart of a music video blogger.
“People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window…”
2013 saw the inimitable St. Vincent finish her touring duties for Love This Giant, the exceptional collaboration album between her and David Byrne, and return to her solo work. Although, can you really quit David? Even though he’s nowhere to be seen in this new song and video, his presence is most definitely felt. Not only via the very Byrne-esque vocal lilts during the verses, but also through this delightfully Talking Heads-y video. Note that this is far from a complaint – in fact, it’s a credit to Annie that she’s managed to take this guidance in such a bold direction.
The video for Digital Witness is all about the colour and the rhythm. Let’s focus in on part one: The thing looks amazing. From Clark’s dyed-grey hair to the striking primary colours that blend and contrast in the clip’s environment, director Chino Moya (Bertie Blackman, Ladytron) really knows how to catch your eye. Which leads us to the second part: Every head nod, pencil roll and marching troupe is in sync down to the second. The pacing and the repetition recall the videos for Road to Nowhere and Burning Down the House especially, without managing to be a pastiche or a flat-out rip. It’s a fine line between influence and inspiration, and that has certainly been struck here.
Above all else, it’s just great to have St. fucking Vincent back in the game. Wait until you guys hear the new self-titled album that’s dropping in a few weeks – you’ll crap ya dacks!
Nearly there! We skipped a week, so the top 10 will be up on Friday. An announcement is coming on Monday, as well. So watch out for that. In the meantime: Some more of the year’s best videos!
15. Alison Wonderland featuring Fishing – Get Ready
Directed by Aidan Keogh
Never work with children or animals. It’s a golden rule. Unless, of course, we’re talking corpse-painted children with outstanding rap skills. And party animals. In those instances, the green light is flashing very, very brightly. Alison made a hell of an impression with her first-ever video and single, matching the two together perfectly. One of the year’s best efforts, nation or genre regardless. It’s a celebration, bitches!
Read my original post on Get Ready here.
14. The Uncluded – Delicate Cycle
Directed by Pete Lee and Ben Fee
Few acts showed as unwavering a love of music videos in 2013 as The Uncluded – aka Kimya Dawson and Aesop Rock – managed to. Releasing videos for a solid chunk of their debut album, Hokey Fright, they went from fish psychiatrists to animated Frankenstein monsters. Their best, however, came in the form of an exultantly joyful, mutli-storyline video that celebrated the weirdness that comes with every day life. For fans of two-legged dogs, one-legged lunch ladies and big-hearted music.
Read my original post on Delicate Cycle here.
13. Action Bronson – Strictly 4 My Jeeps
Directed by Jason Goldwatch
Action Bronson is the coolest uncool kid in the hip-hop world. He’s the size of a fridge and raps mostly about food and wrestling. Naturally, his relative outsider’s stance has drawn a lot of people to him. Watching the Strictly 4 My Jeeps video will show you exactly why: He laughs in the face of what is trendy, fashionable or even conventionally attractive. He does things his way, whether it’s getting a dance from an obese woman in a gold bikini or messing around with the enigma that is Riff Raff. It’s refreshing, it’s silly and it’s entertaining as fuck. Shrimp money, bitch!
12. Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M
Directed by Kirin J Callinan and Scott Kiernan
Ignoring Way II War at the time of its release was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in the history of Y,WGAV! I’ve gone on record by saying I fucked up, so I made sure to keep an eye on Kirin J Callinan from there on out. I – and everyone else, of course – was rewarded by this delightful homage to classic soap operas; where even the most minute of characters had to express who they were in a matter of seconds for the opening credits. Callinan takes on all of them with his typical campness and eccentricity, and it’s nothing short of delightful. This guy matters.
Read my original post on Victoria M here.
11. Super Best Friends – Round and Round
Directed by Matt Roberts
2013 was the year that Australian politics became the laughing stock of the world, thanks in no small part to The Daily Show throwing attention down our way. The in-fighting, the backwards policies, the homophobia, the fuck-up that was our election… it was a rough fucking year, let’s call a spade a spade. Even so, for a couple of glorious minutes in the second half that just didn’t matter. Politicians from both sides of the fence took a few seconds to appear in a music video – a funny, clever one; too. For that brief, glimmering moment, it felt like maybe music was the language of us all. Maybe we should worry less about boat-stopping and shark-culling; and start worrying more about Super Best Friends. It’s just a thought.
Read my original post on Round and Round here.
What’s up, friends? Thanks for coming back yet again and checking out our little dealio here, as we look back at the best visual counterparts to the songs of 2013. If you missed part one, you can check up on that here. If not, let’s get right back to it!
25. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)
Directed by Becky and Joe
This groovy tune from the part-Kiwi, part-Portlandian’s second album was certainly one of the more talked-about clips in the indie world this year. It’s safe to say that there was nothing out there quite like it – the imaginative team of Becky Sloan and Joe James (with the clever moniker of Becky and Joe) lured us into the life of a perverted puppet whose life manages to get weirder and weirder by the second. His surrounds and the people in it tend to raise more questions than get answered, but perhaps that’s why it’s such a strangely alluring clip.
24. iwrestledabearonce – Boat Paddle
Directed by Justin Beasley
It’s morphin’ time! In order to save the universe from a giant butt-faced monster – and that’s quite literally what it is, by the way – the guys and girl of IWABO suit up and use the almighty powers of rock & roll. You may have guessed that we’ve gotten to a silly section of the countdown, and you’d be absolutely right. Everything here is as cheesy and hammed-up as you’d expect; very much a reflection on how rare it is that the gang actually take things seriously. They’re just an outrageously fun band – if anyone deserves to be saving the world, it’s gotta be them.
Read my original post on Boat Paddle here.
23. Batpiss – Loose Screws
Directed by Chris Matthews
We all know how this one goes: Boy gets job, boy gets abused at job, boy decides to go on bloody massacre rampage. It’s the oldest trick in the book! Melbourne trio Batpiss pricked up eyebrows across the country with their cartoonishly graphic video, complete with a nod to one of the best videos of 2012 and a finale that no-one could have possibly seen coming. Major kudos to the make-up department, as well as the slab of extras whose campish overacting sell the video even more than it was already being sold. Yet another world-class video from Australia’s relatively-underground scene.
22. Cloud Control – Dojo Rising
Directed by Ian Pons Jewell
A truly international affair if ever there was one: Australian band based in the U.K. enlist London director for a video shot in Bolivia. Yeah, that just about checks out. While we’re at it, why don’t we throw in a dodgy, down-on-his-luck clown and a seemingly-sweet little girl who seeks revenge on said clown ruining her birthday party? Hell, why not? In for a penny, in for a pound. Gorgeously shot and splendidly strange, Dojo Rising proved to be one of the year’s biggest curveballs from a video perspective. It wasn’t what anyone was expecting, but it was sure as hell what we got.
Read my original post on Dojo Rising here.
21. Psy – Gentleman
Directed by Choo Soo-hyun
If 1,877,401,067 YouTube hits can’t be wrong, can 623,110,248? That’s the billion-dollar question, and the answer was a resounding yes. Sure, following up literally the biggest music video of all time was a big ask – but the K-pop superstar took it in his stride and kept things just as outlandish, as extravagant and as hilarious. Not an instant classic, but certainly one guaranteed to raise a smile everytime you see it.
Read my original post on Gentleman here.
What do you think? Leave a comment or an email; and we’ll see you next week!
It’s about that time! We’re back, people. That’s right, YWGAV is not dead – although we were on life support for awhile. It was pretty much a matter of life getting in the way; among all the various other dealios. I’ve got some great plans for 2014, though; and if you’re reading this, I’m really glad that you’ve either come back or just started reading.
So, here’s the deal. We’re going to take a look at the 30 best videos of the year for the fourth year in a row. You can find the starts of the previous lists here, here and here. Once you’re up to speed, we’ll get straight to it! Here, friends, are the top 30 videos of 2013.
WITH APOLOGIES TO: Every other Uncluded video (spoiler alert!), every other Lonely Island video, Beach House, Drake, Haim, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Tyler, the Creator, Lily Allen, Janelle Monae, Yo La Tengo, Violent Soho and Nick van Breda…
30. Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Directed by Nabil
After a boozy night out with the boys, Alex Turner decides to wander over to the house of a girl he fancies. What follows is a brilliantly OTT look at the tricks that play on one’s mind when they are under the influence – or, in Alex’s case, a metric shit-tonne of influences. The direction and cinematography is sharp, the editing is brilliantly shambolic and it’s the best video they’ve made in years. Let’s just ignore the grammatical mess that is the song title and focus in on the video itself.
Read my original post on Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? here.
29. Major Lazer feat. Peaches & Timberlee – Scare Me
Directed by Brandon Dermer
For all of his action move macho madness, it’s easy to forget sometimes that Terry Crews is the exact kind of crazy and hilarious you’d want out of someone who thrives in such a gravely serious market. For every Expendables, there’s a role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine or teaming up with Tim & Eric on Old Spice ads. So it was a perfect choice to make Crews the live-action Major Lazer as the major is brought into a wild action-packed mission with cameos from The League‘s Nick Kroll, Workaholics‘ Blake Anderson and The Game‘s Lauren London. Kind of wish that this was a TV series – as if you wouldn’t follow the Major anywhere!
28. Darwin Deez – You Can’t Be My Girl
Directed by Keith Schofield
Genuine question: Did we all just completely forget that Darwin Deez existed? I could not tell you the last time I had heard his name before this clip came out. Whatever the case, he certainly made sure we didn’t forget about this brilliant little video. Inserting yourself into footage is nothing new – take the classic Gnarls Barkley video for Smiley Faces as the best possible example of how it’s done – but it’s safe to say that it’s never been done in quite the way that Deez and director Keith Schofield (Duck Sauce, Ladyhawke, Supergrass) took it on. Delving into a myriad of stock footage, it tells the story of a sociopathic onlooker venting his frustrations to anyone that will listen – or, in this case, completely ignore him. It’s about as strange and as remarkable as you’d expect.
27. The Lonely Island – Spring Break Anthem
Directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
A Lonely Island comeback year always means one thing: Shit-loads of videos. Andy, Jorm and Kiv were no strangers to Y,WGAV! readers in 2013, from the nightclub insanity of Go Kindergarten to the strange bragging rights of Diaper Money. The pick of the lot, however, was easily the original version of Spring Break Anthem. Starting off with a smashing Between Two Ferns highlight reel between host Zach Galifianakis and his guest James Franco, the two somehow end up in the fantasy realm of a Cancun spring break party hosted by TLI. If you know what’s coming next, then… well, you know. For those that didn’t see this the first time around, however… you’re in for a hell of a time.
Read my original post on Spring Break Anthem here.
26. Bloc Party – Ratchet
Directed by Cyriak
It seems like Bloc Party always wait until after they’ve released an album to drop a complete curveball on us. We got it with Flux and One More Chance for the last two albums, and then the hip-hop-flavoured Ratchet dropped in the wake of 2012’s Four album. With the band on break, it was time to dig into the archives – animator extraordinaire Cyriak took apart the videos for Octopus, Two More Years and Helicopter and literally created a monster out of them. Perhaps the single greatest re-use of a videography ever? I would wager so.
Read my original post on Ratchet here.
What do you think so far? Enjoying the videos? See you next week!