“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!
For its third consecutive year, we are back with the best videos of the year! 2010 was a big year for pop, with Lady Gaga taking the top spot. 2011 was an obvious winner, with Gotye and Kimbra facepainting their way to number one. What of this year? Well, it’s an incredibly mixed bag. I had a lot of fun watching and putting this list together, so I do hope very much indeed that you at least find a couple of clips that tickle your fancy. And really, with the amount of different styles and videos on display here, it would take quite a stern reader to not find any enjoyment in this countdown, if I do say so myself!
Alright, let’s begin!
With apologies to: Tom Waits, Childish Gambino, Killer Mike, The Black Keys, Gorillaz, OFF!, Hilltop Hoods, Kimya Dawson, Matt & Kim, Pet Shop Boys, Macklemore and Grizzly Bear.
30. King Parrot – Shit on the Liver
Directed by Dan Farmer
Here was a late-runner in proceedings, but one that scaled the ranks quite quickly – probably as fast as the blast-beats heard throughout the song itself. At a time when a lot of Australian metal dudes are just humourless black-clad fucks stroking their goatees, Melbourne’s King Parrot like to fuck with things just a little. They’re already out their enough as it is with their grindcore-influenced take on metal, but they push the envelope just a little further with this manic video. A limited-budget, once again, proves to have zero correlation with limited imagination. The best Australian metal video in years.
Read my original post on Shit on the Liver here.
29. Liars – Brats
Directed by Ian Cheng
There was always something about Liars that never quite sat right with me. I don’t know whether it was just an air of we’re-so-clever that ticked me off, or their drony monotone vocals that plagued their earlier material. Whatever the case, they have started to impress me more and more lately – and I can’t think of a better example of just how they have done this than with the truly demented video for Brats. At first, it feels like someone on acid playing around with a pre-internet animation computer program. Delving further makes it feel like… well, still like someone on acid doing something. But that’s almost the point. Using incredible motion capture work and a healthy dose of glitching weirdness, Liars are officially out of my bad books. Well played, boys.
28. Solange – Losing You
Directed by Melina Matsoukas
Her moment has arrived. Her time in the shadow of that sibling is officially over. Ladies and gentlemen, Solange Knowles has officially taken to the limelight after several false starts and poor career moves. She did it using this remarkable video as a platform – a technicolour pop dream, full of bright colours, big hair and culture shock. With her most dapper friends in tow, Solange takes to the streets of South Africa and brings her eighties-town beats and sharp fashion with her. This more or less completely encapsulated every thing that is wonderful about Solange – and, better still, what more is to come.
Read my original post on Losing You here.
27. Fiona Apple – Every Single Night
Directed by Joseph Cahill
Many would choose an array of whistles and bells to signal their return after several years in exile. Then again, Fiona Apple always has – and probably always will be – unlike those that would fall into the “many” category. How does she begin her first video in over half a decade? With a make-up artist carefully placing an octopus on her head. Because of course she did. Every Single Night sees FiFi quite literally getting back to nature – burying herself in snails, feeding a crocodile, heaving against an aquarium wall and snuggling up to some kind of centaur. It’s an intensely watchable experience, really; and one that really drives home everything that is fervently creative and wholly unique regarding Ms. Apple. About damn time, too.
Read my original post on Every Single Night here.
26. David Byrne and St. Vincent – Who
Directed by Martin de Thurah
From his shoulder-pad shrugging to continuously slapping himself in the face, David Byrne essentially pioneered the weird-arse dance for music videos throughout the 80s. Now in his early sixties, the man has still got the moves – and here, it’s essentially a case of him passing the torch. On the receiving end is Annie Clark, who we all know and adore as St. Vincent. After Byrne discovers her lying in the middle of the road, it’s time that he teaches her to dance. It’s not long after this that they get other people in on the jig – figuratively and literally. Really, this couldn’t have come from any other duo – it’s jolty and absurdist film-making, bringing out a true sense of oddity that sees two generations of weirdos meld minds and shake hips.
Read my original post on Who here.
Part two up next Monday!
“Who’ll help the tired soldier, far from his own hometown…”
Well, THIS is bloody exciting. Can you believe it’s finally here? David Byrne, one of the reigning kings of weirdness after all these years, has teamed up with ultimate indie-girl crush Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, to create a very funky new album entitled Love This Giant. As much as I’ve enjoyed listening to the album so far (which you can do right now thanks to the good people at NPR), I just knew that there would be a brilliant visual counterpart to go along with it. Hell, you didn’t need to look any further than the album art itself to know that.
It’s here now, in the form of the video for Who, the very first song on the album. Byrne plays an innocent (seemingly) bystander who notices Clark sprawled out in the middle of the road. From there, it’s a bizarre game of statues mixed in with some very funky dancing and a run of odd runs through the streets of suburbia. It’s a spectacle, that’s for absolute certain. It’s complete chaos, but you’ll be damned if it isn’t cool as shit. I mean, David Byrne is SIXTY MOTHERFUCKING YEARS OLD and is STILL an absolute pimp. What more can you say? I love this. Just watch it.
“Held your bare bones with my clothes on, I’ve thrown rocks that hit both my arms…”
If there is one record from 2011 that has grown on me like nobody’s business, it’s Strange Mercy, the third album from the delightful Annie Clark – aka St. Vincent. The contrasts, the power in her voice, the fact it can be so delightfully poppy and adventurously weird at the same time… it’s a great headphones listen, that’s for sure. I have to say, though, I might not have even thought to give it a second chance were it not for her music videos.
Her last one, Cruel, ended up on many end-of-year lists and was one of the most talked-about clips of recent times. It completely flew under my radar, and watching the clip helped me fall in love with Annie and her music all over again. Naturally, I wanted more – and she’s delivered with Cheerleader, which is quite possibly her best video yet. In it, Clark plays herself as a living, breathing statue. She is watched apathetically by a small group, walks away and then literally crumbles on the ground. Yeah, spoiler alert and all that.
It’s not a video where the ending is the selling point, though – purely as a work of art I find this fascinating. Click through to the YouTube page are there are hundreds of comments on different interpretations of what the video means. Is it a comment on feminism? Objectification? A non-caring society? Hate for women in the arts? Honestly, it could be all of those things and it could be none of those things. What I want you to do is see for yourself. See what it means to you. I know what it means to me, and I don’t think I need to force it onto you. Just watch Annie destroy herself and see what you make of it. Oh, and if you’re in Australia come to her shows! They’re next month!