Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Jack White ‘Lazaretto’ dir. Jonas & Francois
Slick, stylish, suave even. Jack White’s new video, is probably the most interesting performance video that I’ve seen in a while. It’s jam packed with a variety of images, of glass smashing (and I mean, lots of glass smashing), of bulls, of cars and none of it distracts from Jack’s extremely entertaining performance.
Nothing has stopped Lana as she threw herself full throttle into making videos for what seems like 50% of her songs on the album Born to Die and the second part: Paradise. All of these videos come with very different styles and concepts with only one thing in common, a great performance from Lana. The subtle looks that portray everything the lyrics are expressing in ‘National Anthem’, the long winding story telling within the ten minute long ‘Ride’ short film, the idealism that shines through in Lana’s ‘Born to Die’, all differentiate each video from the others and provide the album with a strong foundation online.
Sadly what these videos also have in common is an underlying (or not so much) message that women are pitiful, weak and only strong when supported by male figures. Such as: women can be empowered if they are the ‘other woman’ as shown in ‘National Anthem’… Or women can only be free if they are promiscuous as seen in ‘Ride’
I’m going to throw out ‘Born to Die’ as my choice for this post but it also drives my point home with images of safety only in the arms of a man, several times…
But this nonetheless makes Lana’s videos less creative and I’m thoroughly impressed by Del Rey’s input on her work, whether its her writing, video choices or unique image, which whips her out of the realm of the perfectly manufactured pop stars.
Connan Mockasin: ‘Faking Jazz Together’ dir. Fleur & Manu
It all begins with a blair witch project style gander through the woods to find an etherial leader levitating her subjects into the air. It is all complimented perfectly by the strange tambourine shaking, eery sing songy feel to the music. One by one they gather themselves, floating in the air until the hidden camera man himself is whisked into the air. All very beautiful with a strong sense of cultiness.
Radiohead ‘Street Spirit’
Radiohead seem to have a video for almost every category but we shan’t discriminate and will land this video smack bang in the centre of all floating videos. For a lot of the time, it looks more like slow motion jumping that floating but there are moments where they purposely trip you up on this one and a finale where they put you in your place.
Emilíana Torrini: Tookah dir. Shynola
A face in the green, cloudy, merkey world that Shynola creates for Emiliana Torrini to float around in. It’s eery, bizarre but captivating for the whole three minutes. A brilliant performance video in a wonderful setting.
Kanye West ‘Black Skinhead’ dir. Nick Knight
One thing you can count on in a Kanye video is him rap/singing to camera, wearing something that has already dated (e.g. plastic sunglasses with slits in them) and attempting willy nilly to be ‘cool’. But meandering through video after video, some pretty interesting like, ‘Power’ and some dangerously unspeakable like ‘Bound 2’, I found ‘Black Skinhead’ an incredibly arty farty, visual effecty video that is pretty much, flat out mesmerising, chockablock with cool VFX and imagery, whilst fitting the music perfectly and just being darn cool. Take a look for yourself.
As soon you may decipher, I am pro Lana. I know many of you are ambivalent due to her questionable qualities in the feminist department and some uncertainty around the authenticity of her lips. In fact she has had quite a bitter eyeballing from the public eye after, a tirade of controversies where Lana claimed a lot of information had been whisked out of thin air by the press. But more to the point, she would do a lot better in the eye of the public if she wasn’t so horrendous in person, especially singing live which is easily criticised as sadly, she would be more likely to sell albums if she didn’t get on stage. But after letting her music seep into my headphones every so often for a couple of years, I have become quite fond of her.
So! Yes, yes, I know what we’re all thinking, “look at those freaking fingernails!” but lets step past that and begin to look at some of Lana’s early videos from before Lana turned into the ‘tornado’ and was daintily singing on the tracks of the “Lizzy Grant aka. Lana del Ray” album. Here she was splicing together clips of guys skateboarding and old black and white, classic films whilst angelically singing into the camera. These were good days. Lana gave an alluring performance through which she had no budget to create. Each piece in the collection is simple, unique yet part of a neat collection and ultimately interesting in a way that other pop artists have used tens of thousands of dollars to not quite get the same effect. Here’s video games for you to check out.
Chet Faker is storming our earphones, our iPhones and our Google Play accounts, which, yes, some people actually have. And slowly but surely he is starting his music video collection resulting in currently two whole music videos that are actually darn good. Lets start off with ’Drop the Game’ by both Flume and Chet Faker (what a wonderful duo) which has 46 plays already on my reliably critical iTunes. So lets run with the premise that it is already a good song and question whether the music video matches up. Simply put, it does. It is 4 minutes 9 seconds jam packed with ‘wiggle dancing’.
“Wiggle Dancing?” you say.
“Yes, wiggle dancing. It’s a thing.” I reply.
In fact I may seem to have made this all up but I can reference at least one other video with a similar style of dancing, namely ‘Pyre’ by Equals directed by Louis Ellison. Ha.
But moving on to ‘Talk is Cheep’ where we get a man lying on the ground and sometimes singing, sometimes mumbling as the four seasons pass him by. There is not really much else to say about this video apart from it was super arty and super captivating (especially Chet Faker’s beard). Watch.
Passion Pit: ‘Cry Like A Ghost’ dir. Daniels
Utter commitment from our leading lady Tallie Medel, as she dances her way through past relationship and we get tangled in with her story without a single word being spoken. The performance is mainly a dance piece but her splices of acting shine through as one of the best I’ve seen so far in the female acting department of the music video world. High energy spinning from world to world, incredibly emotional and deeply poignant. And multitasker alert: Tallie was also the choreographer on the piece.
Lushlife: ‘Magnolia’ dir. LAMAR+NIK
I could almost consider this idea quite nerdy, as someone really, really, did their homework. The time that must have been put into meticulously creating each and every word- I won’t explain further (because I really really want you to watch the video instead of reading my writing). So, as nerdy is the new cool (sometimes), this video flies into this Top Three with ease.
Placebo: ‘Loud Like Love’ dir. Saman Kesh
An exploration of an unfortunate event in spectacular details, avoiding assumptions and speculations, with a full range cast and the help of Bret Easton Ellis himself. Have your observational skills run through the mill with this interactive, eight minute, super swish music video.
Crystal Fighters are my new little obsession. And I thought, because I love their music so much, I should avoid watching the videos in case they ruin the songs for me. Irrational, eh? Yes, very.
So there I was, binging on Crystal Fighters videos, letting them all fight for first place and then I stumbled upon ‘LA Calling’. And although ‘Follow’ peaked all the way past the 4 million hits mark on YouTube, and although ‘You and I’ have a cool singing tree and a even cooler singing bird, I went with ‘LA Calling’ because Crystal Fighters are (apparently) fantastic live and this video damn well shows. And an additional thought will be given to the editor who must have had a wail of a time with this corker.
'The Gunfighter' dir. Eric Kissack
They are all gun slinging, gun fighters in this comedic short film as ‘the voice’ from above lets slip their darkest secrets to the world. Every department is working at its best from the cinematographer to the costume designer to the art direction to the fantastic cast. Not much more to say about this one apart from it’s worth watching every minute of it’s eight.