“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!
“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!
But wait! There’s more!
Oliver Clark – Atomic Thrust
He’s the man with the sexiest voice in comedy and suits that could make Paul F. Tompkins look like a hobo. Yes indeed, the housewives’ choice Oliver Clark is one for the ages. For the title track of his new album, he decided to put his pelvis to the test; subsequently delivering one of the flat-out funniest videos of the year.
Blood Orange – Chamakay
In which Devonte Hynes goes home. Well, in a traditional sense, anyway. Visiting Guyana for the first time ever, Dev makes his way around the beautiful area and connects with the townsfolk. Parallels can easily be drawn with frequent collaborator Solange‘s wonderful video for Losing You, but not even that can match the tender beauty of seeing Hynes meet and speak with his grandfather for the first time ever. Stunning.
They Might Be Giants – You’re on Fire
They’ve been getting weird since before you were born and they show absolutely zero signs of slowing their roll. Here, they give a spin to the opening track on their sixteenth(!) album, allowing some mince meat to take lead vocals while the gorgeous Lauren Lapkus from Orange is the New Black dances around the kitchen preparing to send it to its impending doom. Because of COURSE that’s what they would come up with.
Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
A lot of people have asked me about this one. Where do I stand? What do I make of it? Now, I’ll be the first to admit it needed an editor, and maybe some restraint on the more… shall we say… ‘out there’ moments. When she’s staring straight down the barrel of the camera, though? I simply cannot deny it. It’s gripping, and it’s honest, and it’s the most real that we’ve ever seen the girl born Destiny Hope Cyrus.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
What an exciting time to be an AF fan. As the band bravely venture into what may be their weirdest album to date, we’re treated to what may be their weirdest video to date for the album’s title track. Late-night roadtrippin’, mirror suits, giant paper-mache heads, tricked-out caskets… I mean, I’ll be damned if I know what it all means at this point. It looks pretty amazing, though; don’t you agree? What a thrilling video.
Fall Out Boy feat. Big Sean – The Mighty Fall
The saga continues. This year, Fall Out Boy have been releasing music videos for every song from their Save Rock & Roll LP; following a conceptual story about the four members and a secret briefcase which has contents only they (and the villains of the series) know about. There’s been aspects of Stockholm syndrome and Clockwork Orange-esque ultra-violence thus far, and the madness continues here with some all-new characters. Kudos for keeping them guessing, boys.
The Polyphonic Spree – Let Them Be
Following on from the parallel universe of the You Don’t Know Me video, the Spree get animated on the second video from their excellent Yes, It’s True. album. Director Ben Rowe takes the song into a lush dreamscape, enlisting the help of dozens of creepy-crawlies, frogs, aliens and what appears to be an avocado. No, really, it’ll all make sense once you’ve seen it. Well, okay, I won’t make any promises…
Moby feat. Wayne Coyne – The Perfect Life
Oh, come on! It’s Moby and Wayne Coyne in mariachi suits. What joy! What pure, unadulterated awesome have we found ourselves with? If you don’t get a smile out of this one, your heart is dead as dead can be. That’s all that can be said!
Hiya, folks! So, you may have notice we’ve been a little lax on the updates. I’ve been ridiculously busy with other projects that I’ve barely had time for Y,WGAV! Don’t worry, honey, it’s not you – it’s me! Thankfully, we’re back as of tomorrow. But, before we tell you THOSE stories, we have to tell you THESE stories. Here are some of the best videos that have dropped in our absence. And there might be a few more yet to come!
Major Lazer feat. Peaches & Timberlee – Scare Me
Awaken the Major! Following on from their fantastic Eric Wareheim-helmed video for Bubble Butt, the futurista warriors bring their mascot to life in potentially the most awesome way possible – that’s right, kids, this is not a drill. That’s Terry Crews as the Major himself! Hell yeah! Throw in the wonderful Blake Anderson and Nick Kroll to round out an already-awesome cast; matching the high-speed romp to an already-bounding track.
Anika – In the City
Okay, so I know absolutely nothing about this band; where they’ve come from, what they’re doing or even if this is from an album or an EP. Truth be told, I can’t even remember how I was linked to this. All I know is that this is one of the most ridiculously watchable videos of the year. Couldn’t tell you what was going on for the life of me – essentially, I’m like Donkey after watching the DuLoc tourism puppet show in the first Shrek movie. “Wow… let’s do that again!”
Just Blaze and Baauer feat. Jay-Z – Higher
Here’s one out of left-field – an absolute banger from the power trio of Just Blaze, Jay-Z and the one-shake wonder himself, Baauer; set to one of the year’s darkest and most confronting videos. Described as a “short film,” we’re taken into the jungle and into a dangerous, sinister underbelly in which children begin playing with fire; not realising how burnt they will soon become. Pristine cinematography and some genuinely chilling moments. Stellar.
Josh Pyke – Warm in Winter
The reliably-lovely Pykey has given us some very sweet videos over the years, particularly from his second studio album Chimney’s Afire which sported the distant dreaming of The Summer and the motherfuckin’ guitar boat of Make You Happy. Here, JP soundtracks a blossoming friendship between a homeless girl and a homeless… wolfman? It’s got a human body and a cartoon wolf head. You do the maths on that one. They don’t say a word between them, but the way it plays out says it all.
Avril Lavigne – Rock & Roll
Damn you to Hell, Chris Marrs Piliero! This guys has to be the best pop video director around – he’s managed to not only elevate average songs into flat-out awesome ones with his clips (see: Britney Spears‘ I Wanna Go); but he also manages to make clips that make allies out of former Y,WGAV! enemies (see: Ke$ha‘s brilliant video for Blow). This time around, he’s giving the treatment to longtime frenemy of the blog Avril Lavigne, throwing her into a Tank Girl-esque action parody that borrows from MCR, GnR and plenty of other three-letter acronyms. Like RnR! Heh? See what I did there?
TV on the Radio – Million Miles
Here’s a blissful and serene clip from one of my all-time favourite bands, getting back to nature in the most endorphin-releasing sort of way. A gardening show filming goes awry, leaving one of the hosts to go Kanye on the whole thing as they go off-script and head to the soapbox. When the host is removed, she decides to bring the entire crew along with her for the ride. Weird and wonderful, the exact kind of concoction that has made this band one of my most beloved over the past few years or so.
Crayon Pop – Bar Bar Bar
This. Shit. RULES.
More later today!
“Let me go, where’s there’s no memory of you…”
Earlier this year, the music world heard the abrupt and surprising news that Kim Deal was to leave the Pixies for good. This wasn’t a full-band split like last time around – the Pixies were staying on, Kim was not. It was a bit of a shock to the system, especially considering what a huge influence she had over the band’s sound. We still had The Breeders – it’s not long now until the Last Splash tour hits Australia – but it was going to be flat-out weird to experience the Pixies without Kim doing her thing. Not long after that, we got Bagboy, the first new Pixies number in nearly 10 years. An insane video followed. It was promoted bigtime and plastered all over the place. They wanted to make a definitive, big statement about their return. Kind of a big deal, if you will.
By means of contrast, Kim dropped this remarkably quiet song quite recently with no fanfare whatsoever. The video is a simple affair, no cereal baths or youthful recklessness here. Hell, not even the lady herself had much to say about Are You Mine? - that is, except to give a succinct and touching description of the song itself:
I live with my mother, who has Alzheimer’s.
In the house she’ll stop me, put her hand on my arm, and dearly ask, ”Are you mine?”
I say back to her, ”Yeah momma, I’m yours.”
Oh, how my heart ached after reading that. The video, created by Kurt Ralske, is an intimate and strangely sweet affair. Its cast of characters are a humble collection of salt shakers, as owned by Deal’s grandmother. They are cast under flickering, coloured light, and occasionally covered in beads. It’s elementary in its approach, but it’s starkly emotional and even a little gut-wrenching – especially when the cameras hone in on the salt shakers’ blank expressions. The direct contrast between the warming glow and their cold, unmoving faces… I can’t describe it. What a tiny marvel this video is. A true delight.
“Live your life, VHS cassette, fast forward, back to the future…”
I remember meeting Alison Wonderland at the fourth birthday party of Sosueme, perhaps one of my only tolerated club nights in Sydney. She was polite and sweet; and I actually didn’t find out she was actually a DJ until later in the conversation. “Oh, right, cool,” I responded. “That sounds like fun.” Little was I to know exactly how much fun – her set with the rest of the Sosueme crew just as the clock hit midnight was a world of high-energy excitement and bombast. It was unpretentious and entertaining, which is more than I can say about a slew of other deck-spinning douches in the city.
Anyway, this year Ms. Wonderland has made the move into original music, and her debut single features a collaboration with my boys in Fishing busting out their rap dude personas. Now, I’ll be honest – as much as I dug the song, I wasn’t sure the video would be much chop. Nothing personal, it’s just that DJs… well… they’re not great with the music videos, are they. Let’s not forget the first-ever negative review we gave of a clip on this blog was a David Guetta video. And have you seen the Pauly D video for Night of My Life lately? Don’t. Of course, this isn’t to compare Alison to either of those guys – like I said, she’s different. One might even say, One of Us. So with equal amounts of relief and pleasure, the video for Get Ready ended up fucking ruling.
Like, seriously – Alison, Doug and Russell have gone above and beyond the call of duty here. Watching a crew of delinquent teenage zombies busting mad rhymes into a fisheye lens already screams “fucking awesome” on paper. The word ‘awesome’ being underlined several times. Watching the whole thing executed, however, leaves one at a loss for words at points. It’s just so much fun to watch – the lip-syncing is seamless, the little breakdancing dude left my jaw on the floor and the varying hijinks that unfurl throughout the second half cemented the shit-eating grin on my face. They couldn’t have made a better clip for this track, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. For Alison, for the rap dudes of Fishing, for the breakdancing zombies… the whole shebang. They’ve started something beautiful here, friends.