“Hey sister, am I good enough for your Heaven?”
Back in the game, people! My sincere apologies for the lax posting as of late. Just been quite busy with a myriad of other projects, things, bitlets… it’s all good, though. You can take the music videos away from DJY, but you can never take DJY away from the music videos! Especially if we’re talking about my next client. In 2010, she released the hands-down best song of the year in Tightrope, as well as one of the absolute finest records of the year in The ArchAndroid. Needless to say, she was featured in my best videos of the year. Twice! In 2012, she also played the single best show I saw in 2012 – keep in mind I also saw Prince, The Beach Boys, Ben Folds Five, Coldplay, Radiohead et al. when I say that this woman utterly dominated.
So, where do we find Miss Janelle Monae in the throes of 2013? Once again, it looks like the petite powerhouse is out to save the world again; as she readies her new album The Electric Lady. So, how do you get people even more excited that you’re back? I mean, apart from the fact there happens to be a guest verse from Erykah freaking Badu just sizzling away in the song’s third act. No, no, we need bigger! Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1? It’s video time!
Q.U.E.E.N. sets itself in the seemingly-not-all-that-distant future, in which time-travelling rebels have been captured, thrown into suspended animation and brought to The Living Museum in Metropolis. Two women enter the exhibit which contains Monae, Badu (here known as Badula Oblongata) and her bandmates, known under the Wondaland collective. After Q.U.E.E.N. is put on a very cool-looking record player, the exhibit comes to life. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos that ensues – we are talking about one of the greatest creative forces of the 21st century, after all. When Monae steps up, she steps fucking up. It’s such an exciting clip to watch – gorgeously shot, with great direction work from one Alan Ferguson; not to mention the outstanding costumes and wigs (I’ve always wondered what JM would look like with a short cut). I love the concept, I love the song. The Electric Lady could well be another game-changer. Don’t believe me? The booty don’t lie.
You’ve waited long enough – or not at all, depending on whether you’ve read this blog before or not. Regardless, this has been a really fun countdown and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Here are the ten best videos released within the year 2010. We’ll get back to bitching about shitty nineties videos this afternoon. As you were!
10. Janelle Monae feat. Big Boi – Tightrope
The funky was most certainly on section in the Metropolis when Janelle nailed this brilliant, shiny spectacle of a music video. Introducing the world to her bizarre, futuristic universe, Monae made this a video of several important lessons. Firstly, she is an incredible talent when it comes to…well, everything she does. Secondly, Big Boi still knows how to absolutely kill a verse, which he would later prove with his awesome solo record. Most importantly, however, it taught us how to do THE dancemove of 2010 – the motherfucking Tightrope.
Devastatingly cool, it was very easy to get caught up in the pure frenzy of this video – and perhaps the best part of it was that it didn’t get old or become tired after multiple views. You’re still there, dancing your fucking genitals off. Right on, Janelle.
9. Mark Ronson and the Business Intl. feat. Q-Tip and MNDR – Bang Bang Bang
Well, now. Here’s one way to make an impression upon your comeback. For those who had no idea of the imminent return of Mr. Mark Ronson, this was a perfect re-introduction. No horns, no Motown, no Amy Winehouse…this one’s all about sharp suits, Tron-like graphics and a magic watch that can pretty much do anything as presented on a Japanese talk show where the host is speaking French. Confused? Good, that’s exactly what Ronson wants.
Bang Bang Bang is trippy, and maybe just a little freaked-out, when it comes to its music video. Conceptually, it’s killer – a really fun and inventive insight into Ronson’s imagination. Watch out for the awesome breakdancing kids and MNDR just generally being sexy as the particular highlights, but really, there’s plenty to be enjoyed in basically every second of this.
8. Gorillaz feat. Bobby Womack and Mos Def – Stylo
The Gorillaz team have never made a video that isn’t awesome. Simple fact of life, that one. What they’ve never tried before, however, is a video on THIS level of awesome. Here’s the skinny: It’s 2D and Murdoc in a car, being chased…by Bruce Willis. That name once again is Bruce. Fucking. Willis.
It’s all craziness to see who outruns who in this thrilling vid, which also saw the premiere of the Gorillaz’ new 3D look…well, for half of them, anyway. Noodle has apparently been turned into an android and Russell is about the size of an average whale upon diving into radioactive waters swimming towards Plastic Beach. What, you think I’m too caught up in the characters of Gorillaz? Maybe I am – but, if anything, that is a complete credit to the work of the people behind the act itself. I’ll always be at least partially obsessed with Gorillaz, and Stylo has done nothing to buck that trend.
7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Another vivid display of beauty came, typically, from Arcade Fire – perhaps even more typically, in their collaboration with Spike Jonze. Dealing with some of the major themes which are found within the album, this is a twisted, haunting view of the insecurities, frustrations and fear that can come with seemingly innocent suburban life.
It probably won’t be a video that you particularly “get” or have a complete understanding of, but in a way that’s not quite the point of The Suburbs. It’s a video that’s open to interpretation and discussion, and it’s sure to have a lot of different ideas circulating around it. The way I see it, however, is that it’s an extended metaphor – it might seem safe to lock yourself in the suburbs, but when war comes knocking, the first people the suburbanites will turn against is one another. Make of that – and this video – what you will.
6. Brendan Maclean – Practically Wasted
The highest-ranking Australian video of the countdown doesn’t go to the most popular Australian artist, nor one with the biggest budget. Why Brendan Maclean made unquestionably the best Australian music video of 2010 was purely on the basis of his imagination and flair for creative, exciting ideas within the short space of three minutes.
Maclean basically went nuts with his first-ever music video, taking a bizarre split-personality concept and quite literally taking it to the circus. Whips, chains, cages and drumming midgets ahoy! This was the first video that was ever blogged about on Y,WGAV!, and I’m incredibly proud to see how it’s stood the test of time. A remarkable achievement from an artist that can only get better and better from here.
5. Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls
The biggest, brightest, boldest and cutest pop video of 2010. Almost blindingly colourful and exuberant, Perry made a huge statement with this video – first and foremost that the bitch was indeed back, but also a statement that showed there was still room for inventiveness within the mainstream pop music video.
Yes, there was plenty of T &A – as you’ll find with so many of her peers’ videos – but there was amazingly still a totaly innocence about it for the most part of this video. This is a magical candy land, there for Katy’s taking, where everything is sugary sweet – except for those jelly baby things that KP off in the first verse. It’s hard not to get lost in the alternate reality, where candy rules and jellybean pimps get buried in the sand up to their heads. Oh, also, I’m not sure if this has been mentioned but SHE SHOOTS WHIPPED CREAM FROM HER TITS. That is all.
4. Hot Chip – I Feel Better
There were some wonderful, clever and hilarious videos that were scattered throughout 2010, as you’ve seen ever so clearly throughout this list. With that being said, I put it to you that there was no video in 2010 that was THIS wonderful, THIS clever and THIS hilarious in addition to being THIS friggin’ weird. Yes, Hot Chip‘s unforgettable lazer-eyed rampage against the manufactured pop treadmill was my easy pick for this year’s biggest “WTF” moment when it dropped around mid-year.
Who the fuck is that guy? Why does he have no hair? How is he levitating? Wait…what the FUCK did he just do to the shirtless guy? Was that Hot Chip in the crowd? Holy SHIT, what the hell is that thing?…you get the idea. This video is a complete mindfuck – savage in its humour and just a little goofy for good measure. You’ll be laughing for days and reeling in the corner from shock for a little bit more.
3. OKGO – This Too Shall Pass
In a double whammy, who else but the clever bastards from OKGO to get two videos for the same song tied in the top five? The marching band version was an ambitious attempt from the band, literally performing the song live in the middle of a forest in the style of a marching band – big drums, uniforms, the lot. Swamp monster jumped up to join them on wind instruments before a whole horn section took over and everyone went crazy. It’s a really fun video, and another risky one-take concept that works beautifully. If they’d just left it at that, we’d have all been happy – but no, there was even better things to come.
We were promised a new video for the studio version of the single, and there was a chance it would pass even their crowning achievement of Here It Goes Again. Now, I’m not one to get ahead of myself, but I honestly believe that they may well have made their best video ever in the form of round two of This Too Shall Pass.
The effort they went to, the cleverness of it and the fact that you could always pick up something new upon each and every view. Circulating around what’s called a Rube Goldberg machine, the camera follows through a variety of fascinating objects that you wouldn’t normally expect in such a contraption. My personal favourites include the puppet version of the band, the sneaky plug for the album (Of the Colour of the Blue Sky) and – perhaps the most symbolic of all – the smashing of several TVs that happen to be playing the Here It Goes Again video. Subliminally bitchy? Who knows? All I can say is that OKGO fucking nailed it. Again.
2. Arcade Fire – The Wilderness Downtown (We Used To Wait)
You may be wondering why there is no embedded video. It’s simple, really – this video depends entirely on you. Yes, you. To participate in this experiment, all you need to do is type in the location of the area in which you grew up. From there, you get lost in this beautiful experiment that has significantly pushed the boundaries of the music video by introducing the factor of interactivity. Literally unlike any other video of 2010. To make your own, visit www.thewildernessdowntown.com
1. Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce – Telephone
Technically, this one shouldn’t even be on the list. In the time since its release, we’ve seen Telephone evolve beyond a music video and into a complete cultural phenomenon – a milestone of pop culture by which all other music videos, genre regardless, will be compared against. Borrowing from Tarantino (literally), classic Hollywood horror, New York modern art, spaghetti westerns and vintage science fiction, Gaga created something peculiar, entrancing and, above all, big.
How big are we talking here? Let’s put it purely in the perspective of its impact – there were evening news reports on the video. The blogosphere lost its collective shit. Within hours, there were Facebook fan pages for everything from quotes (“You’ve been a very, very, very bad girl, Gaga”) to props used (“Lady Gaga’s cigarette sunglasses”) from the Telephone video. From MTV to the LA Times and back, you couldn’t have been on a single pop culture related website for at least a fortnight without major discussion of Telephone going on. Even FOX News got in on the hype, with Culture Campaign leader Sandy Rios describing the video as “poison for the minds of our kids.” Charming.
Now, to validate this frenzy – what is it that makes Telephone so remarkable? Buddy, how long have you got? There is so much going on here – from fierce commentary on sexuality and the damaging ways of the celebrity rumour mill, all the way into popcorn-horror fantasy and bitingly ironic product placement. Gaga, in collaboration with director Jonas Åkerlund, was not intending to reflect any world but her own, any imaginative vision than one of hers. In short, this ten-minute saga is completely insane. With that said, that’s exactly why it worked so well. I mean, the lesbian makeout scenes? Wrapping herself in caution tape? Dancing around with who many agree to be the sexiest woman alive in order to celebrate mass death by poison? Sepearately, none of this should work at all, but when you throw it all together it becomes this beautiful, unforgettable mess.
Any edited version you have seen of this video is nothing short of an insult. Either take it in its unabridged glory or not at all. Whatever your experience or interpretation of Telephone, to deny its importance and its significance is nothing short of dumbfounding. Gaga has been building up to something big with her videos – including Bad Romance, which is officially the most watched music video in online history – but with Telephone, she has undoubtedly cemented her legacy. We’ll be looking back on this one in years to come as a turning point, believe you me.
Hello, hello, hello!
Well, for the past week or so I have been racking my brains. And let me tell you, the brain-racking process is not one to be envied. That said, I’m very glad to finally present this week my first major project for Y,WGAV! – bringing you the thirty best videos of the year just passed. There’s a lot of kerrazy shit that went down in 2010, and I’m going to be very interested to see how it continues on in the new year. For now, though, let’s kick back and have a scroll through the year that was, presenting the finest visual specimen set to some of the year’s best tracks.
30. Big Boi feat. Cutty – Shutterbugg
Outkast were always reliable for some outstanding videos – Ms. Jackson and Hey Ya! amongst the best – but here was a chance for Big Boi, long percieved to be the weaker half of the duo, to prove himself. Impressively, dude hit it out of the fucking park – not only was Shutterbugg easily one of the best songs of the year, it had a crazy good video to back itself up. The shiny, sleek and slightly freaky video saw BB jamming with a puppet band, decapitating himself, rolling in a psychedelic car that changed colours and just generally being a dude – mostly in a tuxedo, naturally. Effortlessly cool. See my original post on the video here.
29. Clare Bowditch and the New Slang – Modern Day Addiction
Clare had an amazing 2010. She released her best album, put together her best backing band and had some killer shows to back it up – I followed the tour for two nights and it was really something quite special; and not just because I was head over heels in love with the backing vocalists (The Lady Garden, as they were known)! Additionally, this happened: a bold, concise and memorable music video, serving up visuals for the song’s extensive metaphor. It might not make sense at first, but give it a chance. This is one that sticks in the memory. See my original post on the video here.
28. Brandon Flowers – Crossfire
B-Flo – it’s his rap name, deal with it – didn’t have a great start to the year. After the passing of his mother, The Killers cancelled most of their Australian tour and announced a hiatus. Things didn’t get much better – his solo album, Flamingo, fizzled due to slow sales, no huge single and generally being a bit of an average affair. One great thing to come out of all of this, however, was the Springsteen-aping single Crossfire and its kickarse video. In a sick little role reversal, it’s Brandon who’s the damsel in distress and Charlize Motherfucking Theron who is the action hero, saving his arse after he inexplicably gets captured by both terrorists and ninjas. Plotless and stupid? Shit yeah. When has that ever stopped something from being awesome? See my original post on the video here.
27. Darren Hanlon – All These Things
Few people in this world make me as happy as Darren Hanlon. For the past half-decade or so, Daz has continually made music and videos that just warm my heart. 2010 was no exception, releasing the wonderful I Will Love You At All and putting out this adorable video. Complete with kitschy dance routines, weird dudes in balaclavas (sp?) and plenty of odd visual gags, it’s a video that consistently entertains and brings warmth and even more loveliness to the song itself – never thought that could be possible! See my original post on the video here – and, if you’re feeling adventurous, listen to my acoustic cover here!
26. Kings of Leon – Pyro
The Kings have always been a bit hit and miss with their videos – they’ve gone from rocking out in the woods to wanky Bon Jovi-esque montage videos. For the first time in awhile, however, they went a bit conceptual to soundtrack what is arguably the best song from Come Around Sundown. The scene could be any dive bar in America, the characters could come from any unfortunate background…but it’s this ambiguity that lures you in, and subsequently keeps you watching until the inexplicable but strangely brilliant conclusion. It’s one for repeated viewings for all the times you don’t get it, but for what it’s worth this could be the band’s best music video yet.
“I’m shittin’ on niggas and pissin’ on the seat, it’s that nigga the B.I.G. B.O.I., O.U.T. …”
Continuing on from Brandon Flowers’ solo track, here’s the latest from Outkast’s Big Boi, with his debut single under his own name, Shutterbugg. Continuing on from a very cool history of music videos, Big Boi has gone with a video that is initially suggesting a generic white-room performance vid with a couple of hot chicks thrown in for good measure. But it wouldn’t be in Watch This Now if it just stopped there, would it? From a puppet band and climbing a mountain of shoes to dancing around without his head (literally, someone else is holding it), it’s the little things that you don’t initially notice that make this a visual feast. Slickly produced and directed, there is a lot of fun to be had here.
One of the keys to a great video, in my opinion, is to compliment the song by paralleling its vibe and mood. Obviously not every video can do this, but the ones that do it successfully know the key to a great video. Shutterbugg is an example of this – it’s an old-fashioned good time party banger, with a twist and a sting in the tail. In turn, Shutterbugg has a very fun video, but it’s the quirks that you pick up each and everytime you see the video that differentiate it, and elevate it from being just a good video to a damn good video. Enjoy the shit out of this, and then get yourself a copy of Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.