The music video is dead. Long live the music video. If anything, 2013 proved an egalitarian year for music videos – represented on this list aren’t just A-list superstars, but also indie-rockers, Russian dance producers, an NBC special, an interactive video by a 70-year-old and a DIY video made by a fucking astronaut in space!
Top Ten Music Videos of 2013:
10. Tie: Foals “My Number” and Titus Andronicus “Still Live With a Hot Deuce and Silver Platter”
Two very different videos that credibly capture that feeling of being at a really great live show, and whatever chemical alterations that may be a part of that.
9. Majical Cloudz – “Childhood’s End”
Paired with the hauntingly melancholy song, Emily Kai Boch’s video for “Childhood’s End” is uncommonly cinematic and features a strong, emotionally involving central performance.
8. Biting Elbows – “Bad Motherfucker”
At first it seems like a gimmick, albeit an impeccably crafted one – a live action, first person shooter. But when we find out what’s in that briefcase – that we are less in Grand Theft Auto than Portal – that the video really takes off.
7. Chris Hatdield – “Space Oddity”
Chris Hadfield is the first Canadian to walk in space, and also (I’m assuming) to ever make a music video in space. Though his cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” wouldn’t turn a head in a Karaoke bar, the coupling of the lines like “floating in a most peculiar way” while ACTUALLY weightless is next level amazing.
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Sacrilege” is easily the most driving, propulsive song off the album Mosquito, and the accompanying video is a dangerous, formally daring experiment in backwards, sideways and altogether non-linear storytelling that nonetheless comes together clear as day.
5. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time”
The very fact that NBC gave Arcade Fire a half hour to pretty much do whatever it wanted speaks volumes to today’s network television landscape. The fact that Arcade Fire made a madcap, half-music-video half-surreal comedy full of dancing bunnies, faux commercials and celebrity cameos, blows my mind. In a good way.
4. Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone”
It may have taken Bob Dylan nearly forty years to release a music video for his seminal “Like a Rolling Stone,” but it was worth the wait. For me, this is the first really, truly successful interactive video. Allowing you to change “channels” to real-looking programs where everyone is lip-syncing the Dylan classic creates an ever changing, endlessly re-watchable mosaic.
Interactive version here: http://video.bobdylan.com/desktop.html
3. Tie: Youth Lagoon “Raspberry Cane” and Atoms for Peace “Before Your Very Eyes”
I often find animated videos lazy – animation reels for the creator loosely, if at all, related to the song they’re supposedly in service of. Here are two glorious exceptions. Stephen McNally’s sumptuous visuals heighten both the beauty and unbearable anxiety of Youth Lagoon’s “Raspberry Cane.” And the shifting landscapes and nightmarish imagery of Andrew Huang’s “Before Your Very Eyes” captures the apocalyptic boogie of Atoms for Peace’s tune.
2. Darwin Deez – “You Can’t Be My Girl”
What starts as a goof, with Darwin Deez video-bombing fairly tacky commercial B-roll, becomes explosively hilarious and very nearly profound before the three minutes of “You Can’t Be My Girl” are out. Exceptionally edited and directed by Keith Schofield, we see Darwin more and more withdrawn from the perfect commercial-ready relationships right in front of him until the frustration literally explodes into completely insane, non-sequitur asides.
1. Justin Timberlake – “Suit & Tie”
For all this year’s formal experimentation and expansion of the music video talent pool, it’s possibly the most old-school video of the year that really impressed me the most. Directed by music video (and feature film) legend David Fincher in silky black and white, “Suit & Tie” even manages to help us forget Timberlake’s tune is two minutes and one Jay-Z verse too long by bathing us in sumptuous, spectacularly filmed and edited performance footage. You don’t see many like this one anymore – a new classic made entirely in the old style.
Click on the arrow next to this post for a YouTube playlist or just follow this link: