The Top Ten Music Videos of 2010
I've long been a fan of music videos. At best they can be a kind of pop culture equivalent to the avant garde short film. 2010 was a very good year for music videos. While the attention grabbing viral video flood of previous years was still present we also were treated to some absolutely beautiful work incorporating some truly experimental and creative concepts.
A great music video for me doesn't necessarily have to coincide with a great song (of course a great song definitely helps). A successful video needs to tonally compliment its song. It needs to have a well-defined sense of rhythmic counterpoint to the music and of course it needs to be visually arresting. I am not a fan of band orientated music videos. They are often merely advertisments and offer very little of value outside of that.
For those who have a university degree in mathematics you may notice I have 12 entries instead of 10. Like I said, it has been a very good year. Make yourself a cup of tea ('a cup of tea' can be considered a euphemism for whatever your poison is), sit back and enjoy a trip through the pop cultural zeitgeist of 2010.
10: MASSIVE ATTACK – SPLITTING THE ATOM
(Director : Edouard Salier)
Edouard Salier is probably best know for his short film, Flesh which has been provoking conservatives for a few years now (look it up, it contains porn and 9/11 metaphors). In his video for Massive Attack he perfectly compliments the music with a stunning piece of animation that must've taken a very long time to produce. The song is great too!
9: THE FLAMING LIPS – POWERLESS
A simple video that is evocative and accompanies its song in sublime ways. Also contains the best monkey performance of 2010!
8: OK GO – THIS TOO SHALL PASS & WHITE KNUCKLES
OK GO are the kings of the viral music video ever since they burst to fame with their treadmill video for 'Here We Go Again'. They released several videos in 2010 and it was hard for me to decide between two so I have posted both. The Rube Goldberg contraption in 'This Too Shall Pass' is a stunning achievement despite my questions over its authenticity. Even if it isn't 100% accurate, the video is a masterclass in staging, as is their video for 'White Knuckles' which impresses me simply due to the fact that they choreographed half a dozen dogs in perfect synchronicity. Anyone who has tried to make an animal do something they want will be impressed by this one.
7: DIE ANTWOORD – ZEF SIDE
(Director: Caleb Heymann)
Die Antwoord are the ultimate WTF act of 2010. Are they real? Is it an act? What the hell is going on? These are all questions you will have while watching this video (which is remarkably well-made). Ironically they are more than a mere novelty group. Musically they are fascinating and you will be hearing a lot more from them as they hit Australia in January before releasing album two of their grand 5 album plan. Harmony Korine is currently working with them on a short film too!
6: REGGIE WATTS – FUCK SHIT STACK
This has been my anthem of 2010 ever since it appeared way back in March. It's a brilliant clip and a brilliant song. Reggie Watts is king! That is all!
5: GRINDERMAN – HEATHEN CHILD
(Director: John Hillcoat)
Grinderman is the best thing Nick Cave has produced in years and with the release of the group's second album this year we were treated to another fantastically odd and creative video. Seeing Nick Cave hamming it up like this is ridiculously fun and the video itself it impeccably produced. Directed by Aussie veteran John Hillcoat better know for his feature film work such as The Proposition & The Road, this video is a masterclass in rhythmic montage. Simply a joy to watch (and listen to also).
4: LADY GAGA – TELEPHONE
(Director: Jonas Akerlund)
Just hear me out for a moment. If you are questioning my sanity over including Gaga on my list then you either have never seen this video or have no appreciation for pop art. Teaming up with veteran Akerlund, Gaga has produced without a doubt one of the weirdest popular videos in many years. This is surreal, absurdist stuff and something of which Warhol would be very proud. Gaga seems to have an awareness of cultural constructs and a willingness to push them to ridiculous levels. I love this video to be honest and combined with Die Antwoord it signals 2010 to be a very weird moment in pop culture. If all mainstream culture was spiked with this level of acid fuelled creative absurdity it would be a different world.
3: THE KLAXONS – TWIN FLAME
(Director: Saam Farahmand )
Provocative director Saam Farahmand, steps up to the plate again and delivers the most controversial video of 2010. A mere NSFW warning is an understatement as you will see a mutating mass of naked conjoined bodies writhing around while covered in some kind of semen-like goo. Extraordinary on a technical level, not for all tastes though. Simply one of the most memorable videos of 2010 and believe it or not, this is not the uncut version!!
2: LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – DRUNK GIRLS
(Director: Spike Jonze & James Murphy)
Co-directed by Spike Jonze and LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, this simple one take video is the most enjoyable clip I have seen all year. Complimenting a great pop song is a video that takes the idea of annoying drunks to its most extreme conclusion. Cleverly mixing live audio into the song we get one of the tightest little videos of 2010 and a welcome return to the music video medium for Spike Jonze. His other music video of 2010 (Arcade Fire - Suburbs) is highly regarded in some circles but I think it is merely OK. Jonze fans should track it down though.
1: MIA – BORN FREE
(Director: Romain Gavras)
I have written extensively on this clip previously here and it remains my favorite video of 2010. As a film it is a remarkable piece of provocation. It may be vacuous and sensationalistic but it is effective and communicates with the song marvellously. A truly brilliant music video.
Because there were others I felt I needed to share with you guys here are two more clips that I have a soft spot for. The first clip from Hollerado is one of those well-executed viral video concepts. It is a sharp and simple idea that must've taken quite a few takes to get right. Marvel at the hard work some people go to in order to pull off clever ideas.
The second clip is from an outfit called Dancing Pigeons. Who doesn't like super slow-motion? Who doesn't like Mexican stand-offs? Combine the two and add a flame thrower and a fire extinguisher and you have a perfectly executed visual idea that is a lot of fun to watch. Eye-candy with a touch of absurdity. A great clip.