While it may have lost its way as of late, the art of the music video has brought us some of the most iconic images in music history.
Sabotage – Beastie Boys (1994)
Not content with ONLY making one of the best songs of both the 90s and hip-hop, Beastie Boys, with the help of 90s genius Spike Jonze, shot the best music video of all time to accompany it. A love letter to 70s cop shows, the mindless chaos of Sabotage reflects that in the song. The group star as our three leads, wreaking havoc on San Francisco, bonnet slides a-plenty. We’ve got dummies flying about like someone packed TNT on the Mythbusters studio, as if you needed anymore convincing.
Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai (1997) – Probably the most downright clever music video I’ve ever seen, Virtual Insanity showcases Jay Kay’s smooth movin’ capabilities better than anything else, as the floor, the walls, the *gasp* sofa is as fluid as his dancing. If that wasn’t enough, the furniture starts bleeding by the end of it and there’s a crow. I hate fleeces, but I can be persuaded but this vid.
Closer – Nine Inch Nails (1994) – A nasty little video to go with a nasty little track. As I’ve said before, any song with the line “I want to fuck you like an animal” is gonna be interpretted as a lust anthem, especially if you’re ball-gagged in the video for it. One of my favourite Romanek videos, the slimy, Victorian clockwork aesthetic suits the industrial tones of the song brilliantly — a little bit of controversy never hurt anyone.
Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes (2001) – Aside from being the one of my all-time favourite songs, The White Stripes’ breakout hit has an ingenious, Michel Gondry-directed video propelling it. The kitschy LEGO stop-motion makes this a colourful joy to watch, and matches the fast-paced nature of the garage punk asteroid of a track.
“…Like Clockwork” – Queens of the Stone Age (2013) – As confusing as it may be, I don’t mean the actual eponymous song of QOTSA’s 2013 classic, but rather the short film they made accompanying the songs; I Appear Missing, Kalopsia, Keep Your Eyes Peeled, If I Had A Tail and My God Is The Sun. I mean, all you have to do is watch the 15-minute cacophony of Boneface-drawn, Brazier-animated dystopia and you’ll see what I mean. It’s my Thriller.
Mastodon – Asleep in the Deep (2014)
Just like Once More ‘Round the Sun‘s album art, this is psychedelic heaven, an eruption of strange colour combinations, awesome art direction and… Cats! The cat in it was my profile picture for a bit. I’M COOL. Anyway… The video is just as much a journey as the song, and it depicts the jeering, oddball nature of it perfectly in six minutes of pure, brilliant weirdness.
Beastie Boys – Sabotage (1995) – This was incredibly close to my pick, what a classic. I can’t put it any better than Milo already did.
System of a Down – Chop Suey! (2001) – I was appalled at myself for leaving this song out of my picks for the best songs of the 00s, so I thought I’d give it a mention here. Because it’s video is CLASSEEK. In terms of just, “let’s film the band playing the song” music videos, this is by far, far, far, the best. It’s got the best special effects and editing you’re ever going to see — screw Avatar. And he eats chop suey!! These bois are cool. In all serious though, I love the unique spin they put on the formulaic style of video and the sense of humour they have about it, as well as the clear and oozing passion and energy, is great.
Korn – Freak on a Leash (1998) – It may not be the classiest of videos, and, at the end of the day it is kinda dumb, but screw you. I feel like if you’re gonna have a music video category, you gotta give an ode to one of the classic MTV videos. And this is THE classic. Only cool music videos have slow motion bullets smashing through balloons and water-coolers only to be beatboxed away.
Tenacious D – Tribute (2001) – This one had to trump Loser, Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver and Another Brick in the Wall to get here. Let’s let it enjoy it’s time here. This is the awesomeness of the movie condensed into five minutes for prime viewing pleasure. It’s got the comedy, it goes perfectly with the music, it’s just pure genius.
Thriller – Michael Jackson (1982)
Without Me – Eminem (2002)
Here It Goes Again – OK Go (2005)
With OK Go, the videos made the band more famous than their (somewhat delightful) milquetoast pop-punk should have allowed. MTV was nearly over and these nerds gave them some of the channel’s final act’s most epic moments. “The treadmill one” was perhaps MTVs last big real art statement hit before the rot set in.
Let Forever Be – The Chemical Brothers (1999) – Rarely does a dance music video look how the music sounds. Throw in a Gallagher and some backwards looping and you’ve got the perfect soundtrack for this most 90s of eyegasms. Mr Michel Gondry, ladies and gentlemen, really spoiling us.
Right Now – Van Halen (1991) – I studied typography and graphic design at college and was in love with seventies rock for the first half of the 90’s. This was a video that got me all hot under the collar though hardly anyone else I knew could see any merit. I still really rate the creative use of type and editing. And now it’s kinda retro too, which is nice
No Surprises – Radiohead (1997) – From a band who raised the bar on the art form ever since Just, comes the best single take video since the Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated. Those of us who were scared for life watching Jaws can’t help but squirm as the water levels rise above the nostrils. An absolute masterpiece.
Sabotage – Beastie Boys (1994) – The seismic wave that this video sent through the alternative music scene in 1994 was surfable. It was the summer of Loser, Black Hole Sun and Pulp Fiction and Beastie Boys gifted us this fancy dress high water mark. It literally changed fashion, music and comedy overnight. Nothing ever looked the same.
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!