The 5 Best Videos Of The Week 5/11

This happens to be a great week for the low-budget video, full of immediate grainy cinematography and big cheap ideas and strong visual sensibilities. For whatever reason, it’s been especially great for energetic rap videos. I loved the offerings from Big K.R.I.T. and Big Baby Gandhi, but I couldn’t find room for either one on this list. Here’s what did make it:

5. Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “I See A Darkness” (Dir. Ben Berman)

In the video for this weirdly sprightly re-recording of what’s probably his best-loved song, Will Oldham chicken-struts around some nameless European city (I want to say Prague, but I really have no idea), while the pupils of his eyeballs digitally fly off in different directions and Ben Berman films everything in classicist high-contrast black-and-white. The thing looks great, and the eyeball trick is funny and disorienting. But the real selling point is grandpa-dancing Oldham himself, displaying an utterly peerless weirdo charisma that’s just as hard to describe as it is to deny.

4. Father John Misty – “This Is Sally Hatchet” (Dir. Grant James)

In which J. Tillman successfully continues his post-Fleet Foxes reinvention as a Godard-film badass. In this one, he’s inexplicably wrapping a mutilated hand up in a rag while firing off a shotgun in a dilapidated basement as blaxploitation-heroine chicks dance around him. None of it makes the tiniest bit of sense (that pizza cut into a pentagram?), and all of it looks awesome. That shot, near the end, of an aviator-sunglasses-clad Tillman getting his cigarette lit for him, is an absolute all-timer.

3. Swizz Beatz – “Street Knock” (Feat. ASAP Rocky) (Dir. TAJ_TPK)

This probably isn’t actually true, but I can’t shake the impression that the Allen Iverson cameo here is the coolest thing that has ever happened, anywhere, to anyone. That guy can disappear for years, playing pro basketball in Turkey in a weird and pathetic Rickey Henderson-esque refusal to admit his own obsolescence, and generally make you feel bad about humanity. And then he can come back and ice-grill the camera for half a second in a rap video, and I’m ready to vote him into next year’s All Star Game. Without A.I., this is a fun and choppy and stylish rap video, full of notably well-dressed people, for a total banger of a song. With him involved, it’s something that burns into my brain. Also: Bonus points for AraabMuzik with the cymbals.

2. SpaceGhostPurrp – “The Black God” (Dir. ?)

Method Man’s “Bring The Pain” might by my favorite music video of all time: A no-budget attack on your senses that gets over on nothing but menacing immediacy and its star’s dangerous levels of charisma (and, of course, the eerie monster of a song). When I was in ninth grade, that clip would air every 10 minutes on the all-request music-video network the Box, and I’d watch for hours just so I could see it over and over. Nobody makes music videos like that anymore, but here’s one.

1. Explosions In The Sky – “Postcard From 1952″ (Dir. Peter Simonite & Annie Gunn)

There’s a simple concept to this one: A bunch of ancient archival photos recreated and turned into moving images. But with Simonite, Terrence Mallick’s cinematographer for The Tree Of Life, co-directing, it plays like a dizzily beautiful slow-motion seven-minute statement about the magic of life itself. I don’t know if I would’ve felt this way before becoming a father, but I can’t really watch those shots of the kid taking his first few tentative steps without wanting to cry.

Comments (13)
  1. re: Bonnie Prince Billy’s “nameless European city”… a map of what appears to be Glasgow appears over his face in the final image.

    • Yeah, that, the British licence plates, all the British pub signs and the sign for ‘Glasgow University’. And I thought/hoped the Americans and geography thing was just a depressing stereotype.

  2. To be honest, I was kinda sad that I See A Darkness was changed to 4/4 time, and the tone was changed so dramatically. It used to be such a perfect song, and now I feel it has lost a lot of the original feeling that made it so heart breaking.

  3. At first I was wondering how I missed that SGP video, but then i saw it was posted at 9am today. Phew.

    Every song he puts out amps up my anticipation for Chronicle of SpaceGhostPurrp.

    I am sooooo ready for that album to DESTROY my car speakers this summer. Quite possibly my favorite new artist this year. SUCH. GOOD. PURRP!

  4. I really like St. Lucia-Before the Dive that came out this week. Check it out:

  5. re: Bonnie Prince Billy’s “nameless European city”

    Not Prague. Not even close to Czech Republic. Video shot in Glasgow, Scotland.

  6. “Postcard from 1952″ is a perfect music video. Not that I think it’s the best music video ever created, but the impact of the music is completely maximized by the visual pairing. Likewise the visuals are so mesmerizing and their independent impact is also maximized by the music. What ends up happening is your mind skips back and forth from being fascinated by the music to being fascinated by the visuals, and this back and forth gets faster and faster as the song continues till you get to the climax and two come smashing into each other with such phenomenal jaw dropping emotional force. It’s a prime example of what a music video can be. Not simply cool video effects over top of a song, but a creation that is truly greater than the some of it’s parts.

  7. When exactly does a black woman become a ‘blaxploitation-heroine chick’? When she picks up a gun?

  8. That Father John Misty video is my video of the week

  9. I wonder if the BPB one was influenced by Jonnie Ross’ vid for blood of abraham?

  10. So excited about St. Lucia – about to start this album stream ( – so far so good!

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