This week for videos just fucking absolutely ruled, so before we get into what made this list, let’s take a moment for all the videos that missed the cut. Among the casualties: Two eye-grabbing clips for A-list indie anthems, a mind-warping and visually sumptuous CocoRosie clip, a great bare-bones performance video, a legitimately funny minute-long sketch, a fun-to-watch fantasy/empowerment thing, a typically-engrossing ASAP Rocky video, a visually gorgeous and kinda-racist treatment of a massive pop-star duet, and a Willie Nelson video that treats its father/son relationship so simply and tenderly that I found myself moved watching it. Now here’s what did make it.
5. BigBang – “Monster” (Dir. ?)
BigBang are obviously the greatest boy band in the known universe, and though their “Monster” video doesn’t approach the hallucinatory future-pop visions of “Fantastic Baby,” it still has explosions and high-kicks and inexplicable fashion decisions and a great beast’s-eye-view shot of a mad dash through a prison minefield, or something. Delightfully confusing, in the grandest K-pop tradition.
4. Danny Brown – “Grown Up” (Dir. Greg Brunkalla)
Obviously, we all love Danny Brown. But Brown’s greatest problem is that he isn’t a foulmouthed and gleefully destructive seven-year-old. This video thankfully addresses that issue. This kid! So great! Also worth nothing: This song is just gorgeous.
3. Die Antwoord – “Baby’s On Fire” (Dir. Ninja & Terence Neale) (NSFW)
Die Antwoord’s dizzily fucked-up culture-car-wreck aesthetic is a lot of fun in pretty much any situation, but it goes up another level when it becomes a violently Oedipal Looney Toons cartoon. The reaction shots here are all note-perfect and ridiculously funny, and the action-movie dork in me feels the need to point out that the car stunt that happens around 5:45 is just unbelievably badass.
2. Kanye West – “Mercy” (Feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz) (Dir. Nabil)
Kanye West’s visual ambitions can be a bit much sometimes, but when he keeps things simple, he can make magic. And that’s exactly what happens in this, the latest in a long and proud tradition of stark black-and-white posse-cut videos. The utterly stripped-down setting also serves to make the few dreamlike special-effects touches hit that much harder; there are echoes of “Virtual Insanity” in the little mind-warp moments.
1. Killer Mike – “Big Beast” (Feat. T.I., Bun B & Trouble) (Dir. Thomas C. Bingham) (NSFW)
Quite possibly the video of the year. Two of my favorite things on this earth are hardass rap music and violent low-budget B-movies, so I feel like this video was pulled directly from some reptile part of my brain. When Killer Mike opens up a convenience store robber’s skull with a fire-axe before grinning wide and delivering one of his all-time most ferocious verses, it’s so beautiful that I want to cry.