A dark week for music videos! For whatever reason, this is the week that everyone’s decided to perfect their death-stares and document their shit-smashing capabilities. That applies, in one way or another, to four of the five videos this week, as well as the Norah Jones and Liars videos that just missed this countdown, as well as that video where Mr. Blonde beats the shit out of Justin Bieber. It’s summer, everyone! The Olympics are happening! Crack a beer! Relax! Our picks are below.
5. Angel Haze – “New York” (Dir. Adrienne Nicole)
If I saw a few seconds of this with the sound off, I’d assume I was watching an industrial video, not one from a young and generally open-hearted conscious-rap type. And yet here’s Angel Haze and her bands of goons, in gas masks and postapocalyptic crustpunk uniforms, generally terrorizing the world around them, and not even particularly looking like they’re enjoying the process.
4. Feistodon – “A Commotion” (Dir. Vice Cooler)
Leslie Feist goes hard against type, fusing her son with Mastodon’s cover of it and casting herself as a raging-out ghoul in the video. And I have to say: She pulls it off! I would not want to fuck with this particular incarnation of Leslie Feist, and I doubt the Muppets would either.
3. Mount Eerie – “The Place Lives” (Dir. Phil Elverum)
Here’s how I know Mount Eerie main man Phil Elverum’s black metal fixation isn’t just some effete affectation (besides, you know, actually listening to his music). This video consists of nothing but Elverum wandering out into the verdant Oregon woods he lives near, brewing a pot of tea, and pouring that tea into the dirt. But in the video, he manages to make those acts look like part of some ancient druidic blood-ritual.
2. Kindness – “That’s Alright” (Feat. Trouble Funk) (Dir. ?)
Amid all that heaviness, here’s your one burst of joy. Kindness sampled the great DC go-go band Trouble Funk, a local institution who recorded for Sugar Hill and played shows with Minor Threat back in the day, on his new single “That’s Alright.” And instead of making a straight-up video for the song, he flew to DC and played a version of it with Trouble Funk themselves. But when Trouble Funk cover a song, they pretty much just transform it into the sweaty tribal chant that’s always been pretty much their one song. I almost made it #1 just because, but I love that Rick Ross video just too much.
1. Rick Ross – “Hold Me Back” (Dir. TAJ)
Witness the birth of Everyman Ross. Long a king of speedboat-chase excess, Ross momentarily strips away all that moneyed grandeur, filming an angry, no-frills black-and-white video in New Orleans’ decaying Calliope Housing Projects. That’s where Juvenile comes from, and it’s the setting for Juvenile’s breakout video “Ha,” one of the greatest rap videos of all time. The Ross video is totally a tribute, and its rust and squalor goes a long way toward giving his possibly-phony up-from-nothing story some stakes.