The two videos I liked best this week are about reintroducing superstars: One who’s been away for a while, one who’s barely taken enough time off for anyone to notice it’s been a year since he dropped an album. And both are heavy on old-school music-video values: Expert rhythmic editing, implied sex, the goofily in-charge charisma of their two leads. One goes self-effacing and the other goes over-the-top slick, but they still scratch the same itches. And it’s no surprise that their directors are guys who have been making music videos for long enough to remember how it looked when music videos were on TV. For all the democratization that comes with the YouTube era, all the chances for unsung talents to find audiences on the internet — and we see some of that in two of the other clips — there’s still some real pleasure to be had when you let a professional mess with your eyeballs. Our picks are below.
5. Three Loco – “Beer” (Dir. Punit Dhesi)
A wonderfully dumb music-video concept: Find three guys in India who look have the vaguest of resemblances to the stars of the group, let them imitate all the music-video gestures they’ve seen and lip-sync along to the song even though they plainly speak no English. There is a very real chance that this is all horribly offensive, but I don’t know, I laughed. Indian Andy Milonakis is a star in the making.
4. Passion Pit – “Carried Away” (Dir. Ben & Alex Brewer)
The story of a couple falling apart and getting back together isn’t particularly interesting, and all the attention-grabbing film-school tricks could be irritating, but somehow they transform the thing into goony slapstick stoner magic. I’d watch a whole movie of goofy shit like this. Also, One Tree Hill has been on TV for one million years and it took this music video for me to figure out that Sophia Bush is absolutely charming.
3. Pissed Jeans – “Bathroom Laughter” (Dir. Joe Stakun)
Apparently, I am more of a mark for violent slapstick than I realized because I spent the entire last minute of this video laughing like an idiot. Why can’t, like, SNL be this funny anymore? Why must it fall on horrifying noise-punk bands to supply the world with laughter?
2. Drake – “Started From The Bottom” (Dir. Director X & C. Papi)
Drake presumably never had to work at CVS, and I could do without 40 in the terrible mid-song Benny Hill sketch, but ghostriding in fake snow? The instantly iconic shot of Drizzy’s mom? The baby Drake soccer celebration? The gorgeous balcony scenes? This is all just fun, willfully dumb, expertly larger-than-life rap-video stuff, and I am not the tiniest bit surprised that it comes from the man who directed this. Also, Drake is getting better at being on-camera all the time; he just looks cool as hell here.
1. Justin Timberlake – “Suit & Tie” (Feat. Jay-Z) (Dir. David Fincher)
Justin Timberlake, meanwhile, has been great at being on-camera since he and Ryan Gosling were singing Jodeci songs on The Mickey Mouse Club. More and more, this song sounds like a fucking disaster, a sad and ill-fitting attempt at slickness that never comes close to landing and painfully illustrates how far he is now from the sonic adventurer of his last musical persona. But the video? Nobody makes videos like this anymore. It’s all widescreen precision iconography, and it’s fucking beautiful.