I interviewed Anton Corbijn once, and he’s a totally lovely human being. I liked his beaten-down Ian Curtis biopic Control and his deconstructed George Clooney spy movie The American. He takes pretty photos. But my god, I don’t think there’s ever been a high-profile music video director shittier or more overrated than he. Corbijn’s whole style — the all-pores close-ups, the smeared makeup, the heavy symbolism, the high contrasts, the turgid pacing — make for some utterly ugly and boring music videos; I’m convinced the Killers would be playing stadiums right now if Corbijn’s godawful “All These Things That I’ve Done” video hadn’t severely undercut them. So I’m bummed that Arcade Fire got Corbijn to direct their video for the triumphant “Reflektor” and that Corbijn went Full Corbijn on it, putting the band in hideous waxy masks of themselves and generally leaching pleasure out of it wherever he could. That song is dope, and it deserves way better. (There’s also the interactive video, but I can’t comment on that one because I can’t get the thing to work.) “Reflektor” topped our songs-of-the-week countdown, but you won’t find it on the list below. Fortunately, there were a shit-ton of great videos these past seven days, and the five below only scratch the surface.

5. Au Revoir Simone – “Crazy” (Dir. Alex Braverman & Poppy de Villeneuve)

It’s an entirely ridiculous premise — remaking parts of Scorsese’s After Hours shot-for-shot, with the three female band members playing every character — but these lunatics somehow pulled it off. I was worried they wouldn’t include the punk-club scene, but no, that’s in there. Don’t think you can get away with skipping After Hours just because you watched this, though. This isn’t CliffsNotes. You still need to see After Hours.

4. Jonathan Rado – “Faces” (Dir. Alex Braverman & Poppy de Villeneuve)

Two things the world always needs more of: (1) Movies about underground pit-fighting tournaments, and (2) people who take dancing really, really seriously. This video somehow combines both of those, and it does it while incorporating some batshit-wonderful silent-movie acting.

3. Future – “Honest” (Dir. Colin Tilley)

There’s a scenario I’ve been playing out in my mind: Aliens come down to earth, and they appear to me, demanding a reason not to exterminate my entire dangerous, wasteful species. I show them the image of Future in this video. The aliens instantly realize that humans, for all our flaws, are capable of absolute perfection, and they get back into their spaceships and fly away.

2. G-Dragon – “Crooked” (Dir. Suh Hyun Seung)

If actual punk rock was always as much fun as the idealized cartoon-universe K-pop version of it, I would still spend every weekend going to shows in VFW Halls.

1. Blood Orange “Chamakay” (Dir. Adam Bainbridge)

The way the palms reflect the sunlight. The look on Dev Hynes’s face when he meets his grandfather for the first time (and the look on the grandfather’s face, too). The tie-dyed Guyana T-shirt. Hynes’s chemistry with the girl in front of the house, the one who lip-syncs Caroline Polachek’s vocal parts and then busts up laughing. The walkway on the beach. Hynes’s dancing. Especially Hynes’s dancing. If you know the story of the video, of Hynes visiting his mother’s Guyanese hometown for the first time, this video might crush your heart. But even without the backstory, the video looks something you wish you could call home.

Comments (32)
  1. 0. Franz Ferdinand – Evil Eye

  2. Screw this. The Arcade Fire video is awesome.

    • While I love the top 2 videos, Reflektor should have definitely been #1. It’s an incredible video and probably my favorite from Corbjin. That video has some of the coolest, most fascinating images from music videos this year.

  3. Tom, you’re crazy. I agree that “Reflektor” is a half-baked video, but Corbijn’s stuff is great, especially the early string of iconic Depeche Mode videos he did. Hell, he deserves Hall of Fame music video status if the only thing he had ever done was his video for U2′s “One”:

  4. I’m guessing if Arcade Fire’s video was made in Korea it would show up. Couldn’t hurt if it had a giant choreographed dance number as well.

  5. Corbijn’s Control was incredible. Most incredible of all was how much the actors sounded uncannily like Joy Division performing those songs. Sam Riley’s performance of Curtis’ baritone and signature moves was spot on as well

  6. Video schmido, music can live without it, but not vice versa.

  7. No “Reflektor”, so this is not the list for this week.

  8. Bull. Shit. I normally don’t complain about stuff on the internet, but the exclusion of Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” video was done so ignorantly that it’s impossible to not cringe while reading this list. Tom Breihan clearly prefers sunny k-pop and Nicki Minaj to actually music videos.

  9. What about the TWO Arcade Fire’s amazing videos? Are you guys crazy or what?

  10. i’m just going to go ahead and assume that it was released too late for this week and the video for FKA twigs “papi pacify” will next week’s list…

  11. I do believe Arcade Fire should’ve been #1, and it might actually been of the best videos of the year, and even one of the best of the past few years. But I wanna talk top two as well…

    I think G-Dragon is one of the most consistent k-pop artists delivering striking visual music videos. But this video is very underwhelming, and could’ve been done by any american pop star easily (and it been, it probably wouldn’t make top 5, I admit). K-Pop videos are fun when they deliver a mix between bat-shit cartoony and Hype Williams cool. This video does neither. And I have noticed over the past year or so how K-Pop is slowly starting to become bland in terms of music videos. You get something interesting from CL or G-Dragon, but most groups and artists aren’t doing anything that different from american pop stars this year. Maybe it’s the effect Gangnam Style had of ridiculing the whole K-pop world, I don’t know.

    Now, Chamakay is surprisingly touching. I love how it’s essentially a docu-video, and is very charming in the minimalism. The song is beautiful. And it’s all I needed to be excited for Blood Range’s album. No hyper-editing, no stylized photography, but very potent nonetheless. I was very impressed.

  12. The crappy Kpop song with boring mainstream video coming before LCD Arcade Soundsystem, are U nuts?

  13. yeah i’m pretty convinced that the killers’ career trajectory had nothing to do with corbijn. it might have to do with the fact they’ve done everything half-assed since hot fuss.

    • You know, I’m not a fan of The Killers, and I’m not gonna get into how I feel about the perception that success is defined how an artist or band does in the U.S., but I am gonna say it’s not fair to say The Killers doesn’t have a big career. They might actually be one of the biggest bands of their generation in worldwide success. In South America editions of Loolapalooza, they were the second most recurrent main reason for people going, behind only Pearl Jam, and more than acts like Black Keys.

      • i actually couldn’t agree with you more in that respect. they’re one of the last bands of the early ’00s to hold onto a major label contract, and they’re big-time headliners year after year. i wouldn’t be surprised if they sell out arenas on the regular. i own their first three albums and the b-sides comp, and i’ll usually muster enough energy to defend them when people say “they suck.” but i do believe they have yet to release a “classic” record that hasn’t been half filler. even hot fuss has its share of clunkers.

        i just cannot believe anything associated with “all these things that i’ve done” is capable of bringing that song down, and in effect, the rest of the killers’ 10 years plus career. there simply is no argument that the song is THE song that brings the house down at every show of theirs.

  14. So, the G-Dragon clip is just a guy walking around London being an asshole? Also I was more impressed by the interactive Reflektor clip, amazing stuff.

  15. This one’s a barn burner alright. Funny list we have here. I think what I took away is that music writers are “just like us,” in that sometimes opinions are merely just that and just because some guy or lady gets paid to tell the world what they think on a widely read website for a living doesn’t mean that they are necessarily correct or the end-all professional in the matter, at it in the same way a doctor might be in practicing medicine.

  16. The G Dragon song and video are both about being in pain but acting out, being vulnerable but pretending to the world you’re not, and in that respect, it’s pretty darn good actually.

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