Now that nobody ever watches music videos on TV anymore, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the people who make videos don’t have to submit themselves to any television network’s Standards & Practices department. Nudity and gore and all sorts of other previously-verboten things are fair game. Mostly, that’s awesome. But sometimes, we end up with something like the Weeknd’s new “Pretty” video — an impressively made, beautifully shot story that might also make you hate the world and everyone in it. It’s fine to have blood in videos — three or maybe four of the five videos below have some level of violence — but the violence in “Pretty,” is dipshit violence, violence that comes from some rancid, ugly, dark place. It doesn’t have to be like that, and those three videos show three different ways to go bloody without going asshole-nihilistic.
5. PUP – “Reservoir” (Dir. Chandler Levack & Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux)
Even without the bloodletting, this would be a fun and exciting punk rock video. With it, it’s a whole lot more fun — a parable about the band as military battalion, the intrepid few willing to finish the song at all costs. The timing of that resuscitation? Too good.
4. Bass Drum Of Death – “Bad Reputation” (NSFW-ish) (Dir. Wilcoxsessions)
Few things are closer to my heart than video made to look like ’70s juvenile-delinquent exploitation videos. I may have actually hooted out loud for the eye-gouge.
3. MGMT – “Cool Song No. 2″ (Dir. Isaiah Seret)
MGMT’s psychedelic wackiness is usually a thing I can take or leave, and lord knows there’s plenty of that going on here. But things like the first minute and a half of this video — Michael K. Williams, beautifully photographed, in full-on avenging badass mode — are the reason I wake up every morning.
2. FKA twigs – “Papi Pacify” (NSFW-ish) (Dir. FKA twigs & Tom Beard)
Maybe this one isn’t explictly violent the way the previous were, but it’s still sort of an open question whether we’re watching a murder or a bout of rough-but-tender lovemaking. It’s essentially impossible to stay comfortable while watching this one, but it will absolutely linger long after you watch it.
1. Solange – “Lovers In The Parking Lot” (Dir. Solange, Peter J. Brant & Emily Kai Bock)
This video had already won me over utterly and completely, and then Mannie Fresh showed up. And then Bun B danced. Attention video directors: If you get Bun B to dance in your video, even for a split second, it is an automatic #1 on this list.