For a while, I’ve been threatening to start including things in this space that don’t quite constitute “music videos” but which do constitute music on video — late-night performances, great camera-phone moments, things like that. And while I haven’t quite done that with this week’s list, the #1 selection is, indeed, a music-on-video thing that isn’t quite the same thing as a music video. So, comments section: Is this a bad idea? Would you prefer strict-definition music videos on this list, or should I let in other things as well? I don’t often crowdsource opinions, and god knows I’m not going to stop putting K-pop videos on here no matter how many commenters think I should, but this is one point where I’d be really curious to know what you guys think. This week’s picks are below.
5. The Paper Kites – “Young” (Dir. Darcy Prendergast)
The morphing-effect singalong from Michael Jackson’s “Black Or White” video, its pace increased to a frantic strobe, rendered without CGI and on a tiny fraction of the budget. Final takeaway: People’s faces are interesting things.
4. 2 Chainz – “Used 2″ (Dir. Marc Klasfeld)
A note-perfect piece of rap nostalgia. “Used 2″ was always a transparent rewrite of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up,” and for the video, 2 Chainz has paid unrepentant tribute to late-’90s Cash Money Records, lining up many of the era’s principal figures (Juvenile, Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh, a just-home and prison-diesel Turk) and shooting with Klasfeld (the man who directed Juvenile’s beyond-classic “Ha” video) in those burnt-out New Orleans projects. Extra points for including so many late-’90s video staples: The white T-shirts, the stretch Hummer, the butts that don’t come from a modeling agency.
3. Atoms For Peace – “Before Your Very Eyes” (Dir. Andrew Thomas Huang)
We trippy, mayn!
2. James Blake – “Life Round Here (Remix Feat. Chance The Rapper)” (Dir. Nabil)
A working theory: This video isn’t some impenetrable visual allegory; it’s actually a documentary. It’s just that, when Blake and Chance and Nabil get together, the world turns into a high-def black-and-white blur of horror-movie and rap-video signifiers.
1. Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad & Kendrick Lamar – “TDE Cypher” (Dir. ?)
This is admittedly more a musical achievement than a visual one, but Kendrick’s haa-haa face is the best thing I’ve seen in forever.