straight2video

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.

Comments (5)
  1. It was a weak week for videos and tracks alike where CMJ meant most publications’ staff were off attending shows and publicists were putting off releasing new content because it would mean less exposure would be had, so I think asking whether or not broadening the definition of “video” at this time in particular might be unfair.

    I think you will eventually find yourself having a more difficult time trying to weigh the value of regular music videos vs. camera phone videos vs. lyric videos vs. late night videos vs. web series videos and so on against each other on weeks where content is heavy.

  2. So, who was the girl in that cypher video? Did they forget to let her rap?

  3. i don’t think klasfeld directed that 2 chainz vid.

  4. Tom, I like that you are broadening the scope. Music videos stopped being something we waited to watch on MTV and became something we clicked on a long time ago, and they are certainly only one of the many types of things we click on to experience music now.

    That said, I don’t care for cellphone videos. I prefer to experience something for the first time at a higher quality. I didn’t want to hear the new Dismemberment Plan songs for the first time from some crappy cellphone recording, so I waited for music videos and studio versions. I’d be bummed to see cellphone videos in the countdown. I guess I’m saying, I just hope that “5 Best” continues to mean “Best” and not just “most sensational”.

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