In a week full of big music videos, the one that generated the most conversation was, logically enough, the one that raised the most hackles. In this case, it was Lily Allen’s big comeback clip “Hard Out Here,” in which Allen uses her big platform by using outdated catchphrases and outdated music-video cliches to address cultural issues, both outdated and relevant. Allen’s points about unrealistic body images and all-pervading materialism might hit a little harder if her satire wasn’t the broadest, most hamfisted kind imaginable, or if she didn’t perpetrate some of the exact same fetishization as the videos she parodies — to the point where she had to publicly defend her video a day after dropping it. As it is, the whole thing is so goddam obvious that she might as well be remaking Malibu’s Most Wanted with gender roles reversed. It would also help if the song was better. So yeah, didn’t much like that video, but there are five videos I did like below.
5. Charli XCX – “SuperLove (Yeasayer Remix)” (Dir. Ryan Andrews)
Theoretically, someone could object to this placement by pointing out that the entire thing is just Charli XCX in a photo studio looking amazing. To that, I would counter: Yes, but this entire video is Charli XCX in a photo studio. Looking amazing.
4. Phoenix – “Chloroform” (Dir. Sofia Coppola)
As a director, one of Sofia Coppola’s greatest gifts is her undying ability to make people look cool. In that one lingering close-up on Thomas Mars, she hits levels of making-people-look-cool not seen since Josh Hartnett swaggered down that high-school hallway in The Virgin Suicides.
3. Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks – “Lariat” (Dir. Leblanc + Cudmore)
With the video’s levels of extreme free-floating francophone charm, I can almost forgive the fact that a verbose and hyper-referential song called “Lariat” doesn’t even mention Stan “The Lariat” Hansen.
2. Drake – “Worst Behavior” (Dir. Director X & Drake)
Someone needs to sit down with Drake and have a serious talk about letting his doofy friends ruin his music videos with their doofy sub-college improv class comedy skills. That endless, infuriating bit in the middle of the video renders an amazing piece of work practically unwatchable. Without it, it’s a deep and powerful and compelling tribute to Drake’s musical and familial Memphis roots, with bonus Project Pat mean-mugging. With it, who even knows. So let’s dock the video one position, pretend the skit isn’t there, hope someone throws an edited version up on YouTube, and move on.
1. Blood Orange – “Time Will Tell” (Dir. Alan Del Rio Ortiz)
A gauzy one-take showcase for a man whose gawky onscreen charisma nearly matches his ability to craft heartfelt, silky adult contemporary. If that were me, I can’t tell you how many takes I would’ve ruined by falling off the coat rack.