The internet’s favorite target this week was Avril Lavigne’s garish, shrill, quite-possibly-racist “Hello Kitty” video. I didn’t see it until I’d read a bunch of euphorically annoyed online chatter about it, and I honestly expected to really like it, since liking music videos that nobody likes is sort of my thing. But jeez, no, yee. I expected a mess, but I didn’t expect a mess this joyless and tone-deaf and unconsidered. It’s like she decided “Girlfriend,” both the song and the video, was too mannered and subtle to appeal to today’s audiences, and she made adjustments accordingly. So “Hello Kitty” will not be appearing on this week’s list. Instead, five much better videos are below.
5. Duck Sauce – “NRG” (Dir. Dugan O’Neal)
The fake-infomercial trope is about as played-out as music-video conceits get, but the track’s dizzy momentum and A-Trak and Armand Van Helden’s bemused reactions — I’m pretty sure no dance producers have ever been better at appearing on camera than these two — make the whole thing a blast anyway.
4. Neneh Cherry – “Everything” (Dir. Jean-Baptise Mondino)
Neneh Cherry is 50 years old, and she someone managed to summon the energy to vamp that ferociously for the entire length of a seven-minute tracking shot. As a feat of pure human endurance, that’s worth something. Combine it with the audacity to make a music video that way, the confidence to actually hold attention for that long, and the vivid stark-white design sensibility, and still this doesn’t get any higher than #4. There were a lot of good videos this week.
3. Kool A.D. – “Tight” (Feat. Lakutis & Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire) (Dir. Slack Barrett)
Shout out to Barrett for realizing that, when you’re working with three of the most weirdly charismatic rappers in the internet underground, you don’t need much more than a blank background and a steady editing hand. Lakutis makes the best faces.
2. Tobacco – “Streaker” (NSFW) (Dir. Eric Wareheim)
In his past music videos — and, really, his comedy career — Eric Wareheim has specialized in a bizarre Lynchian dementia that threatens to slide into abject terror at any given moment. But apparently when he goes for total nightmare-fuel and nothing else, we end up with something like this. Make sure your brain is adequately prepared for an acid bath before you hit play.
1. The Menzingers – “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” (Dir. Whitey McConnaughy)
We usually don’t get to see Jason Vorhees show much emotion beyond the quizzical-puppy head-tilt he sometimes does before impaling a face on a machete. (For the purposes of this excercise, let’s all pretend that 1984’s Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter, wherein Corey Feldman somehow found ways to mentally torture Jason, never happened.) So the idea of Jason getting social-media rejected and teaching himself self-esteem make for a simple, brilliant comedic premise, the type of thing I can’t believe I’ve never seen anyone attempt before.