A quick word about Flying Lotus’s “Phantasm” video and videos like it: That’s a really good video! Many of the videos like it are good, too! But it’s not on the list this week, and neither are any of those. There’s definitely, absolutely a place for abstract, non-representational music videos, videos about wandering freaky aliens in the desert and invisible mummies being unwrapped by giant fur creatures. But videos like this are rarely my favorites. I cling to the perhaps-antiquated notion that one of the highest purposes a music video can serve is to make its artist look cool, or at least interesting. When said artist doesn’t show up in the video, that can be difficult. The five videos below all star the people who made the songs. They don’t have much in common beyond that, but they do have that. Check them out below.
5. Black Bananas – “Physical Emotions” (Dir. M. Wartella)
What drugs was Jennifer Herrema taking when she was in Royal Trux? And what drugs is she taking now? My guess is that they are very different drugs.
4. Usher – “Good Kisser” (Dir. Christopher Sims)
Anytime Usher is dancing in a music video, there is a very good chance that that music video will appear on this list. Also, I don’t think my whole instant-crush situation with the girl with the freckles has anything to do with the artistic quality of this video, but there it is.
3. 2 Chainz – “Trap Back” (Dir. Alex Nazari)
This is basically the same video as the Lana Del Rey one, except with less elegant Hollywood dessication and more Versace bathrobe-looking things. Both are good, but LDR gets the slight edge there.
2. Lana Del Rey – “West Coast” (Dir. Vincent Haycock)
Plenty of people, I would argue, write better songs than Lana Del Rey, but I don’t think there’s a pop artist working right now who manages her mystique nearly as well. This thing burns with mystique. LDR presents herself as a fictional character and lets you fill in the blanks of her story, and the face of that hollow-cheeked rich guy in the convertible tells at least a couple of stories all by itself.
1. Savages – “Fuckers” (Dir. Giorgio Testi)
If you’re a music-video director, it takes a rare confidence-level to realize that your subjects are way more compelling than anything you could come up with on your own, that your best route is to just point the camera at them and stay the fuck out of the way. But that’s Savages. A single static in-focus camera on Jehnny Beth’s face, for three or four minutes at a time, is worth more than a thousand quick-cuts.