This week’s music-video MVP was whoever was responsible for researching New York signage in Kindness’s “Cyan” video. That must’ve taken a lot of work! As good as that video was, though, it couldn’t make it onto this week’s list. There’s just too much great stuff out there. Let’s get cracking.
1. Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks – “Senator” (Dir. Scott Jacobson)
A whole lot of alt-comedy types have been making the leap into indie rock music videos lately. Director Tom Scharpling is the boss of that, and nobody has yet attempted to top his berserker cameo-parade in the New Pornographers’ “Moves” video. But Daily Show writer Scott Jacobson still landed an often-unbearable movie star (Jack Black) and an always-funny character actor (Gary Cole) for this video. More than that, he got great performances out of everyone involved and managed to craft a wordless character-study of a deeply fucked up individual. Jack Black, it turns out, is a lot easier to deal with when you can’t hear him screaming.
2. Nas – “Nasty” (Dir. Goldwatch)
It’s easy to make fun of the product placement in this one, but if Def Jam wasn’t going to foot the bill, I’m glad somebody did. I’m also glad Nas just said fuck it and made a hard video for a hard song. No need to overthink something like this. Also: It looks like it’s fun to be Nas.
3. Dirty Beaches – “Lone Runner” (Dir. Kevin Luna)
A dark, scuzzy song gets a dark, scuzzy video. The single-shot clip works because it tells a story without narrative, with new visual clues popping up throughout to let us know exactly what terrible things have gone on in this apartment. The final reveal is a real gut-kick. The girl in the video, it should be noted, is pretty terrible at packing a suitcase. Who packs loose playing cards? And you just know she didn’t make sure the cap was securely on that bottle.
4. Eminem, Slaughterhouse & Yelawolf – “BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher” (Dir. ?)
I told you guys: Dudes rapping in warehouses. It always gets me. The best reason to watch the BET Hip-Hop Awards every year is the great Cypher tradition, in which the channel throws together a bunch of random-ass rappers and has them rap as hard as possible. Many of this year’s cyphers were too random (Lady Of Rage and Blind Fury? Whuh?) and we didn’t get anything as transcendent as the 2008 Jadakiss/Fabolous/Juelz Santana/Ace Hood throwdown. But it sure was fun to watch Em and his latest roster of charges go all punchliney over the classic East Flatbush Project “Tried By 12″ beat. Hi Rihanna.
5. Kimya Dawson – “Driving Driving Driving” (Dir. Aesop Rock)
Dawson’s song about being afraid of world ending hits a lot harder when it soundtracks a video of her sweetly crafting with her daughter, building one of those paper mache volcanos that kids continue to love. It’s sweet and sad at the same time, and it’s the sort of thing that becomes ferociously identifiable when you have kids. Also: Aesop Rock directed this? What the fuck?