The two highest-profile videos of the week were almost certainly Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and Coldplay’s “Paradise.” I didn’t put either video on this list. I didn’t leave them out because they’re pop videos; I’m absolutely happy to show love to a great pop video. But both of those videos seemed forced, in opposite directions. Coldplay’s clip was all overbearing whimsy, and Rihanna’s video was an absolutely transparent attempt at edginess. Neither one of them had the energy or personality that a great video can bring. Neither one is terrible; it’s just that we had five better videos this week. They’re below.
1. M83 – “Midnight City” (Dir. Fleur & Manu)
Visually, this clip is probably a bit darker and sludgier than it has to be. It does, however, feature superpowerful little kids smashing shit through walls just because they can. Sometimes, it’s just that easy. Fleur & Manu get extra points for giving the video the same sense of cinematic grandeur that the song already had.
2. Beyoncé – “Love On Top” (Dir. Beyoncé & Ed Burke)
This is a simple video, and it doesn’t burst with joy the same way Beyoncé’s near-perfect “Countdown” clip does. But it’s still effortlessly breezy and fun, a calm showcase for a born entertainer who dances better than anyone you know. The world died a little when this type of choreography fell out of fashion.
3. Friends – “I’m His Girl” (Dir. Samantha Urbani & Aurora Halal)
Commenter Brandoch Daha called this one both “intensely annoying” and “pretty good.” I’m pretty sure I like it a whole lot more than he does, but yeah, I get it. The whole video is unapologetically steeped in signifiers of retro downtown hipster cool, starting with that opening shot of a Neneh Cherry Raw Like Sushi cassette lying right next to a ghetto blaster. And yes, star and co-director Samantha Urbani does spend a good chunk of the video carrying the ghetto blaster around on her shoulder in an entirely unnatural manner. Like Kreayshawn’s much-discussed “Gucci Gucci,” the clip radiates a dangerous level of cool-kid self-satisfaction. But like that Kreayshawn video, it also has a blase energy that makes it a whole lot of fun — not in spite of its annoyingness, but because of it, if that makes any sense at all. It has the courage of its convictions.
4. Kendrick Lamar – “Rigamortis” (Dir. the ICU)
I already loved the song, so I was primed to like this. But it’s a whole lot of fun to see the ICU give Kendrick’s early-’90s-style fast-rap workout with a vaguely arty early-’90s-style rap video. If Kendrick wore Tommy Hilfiger in this video, or if he spent a verse rapping while standing near a flaming garbage barrel, it would’ve fit right in.
5. Eugene McGuinness – “Lion” (Dir. Thirtytwo)
Once upon a time, just about every Brit-rock video was as crisp and stylish and fun as this one. And this wasn’t even that long ago; I’m talking about, like, when Franz Ferdinand was popping. I don’t know why those days ended, but this is a cool call-back. I love how McGuinness looks completely unconcerned and unimpressed with the dancers following him around.