The Gummy Awards: Your Top 10 Music Videos Of 2011

The Gummy Awards rollout continues today with Your Top 10 Music Videos Of 2011, and while there’s not a lot of surprises here, it’s a strong list capped by a beyond-worthy champion. There’s a little overlap with yesterday’s Top 10 Tracks list, but not a lot, and if you have any reason to complain than maybe you should have done more about it, huh? We’re definitely glad one video featuring a lone, quirky dancer beat the other video featuring a lone, quirky dancer (NO SPOILERS) but maybe we’ve said too much already. Check out Your Top 10 Music Videos Of 2011 down below.

10. Radiohead – “Lotus Flower” (Dir. Garth Jennings)

9. Duck Sauce – “Big Bad Wolf” (Dir. Keith Schofield)

8. Fleet Foxes – “The Shrine/An Argument” (Dir. Sean Pecknold)

7. Youth Lagoon – “Montana” (Dir. Tyler T. Williams)

6. St. Vincent – “Cruel” (Dir. Terri Timely)

5. Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”

4. M83 – “Midnight City (Dirs. Fleur & Manu)

3. Bon Iver – “Holocene” (Dir. Nabil Elderkin)

2. Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers” (Dir. Tyler, The Creator)

1. Beyoncé – “Countdown” (Dir. Adria Petty)

A copy and paste-able recap:
10. Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”
09. Duck Sauce – “Big Bad Wolf”
08. Fleet Foxes – “The Shrine/An Argument”
07. Youth Lagoon – “Montana”
06. St. Vincent – “Cruel”
05. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”
04. M83 – “Midnight City”
03. Bon Iver – “Holocene”
02. Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers”
01. Beyoncé – “Countdown”

Make sure to check back in on our list of 2011′s 50 Best Albums, if only for the sake of comparison.

Comments (80)
  1. Aside from a couple, this would make a decent selection of songs regardless of the videos. I found it hard to choose between the Holocene and Big Bad Wolf vids. Holocene is clearly the better video by most aesthetic standards, but I plumped for Duck Sauce in the end, simply for the pure joy it brought me and my mates. For the same reason I voted Azealia Bank’s 212 track as best song.

  2. Army Navy has a really great video for Ode to Janice Melt.

    And pretty much anything Tom Scharpling is involved with is pretty good.

  3. This list is most good. Most good.

  4. I’m kind of sad that Cloud Nothings “Should Have” didn’t make the cut, but then again the general consensus opinion hasn’t appeared to satisfy my tastes yet. MAJORITY RULES!

  5. Weird. 311′s “Come Original” isn’t on this list either.

  6. I only saw TV On the Radio’s video for “You” after the voting closed, but that is probably my favorite video of the year now. Really funny.

  7. So I’m going to keep complaining about the lack of any Handsome Furs. Their “Serve The People” video was flawless.

  8. Not to say it deserves to be in the top 10, but I’m surprised that Gauntlet Hair’s “Top Bunk” video hasn’t been mentioned on this site (unless there is an anti-Schwarzenegger agenda I am unaware of).

  9. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Probably made the list because it was voted on by readers, and not the editors of the site. And also because it’s a beautiful, incredible video. Speaking of pretentious, you tried to impress everyone by showing you knew more about Stereogum’s pick and the video than everyone else, but you knew less. Great Ironic comment!

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • I comprehended the part where you suggested that a lack of understanding = pretentiousness. Which is inaccurate, especially when discussing an expressionist video with a bit of a surrealist story about a caribou (?) Understanding is irrelevant – the video is gorgeous. It has nothing to do with pretension.

          Anyways, that Manchester Orch video is supercool. It is objectively way better than the Black Keys video.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • I understand 100% what you said. And 100% of what you said is incorrect. Objectively. This time ‘seriously objectively’ you are wrong. A lack of understanding has absolutely zero to do with appreciation. Are you saying all of Jazz is pretentious because there’s no “Story?” I don’t understand the statement Coltrane makes on A Love Supreme. Musically, however I understand how it is beautiful and complex and how he approaches soloing over the changes. What on earth does the story matter?

            In the case of the Fleet Foxes, you can appreciate the video without understanding the story it tells. And that isn’t pretentious at all. And just because some stupid things are masked by high levels of style doesn’t mean ALL things with style are stupid.

            I’m not going to explain to you what is impressive about it because that’s a waste of my time – I know you don’t like it. But for you to accuse other people of fake-liking it is just a really douchey thing to do. “I can’t explain why I would like this, and since nobody is spoon-feeding it to me, it means they’re all pretentious. The story should be more obvious.” Douche-chill.

    • Also, pretentious use of comma in the last sentence there. Sorry, I’m a stickler for grammar.

    • There are lots of very pretty colors for me to look at.

      There. How’s that for an explanation?

    • Kolya, whilst your crusade for truth is noble, I think that style is not always a vehicle for delivering content, but, sometimes, it is the content itself. This is not pretentious if it is self-aware. Pretension in this case would be overreaching, or gesturing towards content you do not actually deliver, which you are assuming this video has done. In fact it has no ambitions of narrative, or deeper concrete signification; and that should be enough. Although everything has some meaning to somebody, that meaning can validly be a denial of, or an attempt to avoid, concrete / narrative / traditional / moral “meaning”.

      Also I think it is perfectly possible to like things that you don’t understand without it being “pretentious”. People like things for different reasons.

      • You’re mostly right. I think the video gestures toward hidden content, because it is is full of symbols, from start to finish. Their meaning however is never cleared up. Going by that, I asked if someone could decipher its meaning. Apparently no one can.
        From there on we draw different conclusions: You (incl. most people here apparenly) think there is no meaning, no story behind it and the video stands by itself as a decorative or impressionist piece of art.
        I think that the use of symbols contradicts that take. If I were to draw the number 666 very prettily on a piece of paper you still wouldn’t assume I just did it for the nice looks. Similarly the symbols used in this video have had a meaning well before this was made.
        - Conjoined snakes (eternity)
        - A devil inside another being (possession)
        - Eye connection with an owl (wisdom)
        - Licking a head on a stake (loss)
        And so on. I don’t know what meaning they are supposed to form together. Neither do you. I would like to know the meaning. You draw the conclusion that there cannot be any meaning, because you cannot see any.
        So it would seem that most people here are not just intellectually lazy, but also too bloody bigheaded to even consider the possibility that there might be something they overlooked. And so my question for the meaning becomes an insult to these people. And rightfully so.

  10. I have no sound on my computer right now because my IT department is LAZY. Anyways, watching these videos, most of which I’ve already seen before, here’s how the rate sound-free:

    10 – Black Keys – BORING. A dude dances. Well without the song, who even cares. with the song this is just a Spike Jonze ripoff. And it’s a dumb inferior rip off. BOOOURNS.

    9 – Youth Lagoon – BORING. Nothing else to say. Boring video. Needs music.

    8 – Radiohead – Same as #10, except it’s Thom Yorke and his face is fascinating, and someone put time and thought into the lighting and filming I mean it’s SO much better than the Black Keys video. You guys are dumb for voting for that video, BTW.

    7 – Tyler, the Creator – he doesn’t even eat that bug, yo. If he actually ate the bug this video might be #1. But he didn’t So who gives a fuck. Goes well with the song though. Too bad I can’t hear it. Lame.

    6 – Duck Sauce – Heads for Wangs. Funny for a second. Then lame. Wonder what it sounds like with the music.

    5 – St Vincent – Great a literal video I love those. Well, anyways, at least there’s a story to watch that makes sense without the song.

    4 – M83 – COOL VIDEO. not the coolest video, but cool enough. Sound not needed.

    3 – Bon Iver – COOLER VIDEO. I’ve been to a glacier before, and this video reminded me of being there, and its pretty cool and it doesn’t need any accompaniment.

    2 – Fleet Foxes – Stop Motion gives me wood every time. If you don’t appreciate how much work goes into making it, at the very least you have to accept that the effect is otherworldly and always hyper-realistic and whatever. You need to try getting boners more. Awesome video.

    1 – Beyonce – I generally watch Beyonce with the sound off anyways.

    • Lists are bumming me out, man.

      • The only productive way to deal with lists is to make fun of lists using lists. It’s the djfreshie way!

        • This year more than ever for me, “Listmas” has become a lot like Christmas, in which the over-saturation of the event has resulting in feelings of contempt and a need for detachment with it. But still — we’re forced to celebrate it.

          • The best gift of all is the gift of learning that making numerical lists that categorize the importance, cultural or otherwise, of some art over other art is very unsatisfying and doesn’t benefit everyone. All these lists really are is just whoever’s “My favourite albums of 2011.”

            Ranking them is fine on a personal level, but like, just because there’s a consensus that a certain work is really enjoyable doesn’t make it more important or relevant to the times than anyone else’s work.

            The lists are populated by pop artists whose intention is to make people feel good and dance or whatever along with bands who mainly just want to make “cool sounds” and artists who express what’s deep in their soul. it’s as dumb to compare them as it is to compare a Pixar film to a Lars von Trier film.

          • djfreshie, I’m glad you’re one of the few voices of reasonable criticism around here that can see that looking at a song, album, video or a list objectively doesn’t make you the bad guy, the Grinch of Listmas. Willing to say the truth even if it’s not always favorable is an admirable trait.

          • Well 95% of the time I’m just here to either laugh or make a funny. But I do also have opinions that I think are totally reasonable, and in some cases factually accurate that aren’t really up for debate but are somehow super controversial. Like for example:

            1) Jimi Hendrix is not the best guitarist of all time. I mean, you can’t even measure “best of all time” but even if you could, guess what: he’s not on the list.
            2) Complaining about someone’s “favourite things” list is a waste of time. Which is why if Rolling Stone had just called their list “our favourite guitarists ever” I wouldn’t give a shit about #1. Just read the list, maybe suggest someone you thought was worthy. End of discussion. No need to debate a list that is clearly a favourite thing list.
            3) Pretentious is a specific word that means a specific thing that everyone gets wrong, almost always ironically to the point where they themselves are being pretentious due to its misuse, and their attempt to brand themselves superior in the process.
            4) Lana Del Ray can both be a garbage musician and also may have released a song that is quite beautiful – those two things can coexist.
            5) John Maus can both have released a good record but also be a garbage performer. Those two things can coexist.
            6) The Strokes did not influence everyone.

            And other things.

          • I know this isn’t really the best place for this, but if the greatness of a guitar player was somehow quantifiable and ranked into a list, Jimi Hendrix wouldn’t be on it? And that is factually accurate and not up for debate?
            My approach isn’t hostile, here, but I can see that statement being somehow super controversial because it’s debatable on a wholesale level.

          • No you’re right it’s totally debatable – nobody really tries very hard to explain why Jimi Hendrix is better than the millions of guitar players since the 17th century because they don’t actually know anything on the subject or care to find out. This is the funnest thing of being on the internet – the surplus of “experts” who don’t have any information to offer.

            So I suppose it’s super controversial in that someone with a passing knowledge of popular culture would find it controversial whereas most of the guitarists I know would probably agree with me that there are better players out there.

          • But of course that opinion is totally not something I can safely stand behind…it’s more that I’m comfortable that it’s at the very least a pretty reasonable thing to say “A guy was not as good as people who don’t really know and can’t explain about seem to think he was”

          • Apologies for the length.

            Ok. I mean, I get the web comment section idea of “shoot first…”, but you are using some bold language. You’ve admitted to not being able to stand behind the statement despite originally claiming it to be factually accurate (I’m not using quotation marks here because, I get it,) but man oh man I couldn’t disagree more.
            So it depends on the assigned parameters of what makes a “great guitarist.” If the qualification is simply whether or not there are better players out there, you’re absolutely right, he isn’t the greatest. But you’re a musician and guitar player, so I can’t accept that to be your sole gauge.
            Let’s assume the measures of the Rolling Stone selections:
            - Ability
            - Songwriting
            - Influence
            - X-Factor
            This breakdown allows for Cobain, because his Influence and Songwriting percentages would be so elevated, whereas a Randy Rhoads, while having strong songwriting and influence, ranks higher in Ability and X-Factor.
            Your notion of a player being “not as good as people who don’t really know” is justifiable to a guy like Kirk Hammett, who among guitar players is universally accepted as a wretched player, but helped write some great songs.
            If I were to assign percentages to Hendrix, each option would be off-the-charts.

            Hendrix the “musician” is burdened with a lot of lame clichés (ex: the guitar was an extension his body), but they actually do apply. He did play through the instrument. Is it genius? Probably?
            If you think about guys like Oscar Peterson or Keith Jarrett, one thread is how they sing what they’re playing. It’s hearing notes in your head and being able to articulate sound via strings and wood without thought. Hendrix did that; he looked at the neck and in his head knew the sound that could be expected from each fret. Listen to “Machine Gun” from the live Band of Gypsys; the idea of playing a 13 minute instrumental that evokes participating in the Vietnam War may now seem preposterous, but holy hell does he pull it off.

            He was a virtuoso that people don’t think of as being a virtuoso. He made a Bob Dylan song so famous that many think it is his own. Any time a band destroys their instruments it is traced back to him. Any time someone hacks their way through an electric guitar-ified national anthem, that’s Hendrix. He flipped the instrument, both literally and figuratively, and did things that had never been done before, and in a lot of ways haven’t been done as well since. And he did pretty much all of that over a mere 4 years.

          • No worries I don’t have a short attention span, and you’re the first person to ever bring something to the table.

            Anyways, I would stop you at the first criteria – though I’ve no doubt that is something Rolling Stones uses to base their choice on, but Songwriting absolutely should not be a measure of how good a guitar player is. For one, judging songwriting is a very subjective thing – and also for Hendrix wouldn’t be off the charts since his success stems quite significantly from his use of covers, as you mention.

            His playing is legendary, but I find it hard to fathom that Hendrix was the only soul capable of playing the guitar as an extension of his body. I doubt that any players would admit to not really making an effort to use the instrument as an expression of their physical being.

            I have no doubt that he is a great, iconic player. I’ve never spoken an ill word of Jimi Hendrix in my life. But let me ask you this: Why would Jimi Hendrix rate higher than the following guitarists:

            Andres Segovia
            Lenny Breau
            Paco de Lucia
            Django Reinhardt
            Kazuhito Yamashita
            Chet Atkins
            Charlie Christian
            Wes Montgomery
            Pat Metheny
            Al Di Meola
            John McLaughlin

            Even using the rolling stones’ criteria, these are heavy hitters in terms of Influence, songwriting ability (I mean, Pat Metheny writes some absolutely incredible complicated and beautiful compositions, as do Mclaughlin and Di Meola) And so really the only area these guys fall short is the “Cool factor.” They don’t play styles that are popular, and thus don’t resonate with teenagers. But resonating with teenagers and inspiring them to pick up guitars isn’t, in my mind, a determining factor for being a great guitar player.

            tl dr.

          • The only reason I used All Along the Watchtower as an example was to provide gravity with a connection to arguably the greatest singer-songwriter of all time. His own song credits are just as, if not more impressive (Hey Joe, Voodoo Chile, Foxy Lady, Are you Experienced?, Purple Haze.) I think a high percentage of artists would be pleased to release a 5 song greatest hits record that strong.
            But as explained, you could draw value from several areas of musicianship to gauge the “value” of each player. So while songwriting doesn’t need to be crucial, it certainly should play a part. I mean, Derek Trucks is on that list and Steve Vai isn’t, which to me is absolutely appalling. And Vai isn’t particularly known for his songwriting, so I don’t totally disagree with you.

            The concession, in the end, is taste. Yes, there are players who used an instrument as extension, I just think Hendrix did it a lot better. And that partnered with what I’ve previously said plays into your list of other guitarists (I’m unfamiliar with Yamashita and Christian.)
            They’re all tremendous talents. Total specialists. But I do give value to the gift of taking a specialized skill and turning it into something universal. Are they victims of style or era? Sure, some of them. Did they revolutionize the guitar? Yes, in some kind of way they all probably did.
            I mean, Friday Night in San Francisco is a terrifying listen, right? But it’s very specific. Not to say the entire careers of de Lucia, Di Meola, and McLaughlan should be measured against that live record, but their 3 careers combined don’t come close to the importance or influence of Hendrix (with no disrespect.)

            So in my mind, resonating with teenagers and inspiring them to pick up a guitar is a side effect of Hendrix’s greatness. Kids still want to do dive-bombs and copy the wah’d intro to Voodoo Chile, forty years later. And those things don’t even scratch the surface of what he brought to the game.

            I have personal choices and influences who are more significant to me, but I have to give it up for Jimi Hendrix.
            Taste becomes our divide.

          • I think you’re right, that taste is really one of the drivers of music, and art in general.

            But I think, personally, when we speak of art and “best” or influential, to me including the artist in the discussion means we have to focus on discipline and talent. The “best” thing is the one that can accomplish the most complex things, with precision and nuance.

            On the other hand, when we talk about the “best art” absolutely taste is relevant. That is if I were investing time in determining the most important guitar-centric music of the past 200 years, Hendrix in that case would make the cut if not top the list. Because the argument that resonates with me is that his music affected a generation of listeners, and players, and altered the direction of music.

            BUT, I think that doesn’t make him the best guitar player. It just means he created some of the most important works of art.

            As an analogy, I could look at painters and say that Picasso may be the most important artist of the last half-millenium. His works deviated so far from the rest that, like Hendrix, influenced the modern era to such an extent that can’t be ignored. But compared to the virtuosic talent of Rembrandt or David, I find it hard to say “Picasso was the greatest painter” because he probably wasn’t. I’m not an expert on painting, so I wouldn’t say either way, but you know what I mean? Being important, and being good at an instrument are not necessarily the same thing.

          • Again, it’s complicated because it depends on how you personally define the skill of a player. The Hendrix trademark is definitely a wild, mutated blues/funk/rock hybrid, but he did come from a session background. He’s no slouch with the instrument. Little Wing is a pretty accomplished piece and showcases some of the open chord progressions he was known for.
            He was both important and good with the instrument.

            While we’re defending the uncool, I previously mentioned Vai, who to me is probably the most impressive and technically gifted human to ever pick up the instrument. Have you seen the live version of Tender Surrender? ( I mean, if you can get beyond his “never relevant in any era suit”, the hip swivels, puckers, hair obsession, and general aspect of Vai as a mystical hoodoo voodoo Lydian legato machine (it’s a lot, I know), this thing has moments that are jaw-dropping and still flips my wig so many years later.
            But it still brings me back to the combo-deal; Hendrix is a tasty, creative player, wrote some classic songs, was “cool”, and revolutionized the electric guitar.

            Interestingly I, too, independently thought of the painter analogy, and the one you presented is bulletproof.

            It’s a pushover choice, because we do fundamentally agree that creating this kind of list is a mug’s game. But if forced, for me it’s like, fine, Hendrix.

          • Oh man, that Steve Vai video. And yeah, he’s good. And it’s just so so so lame and cheesy. But I’ll bet if we took a trip in the wayback machine, We see Paganini brush his hair back in the middle of a solo, or Rachmaninoff making a big deal of his Piano Whammy Bar (if only.) It’s hard to ignore when people seem like super arrogant sons of bitches. But then, if we we making a list of best bassists, I don’t know who would ignore Jaco who was a big ginormous lame-o asshole too. And played a lot of really cheesy stuff. But was ridiculously talented. And then how do you compare someone with that talent to let’s say Ron Carter?

            (FYI, rolling stone’s list of the best bassists, which I just consulted out of interest has Jaco and Les Claypool beneath Paul McCartney and Flea. So like…what? Rolling Stone you be just trollin’.

          • That’s the beauty of Vai: he’s so outrageously cheesy in that “you go girl” kind of way and I love him for it. It adds to it all. If he was the exact same player but dressed like say, Lenny Kravitz, it would all kind of stink, wouldn’t it? The costume aspect of it is without a doubt a conscious decision, because he doesn’t dress like that offstage. Flashy and ridiculous outfits with flashy and ridiculous music.
            Malmsteen is the same: total doofus, arrogant, costume-y (openly credits Paganini influence) and absolutely rips. He has tremendous tone, great vibrato, and singlehandedly pioneered neo-classical shred (understanding Ritchie Blackmore’s role,) and he’s not on that list (I don’t think. It’s impossible to quickly navigate the stupid RS site article quickly) but Peter Greene is? Stupid.

          • I think we both generally agree that making lists of “greatest” or “best” anything can only be hyperbolic and inaccurate. Not to say that making lists is bad – I LOVE making lists. But the way you define a list is key – if you say these are “The Best” you can’t really back that up.

            But if you say “Most influential on modern music culture,” or “Must nuanced metal guitarist” or “Greatest Leather Jacket” – those are also things you can’t measure, but which you can back up a little bit better with rationalizing.

            Its probably just easier to digest them if you read them as “My favourite guitarists” or “So-and-so-magazine’s favourite records of 2011″ because then there’s no argument. It’s your favourite. I get that. If you bring “Best” into the subject you are asking for trouble. And page views I guess.

            Well, there we go I guess. I’m the sucker these lists are intended for :(

    • if you watch beyonce with the sound off, i genuinely feel bad for you because you are missing out on some really good tunes. 1+1, anyone? Countdown?? I Miss you? I Care?? Party???? Come on man get your head out of your ass

    • Fun Fact: Suggestion in #2 is very applicable to the artist in #1 sans stop motion

      Funner Fact: Duck Sauce is contemplating a name change to Duck Butter after making that video. (More like gross, disgusting fact? ((Yes)))

  11. duck sauce got the shaft. i mean, come on – heads for wangs. everything else pales in comparison. numero uno in my book.

    unrelated: mayer hawthorne’s “a long time” was pretty sweet, too.

  12. The most under appreciated video of the year is the National’s video for “Conversation 16.” It’s hilarious!

  13. “Holocene” and “Lonely Boy” are great songs but…both videos are boring. “Montana” is incredible though.

  14. i can’t get “me and my boo and my boo boo riding” from countdown out of my head. damn it, beyoncé.

  15. In hindsight, I guess it isn’t that great of a video.

    But James Blake’s video for “Lindesfarne” actually made me like that song in retrospect. That’s usually a good sign for a music video in my books.

  16. “People still watch music videos??? Why is Stereogum wasting our time with this list??”

    -An Asshole

    • “EEEEEERrrrrrrrpppppphphhhhhhhhhffffffffffff” – My asshole

      • Sounds like you got a case of squeaky-asshole DT. Mine are more like putt-putt-putt-putt-putt-putt-putt ppppppprrrrrraaaaaaahhhhp, so I don’t know what’s going on there. Kind of sounds like a machine gun then blasts off at the end.

        I think my butt-trumpet needs maintenance.

  17. This is actually a pretty good list.

  18. Yay Tyler the Creator with his shirt off! Even cooler when only one side of his body is in focus!

  19. does anyone else just not watch music videos? i feel like once i’ve heard a song, adding visuals alongside it isn’t really going to do anything more for me

    • “dan dollar get it dirty / make it rain dollars like the last name / dan like your uncle’s name / maimed, what dollar does to lames / brains, what bitches do to dan” (pronounced “Dane”)

      Be easy,
      D. Till.

  20. I love the Youth Lagoon and M83 videos. They are so good.

  21. has no one seen Mister Heavenly’s “Bronx Sniper”? best video of the year.


  23. No Friday?????

  24. Yup not only is music dead so is the music video. If that confused and shoddily produced offense to the visual cortex from Beyonce is supposed to be the best video of 2011 I think you should all be looking forward to the coming apocalypse, trust me it could not possibly be any more horrific and a good deal more creative talent will go into it.

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