This was not the week to release a halfassed music video. This was the week when a whole lot of people, from microbudget indie nobodies to massive stars, worked hard on giving us something. Even the terrible videos, like the absurd and garish Madonna football-themed car-wreck “Give Me All Your Luvin’” were the product of a whole ton of obvious work. I had to leave some very good videos off this list, and everything below is well worth your eyeball-time. And that goes triple for this week’s #1 pick, a badass iconic clip from an artist who too many of us had written off. Check out the list below.
5. Schoolboy Q – “Nightmare On Figg St.” (Dir. Jerome D)
This is how you do a low-budget rap video: Ominous lighting, broken-glass-in-alleyways ambiance, and a ferociously charismatic performance from your star. And that little kid, brandishing one of those toy baseball bats that you used to get free at the ballpark on certain nights, is just too awesome for words.
4. The Darkness – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” (Dir. Thom Lessner & Ted Passion)
For a rock band who relies hard on classic-rock-superhero poses, this is just about the perfect video. It doesn’t show the band itself, who could never live up to the image they’ve crafted. It shows them through the eyes of a little kid who worships them, doodling about them in the margins of his homework, and then it turns those doodles into absurdist cartoons. Also: Arms turning into guitars!
3. Shabazz Palaces – “Are You… Can You… Were You? (Felt)” (Dir. Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes)
This is like one of those great heartbreaking indie movies about family and heritage and adjustment and the divisions between generations and race and springtime, except it’s only six minutes long and it doesn’t have any dialogue. Nicely done all around.
2. Die Antwoord – “I Fink U Freeky” (Dir. Roger Ballen & Ninja)
If Die Antwoord videos have taught me anything, it’s this: People in South Africa have some severely fucked-up faces. This group gets bagged-on a lot now that everyone knows they’re a conceptual art-school stunt rather than some true expression of a mysteriously zonked-out culture, but that art-school pedigree sure does serve them well when they’re making videos. And this video, one that renders mud-caked squalor as pure attraction, is yet another example of a demented but fully-developed visual sensibility.
1. M.I.A. – “Bad Girls” (Dir. Romain Gavras)
It’s oddly reassuring that M.I.A. can just swoop in and reclaim her coolest-person-on-Earth anytime she feels like it. I was worried for a minute there.