Increasingly, this is a weird column to write, since the list of things that fall under “music video” parameters includes big-budget extravaganzas, weird little no-money larks, clips of people’s kids, stitched-together performance footage, barely-disguised product-placement commercials, and bits of barely-edited stock footage. Since all of these things can be pretty great on their own terms but none of them have that much to do with each other, I’m seriously considering adding late-night TV performances and camera-phone show footage to the list, because it’s all really the same thing, right? What’s the difference between Death Grips taping cameras to their heads and their audience members potentially doing the same thing? Anyway. I didn’t do that this week, and the list is all over the place anyway. Check out the picks below.
5. The Thermals – “Born To Kill” (Dir. The Thermals)
Effective, weirdly polemic low-budget filmmaking that riffs on some fucked-up American political conversations without actually saying anything about them. But the real reason this one goes on the list is Hutch Harris’s utterly convincing performance as a crazy-eyes zealot. If he ever decides that the whole punk rock thing isn’t working out anymore, someone should give him work as a killer-of-the-week on Law & Order.
4. Sigur Rós – “Brennisteinn” (Dir. Andrew Huang)
The epic nonsense about mud and guts and gold-piles is fun and grand and absurd, and I can’t really make any sense of it at all. But my favorite thing about this video is the quick, blurry footage of Sigur Rós rocking the fuck out in a way I’ve never seen them do before. If this video tells the truth, these guys are capable of full-body headbangs while playing guitar with bows, which should make their forthcoming tour a whole lot of fun.
3. Kvelertak – “Månelyst” (NSFW) (Dir. Fredrik Hana)
For the first 30 seconds or so of this video, I was trying to figure out what the demons and the zombies and the blood-drenched final girl had to do with each other. I was already on board then, but when I figured out that nothing had anything to do with anything else, that this was just a disorienting barrage of horror-movie bloodletting of every conceivable flight, this thing really took off. Hana just completely eliminated every bit of nuance or character-building from every horror movie and just left a few seconds of carnage intact, and that’s awesome.
2. Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away” (Dir. Don Argott)
Maybe not a proper music video, but fuck it. This is some real dad shit right here, and speaking as an actual dad, it’s a total heart-melter.
1. Django Django – “WOR” (Dir. Jim Demuth)
Another one that doesn’t quite fit the old definitions of “music video,” it’s more a straight-up documentary short that uses the song’s springy tension and edit-beats. This one shows a group of absolute bad-motherfucker stunt drivers in the Indian city of Allahbad, giving them a chance to give dead-eyed speeches about how we all die before executing mesmerizing, impossible, kill-yourself stunts in a goddam carnival. Someone please build an Ong-Bak-style action movie around these guys immediately.