This past weekend’s YouTube Music Awards presented an interesting conundrum for this column. The show labeled its performances as “live music videos,” and pulled in big-name directors to help put them together. But they were pretty much still performances, except with extra stuff going on. Unfortunately, the YouTube people made the mystifying decision to keep the individual performances from going up online, so it was practically a moot point. I couldn’t sit through that whole trainwreck, and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do it, either. But there was one prominent exception, and it’s below, as are four regular (and very good) music videos.
5. Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band – “Bad Dancer” (Dir. Ben Dickinson)
Parade-of-celebs videos like this one usually come off as stiff, shallow exercises, but this one was a lot of fun — possibly because everyone involved for-real admires Yoko Ono, and possibly because they were all instructed to be as goofy as possible. The graying surviving Beastie Boys were are particular treat; the King Ad-Rock should get a chance to mug in every music video. Also, Heems has a good time revealing that he is not, in fact, a bad dancer. Ira Glass can fuck the fuck off, though.
4. Albert Hammond, Jr. – “Carnal Cruise” (Dir. Laurent Briet)
Discussion topic: The worst-looking Stroke is better-looking than the worst-looking Backstreet Boy or ‘N Sync member, especially when said Stroke is shrouded in pink smoke. Shrouded-in-pink-smoke is a good look for our boy.
3. A$AP Rocky – “Angels” (Dir. A$AP Rocky & Luke Monaghan)
The day Bill de Blasio was was elected mayor of New York City, Matt Drudge tweeted that the city would soon look like a scene from The Warriors. And fuck, I hope so! If that happens, I’m moving back there! Credit A$AP Rocky with getting a headstart on it and picking out a Warriors-esque uniform for A$AP Mob. If the actual Warriors encountered these guys, though, I don’t think they’d have much trouble bopping their way past them. They’d just need to put sticks in their spokes, and they’d be back on the subway to Coney in no time.
2. Rick Ross – “No Games” (Feat. Future) (Dir. Colin Tilley)
God bless Ross for keeping the big, dumb image-overdrive rap video alive. Someone had to.
1. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife (YouTube Music Awards version)” (Dir. Spike Jonze)
Suggested course of action: (1) See Frances Ha. (2) Watch this video. (3) Formulate an alternate-universe mental narrative where this video is the best possible happy ending for Greta Gerwig’s character. You’ll feel better afterwards, I promise.