Prince wasn’t a music-video artist the way Michael Jackson and Madonna were. His videos didn’t present grand new visions or introduce whole new artistic periods for the artist. Instead, Prince used music videos to help shape his own mythology, to exert total control over it. There are stories of him obsessively shooting and reshooting his scenes in the “Little Red Corvette” clip, making sure the camera framed his face exactly the way he wanted. And while scenes like the one of him crawling across the floor in “When Doves Cry” are seared into the popular imagination, it’s the moments of pure performance in Prince’s videos, by and large, that resonate the most. Not many artists today understand the mythological power of music videos the way Prince did, but the artist who sits atop this week’s list might. This week’s picks are below.
5. Run The Jewels – “Love Again” (Feat. Gangsta Boo) (Dir. Ninan Doff)
These sexually charged extreme close-up images of giant bugs are disturbing, sure. But they’re way less disturbing than the alternative, which would be images of Killer Mike and El-P having sex.
4. The 1975 – “A Change Of Heart” (Dir. Tim Mattia)
What’s that? You think the 1975 are insufferable? Well, maybe this beautifully shot video about a mime romance will change your mind! Wait, where are you going? Come back!
3. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – “Sai & Co.” (Dir. Hideyuki Tanaka)
It is difficult to make a music video that will give a hardened critic the much-sought-after “what the fuck was that?” reaction. And yet virtually every KPP video gets there. She just keeps coming up with new ways to overload my brain, and I keep coming back.
2. MK & Becky Hill – “Piece Of Me” (Dir. Carlos Lopez Estrada)
OK, so if you can buy the concept that there are two couples in two cars making out with each other, and the two cars are actually the heads of giant car-headed people, and those giant car-headed people are running right at each other, all the logic in this video checks out perfectly.
1. Rihanna – “Needed Me” (Dir. Harmony Korine)
Korine’s Spring Breakers was a masterpiece — a movie recast as pure aural sensation, all these vivid smeared colors piling up on each other as the narrative spun off into pure culture-addled dream-logic. This video is a masterpiece, too, and for the same reasons.