This was certainly an eventful week in the music-video universe, though not entirely for good reasons. The thing that sucked up all the oxygen in the room was Kanye West’s “Famous,” billed as a music video even though it’s functionally just a vast publicity stunt that only nominally features music. Other than the Friday night what-the-fuck-is-happening feeling that West almost certainly intended to provoke, I got nothing out of “Famous.” It’s craven and exploitative and shitty and ugly, and it’s the type of thing that makes it harder for those of us who love West to defend him. He was just making a point about the nature of fame, he says. But that whole territory is pretty well-explored at this point, isn’t it? Is there anything even left to say? And if there is, does this video say it? Something like Jamie xx’s new “Gosh,” which missed the cutoff for this week’s list, evokes that same confusion, but it does it in a way that serves and builds the song, and in a way that doesn’t leave us with that nasty feeling that you just watched something that shouldn’t exist. Thankfully, there were plenty of no-qualifiers-necessary great music videos this week. Five of them are below.
5. The Strokes – “Threat Of Joy” (Dir. Warren Fu)
When was the last time you saw the Strokes having this much fun? I’m pretty sure it’s been years. This is further evidence in support of my hypothesis that more videos should remind us of They Live.
4. Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me” (Dir. Angel Olsen)
Angel Olsen doesn’t need anybody’s help to make her look like the coolest human being on the planet. I hope she never takes off the silver wig. I hope she turns it into her Sia wig, or her Gwar costume.
3. Schoolboy Q – “By Any Means: Part (1)” (Dir. Jake Begert & Dave Free)
This one could be accused of being overlong and indulgent, but I love its loose, naturalistic, shaggy-dog quality. An actual storyline does develop at the very end — and then continues into the also-good “Tookie Knows II” video — but I like how nothing really happens in those first six minutes. It reminds me of Richard Linklater’s Slacker, but in a very different setting.
2. Blood Orange – “Augustine” (Dir. Dev Hynes)
Dev Hynes has a way of making summertime New York look like an absolute dreamworld. And if you’re having the right kind of day there, that’s exactly what it can be.
1. AJJ – “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” (Dir. Joe Stakun)
Look, it’s cheap, I know. But the whole idea of “OK Go video, except unbelievably shitty, with accompanying really shitty making-of featurette” is just pure comedy gold. This wrecked me.