Straight To Video

The 5 Best Videos Of The Week

This past Sunday, MTV aired its annual Video Music Awards. I didn’t watch the show. Neither, probably, did you. Game Of Thrones absolutely fucking annihilated the show in the ratings, proving conclusively that people care more about zombie ice dragons than they do about music videos. (I am among those people. I watched Game Of Thrones.) But the Game Of Thrones season is over now, and if you still feel like watching music videos, we’ve got five good ones. This week’s picks are below.

5. Alex Cameron – “Runnin’ Outta Luck” (Dir. Nick MacMahon)

Nothing really happens in this video, but if you’re in the business of making videos, you should study it anyway. Because honesty, all you need is some smart and careful camera placement, some half-decent editing, and a compelling-enough subject. That’s it. That’s all you need. Stop making scratchy hand-drawn cartoons and lo-fi psychedelic experimental films and shit. Just make something that’s fun to watch.

4. Mastodon – “Steambreather” (Dir. Essy May & Stevie Gee)

When I was in high school, we once had to go to an assembly about the dangers of joining cults. If it had existed back then, they could’ve just shown this video instead.

3. St. Vincent – “New York” (Dir. Alex Da Corte)

I like how, even in an expensive and meticulously art-directed music video, Annie Clark still took the time to spin the Astor Place cube like she was a stoned, bored NYU freshman.

2. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – “Over Everything” (Dir. Danny Cohen)

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile both have great faces, and the idea of the two of them lip-syncing each other’s lyrics is cute. But this one is this high on the list mostly for that clean, gorgeous, precise cinematography. All those shots belong in a museum.

1. Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do” (Dir. Joseph Kahn)

The song is butt. Hopefully, we can all admit that. We can’t agree on how butt the song is — whether it’s a grim avatar of the Trump era or just an ineffective first single — but it’s butt. The video, on the other hand, is a masterful use of the medium. It’s a bright, bouncy, stylish absurd little masterwork, a sly and self-aware commentary on public image, a grand cosmic joke. It’s Taylor Swift pointedly acknowledging how ridiculous all her persona-play has been, and it’s her letting herself in on a joke. It’s a dizzy montage of music-video references, both to Swift’s own oeuvre and to those of her peers. It’s something special. Respect motherfucking craft.