This was a great, great week for music videos. And for some reason, a pattern emerged. To some extent, every one of the videos below is a sumptuous, richly produced vision of things that don’t make any sense at all. For the most part, these videos adapt ideas about narrative, but they don’t make their narratives transparent enough that we can actually follow along with them to any appreciable extent. Instead, they just plunge us into their worlds and let us think about whatever weird things we’re seeing.
Frustratingly, we remain unable to embed YouTube videos, but I managed to find working embeds for every video on the list anyway. Check out our five picks below.
5. Bon Iver – “Towers” (Dir. NABIL)
This one doesn’t quite have the same magic as NABIL’s uncanny “Holocene” video, but its story, about a Santa Clause-looking mariner passing out at sea (or something) feels huge and mythic nonetheless. The individual images are gorgeous, and those mysterious CGI offshore towers blend with the real-life footage seamlessly.
4. Wise Blood – “Loud Mouths” (Dir. Alex Takacs and Joe Nankin) (NSFW)
The story seems to be some sort of secret-agent daring-escape deal, but it’s Bond archetype comes buried under a couple of layers of psychoactive mushrooms. Wise Blood himself comes off convincingly suave, and the clip’s inexplicable touches — the fast-blooming body-flowers, the name scratched out on his back — take residence in your brain even as they resist interpretation.
3. Mouse On Mars – “Polaroyced” (Dir. Jan Blitzer and Polynoid)
The world needs more luchadores who can pop-lock extremely well. I’m not sure whether or not the world needs more gigantic golden French bulldogs flying through the sky, but I’ll take those, too. Honestly, this video would’ve worked just fine if it was the guy dancing and nothing else, but all the reality-tweaking touches only make it more dizzy fun.
2. Nite Jewel – “One Second Of Love” (Dir. Delaney Bishop)
A freaky vision of a dinner party that starts weird and then gets weirder every couple of seconds. This one doesn’t strain the bounds of credulity; it tosses them out entirely, slapping us with one memorable, confounding vision after another without ever losing its grip on its own narrative. If anyone knows where I can get one of those goat-skull masks, please don’t be shy.
1. Grimes – “Oblivion” (Dir. Emily Kai Bock) (NSFW-ish)
This one, an instant classic, doesn’t draw its power from throwing Claire Boucher into all sorts of unexpected situations, though that is fun. Instead, that power comes from how utterly ebullient Boucher looks in every one of those situations, dancing around looking starry-eyed and unselfconscious no matter who happens to be surrounding her at that particular moment. And in its gorgeous hi-def cinematography and its general all-consuming happiness, it makes the blurpy sidelong electro-jam signify as actual pop music. Salute.