By Cole Henry
Music Videos are such a fascinating form of artistic expression so I figured I’d trivialize them and put them in a list. The list itself is in no particular order. BuzzFeed be damned!
- Common People by Pulp (1995) – Pulp is a popular band from Sheffield, England whom formed in 1978 and had their heyday between 1994 and 1996. The song “Common People” can be seen as the peak of their fame, and the music video is to be thanked in some way to their growth in popularity. It is an absurdist piece of art that captures the mundane nature of life in zany ways, and it has a visual palette that captures the gaudy beauty of the 1990’s all the way from the poor special effects work to the hideous coloring of people’s clothes in the video. Jarvis Cocker’s slim demeanor and subtle confident swagger lends the video a weirdly cool vibe. Click here to enjoy the video.
- Homosapien by Pete Shelley (1981) – Pete Shelley, of Buzzcocks fame, took a hard turn from punk once the 70’s faded into the 80’s. He embraced his pseudo-sexual confidence and helped to pave the path of music that we now know as New Wave. Guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, and drum kits all blend to create a raucous and dance inducing sound. “Homosapien” is quite possibly the most dance-able song of all time, and the video does nothing to exemplify that. Instead, the viewer witnesses wild image after image. There is no context, it makes no sense, it looks horribly passe, and that is exactly the point. New Wave is about throwing caution into the wind and embracing one’s inner absurdity. Witness the madness for yourself here.
- The Lord’s Favorite by Iceage (2014) – Iceage, a Denmark based post-punk band is well known for many things. They used to sell Iceage branded knives at their shows, Elias Bender-Rønnenfelt’s voice is uniquely and beautifully abrasive, and their lyrics spell out tales of grim desperation in a horrible world. Yet, the video for “The Lord’s Favorite” and the song itself defies their nihilistic nature. It has the sound and progression of an Elvis Costello song during his most energetic period, and the lyrics are written and performed with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Elias knows he is beautiful and gifted, and he uses such knowledge to create a song about rambling excess and sheer over-confidence. The video captures that sense in that it is kinetic in nature and features many humorously odd images. See it for yourself here.
- The Weeping Song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1990) – Nick Cave, as a lyricist, is known for delving into deeply unsettling territories (listen to the album Murder Ballads) and yet is as equally known for his dark sardonic sense of humor. “The Weeping Song” is one of his most humorous songs in that it is about a bunch of people crying for no reason and it delves into just how senseless and odd the act of shedding tears is. The video features Nick and Blixa rowing a boat on precocious waters of black trash bags whilst drinking heavily, and singing to each other. Rumor has it that the band got piss drunk before they made this video, Nick is well known for his disdain of music videos during his earlier days, and that adds to the overall comic nature of the video. Watch it here.
- New Calm Pt.2 by Ought (2014) – Ought, a Quebec based post-punk band, is the modern day embodiment of the band Television. Rambling and layered guitar riffs matched to Tim Darcy’s distinct vocals permeate their kinetic and audaciously long songs to create joyful, somber and intense ballads about modern life. The video for “New Calm Pt.2” montages Tim’s slender manically dancing demeanor to mundane images such as a laundromat or a grade school birthday party in order to create a semi-unsettling look at the drab nature of modern life whilst also finding the fun in normality. Click to watch it here.
- Tall Glass of Water by Tim Darcy (2016) – Unlike his work in Ought, Tim Darcy’s solo work is much more traditional rock n roll, and that is definitely not a bad thing. He is a unique enough musician so that he elevates the simplicity of the medium, and his video for “Tall Glass of Water” has something to say about that. He knows he is a special musician and thus he makes fun of his own originality by having a room full of people copy the way he dresses, his demeanor, and eventually copy him in the singing of the song. It is very weird and has a starkly 1970’s vibe thanks to the song itself and the numerous carpet colored turtle necks that are on display in the video. Enjoy it here.
- Sister by Angel Olson (2016) – A song with Homeric epical proportions needs a video that does a ballad such as “Sister” justice, and Angel Olson and co. certainly do not dissapoint. “Sister” is a song about love, loss, depression, isolation, and eventually finding yourself. A music video that tackles such heavy topics demands evocative imagery, and the video is staged with Angel walking seemingly aimlessly around many a beautiful landscape. Some dense and urban, others spacious and natural, the imagery all comes together to convey the roller coaster of themes and emotions that are on full display in the song itself. The video’s warm color palette portrays a sense of hope and warmth that comes when one fully and truly finds themselves. It is a deeply personal and strikingly beautiful piece of art. Immerse yourself in it here.
- Making Breakfast by Twin Peaks (2014) – Twin Peaks’ is a band out of time. They are rock n rollers that we just don’t get anymore because they resemble the likes of Lou Reed and Keith Richards more than they resemble any modern rock n roll inspiration. Their songs are raucous fun power ballads about the wildness of youth, heartbreak, and just drinking and smoking with your friends. “Making Breakfast” is a song about making breakfast and a beautiful woman. It is fun, playful, and alive with the rose tinted lust of youth. The video is as fun as the song. It is simple and that is where its elegance can be found. We watch as Clay, the singer, makes breakfast and lights up a cigarette on a grill in his driveway as he sings. It is pure fun and unabashed simplicity. Watch it here.
- Be Apart by Porches (2016) – Porches is an enigma. It is not everyday that you find a band with the voice of Morrissey, the chord progressions of New Order, and the hazy production akin to the likes of Homeshake. “Be Apart” is a song about confusions and the unknown. Do they want to be a part of something or apart from something? That is left to the listener to decide because the music video provides no answers nor should it have to. It is a weird love letter to the 1980’s with neon drenched imagery and subtexts that range from a haunting, homo-eroticism, and the occult. The camera moves as swiftly as a ghost from room to room in the house that the video takes place in, and the viewer is granted access to odd images and chance encounters. It is as if a weird acid trip crossed paths with full blown voyeurism. Revel in its beautiful absurdity here.
- Walk To The One You Love by Twin Peaks (2016) – Yes, I have two videos by the same band on this list. It is MY list. Twin Peaks’ do not need another introduction so lets get to the video itself. It is filmed as if to look like it was done in one tracking shot thanks to clever editing and an amazing director/production crew. We follow a man from behind with the camera framed in a medium shot of his lower body. He walks through his wintry Chicago neighborhood and witnesses odd situation after odd situation until he eventually walks to the one he loves. HA! Get it? It is a simple conceit given a complex, layered, and endlessly entertaining music video. Enjoy it here.
As always, thanks for reading! Let me know what music videos you enjoy.