Happy New Year Popsters! Today we’re going to be taking a look at 25 of the Best Music Videos of 2011!
I gotta tell ya, these lists are an exhausting affair for yours truly. I always think it’ll be a piece of cake and, eight hours later, my fingers go numb and my eyes begin to cross.
So, what was the criteria with the videos? Easy, they needed to be innovative, entertaining, ground breaking and the tunes had to be good, that’s pretty much it. Some say the songs themselves shouldn’t really enter into it but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. After all, these are MUSIC videos, right? Who cares what the visual is if the song sucks, likewise if the song is great but the video is a yawn why bother watching it, why not just turn up the speakers and get on with your business. Obviously the art of the music video lives in the perfect synergy of the aural and visual. I believe these 25 videos are excellent examples of that brilliant marriage of the two and the best of the year that was 2011. Enjoy!
25. Beyonce- Countdown
Strange and funky, exactly how I like it, the video is pretty good too. Ya gotta give it to Beyonce, she’s consistent with the music videos and makes the cut almost every year for the “best of” lists.
24. Arctic Monkeys- Suck it and See
I’ve often heard it said, “if the sex isn’t dirty, you’re not doing it right”. Well, in this video, the Arctic Monkeys are definitely doing it right. This is like an American Apparel ad come to life. So naughty, so good.
23. Tom Waits- Satisfied
Tom’s videos often border on the strange, which is perfect because the same could also be said for most of his albums, they’re odd in the best possible sense of the word. The best Tom Waits videos capture his quirky showmanship and energy and this is another perfect example of that. I also happen to be a sucker for the dramatic beauty of black and white, which is something you will notice as this list progresses.
22. The Black Keys- Lonely Boy
The Black Keys have become the masters of the anti-video, they always hold your attention but rarely look like they cost more than a couple hundred bucks to make. This one became an instant viral hit and gave the star, Derrick T. Tuggle, a 48-year-old actor/musician/part-time security guard, 15 seconds of fame. It’s brilliant in it’s seeming simplicity, just like the best of the band’s tunes.
21. Fruit Bats- You’re Too Weird
Chicago cult bad The Fruit Bats pay tribute to the cheese of the 80s with this hilarious vid. It features the popular effects seen in many of the videos from bands like Queen, REO Speedwagon and Styx. For anyone who grew up in the early days of MTV, this one is especially fun!
20. Kimbra- Good Intent
I dig Kimbra and the choreography in this one and, in some ways, it’s another video that recalls the good old days of MTV, which is to say, “this is, like, totally awesome!”
19. St. Vincent- Cruel
So strange, so disturbing, so brilliant. This is a 3 1/2 minute horror flick that covers more ground than most do in 90 minutes. The director gets extra points for the guitar solo in the trunk of the car, which has got to be a music video first.
18. The Greeks- Is Tropical
Pre-teen gangsters gone wild. My childhood looked a lot like this, at least in my mind it did.
17. Stereo Mcs- Tales pt. 1.
These two from Stereo Mcs, like the video from St. Vincent, are mini-indie films onto themselves. Great music, great storytelling, what more do you want from a music video?
16. Stereo Mcs- Tales pt. 2
15. M83- Midnight City
Here’s another creepy vid that looks as if it could easily be made into a fun B horror movie. I can’t be sure but, if I had to guess, this is probably one of Stephen King’s favorites of the year as well.
14. Lana Del Rey- Video Games
The paparazzi video excerpts featuring the real life, drunken melt down of actress Paz de la Huerta (Boardwalk Empire) isn’t something you’ve ever seen in a music video before and is quite effective and disturbing. Now, the real question I have about this one is, are Lana’s lips real or is that just a lot of satirical collagen pumped in as a commentary on the whole Hollywood plastic surgery thing? I mean, c’mon, in the event of a water landing those smackers could be used as a flotation device!
13. Parenthetical Girls- Doughnut
For those of use still haunting the vinyl section of the few remaining indie record stores left in this great land of ours this video is an inspired tribute. You might not know this kids but there used to be something called “album art”, consider this a trip to the museum.
12. Memory Tapes- Yes I Know
This would be another on our list that basks in the brilliant beauty of black and white, it’s also a bit on the creepy side. We have a few videos this year that I could easily image playing in one of the rooms at MOMA in NYC, this would be one of them, (the other is coming up.)
11. Lenny Kravitz- Stand
When it comes to silly fun this year, this is one of the best. Lenny borrows a page from the Eddie Murphy handbook and plays several roles in this video, each crazier and funnier than the next. Also…could it be? Is that? Yep, the bass player behind Kravitz is none other than Derrick T. Tuggle, the same guy you saw dancing his ass off in The Black Keys video a little bit ago. Derrick had a good year! I also have to mention the brunette in the silver short shorts….because….damn! (yes, you’ve probably noticed by this point, many of the Pop Bitez video choices feature exceptionally hot women. They did when I was 13, they do now. I apologize for nothing.)
10. Gotye (Featuring Kimbra)- Somebody That I Used To Know
Such a brilliant concept, perfectly fitting the mood of the tune and lyrics and, yes, that is Kimbra, the same girl you saw a few videos back, she’s naked in this one, sort of, and her vocal on this track is outrageous. Does the video make the song or does the song make the video? Either way, wow, very cool.
9. Chrysta Bell- Real Love
If you’re a regular reader of Pop Bitez, you might begin to suspect I personally know Ms. Chrysta Bell or, at the very least, have a stalker like obsession. Of course, neither is the case but I will admit, from an artistic perspective, she’s definitely one of my “Women of the Year”. Her album This Train placed high on our Top 25 Albums of 2011 and this video is definitely worthy of this list as well. At first glance, it might appear this video is the work of David Lynch but it was actually directed by Dutch Rall, Chrysta Bell’s primary creative partner. No doubt the Lynch influence is there, as it should be, but there’s no denying Rall’s own gifted talents with the camera. This video also earns bonus points for featuring what has to be the best girl on mannequin action ever put on film.
8. Duck Sauce- Big Bad Wolf
I’m not quite sure how they shot this one and I’m not sure I want to know. All I can say is, this video is crass, tasteless, disturbing and the most hilarious thing I’ve seen this year. Sure, it’s incredibly sophomoric and juvenile but, at this point, why would you expect anything less from me? Awooool!
7. Lykee Li- Sadness is a Blessing
Gotta give it to ’em, the Swedes know depression like Paula Dean knows butter and this video is no exception. Ingmar Bergman would be very proud as his influence is all over this one. And before you start smacking yourself in the head trying to figure it out, the featured actor is Stellan Skarsgård, best known for his work in the films Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, Mamma Mia and the new remake of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
6. Cults- Go Outside
When you’ve got a band named “Cults” it only makes sense you’d make a music video that brilliantly features footage from Jim Jones and his connoisseurs of Kool Aide, (Google it kiddies, I haven’t the time or desire). The video incorporates the techniques first used by Robert Zemeckis in the film Forrest Gump and also Woody Allen’s Zelig. Now, if the video had featured a cameo from either Forrest or Zelig… it would have won my number one spot!
5. School is Cool- The World is Gonna End Tonight
Welcome to 2012, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for this one! I actually just ordered my 2012 Mayan Swim Suit Calendar, it should be here any day now, they tell me it’s the last one I’ll ever need to buy.
4. Foo Fighters- Walk
Dave Grohl steps into the shoes of Michael Douglas‘ character from the cult classic Falling Down. The Foos have long been known for their excellent (and often hilarious) music videos. Walk is no exception.
3. Kina Grannis- In Your Arms
This video was two years in the making, I’ll write that again for you, this video was TWO YEARS in the making!! It’s Peter Gabriel’s legendary Sledgehammer meets a billion Jelly Bellies. I couldn’t help but notice this video was suspiciously missing from most of the “Best Videos of 2011” lists I perused on the net recently. It would seem most of these “music websites” are either out of touch or way too pretentious for their own good. I suspect it may actually be somewhere in between the two. Mind you, they all had Thom Yorke and his idiotic spastic dancing featured high on their lists….huh,What do ya know, I actually didn’t include that one on mine…maybe I’M out of touch…or maybe, quite possibly, I’ve just got better taste, ya feel me Rolling Stone? Spin? You crusty bunch of dusty muffins! Just watch the vid Popsters, tell me I’m wrong, m’kay?
2. Woodkid- Iron
And here is the other video that belongs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. I realize it now sounds like I’M being pretentious but just watch this one and tell me if you don’t agree, this is a crazy work of art.
1. Beastie Boys- Fight For Your Right (Revisited)
Yep, it’s the Beasties with the number one spot this year and, honestly, how it could it not be? It’s a half hour in length and features an all star cast with only a quick cameo from the boys themselves. There’s a lot you’ll love in this one if you haven’t seen it, there’s also a few things to hate (the ending transcends bad taste, literally, it’s a moment only John Waters could love but, I gotta give it to ’em, it’s definitely got to be another music video first.)