Janelle Monáe “Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture]” – Our right to remember
Directors: Andrew Donoho, Chuck Lightning, 2018
Our memories define us and losing them is like losing yourself. Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” is an album music video taking on the theme of a future where our minds are erased. Just like we can do with a computer memory. The theme of a cold superior state taking away the peoples freedom and fantasy has been told before – but we need to hear it over and over again. Janelle’s video is clever and visually inviting. Lots of bright colors and extravagant dresses that makes a contrast to the cold place where they remove memories. A leader of the state says “a dirty mind will do anything to survive”. True enough. But we need our dirty mind – it’s the spicy to taste life itself.
Portugal. The Man: “Modern Jesus” – Symbolic and metaphysical
Director: AG Rojas, 2013
Who would Jesus be if he were here today. Well the answer isn’t obvious in this video in spite of its name. But there is a lot to watch and interpret in the video. It has many different pictures and scenery and it’s a joy to think of the symbolic meaning with them. The video take you on a tour across America and its society, showing the less glamorous side of the country – without wallow in misery. The greatness of the video is the wide perspective, the surroundings and the shifting photography. You don’t get many answers but it makes you think. A metaphysical video! The producer Anna Rau describes the work behind the video on Well bless my stars
David Bowie: “Life on Mars?” – Early artistic music video
Director: Mick Rock, 1973
An early music video. Simple yet interesting. Consists of Bowie singing in a completely white place. His make-up screams of androgyny. The face is so pale that it almost fades into the background. And the camera moves so close to the face, that it dissolves and turns into something else. – more like a painting than a person. As a contrast to his bold looks his moves are cool – just expressing the drama of the words in his singing. The video is a stand-out in the development of artistic quality in music videos.
Bjork: “All is full of love” – Magic Robot-love
Director: Chris Cunningham, 1999
This video is tight and hypnotic. You’re viewing the assembly/maintenance of a robot. Set in a typical clinical white future-environment. The robot is the singer and the combination of Bjorks expressive voice and the face of the robot is perfect. After a while a second robot appears and the video evolves. The style and story of the video is similar to the short stories of sci-fi magazine ”Heavy Metal” – robots with sensual bodies, showing human emotions in a cold future world. The video is a constant installation on Museum of Modern Art in New York. It won multiple awards, including two MTV Video Music Awards for Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects.
The Neighbourhood: “Let it go” – The false surface
Director: Daniel Iglesias and Zack Sekuler, 2012
Domestic life can be a charade. The Neighbourhood shows it clearly in this video. The smiling face changes when the chorus starts. The true feelings explodes and the misery becomes clear. The pictures follow the swift from verse to chorus and highlights the difference between the surface and what’s inside. It accelerates into an attack on money and how the focus on money leads to miserable relations. Nicely photographed in black-and-white like most of The Neighbourhoods music videos.
Blur: “The Universal” – Uncertainty and really late night drinking
Director: Jonathan Glazer, 1995
The video takes place in a white-coloured bar where Damon Albarn and the other Blur-members sits and stare just like Alex and his gang does in the beginning of “A Clockwork Orange”. It’s a bizarre crowd in the bar with some people laughing while others just watch – something is going on that’s not evident in the pictures. Besides the bar scenes there’s also scenes from streets with futuristic speakers hypnotizing people. Beautiful contrast between the ordinary grey English city environment and the black and white speakers. Together with the drama in the bar these scenes gives you a feeling of being in a 60s/70s sci-fi-film. A film that is about power/control and decadence.
Damon Albarn said that “The Universal”-video was about uncertainty and really late night drinking.
Kate Bush: “Cloudbusting” – Science drama
Director: Julian Doyle, 1985
This video is like a small movie where the music accompanies the drama. We get a short story about the psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Reich and how his aspirations was prevented by the authorities. The story was conceived by Kate Bush together with Terry Gilliam and the Gilliam visual-style is apparent. Wilhelm Reich is played by Donald Sutherland and Kate Bush is playing Reich’s son Peter. Inspiration for the story comes from a book by Peter and the relationship between son and dad is a theme in the video. The video can be also be perceived as a speak-out for the freedom of science and free thinking. Bush dramatic music and singing goes great with the countryside scenary and the events in the story.
Coldplay: “Magic” – A magical story
Director: Jonas Åkerlund, 2014
Done in the style of an old silent movie the video tells a compelling little story. It’s about circus-life and has the classic line up with a gentle hero (think Chaplin), a beautiful girl and then her evil man. Coldplays soft music goes well with the careful attitude of the hero – and a fine contrariety to the roughness of the evil man. The silent-movie concept is perfect for the song. The magic-theme of the song gets its perfect illustration here.
Lana Del Rey: “Tropico” – The garden of evil
Director: Anthony Mandler, 2013
Lana Del Rey takes a deep dive into the mixture of religion, sex, violence and cultural icons. A story of how the Fall turns L.A. into “The garden of evil”. The video is a combination of three songs with interludes, and it’s written by Lana herself. She uses the music video format to create a movie. It’s a film that deals with questions about morality, desire, love and the American identity. The provocative way of exploiting biblical symbols, famous persons and naked bodies is liberating – nothing is sacred! A thorn in the flesh of moral guardians.
Savages: “Marshal Dear” – The darkness of War
Director: Gergely Wootsch, 2013
Brilliant black and white animation is seen in this video. With a delicate and striking use of colors. The director Gergely Wootsch has catch the feeling of the music and the shifts in tempo. The theme of the video is WAR. How utterly dark war is. How industrial and machinery it is. Makes you think of Alan Parker’s ”Pink Floyd The Wall” with its spectacular use of animations to show the destructive force of war and fascism. ”Marshal dear” is a great example of how effective animations can be to convey a sense – in this case: The terrors of war.
Justice: “Stress” – A social eye-opener
Director: Romain Gavras, 2008
The moment the video begins and you hear the repetitive music – you’re hooked. The determined walking, the threatening behavior, the intense music, the violence – there’s no mercy in it. You just have to watch and feel the destruction, the darkness, the society failure, the human tragedy. These 6.45 minutes gives you more understanding of the need for social politics than hours of speech from the politicians. The video makes you think of the movie ”A clockwork orange” and complexity of handling violent adolescents. The slow motion-ending is just fantastic.
Manchester Orchestra: “Simple Math” – When life flash before your eyes
Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (DANIELS), 2011
A definition of a great music video could be that the visual matches the music. This video live up to that. There’s a great connection between the go of the music and way the images move in this video. The slow motion-crash shakes you and when the music accelerates so does the pictures. The theme of the video is how important moments in life flash before your eyes when you’re in an accident. There’s great twists in scenery and you’re flown into the story of a boy and his relations to his dad and a girl. The photography must be pointed out with its close-ups and objects flying in slow motion. The video won several awards including Video of the year at 2011 UK Music Awards.
V V Brown: “Samson” – Powerful visualization of Biblical tale
Director: Jessica Hughes and V V Brown, 2013
This video takes on the story of Samson and Delilah– the Biblical tale of how the hero loses his powers when his hair is cut of. The setting of him being captive and defenseless in the hands of Delilah is both tempting and terrifying. Her moves are sensual and dangerous. The drama is strengthened by the rhythmical music and hypnotic voice of V V Brown. You can really feel the anger in Samson when Delilah uses the scissors. The video is beautifully filmed in black and white pictures. Powerful visualization like this is just what old tales need.
Purity Ring: “Lofticries” – Transformations and untold stories
Director: AG Rojas, 2012
You’re viewing a person walking and suddenly the scene and person transforms. The following and switches of persons creates an atmosphere of uncertainty. There’s no clue to if or what will happen. The things you see are subtle and gets your mind thinking. Like an untold story. And this is probably what makes this video great – you just get a glimpse of the events and the story is made in your head instead. A subject for your imagination.
Radiohead: “Karma Police” – Drama in the night
Director: Jonathan Glazer, 1997
The song is visualized as a piece of a cinema-movie. You’re thrown into a situation where a car is chasing a man trying to escape in the night. Something has happened and associations goes to movies by David Lynch or the Coen-brothers. As a viewer you’re put in the seat of the driver and can’t help feeling that you’re part of the guys chasing – the Karma Police (?). Great music, great photography, great drama and a great end. Glazer won MTV’s Director of the Year award in 1997 for his work on this video.
Pony Pony Run Run: “Just a song” – Playful and curious
Director: Mary Clerté and Edouard Bertrand, 2012
This video is quite catching. The playful, curious and experimental attitude that signifies this video is so charming. Young people in different weird situations. It doesn’t say so much – just implies different things. Some glimpse of violence and some nudity. But mostly just fun and fascinating. It’s almost silly how many different “arty” pictures they show – but somehow it suits the music perfect.
FooFighters: “Everlong” – A dreamy horror story
Director: Michel Gondry, 1997
The video is like a little movie with a dramatic plot. A couple is fighting some villains. It´s shifts from dream to reality with scenes from punk parties and chasing through the forest. The video is more funny than scary. It’s inventive and it feels like anything can happen. The music with it’s steady beat suits the drive of the story well. Visually the rock’n’roll is absent until it eventually shows it face and takes over the scene in a magnificent way. It was nominated for Best Rock Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
The Prodigy: “Smack my bitch up” – The most controversial music video
Director: Jonas Åkerlund, 1997
An intense and fascinating video. Filmed in first-person perspective we get to see an evening out with this unpleasant type. It includes drugs, sex and violence and MTV only shows it after midnight following a warning. When MTV in 2002 made a list of the most controversial music videos shown on the channel, Smack my bitch up was nr 1. Jonas Åkerlund have really managed to visualize it in an equally intense way as the music. It almost feels as you are locked inside the person and has to join the trip whether you like it or not. At MTV Video Music Awards (1998) it won the categories Breakthrough video and Best Dance Video.<br/ > And for God’s sake: Don’t miss out the final!
No Doubt: “Ex girlfriend” – Anime inspired action
Director: Hype Williams, 2000
Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanals relationship had ended and suitably the band released a song about it. The video is in some parts rather ordinary with the band playing and Gwen walking around. But it’s inspired from japanese anime-movies with beautiful colors and clothing. And it evolves into action with a great ending scene. Gwen and Tony Kanal has a violent showdown. The video is partially based on the controversial anime-movie “Kite” which was an inspiration for Tarantinos Kill Bill.
The Pierces: “You´ll be mine” – Beautiful natural romance
Director: Kinga Burza, 2011
Imagine pretty girls in white dresses walking and dancing in beautiful twilight settings. That’s what you get in this video. The shifts in the music is nicely combined with visual effects. A bit of Flower Power and Psychedelia. You get the feeling of viewing a mystic society as they become one with nature. Natural romance for what it’s worth.