In case you missed it, we resurrected our old Videodrome column a few weeks back: our semi-regular showcase for the best music videos around. Since the form has given the world game-changing helmers in both the blockbuster and arthouse worlds, it’s always important to keep an eye on promos, and indeed, one could argue that there’s more invention to be found in the short-form than there is in features. So, with no further ado, the five best music videos we’ve seen in the last few weeks. As ever, any tips and suggestions are more than welcome.
Benga – “I Will Never Change” (dir. Us)
Coming from un-Googleable collective Us (aka Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor), who won Best New Directors at last year’s UK Music Video Awards, their promo for dubstep star Benga is barely a music video. In fact, technically, it’s not — it’s a teaser clip for the musician’s latest record, featuring his track “I Will Never Change.” It certainly doesn’t apply to any rule of narrative or performance video. But it is fascinating, melding old technology with new by recreating the track’s Soundcloud wave with 960 individually-cut vinyl records. We can only imagine the level of work that went into pulling the stop-motion clip off, and it suggests that the helmers, who’ve previously worked with Wiley, Dels, Pushing Hands and Mirrors, are seriously thinking outside the box.
Drake – “HYFR” (ft. Lil’ Wayne) (dir. Director X)
The ‘Degrassi‘ grad might have a superior track doing the rounds with his Rihanna and Jamie xx collaboration “Take Care,” which has a solid video from Yoanne Lemoine, but the real fun is to be had with its companion, “HYFR.” Marking his first collaboration with fellow Canadian and hip-hop promo vet Director X (who’s worked with everyone from Usher to R.Kelly), it opens with incredibly sweet home video footage of 13-year-old Drake at his bar mitzvah, before recreating the event as “a re-commitment to the Jewish religion.” Which is essentially, an excuse for one a helluva party. The rapper’s always had a sense of humor, blended with a sweet sincerity, that’s set him apart from most of his generation, and both are on display: highlights include a passed-out Lil’ Wayne in a panda mask, and Drake’s hilarious Bon Iver-looking pal in a yarmulke. Mazeltov, all involved!
Van She – “Idea of Happiness” (dir. Andreas Nilsson)
Australian electro artists Van She have always been somewhat underrated compared to some of their compatriots like Cut Copy and Midnite Juggernauts, and their four-year absence hasn’t helped matters much. But the first cut off the album of the same name, “Idea of Happiness,” might just change that, in part thanks to an ace Lynch-ian video from Andreas Nilsson. The Swedish artist and filmmaker has worked with many of his country’s best known artists, including The Knife, Fever Ray and Jose Gonzalez, as well as venturing further abroad for similarly inventive, disturbing clips for the likes of Bright Eyes, MGMT, Yeasayer and even Yo Gabba Gabba. And after an absence from the promo world, he’s back in a big way, thanks to both a duo of videos for Miike Snow, and this one, which puts together one of the weirder parties in history, taking in karaoke, a pink christmas tree and a fuckload of glitter.
Alialujah Choir – “A House A Home” (ft. Portland Cello Project) (dir. Daniel Fickle)
We have to confess, we weren’t aware of either Portland’s The Alialjuah Choir — made up of Weinland members Adam Shearer and Aliah Farah, and M. Ward collaborator Adam Selzer — or helmer Daniel Fickle, who as it turns out was behind the Foo Fighters’ video for “I Should Have Known” before we stumbled across this clip. But both are clearly ones to watch, on the basis of this superb, beautifully production-designed take on the story of Pyramus & Thisbe. More short film than promo, it follows two young people who discover they’re living in curious cell-like rooms next to each other. They break out and go exploring, but as it turns out, unbeknownst to them, they’re… well, we don’t want to spoil it. It’s lovely stuff, anyway, and we look forward to seeing more from Fickle.
Jack White – “Sixteen Saltines” (dir. A.G. Rojas)
Filmmaker A.G. Rojas made our list last time around with his epic clip for Spiritualized‘s “Hey Jane,” and only two weeks later, he’s back with this superb video for the comeback single for White Stripes frontman Jack White, “Sixteen Saltines.” The beautifully shot clip comes across like the evil, Harmony Korine-helmed cousin of Spike Jonze‘s Arcade Fire promo, with White kidnapped by some of the toughest paint-spewing, fiery-skateboarding-riding, baseball-bat-wielding, cough-syrup-guzzling kids around. We’d love to see a feature-length version take, and given that the band helped to bring Michel Gondry to the world’s attention, Rojas is definitely someone we’re expecting to see a move into moviemaking before too long.