Best Music Videos of 2009

December 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm 2 comments

Ever since Shots Ring decided to seriously drop the ball on their “best of” countdowns that they were so well known for, I’ve decided to compile a list of my own. So Merry Christmas, Googly Eyes. Here’s the only gift I know how to give: my impeccable taste in sound-specific imagery. Fucking impeccable.

Let me just state that I have definitely *not* seen all of the music videos created this year, and that this list is just a bunch of my favorites. I’m a snob, so take note.They’re on here for a reason!

Many thanks to the Vimeo HD Music Video Channel for making it so easy to find great music videos, and make them accessible for other people to find as well.

Matt and Kim – Lessons Learned

Directed by: Taylor Cohen & Otto Arsenault
Cinematography: by Ben Wolf
VFX by: Steve Ilous

You already know how much I love this video, but I’ll requote the earlier post here for you anyway:
There are so many things I love about this video. The production value, the money (not) spent, the sheer tenacity of the performers getting naked, and the blasé attitude they assume towards their own stunt. Plus, no lip-synching! Yeah!

There are also things I hate, like the underlying messages of personal freedom and why cops blow.

I wonder how many kids in Times Square experienced seeing another naked human being from this for the first time? A part of me is mad, but another part of me is more upset that our own bodies should be so taboo. Either way you look at it, you have to admit: They’ve got balls. Big, blue, probably frozen ones.

I’ll just leave you with this frame, so you can understand why this video is just…um…so great:

Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

Director: Patrick Daughters

Oh man, Patrick Daughters does it again. His sick one-take videos are becoming an industry standard, and his ability to pull-off difficult tones is mesmerizing. Can you imagine explaining to Grizzly Bear just what you’re going for? “OK, I want you to be really happy. Like really fucking happy. And when you blink, I want you to blink one eye at a time. Reptilian. Oh and at the end your heads blow up. Roll camera!”

It’s great, it’s simple, it’s fucking creepy. Plus who doesn’t like roman candles?? Thanks for a kickass video, guys.

Peter Bjorn and John – It Don’t Move Me

Director: Filip Nilsson

This video makes me really excited because it lip synchs for only one line, yet manages to maintain the same beat throughout the entire spot. This is the first of two Michael Jackson tribute videos in this countdown, but I don’t care. It’s creepy, it’s weird, and it perfectly embodies all of those odd couples of friends that you never understand. Somehow this music video managed to obtain emotional credibility while trying to explain a very unique relationship between two peculiar people. Bravo.

MSTRKFRT- Heart Breaker

Director: Vincent Hayock

My favorite video of the year, by far. How do you embody an East LA bodega so well? Love at first sight? That feeling you had when you were 12 and you could spend hours inside a shitty store and still have a blast?

Well I hate to wax nostalgic here, but this video brings back memories. That plus the bottles of Jarritos, and I think I may have fallen in love. Great work by Vincent Hayock. Beautifully done. Amazingly edited. Especially that part when the boy’s pinata head looms into view, right before they turn out the lights in time to John Legend’s voice:

So tight.

The Cliks- Dirty King

Director: departement

Finally! A lesbian power-rock band that we can all take seriously.

This video makes me happy for so many reasons, and not just because it is the ONLY all-female band music video I have ever liked. Yup, I said it. Suck it, The Donnas.

This piece rocks hard while managing to use things like bubbles and glitter in a completely kick-ass way.

Shredding mad chords and making such intense facial expressions, The Cliks have Daughtry and Nickelback taking desperate notes even as I write this. Plus, those ramming speed shots of the drummer just totally kill.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll

Director: Richard Ayoade

OH SNAP. Michael Jackson tribute deux. Whatever, I love videos that feature decapitation. Karen O’s sultry voice is perfectly translated into her bubble-wrap spacesuit of an outfit, and the power chords are articulated in a way that only pop-and-lock dancing werewolfs can pull off:

Once again, this is a conference call I would have loved to sit in on.

“So, umm, we want to be performing on stage. But then we want cut to a werewolf that sashays on light-up squares of gloomy tunnel casing. Oh and then the moon shines and he kills them all.” Thanks for a daring video, ya’ll.

Malajube- Luna

Director: David Valiquette
Cinematographer: Christophe Collette
Art Director: Marie-Soleil Denault
Stylist: Stéphanie L’Allier
Production: Véronique Denis

FUCK. Talk about a unique and original idea. I don’t even know how these guys pulled off this “concept” (is this a concept? a storyline? an atmospheric tribute to eerie swimming pools and the dream-state that is “morning practice”?)

Well, whatever. What this video lacks in plausible story, it more than makes up for in consistent tone. There are just so many great sequences in this video that, combined, make for a very powerful visual piece. Avoiding cliches and performance shots of the band, Malajube’s “Luna” sets out to give the viewer an experience rather than some over-stated musical advertisement.

Zion-I – Geek to the beat (done by NYU alums!)

Dir: M.A.Y.O.

DP: Jon Chen
Editor: Jamaal Parham
Production Designer: Tory Noll
Choreographer: Sara Divers
Stylist: Annie Bedigian

I will always have a soft-spot for this video, mostly because I was introduced to these directors during my semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland with the rest of the Googly Eyes gang (which is where we all met). Showing clips of past music videos that previous semesters of students had done, we remember being blow away by this one, done by the same crew.

And so from some shitty classroom in Dublin to the big leagues of Zion-I, M.A.Y.O. is pretty much our collective music-video role model. Plus that scene in the rec room with the crazy dancers is the best mix of low-end art direction and sick choreography, all backlit. IMPRESSIVE.

M83- We Own the Sky (Fan video)

Directed by David Altobelli
Motion Design by Dan Norton

Additional VFX by Matt Divito

So this isn’t an *official* video. And okay, it’s a little long. But you have to admit that these are some dedicated fans. I wish I knew how the connection between sounds and visuals worked for everyone else, but let me just say that light brite dots on the X axis hit that audio/visual sweet spot for me.

Not sure how this was composited, but the 3-d graphics are gorgeous, as is the use of light in general. It’s such a whispy, fairy-tale song, that I think David did a really nice job of translating it to the screen through its equally fantastical photography. It’s fans like you that continually raise the bar for music videos, so thanks!

All in all, I think the one thing that really makes all of these videos great is that they are tonally consistent. None of them are lame performance videos that solely rely on the proscenium, and none of them are some stupid, easy-to-follow story that always offers cheap closure. These directors went above and beyond, and thanks to these willing bands, they all combined to make something truly inspiring. Whatever weird tone they wanted, they fucking nailed it. And that’s what makes them great music videos, through and through.

Let’s hope 2010’s videos will be equally as kick-ass.

P.S. Lady Gaga, you know you already won best video of the year in our eyes. But with the kind of budget you were working with, we expected nothing less than spectacular, anyway.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alisaurus  |  December 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I think “Geek to the Beat” was my fave amongst these. Givin’ it up for low budget production design and steadicam long takes.

  • 2. Olivia  |  December 31, 2009 at 10:43 am



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