10. Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up the Gun”
[Dir. The Malloys]
The video for “Giving Up The Gun” features RZA judging a tennis match. The tennis match itself sees the main woman, who also starred in Vampire Weekend’s video for “Cap Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” going up against a colorful cast of characters, including men in motorcycle helmets, a samurai, Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal. While she beats all of them with ease, she has trouble with her last opponent: herself. But with a little help from her coach, who is none other than Lil Jon, she manages to set a tennis ball on fire and send it plowing through her opponent’s racket. I’m not sure on the meaning behind this video, if there is any, but it’s entertaining.
– Nicholas Preciado
09. El Guincho – “Bombay”
[Dir. Nicolas Mendez]
Out of all the videos of 2010, the one for Pop Negro‘s best track, “Bombay,” is arguably the guiltiest of vying for your attention. This trailer to an upcoming project by its director, Nicolas Mendez, is a quick, radiant, and erotic montage of disconnected, batshit crazy images that might as well have been from a visual art student’s PCP trip. Glazed over with a ’70s/’80s hue and positively beset with colors that pop along with the song’s upbeat steel drums, El Guincho introduces us to his crazy world at the foreground of a Carl Sagan-esque backdrop before we’re bombarded by great-looking topless girls doing everything from bumming a light from a bird to participating in synchronized tribal dances (What better way to keep your attention?). Despite the giant “NSFW” tag that precedes it, “Bombay” deserves your eyes for its insatiable creativity and is a perfect visual match for such a vibrant jam.
– Anthony Matarese
08. Gorillaz – “Stylo”
[Dir. Jamie Hewlett]
The animated Gorillaz have never been afraid to star in outrageous music videos, and “Stylo” is no exception. Nobody could have expected the CG presentation of the usually-animated Gorillaz gang, nor could they have predicted that such drastic things would happen; the inspired appearance of Bruce Willis as a highway-speeding cop, of all people! Does he belong in the video when Bobby Womack starts to sing? Does it even matter? It’s both enjoyable and amusing to see him shooting the shit out of the crew’s car. Think of the video as the live-action “19-2000;” an expensive, hyper-active thrill-ride with an oh-so-satisfying climax.
– Alex Phillimore
07. Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”
[Dir. Julia Grigorian and Kirby McClure]
Yeasayer’s video for “Ambling Alp” was created by the artistic collective Radical Friend, who like to focus on new and interesting technologies to bring their art to life. This particular video is extremely vivid and random, combining weird unnatural acts and peoples with the natural setting of the desert. The main focus of the video seems to be around the faces of the band members and the other people in the video, whether they’re covered by mirrors, having psychedelic metallic paint dripped over them or being extended right off of the body that they belong to. You could read into this facial focus as being a comment on the song’s main message of “stick up for yourself, son,” or you could simply take the video for face value and just sit back and enjoy the psychedelic ride.
– Rob Hakimian
06. J. Cole – “Who Dat”
[Dir. BB GUN]
J. Cole’s first video “Who Dat” is an example of the perfect way to make a mark upon an (at times) all-too familiar scene. The video, shot in one continuous take, is a testament to what good planning, choreography and originality can produce. The camera follows Cole as he works his way through the burnt-out town of Fayetteville. As he proceeds he’s joined by a gang of supporters, some cheerleaders and a marching band who all stick to their cues perfectly. Further on down the road we have fires and exploding cars but none of this distracts J. Cole who, at the forefront of it all, is continuing his flow with a cool precision and confidence of a pro (or possibly of a man who knows he only has enough budget for one take). By the final shot of J. Cole leaving Fayetteville heroically down the train line as the music fades you feel you can’t help yourself but salute the man and all those involved on a job extremely well done.
– Rob Hakimian
05. Lady Gaga – “Telephone” (Feat. Beyonce)
[Dir. Jonas Åkerlund]
When the video for Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” was released, it was a bona-fide event. People gathered around in social networks, posting links and tweets and status updates, all voicing their excitement for the impending freak show. This was before Kanye’s “Runaway” of course, but people were already comparing the release of the nine-minute video to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was an apt comparison: there was a compelling narrative, it featured another superstar (Beyonce), we hadn’t really experienced the “music-video-as-event” thing since the fall of MTV and TRL, and visions of telephone hats and cigarette glasses were sure to invade our collective psyche. Gaga’s video had a little bit more bite than “Thriller,” naturally, with its honey-killer slant and Tarantino visuals, but only time will tell whether the “Telephone” video will hit “classic” status. It’s just a shame that the song itself never got as popular as “Bad Romance,” or maybe it would have been the one vying for the “Most Watched Videos on YouTube” crown.
– Arika Dean
04. LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”
[Dir. James Murphy and Spike Jonze]
So here I am, talking about “Drunk Girls.” This is a losing battle, as I remember an enormous outcry against this song when it was released as the first single, and some people carried the sentiment to the album, which luckily stood its ground and is generally considered one of the best of the year. But all those detractors must have at least enjoyed the “Drunk Girls” video, where James Murphy, Nancy Whang and Pat Mahoney get the shit kicked out of them by people in panda costumes. It feels like Jackass, which makes sense because the clip is co-directed by Jackass producer Spike Jonze, who I hear is doing well for himself. And while the video has live vocals from all three band members, this does not detract from the clip as you would expect. The karaoke effect works because the sounds of the carnage and the tension in the singers’ voices is genuine. You can’t say that that LCD didn’t pay for their sins with the “White Light/White Heat” homage. You can say that people take things too seriously. That would be fair.
– Philip Cosores
03. Die Antwoord – “Evil Boy”
[Dir. Ninja of Die Antwoord]
Becoming an overnight success has only changed Die Antwoord in one way; it gives them more money to screw around with. This is apparent and quite literally true; in their erection-tastic video for “Evil Boy” we see the trio dancing around to the beat of the song amidst dancers, an expensive-looking rotating graffitied set and monsters in various incarnations (a nipple-less female definitely falls under this last category). In fact it seems they spent so much money on everything else that they couldn’t afford to clothe two of their members, so they prance around in nothing but underwear. Unfortunately the only member whom we might actually want to see in their underwear, Yo-landi Vi$$er, is in a huge fur coat. We’ll have to get our kicks from watching the two guys’ boners practically burst out from their boxers. Actually at one point Yo-landi does go topless, only to reveal a pair of eyes where her nipples should be. Add it to the extremely long list of “WTF?!” moments that culminates with the final shot of a rotating wooden carving of smurf-like creature with an erect penis that extends further than the length of its body.
– Rob Hakimian
02. Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”
[Dir. Spike Jonze]
Child-like nostalgia is the name of the game when it comes to the video for Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.” This isn’t a big-budget video; its message is deeper than flashy expense. Spike Jonze has attempted to express the beauty and innocence of childhood with great success. Everything from playing and riding bikes, to teenage intimacy, is realised with the kids of the video. It’s not all fun and games, however – the latter half of the video is swathed in darkness, violence and ambiguity; exploring all facets of what it is like to be a part of today’s youth.
– Alex Phillimore
01. Kanye West – Runaway
[Dir. Kanye West]
In hindsight, it was sort of inevitable that Kanye West would make a video like this. The super-long-form video was a staple both of the pop icon he fancies himself a successor to (Michael Jackson) and of the one his erratic behavior and artistic indulgences have drawn unfavorable comparisons to (Axl Rose). And Kanye’s Runaway is just as over-the-top as you’d expect it to be; a “November Rain”-meets-Avatar showpiece that makes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s first video, the respectably high-concept “Power,” look restrained.
– Sean Highkin