Music and videos were made to have babies together. Sure, on their own they each serve a nice dose of sensory enjoyment, but when combined, they create what is perhaps the end-all of “things that should be put together,” besides peanut butter and jelly.
Though music videos aren’t shown the way they used to be on channels like MTV or VH1, the internet has now become the main source of our viewing and listening habits. And even though the screen has gotten smaller, there has been no stoppage of creativity, artistry, or inventiveness when it comes time to complement the sounds with visuals. 2011 saw yet another healthy batch of music videos that ranged from live-action to animation, beautiful to vulgar, and breathtaking to just plain badass. Here are my Top Ten Music Videos of 2011, starting with number 10.
10. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Otis (feat. Otis Redding)
The album was one of the most anticipated releases of 2011, and this was one of the most anticipated music videos, released in August this past summer. “Otis” is practically the calling card of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative efforts, and the easily acceptable Spike Jonze-directed video suits the crew, featuring Aziz Ansari for added measure.
9. Bjork – Crystalline
If Bjork was going to come out with an album this year, then filmmaker Michel Gondry HAD to come out with a music video to accompany it. The video for “Crystalline” is as interactive and glitchy as her release, Biophilia, and it continues to prove how uniquely creative both artists are in their respective crafts.
8. St. Vincent – Cruel
St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy is strange in and of itself, but it certainly showcases what an inspiring act Ms. Annie Clark really is. Her video for the single “Cruel” displays strange in perhaps the best way possible, seeing her get buried alive — and even more — to add to the chaos.
7. Bon Iver – Holocene
“Holocene” continues Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver’s, soothing and breathtaking handyman indie style first featured on For Emma, Forever Ago. Its music video appropriately immerses you in texture with lush, serene visuals that can only be associated with someone like Bon Iver.
6. Woodkid – Iron
Picture experimental African beats meets Zack Snyder’s 300 and you get the music video for Woodkid’s “Iron” from his debut EP. This wonderfully photographed black-and-white video matches the level of epicness the song provides on its own, and the video’s rather tragic overtone makes for an even more awe-inspiring watching experience.
5. Fleet Foxes – The Shrine / An Argument
“The Shrine / An Argument” is an eight-minute track from Fleet Foxes’ sophomore effort, Helplessness Blues, and now we’ve got an eight-minute music video to match its epic scope. Fully animated with powerful imagery and earthy tones to salute its indie folk offerings, this is one of those “I can’t believe what I just watched” music videos whose images last long after it’s over.
4. Battles – My Machines (feat. Gary Numan)
In a very OK GO fashion, math rockers Battles teamed up with The Creators Project to make what looks to be an awesomely choreographed one-take music video with a man falling down an escalator. Not even guest Gary Numan seems to care, which makes the entire situation shocking, funny, and a downright blast to witness.
3. Radiohead – Lotus Flower
Radiohead has the tendency to startle people when they release new albums, and that was no different when they suddenly announced The King Of Limbs earlier this year. But I don’t think anyone was expecting the video for “Lotus Flower” to be the viral video hit it is today. With frontman Thom Yorke dancing to his heart’s content in a neat Fedora in front of no one, what more could you possibly ask for?
2. Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers
Say what you will about Tyler, The Creator and his latest album, Goblin, but there is no denying how vile and addictive his single “Yonkers” really is. Its accompanying black-and-white music video, with its perspective control lensing photography and Tyler at his most vulnerable, is one of the most minimalist and revealing music videos in recent memory, and it fully accepts its disgust. It’s one of 2011’s best if not THE best…
1. tUnE-yArDs – Bizness
…but “Bizness” is pure glee in a nutshell, even if tUnE-yArDs try to mask it behind a tough exterior. That energy is perfectly translated in its video form, which displays everything you could possibly ask for in a music video. Not only is the song addictive and catchy, but its video is also, featuring lively color, fantastic editing, entertaining choreography, and brilliant if odd storytelling. Seeing it once is simply not enough.
And that’s a wrap! We had some fine visuals to represent some of 2011’s best musical offerings, and this contributor couldn’t be happier with the results. Here’s hoping 2012 brings us another year full of awesome music videos!