Four Cool Music Videos to Watch Right Now
If you know me, you know I love music. But I'm also a huge fan of music videos. Maybe it's because I grew up without cable and used to watch bootleg VHS recordings of MTV (it's true--in high school, when I used to dog sit for neighbors with cable, I would haul over a small all-in-one TV/VCR, hook it up, and set it to record shows like "120 Minutes" or MTV2 on 8-hour tapes). I still think about some of the classic videos from the 1990s, like "Sabotage," "Gimme Some More," or "Criminal."
If music videos were seen as a corporate marketing opportunity in the 1980s, they emerged as an art form in the 1990s (see: anything by Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, or Hype Williams). Today, we are in another golden age for music videos, with directors and artists working together to make painstakingly crafted artistic statements that further an artist's vision or explore other themes. But unlike the 1990s, it's not just up-and-coming directors making these videos: big-name directors like Edgar Wright (who directed Baby Driver as well as the video for "Colors" below) and, yes, still Spike Jones (whose recent video functions first and foremost as an ad for Apple's HomePod but also as an amazing video for Anderson .Paak's song "Til It's Over") are working with artists on presenting their visions.
I just watched Beck's new video for "Colors," a track from his album Colors, which came out last year and is the most poppy album in Beck's varied oeuvre. Right now it's an Apple Music exclusive, but you can watch a preview below (here's a link to full video on Apple Music). Starring Beck, Alison Brie, and a bunch of quasi-creepy dancers, the video is a splash of irreverence and, yes, color. It reminds me of an early Hype Williams video, minus the flashy cars and fisheye lens.
Beck's video got me thinking about other visually striking videos I love, and the following three immediately popped to mind.
The video for "May I Have This Dance (Remix)" by Francis and the Lights is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the saturated "Colors." Featuring Chance the Rapper, the video is set in a simple studio space, with Chance dancing in front of a mirror in a darkened room. Yet despite its simplicity, the video--which was filmed in one continuous shot--is almost dreamlike in nature.
I also love the video to Solange's "Cranes in the Sky" from her album A Seat at the Table, which came out in 2016. Again, though the choreography seems simple, the movement is meticulous and the video is lush and visually striking. It's also directed by her husband, who has been a notable video director for years.
The video for the multi-talented Janelle Monae's new song "Make Me Feel" almost functions like a short film on its own (side note: the vibe of the video looks very similar the brilliant "San Junipero" episode of Black Mirror). Monae has long been known for her visual persona, and now in "Make Me Feel," she channels Prince along with other 1980s imagery.
Of course, no discussion of the intersection of music videos and art can be complete without mentioning Beyonce's Lemonade (watch her iconic video for "Hold Up") or Kanye West's "Runaway" (for which he released a video, an extended video, and a 34-minute short film about a fallen phoenix).
Cover image: Solange