Good afternoon, all. We have a lot to get through this week, but first, I’m gonna shamelessly plug my work: I wrote a story for Billboard this week about Kanye West and Lil Pump’s “I Love It” video, and what it takes from Ludacris/Missy Elliott/Dave Meyers/Hype Williams videos of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. I’m going to be writing more music video features for Billboard, so look out for those.
That means that for now, this space is going to be dedicated mainly to sharing the videos themselves as well as some relevant headlines of the week. I’m also interested in sharing more longform or in-depth work on music videos (features, profiles, interviews, what have you) from other writers, so if you see one you really like, drop me a line.
Now let’s get to the videos. You can watch them in playlist form here.
P.S. I didn’t like “Barbie Dreams” so I’m not sharing it here. Don’t @ me etc. etc.
Lana del Rey, “Mariners Apartment Complex” (dir. Chuck Grant)
If we can forget her geopolitical tone-deafness for, like, three minutes, this is the most wholesome video Lana’s ever done. Just her chillin’ with some butterflies on the side of the freeway. Okay, now we can go back to critiquing her politics.
T.I., “Jefe (ft. Meek Mill)” (dir. ???)
Love a good Day of the Dead party. But please credit your video director, guys.
Mariah Carey, “GTFO” (dir. ???)
Nobody has provided the director credits for this video either, so I assume Mariah must’ve conjured it up in her mind and brought it into the world through sheer willpower. She stays waaaay in her upper register throughout this entire song, a fresh take on her already iconic voice. The video rightfully sets a tone and then steps the fuck out of the way to let her shine through, as it should be.
Skepta & Wizkid, “Energy (Stay Far Away)” (dir. Meji Alabi)
Shot on location in Lagos, file this video under “late summer vibes.”
Phoebe Bridgers, “Scott Street” (dir. Alex Lill)
Phoebe Bridgers pulls a Sia and enlists an entourage of doppelgängers with matching wigs. There’s a piñata bashing, a tour bus ride around Long Beach, CA, and a mechanical bull, which is great for slow-motion wig physics.
Pentagon, “Naughty Boy” (dir. ???)
There are a few K-pop videos I’ve included this week and I couldn’t find any info on their directors, so I apologize for that. This video has too many great moments to count, but I think my favorite might be when the seven-member boy band squishes into a car and pulls up to a drive-in…karaoke machine? Is that a thing???
RAY BLK, “Empress” (dir. Geej Ower)
The video understates its message where the song overstates, so I’d say this is a really effective pairing of audio and visual. I don’t know why it’s so comforting to just…watch a bunch of women sitting in a movie theater with no men…but it is.
5 Seconds of Summer, “Valentine” (dir. Andy DeLuca)
Not as good as their last video, but ya know…I like glitter.
AKA, “Fela in Versace (ft. Kiddominant)” (dir. Nate Thomas)
Apparently, South African Twitter was not impressed with this video. I disagree! The effects are simple and cool.
Nam Woohyun, “If Only You Are Fine” (dir. ???)
This video depicts my favorite kind of date, which is when you go out for coffee and you’re sitting next to each other and wearing separate sets of earbuds and listening to different music and not speaking.
The Dangerous Summer, “This Is Life” (dir. Chris Blockd)
Usually not a fan of tour videos, but this one was made under unique circumstances and is executed pretty well.
So Loki, “Elephant Man” (dir. Jevan Crittenden & Steve Kim)
Robbing a bank is fun!
The Blaze, “Queens” (dir. Jonathan Alric & Guillaume Alric)
French EDM and filmmaking duo The Blaze have really made a name for themselves through dramatic, character-driven, often politically charged videos. (If you haven’t seen “Virile,” “Heaven,” or “Territory” yet, go check ‘em out. You can read up more on their work here, here, and here.) This one is especially heartbreaking, so grab your tissues.
Moses Sumney, “Rank & File” (dir. Colin Solal Cardo)
Moses Sumney is singing live here, and the fact that he manages to make this video so captivating largely through performance alone is noteworthy.
Beach House, “Drunk in LA” (dir. Sonic Boom & Nuno Jardim)
Beach House made an acid trip simulator. Enjoy.
Paul McCartney, “Fuh You” (dir. Simon Aboud)
More amazing than the video is the song itself, which shows how seamlessly Paul McCartney can integrate into the run-of-the-mill, happy-go-lucky posi-pop heard on the radio. But the video is good.
Maverick Sabre, “Drifting” (dir. Hector Dockrill)
A pleasantly atmospheric video shot on location in Ballymun, Ireland.
MNEK, “Correct” (dir. MNEK & Luke Biggins)
This video feels like it was generated in the same feel-good lab as Queer Eye.
Phora, “Love Is Hell ft. Trippie Redd” (dir. George Orozco, 6th Element)
Like watching a Drake video if Drake were allowed, at this established point in his career, to set it in literal hell.
L Devine, “Peer Pressure” (dir. Emil Nava)
Xanax rap is very much a thing now, but it looks like Xanax pop is becoming one, too. L Devine is only two years younger than I am, but the fact that she looks like a teen and is singing about the joys of “becoming numb” on drugs with a dead look in her eye is more than mildly concerning. I mean, the song is called “Peer Pressure.” It’s all very on-the-nose. (Although back in my day the drugs you were pressured into trying were the go-apeshit-at-an-EDM-concert variety.)
Kenzie, “Dark July” and “Funeral” (dir. Camille Summers-Valli)
For me, part of the fun of making this newsletter every week is discovering new artists who not only have an eye for great videos and visual storytelling, but also have a unique, enigmatic sound that I immediately latch onto. Kenzie is such an artist, and I can’t wait to see/hear more of her work.
First Aid Kit, “Rebel Heart” (dir. Mats Udd)
First Aid Kit? Haven’t heard that name in years. They’re witches now.
Bishop Briggs, “Baby” (dir. Malia James)
For some reason there are a ton of animated videos to get to this week, so buckle up. This first one…well, I haven’t paid that much attention to the Hot Topic Instagram account, but I imagine this is a similar aesthetic. Also I literally searched for an hour trying to figure out which art photograph the video is paying homage to at 2:42. I know it’s based off a photograph, I’m just forgetting the name of the photographer. If you have any clues, please let me know.
gv.grace, “F**k Golf” (dir. Elise Mesner)
Folks, no matter what I tell you or how long you stare at the thumbnail, I can’t adequately prepare you for what’s in this video. With that said, the YouTube upload is the censored version; to see the NSFW version of the video, click here.
Welles, “Rock N Roll” (dir. BASA)
A rock n’ roll video in 2018!
Fleet Foxes, “I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar” (dir. Sean Pecknold)
I’m not sure what to make of this video. For one thing, the song makes a lot of hidden references to Fleet Foxes itself and the band’s journey (like that sampling of a choir singing “White Winter Hymnal” near the end), and it’s strange to give a song so personal such an abstracted visual. But that’s kind of what the whole album Crack-Up, released last year, does. It takes what appears to be highly personal stories written by frontman Robin Pecknold and smothers them in a mannered, polished, and expansive sonic blanket of folk-rock.
By the way, there are currently nine videos made from Crack-Up’s songs (no I have not watched all of them) but personally, I’ve found that the best visual for the album was when I was playing Skyrim last year and I put it on in the background. It was perfect! A highly simulated indie folk record for a highly simulated rugged wilderness. I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, but I assume it’ll work just as well for Breath of the Wild.
Rone, “Mirapolis” (dir. Aurélie Castex)
The animation here reminds me of those old Red Bull ads (and it’s also a style I’ve seen in a lot of other French animation), but the video manages to convey a whole imaginative story through its simple designs.
SHINee, “Countless” (dir. ???)
Not a whole lot happens in this video, which was released as part of SHINee’s 10th anniversary celebration. It’s made for admiring the beautiful men and the beautiful set.
Tobi Lou, “Buff Baby” (dir. Ronald Grandpey)
This video’s from a couple weeks ago but was too adorable not to include. It’s got the same warm sunset palette of Steven Universe, with bright orange and magenta hues, and a dancing baby that’s perhaps the first time I’ve been happy to see a dancing baby in a music video. (Way less horrifying than Ludacris’ version.)
Gorillaz, “Tranz” (dir. Jamie Hewlett)
And perhaps the granddaddies of animated music videos, Gorillaz.
James Corden, “You’ll Love It (Kanye West/Lil Pump Parody)”
Presented without comment.
This week’s throwback video, part one: P.M. Dawn, “Reality Used To Be a Friend of Mine” (dir. ???)
Attrell Cordes was really ahead of the “tiny sunglasses” trend.
And part two: Tori Amos, “God” (dir. Melodie McDaniel)
I came across this Tori Amos video and just had to include it. Here’s Tori, chillin’ with some rats.
Vevo Names Alan Price CEO (via Billboard) – Price helped launch Vevo back in 2009, so this isn’t exactly an upset.
BTS and Blackpink win awards at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan – So what you’re saying is that I should be paying way more attention to Japan’s VMAs, which seem to actually have a pulse on which music videos people watch and care about, than to the *snooze* American VMAs. Gotcha.
RBC Royal Bank and Prism Prize Step Up to Fill Music Video Funding Void in Canada (via Billboard) – After the dissolution of the MuchFACT fund, which funded Canadian music video projects since the early 1980s, there’s now a new funding project called the MVP Project. Canada has really gotten on board with supporting video projects, in part because music videos are a good entryway into the business for young filmmakers, and this funding project will be specifically targeted for “emerging artists.”
“A Homosexual Nature”: Turkey Fines Broadcaster Over Pink Music Video (via Sputnik News) – Turkey censoring its television broadcasts over LGBTQ content is nothing new, but it’s pretty mind-boggling that they’re doing it over a music video in 2018. I’m kind of surprised P!nk’s videos aren’t banned outright in Turkey, since a bunch of them feature queer/trans characters. Also, “Secrets” is a great video.
Please direct all feedback, questions, comments, tips, etc. to ClaireShafferVevo at gmail dot com. And feel free to forward this email, share on social media, and encourage your friends to subscribe. We’ll be back next week with more vids. •