Of all the lists I’ve so far compiled for Digitized Graffiti, this has been hands down, the most difficult one to sort through. First off – I’ve realized I have to love, or at least, like the song in a video. This of course makes the following list as subjective as they go. Also, it’s not enough for the video to be simply good, it has to be innovative, different, and unique in some way. Let’s face it – music videos were invented by record companies to sell albums (and now songs). But that doesn’t mean they can’t be as thoughtful and artistic as the song itself. Sadly, this is the exception more often in the rule in most cases, but the following I think march to the beat of their own drum machine.
12. Madonna – Deeper and Deeper
All right, before you blow this list off altogether just wait one second. I know this video starts off as pure cheeze whiz, with the long campy seventies club scene, but the video takes this weird dark turn near the end, including some CFNM scenes straight out of a Calvin Klein shoot, and then there’s that creepy dude with the weird eyes, things just get straight up bizarre – it always reminded me of a party scene out of Twin Peaks for some reason. Directed by Bobby Woods, and apparently a tribute to Andy Warhol, with many of the scenes shot in his signature style.
11. George Michael – Freedom
If you are ever in doubt of what to shoot in a music video, you can be sure that if you use a whole bunch of international supermodels in skimpy clothes to lip synch, and light some stuff on fire, your video will be a huge hit. The end. Directed by David Fincher.
10. Massive Attack – Unfinished Symphony
It’s a simple premise of the camera following the singer down a crowded urban street but when it’s done right, it just clicks. Bonus if you spot the members of the band at random intervals throughout. Directed by Baillie Walsh.
9. Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar
Again – simple concept of matching beats with visuals. Directed by Michel Gondry.
8. Daft Punk – Around The World
This is still one of the weirdest and visually mesmerizing videos of all time. Most likely inspired by someone on several doses of LSD. Directed by Michel Gondry.
7. Dirty Vegas – Days Gone By
It’s always more interesting when a video incorporates a little subtext, and this video features a nice simple story about lost love that’s kind of touching. Plus, it has some badass breaking. Directed by Joe Luca and Chris Mullington.
6.The Streets – Weak Become Heroes
It’s a melancholy tribute to the lost days of youth, and the video manages to capture the often tricky flashback to the song’s subject matter effortlessly. Directed by Adam Smith.
5. Massive Attack – Karmacoma
With lots of references to films including The Shining, Barton Fink and Pulp Fiction, the video is a joy to watch as it depicts various people all getting their freak on in very different ways in various hotel rooms. Directed by Jonathan Glazer.
3. David Bowie – Ashes To Ashes
Classic Bowie in pure form means high art for a medium that is all too often low brow. Directed by David Mallet & David Bowie.
2. Daft Punk – Da Funk
This is almost more short film than music video, and like Daft Punk themselves, is difficult to label. The theme here explored is alienation in a big city – and who hasn’t experienced that at one time in their lives? Directed by Spike Jonze.
1. Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up
If there’s a video that matches the simple p.o.v intensity that rivals a needle full of adrenaline stabbed straight into your heart, I’d like to see it. Banned by MTV, and certain scenes of the video are still currently heavily censored by Youtube. Here is the full uncensored version below courtesy of vimeo. Contains nudity & drug use. Directed by Jonas Akerlund.
BONUS – Jay Z – 99 Problems
While most hip hop videos tend to bring out the bling, this video goes the opposite route. It’s raw, black and white, random gritty New York goodness. This is what hip hop should be. Total purity of essence. Directed by Mark Romanek.
You may also want to check out:
12 Songs To Listen To When You’re Hungover.
15 of the Very Best Classic House Anthems.
10 of the Very Best Classic Techno Anthems from 1991 at 23 Hop.
5 Moments of Musical Awesomeness at Midnight Special