We love music videos here at The 405, and it seems you like them too as our 'Top 50 videos of 2010' feature we posted in December is up their as one of most viewed articles. This fills us with joy as the art of the music video didn't end with lavish productions from the 80's. People are still making massive videos, whether on a huge budget, or on a shoestring.

Continuing our 'look back' series, we decided to ask some directors we respect to talk about the music videos they've been digging from the first half of 2011. We have Paul Bridgewater (handles the sessions over at The Line Of Best Fit), Lucas Levya (who recently did the amazing slasher video for 'Big Problem' by ANR), Lluís Panadés Julià of Panaframe fame (responsible for recent videos from Beat Connection, Leslands etc), Eric Epstein (director of the stunning 'Yes I Know' by Memory Tapes) and Alex Takacs (from Young Replicant: created videos from Baths, M83, Hooray For Earth & more.)



Paul Bridgewater

Architecture in Helsinki - 'Escape'

Well it's Marcus Soderlund isn't it? And although the song isn't my favourite, Soderlund's just amazing. I could gladly sit in a room all day and watch everything he's every done on loop.

I think a central concept to all of his videos is the relationship between people and their environment. He uses space in such a brilliant way, whether it's about the freedom and liberation that the natural world offers or the insularity that an enclosed room can signify. Just an amazing filmmaker.


The Concretes - 'My Ways'

This is by Mats Udd who's made some amazing videos for some of my favourite Scandi bands. He did Those Dancing Days 'Fuckarias' and a couple of First Aid Kit's too. I like the tree in this. We were in Stockholm a few months back and Lisa from The Concretes offered to come show us the tree they used on the front of the record (WYWH) but we had to catch a flight so it never happened.


Kanye West - 'All of the Lights'

I love the song, obviously. I play Kanye at least once a week and that whole record is pretty much the most perfect pop album of the last few years. 

The video's a bit strange though - it's like they blew the budget on that 30 minute film he did when the album came out. If you look closely, there's something a little bit cheap about it. The lighting's a slipshod in places, the camera work is shaky and they keep the shots tight most of the time to cover the fact that they don't really have sets. 

Also, if it were ten years ago I'm sure everyone who sang on the song would have made an appearance (La Roux and Elton John are both there in vocal form for starters) - but instead we just get Drake's rear and Rihanna wearing masking tape. 

But I like it. It's garish and DIY and fun.


I Break Horses - 'Hearts'

I don't know if the footage Alex Southam is using for this is found or not. The pacing is perfect here though. I'm excited about what Maria's live show is gonna be like when she comes to London later this year - hopefully they'll use this as a projection or something. 


Lykke Li - 'Sadness is a Blessing'

It's the best promo she's done so far, isn't it? Stellen Skarsgaard's pretty much a legend in Sweden, so I'm led to believe. I guess this is a bit like Cheryl Cole being paired up with Kenneth Branagh or something. 

The nicest thing is that Lykke's been wearing this weird black leather cape/smock thing for most of the album campaign appearances and lives shows. I was getting sick of seeing her in it. She's much better in white, don't you think? She's dating the guy who directed this and her last promo (Tarik Saleh) I think - so maybe we have him to thank.






Lucas Leyva

Mr. Muthafukin Exquire - Michael Dudikoff

Sometimes the best ideas are the most simple ones. Directed by Vic Reznik, it cuts the bullshit most rappers rely on to craft their image via music video and lets the video be about the MC and his words. Doesn't insult the audience, rather relies on a great performance by Mr. Muthafukin Exquire. Like some kind of nightmarish moth he stands before a single naked light bulb flickering to the beat, managing to actually be intimidating as he assaults you from darkness atop minor chords.


Is Tropical - 'The Greeks'

I think this one speaks for itself.


Jillian Mayer - 'I Am Your Grandma'

Full disclosure: I was on the crew for this one, but it's just too good not to list this music video by performance artist Jillian Mayer. Similar to "Yonkers" in that the video and song were both created by the same artist and once watched together, cannot be separated. The work challenges notions of self-perception of mortality, celebrity, even the universal impetus for creation and legacy, all in under a minute. The real beauty of it is that it's gotten almost a million people watching and discussing performance art.


Tyler The Creator - 'Yonkers'

I know everyone has already seen it, but by any standards this video is awesome and made Tyler The Creator a star. Shades of the more unhinged aspects of early Eminem had he not been shackled by having to air on MTV, the video cleverly creates the illusion of watching a man lose his mind in one take using inexpensive tricks and performance. Like "Michael Dudikoff," the video allows the rapper to create his own persona, but since this video is directed by Tyler as well, it becomes even more difficult to separate the visuals from the music, creating a singular creative voice.


O'Grime - 'Udonis Haslem'

Two Miami high school kids put together an ode to the greatest man alive, Udonis Haslem. The only thing wrong with this unpretentious, energetic video is the Colorado Rockies hat the frontman is wearing. Loose, silly visuals match the DIY aesthetic of the song perfectly. Unlike other "Based" artists, they are in on the joke. Who need's colour correction when you have this much swag?


Lady Gaga - 'Judas'

Big, shiny, expensive and dumb, but I love every second of it. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for malformed biblical allusions (the apostles as a gay motorcycle gang! crown of thorn made of glitter!) and ten-cent metaphors (the lipstick comes out of the gun! baptism by product placement!), as well as sweaty, ethnically ambiguous models dancing in unison. Whatever.


Runners up:

Dan Deacon - 'Believer'

Hypnotizing stop-motion animation of paper cutouts made entirely by hand. Not necessarily a music video though.


Geologist - 'Man O War'

Whether or not it's a music video is debatable, as the marine biologist/artist team of Morphologic Studios labels it a "Natural History Film," but Geologist (of Animal Collective fame) creates an otherworldly soundscape for a close-up view at the deadly tentacles of a Portuguese Man o war.


Ease DaMan - OverPartier!

Ridiculous. A great introduction to NYC personality Ease DaMan. If only the editor knew about deinterlacing.






Lluís Panadés Julià

Yuck - 'Shook Down'

I absolutely love this video. The freshest band needed the freshest video. Apart from being my favourite band, I find this video incredibly original and touching.  The combination of the black and white collage with the other colours is just perfect.  It is very human and subtly daring. There is no panic to see human body parts.


John Maus - Believer

This is a visual orgasm. A journey though a retro space of believes and feelings. It is the perfect world for this song, a world between the past and the future where everything is possible. I really love the VHS touch and the weird colors. John Maus is a true genius!  


Koudlam - 'Sunny Day'

Incredible use of found footage as always. I think here, Jamie went n step further and created such a touching multi-narrative world. The editing is awesome.


Metronomy - 'The Bay'

It is the coolest, sexiest and more stylish video I have ever seen. I love the composition of every single shot and the editing it is just brilliant. I will have to visit Torquay someday definitely.


NIVA - 'The Boy From The Sun'

The most simple videos can sometimes can be the best. I particulary like this nordic and cold treatment of the image and the clever use of the slow motion.






Eric Epstein

GD&TOP - '뻑이가요 (KNOCK OUT)'

Just sharp presentation of deeply odd styling. I can think of at least a half dozen other great unique narrative videos I can't fit on this list, but for some reason I keep coming back to this nonsense.  


Hooray For Earth - 'True Loves [Cereal Spiller Remix]'

Cyriak is constantly great. I enjoyed seeing him go in an atypicly aesthetic direction here.  


Manchester Orchestra - 'Simple Math'

A tricky and ambitious narrative. While going for emotional heft, it does well not to resist the humor of its imagery.


Bart Constant ft. Dustin O'Halloran - 'Do Better'

An absorbing vérité mini movie following a young circus acrobat in training.

 

Bohemian Thought - 'Seeker'

Great atmosphere and acting propel a story I don't think I've seen before. 


Hooray for Earth - 'True Loves'

This song again. Well plotted, pretty, and feeling intextricably linked to the music, this video flys by every time I watch it.  


Lykke Li - 'Sadness is a Blessing'

This manages to be a tense little short film with ace acting and photgraphy, while also quietly fullfilling the objectives of a normal pop video [dance and look cool]. My clear fav so far this year.  






Alex Takacs

James Blake - 'Lindisfarne'

Things get pretty weird in Denmark. 'Lindisfarne' is severely understated and surprisingly affecting - signature de Thurah. There's something deeply relatable and nostalgic about the emotions he manages to evoke, even if you can't count drinking spit and rubbing glitter on your friends as cherished childhood memories. Favorite of the year by far.


Manchester Orchestra - 'Simple Math' -

Putting the concept of this video into words doesn't do justice to the brilliant execution. It could've gone so wrong - but didn't! It took a few viewings to really appreciate the attention to detail and masterful transitions.


Robyn - 'Call Your Girlfriend'

The ultimate performance video. Kinda perfect in a way.


Arcade Fire - 'The Suburbs'

Technically from 2010, but the full length short hasn't come out yet. Really opens up the possibilities of what a music video can be. A true hybrid.


Iron - 'Woodkid'

A band of conceptual pagan warriors besiege a Mormon temple and get attacked by meteorites- it's an epic mash up of religious symbolism, trendy animals and stunning black and white photography.