Here are a few of the clips that are definitively iconic and will stand the test of time for decades to come. There are so many more that keep coming to mind but I eventually need to get some sleep SO BACK OFF!! Or even better, all of you Kanye’s out there let us know which ones you believe should be included either instead of or as well as these. Here they are in no particular order:
2002: The Avalanches “Since I Left You” - Rob Leggatt & Leigh Marling.
Wow, this is such a great clip! So many emotions! The video sees two miners from a world of black and white chance upon a dance competition/audition similar to that of Flashdance while down in a mineshaft. The new world they've come across is in colour and as they exit the mine, they too appear in full colour. One of the miners discovers he has some serious talent as a dancer and realises this is his passion. He decides to pursue this new found life then which means leaving his non-dancing mate behind. His friend eventually fades back to black and white. Skip forward many years and the now elderly, left-behind miner is recalling the memory of his long lost friend, and basically punches you right in the feels. While you’re watching this one, pay a visit to their other song “Frontier Psychiatrist” and its equally amazing video. There were two versions shot, but the main one by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire which begins with a gold curtain and is like a stage production is just some genuine random-y gold that is certain to leave you saying ‘WTF?!’ in the best way possible.
2002: The White Stripes “Fell In Love With A Girl” - Michel Gondry
The White Stripes don’t muck around when it comes to originality. This isn’t just limited to their music and Jack’s ingenuity with everything he does should make it obvious that they wouldn’t settle for a lacklustre film clip. If you’re a stranger to their work, then you should probably put this down and go and watch their entire catalogue of clips right now & then return to continue reading this.
Ok so now you should be well aware of what I’m going on about but still, this LEGO masterpiece would’ve been quite the arduous task with each frame requiring a rebuild of the LEGO.
2001: Fatboy Slim “Weapon Of Choice” - Spike Jonze
I understand and share Courtney Barnett and her friend from Adelaide’s mutual fandom of Christopher Walken in no small part due to this clip (also partly from his appearance on The Simpsons ‘Don’t make me tell you again about the scootching’). The basic rundown is that Walken has time to kill at an empty hotel and dances his way through it to some Fatboy Slim before flying around the room. Only it’s so much more. It had everyone at school talking and won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video. The only thing better than Christopher Walken, it would seem, is Christopher Dancen.
2006: OK Go “Here It Goes Again” - Trish Sie and the band
This clip was choreographed and directed by Trish Sie along with the band. It took 17 attempts to complete but was shot in a single take. This one also took out the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. The simple yet extremely effective idea of the four band members dancing on and around some treadmills is nothing short of genius and produced a clip that you not only can’t look away from, but you simply have to watch again and again.
2006: The Chemical Brothers “Star Guitar” - Michel Gondry
This is an underrated and possibly overlooked video clip, potentially due to it’s understated brilliance. Although at first glance it may appear to be nothing more than a scenic train ride, Gondry has actually managed to get a continuous shot of said train ride but with each beat or musical component within the song represented by something the train passes. For example a house may appear on the screen each time a certain beat is heard, and for each new sound, another object such as a fence post, a pole, another train compartment, etc is introduced and repeated every time that sound is featured.
2001: Basement Jaxx “Where’s Your Head At” - Traktor
This one is super creepy. A man who appears to be from the music industry is attempting to source an original concept from some sort of weird scientist. He is pitched an idea involving some cute monkeys with strangely human-like faces playing instruments and singing. Perhaps not so surprising is that the monkeys eventually rebel and don’t care for this visitor and begin chasing him aggressively. What is surprising is that he man then discovers that these ‘scientists’ have been swapping body parts of humans and monkeys and had planned on doing the same to him. Instant classic.
2000: Eminem feat Dido “Stan” - Philip G. Atwell and Dr. Dre
The film clip compliments the song perfectly. This song is Eminem’s storytelling at it’s finest and the video portrays the sentiment and storyline seamlessly. Devon Sawa plays the increasingly unbalanced Stan character and Dido plays his worried, pregnant girlfriend who ultimately meets her demise as a result of his intense obsession with Eminem. Every detail of this clip has been meticulously planned to form this faultless masterpiece. A perfect example of this diligence can be observed at the end of the story after Stan has died and Eminem finally realises it was Stan he saw on the news, while writing back to him. In the window, where Eminem’s reflection had been throughout the rest of the video, Stan’s face is now leering in at him. It is so well done by all involved, that to this day, 15 years later, when listening to the song, I forget that the Stan parts are really just Eminem rapping, I can only picture Devon Sawa.
2004: Steriogram “Walkie Talkie Man” - Michel Gondry
Yet another entry for Gondry with this original clip, which features a knitted/crocheted (not 100% sure of the correct term, I’ll check with Nanna) world. We see the band playing knitted guitars in a woollen studio when a giant knitted hand attacks them & pulls the lead singer Tyson Kennedy apart & his intricately knitted insides spill out. I won’t yarn on about the clip too much other than saying that it is sew good. It’d be a stitch up to leave this clip off the list.
2003: Johnny Cash “Hurt” - Mark Romanek
This Grammy Award winning video was actually what sold the idea of Johnny Cash’s cover of the song to Nine Inch Nails front man and the writer of the song itself, Trent Reznor. The video shows an elderly Cash playing his piano while flashbacks of his life, fame and success as well as shots of a dilapidated House Of Cash museum and other, for lack of a better word – depressing – imagery are interjected. The clip coupled with the dark subject matter creates a very sad and honest tone. An interesting analysis of this clip is also featured in the book Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity (Indiana University Press, 2009) by literature professor Leigh H. Edwards. Sadder again in hindsight, given the lyric:
“Everyone I know goes away in the end”
Now with retrospective knowledge that Cash’s wife who is actually in the clip, passed away a few months after filming it and Cash himself, passed away a few months after her. Yep. Heavy stuff.
2003: Justin Timberlake “Cry Me A River” - Francis Lawrence
This was the second track released by a newly single JT. Newly single in that he was now solo from boy band ‘Nsync and that he had recently split from Britney Spears – the latter serving as inspiration for the song, and arguably the clip as well. There was a lot of talk about the Britney look alike hired to play the ex-lover in the clip and the creepy shenanigans carried out by Justin himself. This song and clip really illustrated the new direction he was heading in musically, breaking from the ‘Dirty Pop’ boy band mould.
2004: OutKast “Hey Ya” - Bryan Barber
The video features Andre 3000 playing 8 separate characters to form the band “The Love Below” in a setting resemblant of The Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles gave their iconic performance. He is completely different in each role and you truly believe that they each have individual personalities. Don’t quote me on this but I vaguely remember an interview with Andre 3000 where he explained that the back up singers ‘The Love Haters’ (all played by him) would always turn up late to rehearsal, which is why they weren’t perfect with their dance, moves. I can’t find the reference however... rats. This clip was responsible for reviving the popularity of Polaroid pictures and subsequently ruining many Polaroid pictures by shaking them.
2013: Robin Thicke feat T.I. and Pharrell Williams “Blurred Lines” - Diane Martel
There were two versions of this film clip, the edited (clean) version and the unrated version. The only real difference is a bit of boob shown but both manage to make you feel dirty watching them, especially when Thicke has feet all over his face. Ew. Also the general feeling of the clip is that two cool dudes (Pharrell and T.I.) are trying to make their third mate (Thicke) popular because he can’t do it for himself. IF YOU HAVE TO LITERALLY SPELL OUT ‘ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG DICK’ IN BALLOONS THEN YOU’RE TRYING TO HARD! Did wonders for Emily Ratajkowski’s career though and had all the kids talking for quite a while.
2014: Sia “Chandelier” - Daniel Askill and Sia
It currently sits at number 17 on the list of most viewed Youtube videos, right after ‘Charlie Bit My Finger-Again!’ This clip went viral quickly, mainly due to the dance routine performed by then 11-year-old Maddie Ziegler of ‘Dance Moms’ fame. Maddie demonstrated her immense talent throughout several live performances of the song, which also served to preserve Sia’s anonymity at her behest.
2009: Beyonce “Single Ladies” - Jake Nava
I included it because I’m scared of Kanye.
2003: Missy Elliott “Get Your Freak On” - Dave Meyers
Missy is known for delivering great film clips and this one has to top them all. Amazing choreography, countless cameos and that spit scene all contribute to making this an unforgettable clip.
Written by Kate Carnell