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Fan Direction: 5 Great Music-Video Contest Winners

Radiohead at Toyota Center, March 2012
Radiohead at Toyota Center, March 2012
Photo by Jim Bricker

One of the latest trends I've observed in music is that almost everyone is outsourcing their videos these days, even top artists. It's much easier and cheaper to hold a fan contest, asking your fans to create videos for you, than it is to go out and shoot the video yourself on your (or your record label's, if you still have one) very limited dime.

It's an interesting idea, but how many great, undiscovered filmmakers are there just dying to make videos for their favorite bands? Well, apparently quite a few. For various rewards and recognition by their heroes, fans will definitely go to great lengths to produce amazing works of art. These contests are quickly becoming a trend, because oftentimes the fans can come up with better videos than the bands can.

5. Sigur Rós, "Fjögur Píanó" (Anafelle Liu)

The Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós gave out $5,000 and some merch to fan Anafelle Liu for her above video, and with good reason. The simple yet off-putting film somehow seems to perfectly sum up their minimalist music.

Liu herself commented that, "Skinned is a restless self sculpturing of one's body. It is a glimpse of the corporeal unconscious, forever trapped in lacan's double sided mirror." Whatever that means.

4. The Mars Volta, "The Malkin Jewel" (Rubén Rodríguez)

This contest was a bit of a failure, maybe because the reward was so low. The winner of this one apparently only got a $500 Best Buy gift card and some Mars Volta merch. The winner also was not determined by the band, but rather by the video that received the greatest amount of "likes" on YouTube. Furthermore, the winning video did not even become the official video, the band took care of that itself shortly afterward.

But let that not detract from the work of Rubén Rodríguez, who clearly put a lot of time and effort into his video. He may not have received his proper due from the band, but his video shows a lot of creativity and dedication to the band (containing various references to the band's previous artwork). It is a very good video in and of itself, and deserves more attention for winning the contest.

 

3. Radiohead, "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" (Tobias Stretch)

This creative stop-motion animation video was one of four winners of a music-video contest selected personally by Radiohead. To the band's credit, they even gave each of the winners $10,000 dollars for winning the contest, a pretty huge prize. This is the best of the four in my opinion. The rest can be viewed here.

2. David Lynch, "I Know" (Tamar Drachli)

David Lynch never takes the obvious route. For his first major musical release, the acclaimed Blue Velvet director decided to ask fans to direct videos for his first two singles from the album Crazy Clown Time. Lynch gave each of the winners £2000 for their work.

Personally, I like the video for "I Know" better. It features the classic "girl in trouble" plot of one of Lynch's films and obvious homages to Lynchian imagery, but Drachli is a clearly talented director himself, putting his own personal spin on the style. The winner for "Good Day Today" by Arnold de Parscau can be found here.

 

1. Foo Fighters, "Walk" (Phil Hodges)

The Foo Fighters held a contest in 2011 for their fans to make videos for each of the songs on their album Wasting Light. This one wasn't a paying opportunity, but when Dave Grohl asks you to do something, you do it. Instead, the winners saw their videos premiere on FuseTV. As the official videos for the songs, they are now compiled on the Foos' official YouTube channel.

All are great, but this one by Phil Hodges for "Walk" is my personal favorite, featuring a bit of a takeoff on Forgetting Sarah Marshall's Dracula musical. There's just something really awesome about a Dave Grohl muppet that makes this one great.



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