The countdown begins.Screenshot from The Blossom, "Black Eye"
Every year, the Houston Press combs through the best indie and lesser-known artists out there to find the best music videos around. You can keep your Taylor Swifts, Lil Nas Xs, and even your Ghosts. This week, we go deep into the underground to close our the 2021.
100. Split Second Meltdown, “Big Game Hunting”
Time for a little light furry cosplay. “Big Game Hunting” follows a hunter and a lion in a delicate flirtation… at least until the tea party is revealed to be a trap. It’s a very thirsty hunt, indeed.
99. Joker’s Hand, “Goth Girlfriend”
Goth girlfriends are the best. This is known, but I appreciate Joker’s Hand checking the paperwork in their latest video.
98. Adult., “Fools (We Are…)”
I’m to let Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller explain why we’re watching a clown play with a potty: “The toilet is a universal motif, a shared human situation or in some cases shituation. We are all fools in one way or another, from war to waste to societal trends in ridiculous human behavior.”
97. Ignite, “The River”
The American immigration system is racist bullshit. Don’t take my word for it. Let Ignite scream it at you until it sinks in. Thanks, fellas.
96. TV Coma, “Celebrities”
In the minimalist video, the band takes on the omnipresence of celebrity culture, aping a refined dinner against a completely empty white background. It’s not exactly the most subtle of analogies, but it gets the point across.
95. Love By Numb3rs, “Lie Like This”
Some days are just better spent in bed. “Lie Like This” has Dan Connor staring up at the camera, eventually hallucinating a good time. It’s a lazy kind of video, but then again it’s a lazy time to be alive.
94. Dead Posey, “Sorry I’m Not Dead”
If you like your music videos with a little BDSM, here’s a good place to start. The band spends most of the runtime torturing a man in a big mask. It’s sexier than it sounds, and fun to listen to.
93. Dan Reed Network, “Starlight”
I’ll be honest, this video is riding its way onto the list based on the sickness of the track and how much I miss fire dancers at goth events. Every inch of it screams hot night down at a disreputable gathering. Thanks, DRN, for a fiery flashback to the before times.
92. Riley, “Call It When You Want”
Riley had one of the most devilish earworms this year in “Call Me When You Want.” The video shows him working at a convenience store, lamenting a broken heart until his friends show up. From maudlin to playful, it’s a joy to watch.
91. Authority Zero, “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free”
One of the most underrated punk bands in the world knows how to build a scene. As the group performs splashing around in a combination of oil and water, a little girl (Ava Moore) frolics through a cornfield pursued by a bird-headed specter. The video never really goes beyond setting the stage, but considering it’s named after a children’s rhyme used in hide and seek that’s all that’s needed.
90. Venom Prison, “Pain of Oizys”
It’s always nice to see a subversion of a music video trope. Director Thomas Coe-Brooker guides his wife Toni through what looks like a slow match to suicide only to end up in a place of empowerment. It meshes nicely with Venom Prison, a metal band that’s always slyly unending expectations.
89. Wallice, “Wisdom Tooth”
Wallice drops a good heartbreak track with some very dental visuals. The wisdom tooth may be a metaphor, but the video takes it all the way to the bone with Wallice making a trip to the dentist. By the end she’s being cornered by chattering teeth.
88. Adrian Conner, “Victoria”
Austin-based Adrian Conner directed “Victoria” herself and it’s a nice little parade of grit and makeup. She vamps before a screen while two young lovers awkwardly meet. The song has a throbbing blues sensibility that lends oomph to the visual story, and Conner definitely has an eye for what makes a good music video.
87. Kelly Musler, “Summer of '98”
I for one am glad that Gen X/Xennials have reached the stage where we get to write sad songs about the good old days in the '90s. Kelly Musler puts together a sparse but effective ode to "reaching level 40" that hit some in an excellent way. 86. Old Crow Medicine Show, “Paint This Town”
Sometimes what makes a video matter is the context that it is released in. By way of a for instance, “Paint This Town” comes to us at a time when a high school party feels almost mythical under pandemic conditions. There are grand, alien worlds shown off in the videos on this list that don’t feel as unreal, and the fact that Old Crow Medicine Show doe sit all with such ease and finesse makes it better.
85. November Ultra, “Le Manège”
This is an extremely clever video about the corrosive nature of toxic love. The clips repeat, slowly degrading as the song progresses until it’s all kind of a red mess. It’s always cool to see entropy itself used to make a point.
84. The Blossom, “Black Eye”
Lily Lizotte expresses herself like no other singer, and “Black Eye” shows off her full range of sadness and madness all at once. Shot simply with her looking into the camera as a few visual effects heighten her rapidly vacillating emotions, she tells an entire story just with shifting facial tics. It’s uncomfortable tow watch, but fascinating at the same time.
83. Sad Night Dynamite, “Krunk”
Director Greg Hackett puts together a slightly surreal revenge story about a boy who gets a little too gangsta for his britches and finds himself in a trap. The video is mostly party scenes that bop along well with the track, though the ending is a little unsatisfying. The ride to get there, though, is awesome.
82. Gvllow, “Nightmare”
Look, as long as the ‘90s are back I’m just going to sit here and enjoy all the new videos that look like they walked right off the set of 120 Minutes. “Nightmare” is a beautiful artifact hat has fallen out of its rightful place in time, and I love it.
81. Ramses the Pigeon, “Where is the Comma in ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ Supposed to Go?”
There are two great pedantic a capella explorations of the minutia in holy songs. The first is Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers in the classic “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.” Welcome to the second one, which is a fun romp about the importance of punctuation and also why slapping yourself for a sound effect is not a good idea.
Tune in tomorrow for 20 more of the best music videos of 2021!
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