The countdown continues.Screencap from Lights' "Prodigal Daughter"
Our week-long look at the 100 best indie and underground music videos of 2021 continues. Today we have some new takes on old holiday favorites, a couple of apocalypses, and the best pop star Canada has to offer. Clear some space and enjoy.
80. The Great Kat, “Barber of Seville”
Another year and another set of classical tunes played on guitar at hair-burning speed by the one and only Great Kat. This time she turns Rosinni up about a million beats per minute while dressing like a sex-clown and having a fop shaved. I think the absurdity of the world has caught up with our dear Kat because now this seems very, very normal.
79. Black River, “Crossover Love”
It’s all sinning round and crumbling statues in “Crossover Love,” like some sort of merry go round for faded empires. Joking aside, the black and white visuals hit a perfect note, and the artistry in the human forms lands somewhere between beatific and the obscene. It’s a nice place to play some metal.
78. MadeinTYO & UnoTheActivist, “Love Myself”
It’s 2021, which means that the almighty nostalgia cycle now includes fond reminiscences of ‘90s dial-up porn sites. Sticky as that may sound, “Love Myself” is a very well-done video that looks like an artifact that has been cleaned up and restored for the modern age. It’s a clever bit of debauchery.
77. Low Cut Connie, “Charyse”
Honky tonk attitude, dark nights, and a trio of comely models make “Charyse” something to see. It’s all atmospheric, full of implied liaisons and evenings lost to heartache, but you definitely feel like you’ve been somewhere when it’s all over.
76. Insomnium, “The Conjurer”
Director Vessa Ranta expertly captures the haunted mood of “The Conjurer” in a bleak, snow-covered tale of despair and suicide. The visuals are stunning, though frankly the narrative is not robust enough to justify the nearly eight-minute runtime. Aside from the drag, the video is near-faultless.
75. Elder Island, “Purely Educational”
This video is all about the dancing prowess of Bethany Kyle. In one long shot, she taunts, teases, and flirts with the viewer, guiding them through rooms and into her one-woman party. She’s a joy to watch, buoyed on the brilliance of Elder Island’s track.
74. Bambii, “Twitch”
This is a weird one. Half of the video is a standard party jam, though it’s all done in first person. The other half involves people being enamored of a pulsing, alien tumor that eventually rises to the sky. May all our encounters with the uncanny be so chill.
73. Man on Man, “Stohner”
Joey Holman and Roddy Bottum wanted to redefine what we think of as gay music when they penned the indie-rock track “Stohner,” and the video reflects that. Director Brendan McGowen presents a weird, but tender love story amidst the music that frankly dares the viewer to look away. As the commercialization of lesbian love tops charts, there is something very punk about how Holman and Bottum approached the other end of the spectrum.
72. Budderside, “Wide Awake”
Every year it seems like metal gets less and less innovative when it comes to music videos. That said, Budderside has a nervewrecker of a track with “Wide Awake” and just enough freaky occultism happening amidst the posturing to make the video worth a watch. It doesn’t hurt that everyone involved is very pretty.
71. Lights, “Prodigal Daughter”
Lights is bar-none my favorite living artist, but her music videos can be somewhat hit or miss. “Prodigal Daughter” is no “We Were Here,” but there’s definitely something magnetic in its frenzied parade of masks, snakes, and blood. She always manages to push things up to eleven, and here is no different.
70. Alice Glass, “Fair Game”
Roselle Seraphina stars in this gripping video about bondage to another person’s will. She grimly drags herself across a concrete floor while chained to weights. Ahead of her, Alice Glass asks what she would be without her. It’s quick, brutal, and very unnerving.
69. No Rome, “I Want U”
No Rome videos are always confusing. There’s sex, but also kung fu, but also people in water for no reason. It’s all thematically consistent, even if I couldn’t explain it to you. Best just to sit back and enjoy it.
68. Joshua Henry, “Guarantee”
Part of what makes “Guarantee” great is that just watching Joshua Henry move is addicting. More than that, the video and song are themselves commentary on what it’s like to become fixated on content creators through our screens. Going for that while also wanting the exposure that the medium promises is an ambitious conceit, but Henry pulls it off with style.
67. Justine Skye, “Intruded”
If Lost Highway had been a hip hop video, this is exactly what it would have looked like. Every time you think you have a handle on either the track or the visual, everything switches up and gets weirder. It’s not an easy watch, but there’s no arguing that it’s daring.
66. Dessa, “Bombs Away”
I never stop being amazed at how versatile Dessa (of Doomtree) is. I’m so used to her lightning quick raps that’s hearing her serenade with something as achingly sweet as “Bombs Away” was like witnessing a magic trick. The video compliments hers well, with Dessa maneuvering between giant soap bubbles as a metaphor for dogging explosions.
65. Joe Wong, “Minor + Nuclear Rainbow”
As long as we’re going to stare out the window and watch the world end, we should have good music. That’s the basically the premise of Joe Wong’s double single, which takes a slow, dirgey trip through the apocalypse accompanied by one heck of a pick up symphony. It’s not a happy time, but it’s a very moving one.
64. Nissim Black & Kosha Dillz, “The Hannukah Song 2.0”
Someone once told me that Jewish holidays can best be described as: “They tried to kill is. It didn’t work. Let’s eat.” After nearly two years of trauma, we’re all desperate for something feel good, and this take on Adam Sandler’s Hannukah classic has that in spades. Jolly, reverent, and also just a damn good hip hop track, Black and Dillz set the season perfectly.
63. Nick Vivid, “Blackmail”
Sometimes you realize your problems are only illusions in your own mind. That’s the theme running through “Blackmail.” Nick Vivid escapes a kidnapping and discovers… nothing. It’s a metaphorical lesson we could all learn.
62. essie + nap, “Loneliness”
So, 2021 was not exactly the robust recovery from COVID we all hoped it was, and a lot of people still remain isolated. Essie Riddle and Andrew Napoli offer a little light in their super sweet video for “Loneliness” as two people who managed to connect despite being worlds away from each other in an audio dose of pure serotonin.
61. Danny Golden, “Alien”
Despite the number of videos that hinge on dancing talent, very few of them seem to go the total interpretive dance route. Danny Golden fixes that marvelously in “Alien,” where a mask-wearing overlord puts a group through tests until they rebel against them. It’s corny at times, but damn if it didn’t put a huge grin on my face.
Tune in tomorrow for the next installment!
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