40. The Unfit, “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels”
CONTENT WARNING: Animal experimentation
If you wanted to learn about how scientists studied aggression in animals when basic needs start to be taken away while listening to a killer punk song, here you go. It’s uncomfortable, but enlightening, and in a huge economic downturn the information might just be useful.
39. Braids, “Snow Angel”
“Snow Angel” is a nine-minute investment. It’s long enough that watching it on YouTube it was interrupted by an ad for a juice cleanse when I saw it, which conflicts a little with its message of taking responsibility of a broken world, to put it mildly. If you can invest the time in it, though, you can get a lot of out this incredible poem/song and its brilliant winter cinematography. It’s probably not as deep as it thinks it is, but it’s just deep enough to get lost in.
38. Man Man, “Future Peg”
It was an absurd year, and music videos should reflect that. Director Stephanie Ward went all in the “wait, what?” factor here. Insert Stefon voice: “'Future Peg' has everything. Ballerinas on ice cream sandwiches, coked up Ewoks, teeth falling out.” Enjoy the parade of oddities.
37. Zach Heckendorf, “Stronger Than I Once Was”
Only Kate Bush seems to have really embraced the shadow puppet as a music video tool, but even she doesn’t do it nearly as well as it’s done in “Stronger Than I Once Was.” Heckendorf and animator Andrew Benincasa create a triumphant, bloody tale of evolution that is riveting to follow, with Heckendorf playing narrator in a wonderful bit of performance.
36. Another Sky, “Brave Face”
A lot of bands try to make great videos that are centered on minimalist, interpretive dance performances, but very few can actually pull that off. For instance, _BY.ALEXANDER tried to make it happen with Gary Busey this year and just... no. A rare exception is vocalist Catrin Vincent under the direction of Ingeborg Løvlie. Together, they manage to weave a dark, empty narrative of connection to nature that is fairly inspiring as well as being beautiful.
35. The Vansaders, “Walking Between Raindrops”
Introspective videos are all the rage now that we’re housebound, but “Walking Between Raindrops” lets you do all that obnoxious soul-searching quickly and set to a killer pop punk track. The video is made by D. I. Why? Films, and it’s drags a viewer through a maze of memories in the form of photographs, slowly revealing a mirror that we’ll have to look into stripped from all the context of life. The headfirst fall through is a hell of a trip, and makes for a fine video.
34. Uniform, “Life in Remission”
I’m just going to quote director A.F. Cortes on this one:
"With this video, I wanted to use the body as a communication tool of chaos. A deconstruction story told through ritual and action. Two friends’ bond is gone wrong from a visceral and perverse perspective. Inspired by abstract expressionism, instead of playing opposites with the music, I wanted to match its intensity like a Jackson Pollock painting, a piece that feels filthy, messy, claustrophobic, yet beautiful and contained."
33. Jehnny Beth, “We Will Sin Together”
I personally hate it when a band refers to their music video as a short film because it kind of reeks of pretentiousness. That said, “We Will Sin Together” is definitely an artistic collaboration that transcends the idea of a song’s promotional material. Directed by Tom Hingston and Markus Lehtonen and starring dancers Stevie Mahoney and Mina Neighbour, it’s three minutes of incredible human movement and camera work that rolls across moving statues like a silk drape being pulled slowly off of them. Exquisite is the only word to describe it.
32. Bob Vylan, “We Live Here”
For sheer anti-racist rage, there’s no beating England’s answer to our own B L A C K I E, Bob Vylan. The video itself is pretty pedestrian, more or less just band shots in the streets, but sometimes the raw power of a song’s rage can overpower the lack of cinematic ingenuity. This is definitely one of those times. In a year where most of us have had to scream at someone about their backward-ass bigotry, “We Live Here” is one hell of a battlecry.
31. Palaye Royale, “Little Bastards”
In the animated music video for “Little Bastards,” Palaye Royale stops drinking tea long enough to fight an army of demon rats with the power of rock and roll. Sure, why not? Yeah, The Gorillaz already did it, but being second best to The Gorillaz in a music video concept is not an insult.
It's only going to get weirder and more wonderful from here on out. Tune in for Part 3.
The Best Music Videos of 2020 You Probably Missed:
Part 1: 50-41