Finding the best music videos of indie and underground acts is no easy task. We look at hundreds, and we only accept the ones that transcend the medium in some way. Let's look at what we have.
20. body / negative feat. Void of Course, “The Big Sleep”
Directed by Eric Pritchard, “The Big Sleep” is a music video about memories. A young woman strolls dreamlike through deserts and oceans until she slowly realized that she is trapped in a hell of her own making. It’s a solid accompaniment to a superb work of dark, ethereal music from body/negative, and a feast for the eyes considering how hard it is to travel right now.
19. Opie Hendrix, “Unhappy People”
There was no shortage of political music videos this year, but Opie Hendrix’s melancholy take on the personal emptiness of the Trump administration touches a rare nerve. Hendrix himself is the dismal commander in chief, barely able to rise to the job as his empty Oval Office desk sits barren. It’s a great commentary on the sheer tiredness of the last four years.
18. Hyperbubble, “Banks of the Ohio”
The transition of San Antonio electropop band into synth-country has been a little weird, but it’s finally starting to take off in wonderful if bizarre ways. This teaser for their upcoming film, Synthesizers and Cowgirls, follows Jess DeCuir as she wanders ghostlike to a funeral for her own pop past in a hilarious parody of country tropes. I definitely want to see this movie now.
17. Mad Meg, “Functioning Adult”
One of the greatest workarounds of quarantine comes from Ilya Popenko, who deftly uses cardboard cutouts of Mad Meg to create a reasonable facsimile of The Beatles’ Hard Days Night. Still, I think the pandemic might have gotten to Popenko in the end, since he randomly starts eating his paper doll band. Until then, though, it’s actually a pretty neat adventure.
16. Spiritbox feat. Ryo Kinoshita, “Holy Roller”
“Holy Roller” is more of a heavy metal motion comic than an actual music video, but it still kicks more ass than magnetic boots in a room full of robots. Inspired by manga like Hellsing, it’s a pulp fiction nightmare from DeadEyesArt that is instantly unforgettable.
15. In Hearts Wake, “Dystopia”
The video for “Dystopia” is a drone’s eye view of a world where entropy and creation run backward and everything is reaching the end of its cycle before being born anew. It puts into images the dread and hope we’ve all felt this year, and for all that In Hearts Wake is heavy as hell the final product is one of hope for a new dawn.
14. SKYND Feat Bill $aber, “Columbine”
We didn’t talk a lot about school shootings this year for obvious reasons, but once the end of the world is over it’s going to have to be a topic once again. “Columbine” reminds us that the specter of that madness is just waiting for normalcy to return, terrible as that idea is. It’s a very gruesome video, but one that we need to have.
13. Thao & The Get Down, “Phenom”
I suppose it was inevitable that someone this year would take the Zoom call and craft a music video that turned it into something magic, but its still impressive to see how damned well Erin S. Murray and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux were able to use the format we have all come to hate. Now that this video exists, there’s no reason for thousands of others to copy it, so please don’t.
12. Bright Eyes, “Mariana Trench”
Art Camp delivers a fantastic, animated adventure video celebrating the natural world as skyscrapers burn. Imagine if Steve Barron (“Take On Me”) had made Princess Mononoke, and you sort of have the idea. It’s an absolute gift of a music video that brings an instant smile. More music videos should involve riding bears.
11. Ashley Worhol, “Listen to the Wind”
I am truly a sucker for sad women in white wandering the woods as they contemplate the darkness in their own souls. Joking aside, Houston’s own Ashley Worhol made this video as an artistic representation of her anxiety, and according to her she even had a panic attack on set. She’s always been one to wear her emotions on her sleeve, and this is some of her finest work.
The final countdown is up next!
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