30. Agnes Obel, “Camera’s Rolling”
I have no idea why three minutes of out of focus footage of a dog made me start uncontrollably sobbing, but there it is. Something about “Camera’s Rolling” is soul-destroying, and I’m afraid to watch it again to tell you what it is. Maybe we're all just raw from the dumpster fire of the year. I'm going to go pet my cat.
29. Darwin’s Finches, “Sanitary Lanny”
It just would be a Houston Press music video countdown without some bizarre entry from Darwin’s Finches. This year, we got a Claymation dance party starring an old man who practices good quarantine behavior while also shooting cardboard boxes in his home. Darwin’s Finches never fails to deliver something off the beaten path, and I’m elated this at least remained consistent in 2020.
28. Wolf Parade, “Under Glass”
The award for the most incongruent video of the year goes to “Under Glass,” which mixes an upbeat pop song with some truly nauseating body horror to create… something. It’s endearing for all that it also makes you want to throw up.
27. Solemn Vision, “A Perch for Demons”
This year’s entry in the sub-genre of Metal Band Rocks Out While Unrelated Goth Chicks Do Spooky/Violent Things is “A Perch For Demons.” The music itself is ball-destroying, the setting appropriately creepy, and the murderous breakdown of its leading ladies engaging. Overall, a perfect example of a niche brand of video. For another good example from 2020, also check out Davey Suicide's "Animal."
26. Vanessa Carlton, “Die, Dinosaur”
This year has been really strange when it comes to artistic voices speaking out against the government. Who would have thought that Mary Engelbreit or Richard Marx would become unapologetic critics of an increasingly fascist America? Add Vanessa Carlton to that list because “Die, Dinosaur” could not be clearer when it comes to telling the hateful, ignorant powers of the world to crawl into their waiting graves. It’s refreshing and surprising from the person who wrote possibly the whitest song ever.
25. Hartnoll & Young, “I’m Going Shopping”
Every step outside your house still feels like taking your own life in your hands, and Hartnoll & Young capture the absurdity and horror of that idea like no other. Partnered up with animator Giles Thacker, their music video for the song looks like it takes place in a Twine game and yet still has a compelling charm. By the way, sales of the track benefit NHS Charities Together, so don’t just watch it, buy it.
24. Louis the Child feat. Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler, “Little Things”
One of the most feel-good music videos of the entire year comes from this collaboration between Louis the Chi/d, Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler. Animated in a whimsical paper style, it is a pure shout of the power of love across all places and situations. Truly, it was one of the great bright spots of the year.
23. Portugal. The Man feat. “Weird Al” Yankovic, “Who’s Gonna Stop Me”
Made in partnership with the PTM Foundation, “Who’s Gonna Stop Me” is a collaboration between mainstream pop and indigenous voices. Though it’s more political statement than music video for a lot of its run, there’s no denying the song itself is amazing as is the heart that clearly went into reminding us of the native people’s we have too often oppressed. Plus, Weird Al appears singing an unfunny song, so that's worth watching just for the sheer strangeness.
22. Will Wood, “Laplace’s Angel”
Extra points should always be given to a band that employs real human remains in their music video because I know for a verifiable fact that skulls are hard to get. The fact that this looks like a gothic ska concert held in Wilde Collection is just a bonus. Will Wood is the spooky bacchanal that 2020 needs.
21. La Femme, Paradigme
Everything I just said about “Laplace’s Angel,” minus the human remains, but plus spooky cabaret girls playing trombones. Overall, it’s a good year for Grand Guignol, especially since another artist further below in the countdown returned to pop music. I hope the future continues to be gaudy, goth, and a little bit jazzy.
Stay tuned for the top of the list!
The Best Music Videos of 2020 You Probably Missed:
Part 1: 50-41
Part 2: 40-31