There's no doubt that Spike Jonze is an enigma of a director and artist. He's worked in all types of mediums: he filmed bullriders at the Astrodome, changed the world of skateboard videography, and visually recreated the brilliance of Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. Plus, he's made us all want to buy things like Adidas shoes and an Ikea lamp-ugh.
Most importantly -- for this Rocks Off rep, specifically -- he's captured the essence of modern music for 20 years now; starting with Sonic youth in 1992 and expanding his cache to 2011 with Jay-Z and Kanye West. Of course, there's many more artists in between, from the likes of Beck and Pavement.
We're taking a look back at the past two decades of Jonze's music videos and hand-picking the most memorable. What were some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
Sonic Youth, "100%" (1992)
Skateboarding, flannel and Jason Lee when he was a skateboarder...long before he was acting with Chipmunks. This was the golden age for skateboarders and Lee's "acting" roles in music videos would soon land him a role in Kevin Smith's Mallrats.
The Breeders, "Cannonball" (1993)
How could we leave this one? one The video for The Breeders' first single from Last Splash was co-directed by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.
Beastie Boys, "Sabotage" (1994)
If you were watching MTV during this time, you probably caught this video at least once a day. It's entertaining, it's like a TV show; an homage to the 70's cop shows like Starsky and Hutch. In this video, the Beastie Boys all play roles in the "Sabotage" show. Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting, credits his movie's opening credits video to Jonze's "Sabotage."
R.E.M., "Electrolite" (1997)
An ode to the end of the 20th century and the Los Angeles actors who helped mold it, "Electrolite" is one of Michael Stipe's favorite R.E.M. songs. While the video doesn't do much to incorporate the focus of the lyrics (Mulholland Drive), it does depict people in the city being chained to their activities. It also shows the band driving cars that resemble the one used in Jay-Z and Kanye's "Otis" video.
This video was shot after Biggie's death, but Jonze still captured an image of the deceased rapper and his crew. Jonze used children to portray Notorious B.I.G, Puff Daddy, Lil' Kim, and Busta Rhymes, driving flashy cars and livin' large. There were typical hip-hop video elements: The pool, mansion, club, luxury car, expensive clothing; what set this video apart, however, were the kids and their likeness to the characters.
Fatboy Slim, "Praise You" (1998)
Jonze was leading flashmobs before it was a "thing." Seriously, he's the dance instructor in this video, Richard Koufey. Jonze, still under the alias of Koufey, and his troupe performed at the MTV Video Music Awards that year and received three awards: Best Direction, Breakthrough, and Choreography.
Fatlip, "What's Up, Fatlip?" (2000)
Fatlip was the last member to join the Pharcyde, but one of the first to quit. Jonze did a mini-documentary on the rapper, who has only released one solo album since leaving the Pharcyde. In the documentary, Fatlip speaks openly and extremely candidly about his relationship with the group, an accidental gay encounter, and his solo endeavors.
Ludacris has been in some cool videos throughout the years, but "Get Back" has to be the most memorable. With his Hulk super-sized arms, Luda beats a bugaboo down in the restroom after being harassed while taking a piss. Sidenote: the harasser is Fatlip of The Pharcyde.
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It has nothing to do with the Watch the Throne hype, "Otis" is simply a quality song and video. Jonze-heads and hip-hop heads alike might argue that there are better rap videos than this, but we stand firm.
"Otis" captures Jigga and Yeezy in a playful light, without the flash. Granted, they are still promoting the shit out of their album, but it's still soulful and very low on "swag."