Never before have I agonized so hard over the picks for best music video of the year because never before have I had the kind of selection that 2012 offered. The art form is alive and well like never before, and we are entering a new renaissance of cinemaudio. Today we reach the videos you simply cannot miss from the past year
5. Islands, "Hallways"
Lex Halaby and Toben Seymour teamed with Islands' Nick Thorburne to do what Tim Burton, Henry Selick, and Danny Elfman tried so desperately to do in Corpse Bride, but in the end failed.
"Hallways" is as light-hearted and fun as it is technically impressive with its puppet skeleton band. The bridge where the dad band looks confused when Thorburne disappears only to return as a fellow skeleton is pure whimsy, if a bit bloody and eyeballsy.
4. Is Tropical, "The Greeks"
Not as bloody as what MEGAFORCE did to Is Tropical's "The Greeks!" Holy crap, have you ever really wondered what children who have grown up in the post 9/11 years see in their heads as they play soldiers and terrorists? Now you can see it in the kind of over-the-top bloodbath Quentin Tarantino would say was a bit much. The fact that it's kids holding the war makes it both cute and way more disturbing.
3. AgesandAges, "Navy Parade (Escape From the Black River Bluffs)"
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"Navy Parade" came out in 2011, but I missed it until after the annual countdown. But for one whole year, I haven't been able to get this amazing video out of my head. Tim Perry told me he had been inspired to pen this song by his grandfather, who was only saved from a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Navy (he fell asleep on his watch) by the attack on Pearl Harbor, after which every seaman was required to help rebuild the fleet. Perry's grandfather carried the guilt of his trespass for years, and his grandson saw the effect of that guilt on him. The video captures that effect of that guilt perfectly.
2. Youth Lagoon, "July"
There is no other video in the world like "July," which dances around Youth Lagoon's ethereal melodies as a freak shortening of the distance between the Earth and the moon causes widespread nosebleeds and death. A couple is called from a night out only to see people they love die all around them, even as they themselves try to care for a man they believe they have killed after a fight. It's such a beautifully hopeless end of the world.
1. The Manichean, "Leopards"
Houston has a band in a class by itself with The Manichean. Justice and Cory are continuously the creators of music that simply doesn't belong on this Earth. I was avoiding their first music video like the plague. I just didn't want to see a band I admired so much possibly fail at something. I should have had faith.
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"Leopards" is a spoken-word song set over a man eaten up with guilt and mental illness methodically preparing to commit hara kiri. Somewhere in the midst of this is a woman covered in blood. Every single second of it is seeped in the feelings of regret and pain, but also a hope for some sort of redemption beyond death. It's the most wonderful and terrible thing I have ever laid eyes on, and it is No. 1 for that reason.