TWJ’s Best Videos of 2011

This has been a great year for music videos.  2011 saw Thom Yorke’s seizure, Lana Del Rey’s lips, and Tyler, the Creator’s vomit.  But none of those come close to what the lesser known artists -the ones with the most at stake- have created.  Somehow, directors in countries like Finland are finding emerging artists in North America and beyond, and collaborating on some of the most heart-wrenching/stomach-retching/soul-etching clips I’ve seen in a long time.  And considering I grew up with the Chasin’ Waterfalls and the Thong Songs, that’s either saying a lot or nothing at all.  We’ll leave it up to you to decide when you see the clips.

For the complete list of TWJ’s favorite music videos of 2011, and hours of goodness, you could/should visit the YouTube playlist here.  But to see The Wounded Jukebox’s top 10 music videos for 2011, scroll on down.

10. Is Tropical – “The Greeks” (Directed by MEGAFORCE, Animated by 7)

Blood, drugs, and explosions.  When we were little boys -and this really only pertains to boys- we ran around with Nerf guns and plastic knives pretending, imagining, wiiiiishing that we were the little badasses the kids in the video obviously are.  We killed our best friends in all sorts of gory ways, but never had the special effects to express the vastness of our grit.  Parisian visual creators Megaforce do that vicariously for us in  this clip.  And it’s awesome.  Good thing too, because the song is terrible.

9. Chairlift – “Amanaemonesia” (Directed by Chairlift)

Plenty of tongue-in-cheek is intended, but I can’t help but be helplessly mesmerized by Caroline Polachek in a leotard.  The sound, words, and visuals are (very) tightly married in a swell example of a simple and effective way to get your song and its meaning (or lack of) across to the viewer.  And can you imagine the courage it takes to wear such a garment?  Not to mention the gall it took to approach the money guy with such an idea for a video.  “So there’s gonna be this girl in body glove…”


8. Spoek Mathambo – “Control” (Directed and shot by Pieter Hugo and Michael Cleary)

The South African’s music is often called  “Afro-futurism“, defined as “an emergent literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past”.  Pbbbbbbtth.  Spoek Mathambo makes intelligent, socially conscious Hip-Hop.  But “Control” and its big brother video scare the hell out of me.  If any sort of future is like this, I’ll be the first to dive underground.  But at the same time, every single frame of this Joy Division homage begs to be replayed and re-examined, like a brutal truth delivered at warp speed.


7. When Saints Go Machine – “Add Ends” (Directed by Dawn Carol Garcia)

I HATE movies that start off in hospitals.  Might have something to do with how much I hate hospitals.  But it always seems like the movie is starting off at the sterilized end of things.  And because of that, I almost didn’t watch the clip from Danish Pop group When Saints Go Machine.  But the video for “Add Ends” is all about fighting that inevitable end, staring the Grim Reaper in the eye sockets and telling him to STUFF IT UP YOUR ARSE.  And so begins the truncated journey of the coolest old guy on this list.


6. Woodkid – “Iron” (Directed by Yoann Lemoine)

The same person who directed Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die”, and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” video directed this.  And if you just ran mentally away, please come back, because Yoann Lemoine, known as Woodkid in the musical world, is an amazingly talented person, able to make the music for and direct the 6th best music video of the year.  The visuals for “Iron” are inexplicably awe inspiring (the shot at 2:58 is RIDICULOUS); rendering the wrath of Heaven itself into a slow-motion barrage of smoke and ash.  The crew on this shoot included a cinematographer, a 3d artist, and a “flame artist”.  “Iron” is so beautifully brutal, it’s the only video on this list that made me say: “F*ckin’ A”.


5. Oh Land – “White Nights” (Directed by CANADA)

“Sun Of A Gun” annoyed the bajeezes out of me, so I stayed far away from the music of Nanna Øland Fabricius until this video arrived in our inbox.  The special-effect free video for “White Nights” features a multitude of scenes straight from her dreams.  Proving how smart she is, Fabricus sought out and traveled to Spain in order to work with Barcelona’s increasingly amazing CANADA collective for her most ambitious video.  The sets, costumes, and dancing all make this video charming to watch.  Every time you do, a grandmother bakes cookies for her grandchildren.

4. Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math” (Directed by Daniels)

Amazing everything.  Amazing song, amazing vision, amazing editing, and amazing everything.  The second 3:13 hits, and the world is exploding and spinning, you’re literally thrown for a loop around a story that’s fundamentally about loss, but surrounded by pictures that rips the mind from its lazy bed of emotions.  Plus, the scene at 1:37 where the father “airbags” his son in the face is maliciously hilarious.  I am a horrible person.  But this video is amazing.


3. Youth Lagoon – “Montana” (Directed by Tyler T. Williams)

The Tyler T Williams video for “Montana” is not number 1 because while it’s gorgeously shot with light filling every frame up with glory, it is a chore to sit through once you know the ending.  And after watching this video a gazillion times, I only have accolades for the feat of how “well-done” it is.  The editing alone is miraculous.  Through that, the story of a son and his father is wonderfully wrought.  The only flaw here is how odd a fit the video and song are.  At the most potent and tear-producing moment, Youth Lagoon’s trill electronic whistle is back at work, casting the whole video in a goofy hindsight.  It ruins it for me.  So all we can do is admire William’s wonderful, wonderful video, however misplaced it may be.


2. Bart Constant – “Do Better” (Directed by Mirka Duijn & Nina Spiering)

One was made for the other, I’m convinced of it.  Film directors Mirka Duijn & Nina Spiering and musician Bart Constant were all born of one soul, and wrote/framed the exquisite “Do Better” in harmony with each other.  There’s no other way to explain how exactly well the song and the video go together.  I think I watched this 7 minute 18 second video over fifty times this year, repeatedly amazed by the acting, the paired song and story crescendos, and the camera work.  Forever after this, well-muscled blonde girls are good, and lipsticked raven-haired women are bad.  Circuses are good.  Circus swings are bad.  When my daughter says she really loves someone, I will really listen.  But i’ll still hate the guy or girl that takes her away from me.


1. Delay Trees – “About Brothers” (Directed by Teemu Erämaa)

Directed by Finland’s  Teemu Erämaa, the smile pasting video for Delay Trees‘ “About Brothers” features the best casting choice of the century.  The director’s brother, Tomi, is the Fedora-ed wizard of paper, conjuring life from pulp and graphite.  The robots and seductive ladies he draws (Tomi really drew them!) actually get up off the page and follow Tomi on a romp through flowered fields and pastures.  But what really grabs me is the realism.  Not how real the paper mechanoids look (though Erämaa does wonders with that), but how real the smiles on Tomi’s face are!  He’s so addictively giddy and genuine throughout his adventure (I’m smiling just writing this) that I’m certain his brother told him “ok, you’re dancing with robots now”, and Tomi delighted in, and imagined such a thing.  This video is that much more real and more heart-warming, because Tomi makes it so.  It kinda renews my faith in the human race a little.  What a thing for a music video to do.  It’s the best of the year.


And for the complete list of the year’s 62 best music videos click here.




The Wounded Jukebox

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  2. December 16, 2011

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