Top 5: Self-Directed Music Videos of 2017
Music videos can be tough to get right. Sure, there are the Beyonces of the world, the Kendricks, the Frank Oceans who nail it every time, but for every high-concept film, there are a million dull-as-dishwater film clips clogging up Youtube. That's why I've got very into the idea of the self-directed music video: if the artist is in charge of their own video-destiny, more often than not they'll work innovatively to create something visually arresting that matches their musical concept.
Here are the artists who've been killing the game for me this year.
Charli XCX ‘Boys’
When I grow up I wanna be Charli XCX. Forget that she’s actually younger than me (I said forget it!), she is the dream woman. All I wanna do is direct some hot guys around and be responsible for one of the best music videos of the year, is that too much too ask? I mean literally she’s got it all in the ‘Boys’ video. Stormzy eating cereal? Check. Riz Ahmed cuddling a teddy? Check. My ultimate crush Mac DeMarco licking a guitar fretboard? Check check check CHECK *chhhhheck* (to the tune of Monica from Friends’ whispering ‘seven’).
Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘Deadly Valentine’
Queen of all things chic Charlotte Gainsbourg’s most recent album cycle has been an absolute joy. My favourite thing about the whole process has been this video; a three-part journey through the lives of two companions, bound together forever by some kind of fated love. Although the pair are lovers and eventually marry, I’m most into the strong sense of best-friendship that flows between Charlotte’s character and her eventual-husband played (who, by the way, is played with sombre sensuality by light of my life Dev Hynes). Although the video itself is highly stylised, that sense of companionship feels real and natural to the point that I shed a little tear each time the video reaches its climax.
Laura Marling 'Next Time'
The 'Next Time' video is the second part of the lush self-directed trio of films that welcomed Laura Marling's Semper Femina into the world. Just like the album's title suggests, Marling's focus in her new music, and in her videos, is women and womanhood. 'Next Time' bears a disconcerting potency - a woman dances alone, performing a ritual, as though attempting an exorcism. Sharp cuts imbue the dancing woman with a kind of shapeshifting mysticism. Perhaps she's trying to cast something - or someone - out of her system. Better watch the last video of the trio to see if it works...
M.I.A absolutely nails this video, creating a rich and textured visual world for her politically charged track. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Solange’s ‘Cranes In The Sky’ film from last year, but unlike the slow, delicate movements of Solange and her crew in ‘Cranes’, the choreography in ‘P.O.W.A.’ is daring and muscular and urgent. I dare you to watch that massive ripple flow through those dancers like a sheet blowing in the wind and not feel a buzz of adrenaline.
The Blaze 'Territory'
I've saved the best for last. One minute in and I'm sobbing before I even know why. If there's one thing The Blaze are good at, it's representing dance as a communal act of connection in brotherhood (see their video for 'Virile'). Here it's used to show a potent masculinity. A displaced man returns to his homeland, his family, his faith, and he begins to walk a tightrope between intense self-possession and wild abandon; eventually emotion too-long restrained finally bursts its banks. I don't know man, it just makes me feel some stuff.
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