Following the rundowns of my Top Five Cover Songs and Top Ten Guitar Solos, I've decided to rank my favorite music videos this week. As was the case with my other countdowns, these picks are my favorites. The videos on this list are the ones I enjoy the most. Had this list been based purely off of legacy and the public's general opinion, it would obviously be populated my more influential artists/videos such as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (or any of his other videos, for that matter.) Instead I've presented the videos I feel complement the song most aptly and are just plain interesting to watch. I'm sure I've forgotten even some of my favorites, and definitely left out some of yours, so if you feel anything missed out that you would've liked to have seen here, let me know in the comments. So without further delay, here are my top ten music videos of all time.
10. Coldplay - "The Scientist"
Before Coldplay took a turn for the worse, ditching their sincere acoustic elements for a more manufactured pop sound, the released 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head. The album's second single, "The Scientist," is a beautifully chilling piano ballad. While the song may be the band's best, the accompanying music video certainly is. Shot using special camera techniques, the entire clip plays backwards, and follows lead singer Chris Martin as he (literally) backtracks to the video's twist. The whole played-in-reverse idea may seem gimmicky, especially during the shots of a basketball game being played backwards. But the technique is integral to the video's strength, which is driven by the shock reveal near the video's end.
9. Hole - "Doll Parts"
Filmed shortly after the suicide of and Nirvana front-man and singer Courtney Love's husband Kurt Cobain, Hole's "Doll Parts" video is packed with emotion and not-so-subtle symbolism. Shot mostly in black and white, the video features appearances from "Kurt," who is portrayed by a look-alike actor. Considering she wrote the song to describe her love for her late husband, Courtney's performance in the clip is outstanding. Essentially, she's singing a love song to her dead husband whom was taken from her in the cruelest way imaginable. You can hear and see Love's bitterness and pain clearly in "Doll Parts," making it one of the most powerful music videos ever.
8. 30 Seconds to Mars - "From Yesterday"
30 Seconds to Mars are well-known for their elaborate and epic music videos, and "From Yesterday" is a perfect example of why. The band's singer, Jared Leto, gained recognition and respect as an actor in films like Requiem for a Dream before showcasing his versatility and forming the band. It makes sense a musician with acting roots would put as much effort into his music videos as Leto does. Directed by Leto, "From Yesterday" is a grandiose work in which the band members are transported to ancient China and are forced by the young Emperor to fight to the death. It may sound cheesy, and in some ways it is, but Leto is a master of creating stunning visuals. The bizarre yet intriguing storyline gets more and more interesting as the video continues on, and the song itself is no pushover either.
7. Foo Fighters - "Walk"
Paying homage to the cult classic film Falling Down, "Walk" is one of the goofiest and hysterical videos around. Band leader, rock legend, and famously hilarious musician Dave Grohl finds himself in unique and funny situations as he abandons his guitar in a traffic jam and goes on a bizarre walk through Los Angeles. Over the course of his trip, he commandeers a golf cart and stops a mugging, among others. I don't want to give away too much, for that would ruin the fun of it, so instead you can see for yourself above.
6. Radiohead - "Just"
The video that left thousands frustrated, Radiohead's "Just" portrays a man who simply lies down in the middle of a sidewalk for no apparent reason. A crowd gathers, all desperate to find out why the man is lying on the ground. Once the man finally tells them, the subtitles mischievously stop, leaving fans asking "what did he say?!?!" There's probably some symbolism here for how the public is too curious nowadays, or something of the like, but all I really want to know is what on earth he said. It's been almost twenty years and still no answer has come, so it seems likely we'll never know for sure. A quick browse through the comments provides some funny suggestions, though they don't make much sense until the twist is revealed.
5. Hole - "Miss World"
Yes, I'm breaking my usual "one song per artist" rule, but for good reason. Courtney Love is both the queen of '90's music videos and the prom in Hole's "Miss World" clip. Donned with an excessive amount of makeup, Love is crowned homecoming queen at a dance. The statement being made here is that the world values outer beauty more than inner beauty, as signified by the contrast between Love's glamorous dance persona and the grittier band performance. Backed by the adage "cleanliness is next to godliness," Love shows the deeper side to Hole's grunge sound in "Miss World"'s lyrics and video.
4. Marilyn Manson - "The Beautiful People"
Sporting a similar message to Hole's "Miss World" video described just above, shock-rocker Marilyn Manson lashes out at the public's perception of beauty in a more abrasive and disturbing way for his "Beautiful People" video. In the clip's alternate world, people and objects our society would consider ugly and/or scary are seen as beautiful. Awesomely creepy and dark, "The Beautiful People" scathingly tells the audience that good looks are all based on preconceived notions shaped by society and not our nature.
3. Nirvana - "Heart-Shaped Box"
Now that his wife's band Hole has been on the list twice, it's only fair Kurt Cobain and Nirvana crack my top ten. The controversial "Heart-Shaped Box" is, like many others on this list, filled to the brim with symbolism. The bleak visuals complement the song's sound and meaning well, making it one of the most iconic videos of the 1990's.
2. Johnny Cash - "Hurt"
I went into plenty of detail about Cash's video in my Top 5 Cover Songs post in August, which you can view by clicking the hyperlinked blue text at the top of this post, so I'll break it down in a simpler way here. The song is a cover, with the original Nine Inch Nails version portraying suicide in a very dark way. Cash, however, completely changes the mood of the song, making it about someone who doesn't want to say goodbye rather than one who has no other option. The video was released just months before Cash's death, serving as his final goodbye to his fans. Clearly in poor health, the decrepit country singer sits in a dusty old mansion, surrounded by memorabilia from his legendary musical career. It's an amazingly powerful video, even bringing Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor to the brink of tears when he first saw it, making it easy to understand why many consider this one of the greatest music videos of all time.
1. Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"
The #1 video on my list is Arcade Fire's clip for their title track to their 2010 masterpiece The Suburbs. The video depicts the disintegration of a friendship between a group of teenagers as what was an innocent summer develops into a full-scale military invasion. Directed by Spike Jonze, the video is actually a cut-down version of the thirty-minute short film produced in collaboration with the band, called Scenes from the Suburbs. Dark, twisted, realistic, relatable, and beautiful, "The Suburbs" lands at the top spot on this countdown.
As always, thanks for reading. It was tough to narrow the list down to 10, so below I'll list some honorable mentions. Be on the lookout for my FIFA 14 review soon!
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Sacrilege," "Maps"
Local Natives - "You & I"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California"
OK GO - "This Too Shall Pass," "Here It Goes Again"