When I was in high school I had ambitions of becoming a music video director. I've always loved both music & film, & to me, this career choice seemed like a perfect combination of two of my passions- plus I really enjoyed music videos as an art form & obsessively watched as many as I could in order to learn as much about the history of music videos as possible. All was going well when I got into my dream film course at university, but one year down the line I realised it wasn't meant to be when it turned out that, well, I'm not all that good at making films, nor did I enjoy it. I much prefer to watch, learn & write about film, and so today I'm going to share with you a few of my favourite music videos & video directors.
Chris Cunningham: Bjork - All Is Full Of Love
This is my favourite music video of all time. I remember watching an interview or listening to a commentary years ago where Bjork said she wanted the white substance to feel milky & warm because love is like that & it stuck with me. This video is so delicate and beautiful, and despite being full of machinery & robotics still manages to convey a human tenderness- it gives me chills. Chris Cunningham has directed a lot of weird stuff over the years, Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy & Windowlicker are brilliant but total brain melters (Come To Daddy still scares the crap out of me), The Horror's Sheena Is A Parasite is good with a cool cameo from Samantha Morton but I hate the song & his experimental short film Rubber Johnny is possibly one of the most bizarre but compelling things I have ever seen. If you decide to click on any of the links to check out his work, keep in mind that it's not for the faint-hearted & there is a lot of swearing.
Floria Sigismondi: Interpol - Obstacle 1
I was so obsessed with this song when it first came out (which was ten years ago, I feel far too old) & remember thinking the video was so cool. I love Floria Sigismondi's work because her visuals are always so beautiful but with a slightly creepy or off-putting edge that's hard to quite put your finger on. In this the girl's erratic dancing is kind of disjointed & unnatural, the whole thing gives me a 'Sadako climbing out of the tv' in The Ring vibe. Plus the cords on the floor looks a bit like stringy wet hair to me & that's always kind of grossed me out, (which is weird I know, but I do totally hate getting a wet strand of hair stuck on me in the shower, or worse, when I'm blow-drying my hair). Floria has directed lots of other amazing videos with a beautiful-creepy vibe; Blue Orchid by The White Stripes, Untitled #1 (Vaka) by Sigur Ros, Fighter by Christina Aguilera & E.T. by Katy Perry are some of my favourites. She also directed Cult of Cherry & Hello Kitty shorts for MAC & the recent film The Runways with Kristen Stewart & Dakota Fanning.
Spike Jonze: Fatboy Slim - Weapon Of Choice
It was SO hard to choose a fave Spike Jonze video because he's done a lot of awesome ones, I almost went with The Beastie Boys' Sabotage (amazing, watch it), but this one with Christopher Walken whizzing about a hotel lobby won out- plus I really love this song too. I like the imaginative & humorous elements Jonze adds to his work, seen in his work on Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet & Fatboy Slim's Praise You. He also worked with Kanye West on his video for Flashing Lights (one of my faves) & he directed Kanye & Jay-Z's Otis, which is a bit of a break from his usual style but fantastic regardless. Jonze has also directed a handful of feature films, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation & Where The Wild Things Are, which are three excellent movies that you should definitely watch, Malkovich especially.
Jonas Akerlund: The Cardigans - My Favourite Game
This is such a brilliant song & I LOVE this video with ethereal lead singer Nina Persson as an out of control maniac driving down a long highway with total disregard to everything around her. I've actually included the short version of this video because I think that even though the longer one makes more narrative sense, I've always like that the short verson focused exclusively on Persson for the entire duration of the video. The video that is probably Akerlund's most famous & most controversial is for The Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up, but his body of work is quite impressive all throughout his career, having directed videos such as Madonna's Ray of Light & Blink-182's I Miss You. He has also recently worked with Lady Gaga on her videos for Paparazzi & Telephone (which I almost picked for my fave Akerlund video- I think it's AMAZING). He also directed the movie Spun with Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke & Debbie Harry, amongst others, playing various people involved in a crystal meth drug ring, which I, ahem, have not actually seen but keep meaning to.
Michel Gondry: The Chemical Brothers - Let Forever Be
Gondry is unbelievably creative- his visual style is extremely innovative & often involves fantastical or surreal elements, and this is definitely evident in this video for Let Forever Be. He has also directed some of the best music videos of all time, including but not limited to, Bjork's Army Of Me, The White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl & Daft Punk's Around the World- all amazing! Gondry has also directed quite a few feature films, including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep & Be Kind Rewind. I love that Gondry has an almost immediately identifiable quirky, colourful style, & I'm looking forward to seeing more feature film work from him with a couple more slated for release later this year & early next.
What about you guys? Any music videos that are particular favourites of yours? Or maybe directors that I haven't mentioned? Let me know!