Tunes on the TV – 5

So this is it. Five of five, the last in a long line of lists celebrating the often-cerebral art of music video direction.

Over the course of the last few weeks we have seen it all. From the bleakness of Portishead’s Over and the personal narrative of Massive Attack’s semi-suicidal Live With Me, through to the lo-fi smack you in the face comedy of Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem, and The Joker, Fatboy Slim’s tongue in cheek clip about cats on a night out in the city.

The highs have been plentiful, and the lows pretty much non-existent (this is, after all, a best of list). 36 entries made it onto our pages, touching on everything from IDM and experimental electronica to progressive house, breakbeat and rave. We’re not professing to this being a comprehensive overview of all promo videos worth their weight in reels, more attempting to highlight what was done right on the path to today’s final instalment.

Here’s where we are then. Five short films, all unique in their own way. Each shows a startlingly different approach to the process, and not a single one is anything short of what we would describe as mind-blowing. These are in order, so if you’re not in agreement please feel free to speak up. It’s not been an easy task, coming to this decision, so before the diatribes begin consider our reasoning and then give us yours. As with anything like this, it’s all about subjectivity, though you’d be hard pushed to find someone who wouldn’t agree that at least one of the following is worthy of this throne…

5. Daft Punk Da Funk / Directed by Spike Jonze

While Jonze and Daft Punk both appeared more than once in the series, this is really the best clip for both act and director. By ignoring all the norms of music videos (i.e. taking the focus away from the soundtrack) Hollywood’s golden boy proves why even as a commercial filmmaker he stood out from the crowd umpteen million miles away. It’s heartfelt, honest and pretty damn weird, which explains a lot about the man’s movies.

4. Aphex Twin Windowlicker / Directed by Chris Cunningham

Producer and videomaker have worked together on so many groundbreaking clips trying to pick the highlight took some time. This wins out though, as the tune is inviting and the imagery familiar territory to anyone who has ever watched MTV. What makes it so special, though, is the way in which these norms are turned completely on their heads, and anything with a three minute, non-music related intro is all good by us.

3. Orbital The Box / Directed by Jes Benstock and Luke Losey

Not even Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin’s disturbing masterpiece Come To Daddy comes close to this acclaimed short when it comes to giving you the chills. After winning awards and opening film festivals everywhere from London to San Francisco you’d expect Losey and Benstock’s short to offer something memorable. That the unnerving imagery stays with you well into the next day proves that’s exactly what it does.

2. The Prodigy Smack My Bitch Up / Directed by Jonas Akerlund

The most controversial example in the thirty-odd year history of music videos. And it’s also one of the cleverest. With that in mind we had no qualms ranking it in second place. Akerlund has a reputation for hard-hitting productions, while The Prodigy rarely take any prisoners with their tunes. Put them together and the result is sex, drugs, clubs and violence. Now tell us, what could possibly be more rock n roll than that?

1. Squarepusher Come On My Selector / Directed by Chris Cunningham

It might not be that surprising to find British maestro Cunningham in at the number one slot. He is, after all, the most revered of all music video directors. His work is rare, and rarely short of breathtaking. Here nearly ten minutes of witty storytelling makes the track feel like a film score. The editing is tantamount to genius, the attitude perfect and, what’s more, it succeeds in being TV friendly while still bending the rules. Perfect.

Also in this series

Tunes on the TV – 4

Tunes on the TV – 3

Tunes on the TV – 2

Tunes on the TV