Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Music Videos of 2010

It's that time of year again. I'm sure you've been anxiously awaiting the countdown of the year's best music videos. I believe this will be my 4th (2007, 2008, 2009). And while we still have a week or so left in 2010, I'm confident that no one will make a good one in that time. It's safe to post this.

Luckily, the internets has picked up the torch that MTV and VH-1 abandoned for pregnant teenagers and rehab shows. The #1 video of the year, as you'll see, epitomizes the influence that the internet (a.k.a. the only place to see music videos now) has had on the medium.

So let's get to it! I give you the 15 best music videos of 2010:

#15: David Crowder Band "SMS [Shine]"
Remember when you were 7 and you had used up all the templates that came with your Lite-Brite? And you came up with your own design? Didn't you feel like such an artist? Well, after watching this video, you'll realize that the smiley-face sun you made was crap. Check out the "making of" feature here.

#14: TIE between Local Natives "World News" and Mumford & Sons "The Cave"
I don't know which band came up with the idea of resort hotel staff lip dubbing their song first...but I think we can agree that they BOTH stole their aesthetic from Wes Anderson films.

#13: Broken Bells "The Ghost Inside"
I prefer this fan-made video to the official video, which is pretty great in it's own right. But come on. Hall & Oates! That beats the chesty gal from Mad Men in a sci-fi tragedy any day.

#12: The Boy Least Likely To "George and Andrew"
While we're on the 80's male pop duos kick, let's talk about Wham!.Not since the cast of Seinfeld fictionally reunited on Curb Your Enthusiasm has a fictional reunion...well, ever happened. And what a coincidence that Andrew is still wearing his "Choose Life" shirt!

#11: Hanson "Thinking "Bout Something"
You're damn right I'm putting a Hanson video on the list. Deal with it. It's sort of a cross between a homage to pawn shop scene in The Blues Brothers and the parade scene from Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Plus Weird Al is inexplicably playing the tambourine! I dare you not to love this video.

#10: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists "Bottled In Cork"
TC wrote about this a while back. I'll let his review do the talking.

#9: Janelle MonĂ¡e (feat. Big Boi) "TightRope"
This is more about the song than the video. Still, both One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and It's Kind Of a Funny Story would have been well served to have an asylum dance-off.

#8: B.o.B. (feat. Rivers Cuomo) "Magic"
This was my favorite pop song of 2010. I still love it. And the video is just as good. Sexy Fruity Pebbles in the bathroom. Bizarro Being John Malkovich-like plot. Rivers Cuomo wearing a puffy vest from 2001. Classic.

#7: Cee Lo Green "Fuck You"
I'm not the biggest fan of the Happy Days-ish video. I prefer the text-only version. There's something mesmerizing about it (did you know that the third "oooo" in the chorus is spelled 4 "o"s, not 3?!).I mean, honestly, this song is clearly about the words. Oh, and you have to check out Whitney Avalon's reply, "Clearly Obsessed"

#6: Ok Go "This Too Shall Pass"
Of course they're on the list. And while I have a soft spot for their alternative version that features and is played by the Notre Dame Marching Band, you just can't beat a Rube Goldberg machine. It's the rules.

#5: Kanye West "Runaway"
I've been rooting for Kanye. He gets picked on my bullies like Taylor Swift and Matt Lauer. Jerks. And yet, while everyone else is declaring his new album the best of the year, I've been left a bit disappointed. Still, his short film about a Phoenix falling from the sky (and a giant paper mache Michael Jackson head?) is epic indeed.

#4: Arcade Fire "The Suburbs"
From the best album of 2010 (my opinion...sorry Kanye), and the best music video director around (my opinion...sorry Hype Williams), this video reminds me of the climactic scene in E.T., but without that older brother with the giant nostrils...or the iconic red hoodie...or the alien.

#3: The Black Keys "Tighten Up"
I first saw them when they opened for Guided By Voices NYE show in Indianapolis in 2002 or so. This year, the Black Keys have deservedly blown up. And as adorable as the kids are in the video, I think my favorite moment is the sage advice given in the first few seconds...that when your playmate partner smells like ranch dressing, you just hold your breathe or something.

#2: Vampire Weekend "Giving Up the Gun"
So many great things in this video. RZA reffing tennis. Joe Jonas wiping his hand off after his post-loss handshake. Evil Jake Gyllenhaal taking a swig of booze before and during his match. Coach Lil' Jon. The flaming tennis racket. The boom box playing "Holiday." It took a technological spectacle at #1 to knock this out of the top spot.

#1: Arcade Fire "We Used to Wait"
I've probably watched this video using roughly 20 different locations. If you're unfamiliar, you start at the video's website
. You enter an address, preferably your childhood home, to get the most of the nostalgic/tragic/creepy feel they're aiming for. And then you watched a hooded figure run around your old haunt while trees begin to sprout. It's nuts/awesome.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Bad Idea 2010 Playlist Part II

2010 Playlist: The Sequel.  Does the quality of Volume 2 rise above that of Volume 1 (a la "Kill Bill"), or does it merely serve as a cheap, soulless imitation of the earlier inspired incarnation (a la Schottzie 02, the dog that NEVER won a World Series.)*  I maintain that much like the legacy of George W. Bush, history will have the final say on which answer is correct, at such a point in time that both you and I will likely have been dead for ages.  Happy holidays everyone!  Let's kick out the jams!

UPDATE:   Soundcloud took down the stream - advance straight to the zip file.

LCD Soundsystem - If you are a fan of things that are great, you'll be interested in James Murphy's outstanding interview this week on Sound Opinions.  He is quickly rising to Tweedy/Darnielle/Finn status as front men who as entertaining in interviews as they are musically.
Jonsi - I always find it enjoyable how Sigur Ros lyrics are sung in a non-existant language, so I was a little worried that Jonsi singing in English would lessen the impact.  Fortunately, you still can't understand anything he's saying!
Arcade Fire - After years of struggle, they've finally worked their way up to the level of critical acclaim enjoyed by Katy Perry.  (Sidenote: Have you looked at the list of recent "Album of Year" winners?  It's amazing!  I think the reason there hasn't been a proper Outkast album since 2004 is because they're traumatized by their win.)
Frightened Rabbit - I legitimately wonder what the benefit is for bands to sign with major labels any more.  Radio play and promotion budgets don't really exist for rock bands in 2010, right?  
Kurt Vile - I enjoy mocking bands whose music may appear on Grey's Anatomy, but anyone who gets a song to close out Eastbound & Down is a winner in my book.
Hollerado - I had never heard these guys before seeing them open for Free Energy last month.  They made a video for this song that's so awesome, I imagine OK Go watching it and seething that they didn't come up with the idea first.
Frontier Ruckus - Yesterday I said that Phosphorescent reminds me of when Ryan Adams was good.  Frontier Ruckus apparently reminds RYAN ADAMS of when Ryan Adams was good.
Harlem - I'll always be partial to sloppy garage rock.  Likewise, I'm always inclined to negatively pre-judge any band in the "chillwave" genre.  That's the worst new genre name, right?  Am I forgetting a worse one? 
Girls - This band was started by someone who grew up in the Children of God cult!  Seems like he should have been able to come up with a more creative band name.
Gayngs - This song is from their live Daytrotter session.  Justin Vernon's falsetto was made to cover Sade songs.  The couples' skate soundtrack at the hipster roller rink.
Yeasayer, Local Natives, Sharon Van Etten, The National - These songs are all great.  Enough with the chatter already.

--Zipped file of all 25 tracks here (216 megs)--

*I went to Marge Schott's wikipedia page to verify when the original Schottzie died, (1991 if you're curious) and read something I'd never seen before.  She re-gifted flowers to pass them off as a condolence bouquet for John McSherry's funeral.  This of course, came AFTER she bitched about McSherry collapsing on the field and "ruining" opening day in Cincinnati.  I obviously knew she was an old mean racist, but STILL, holy shit!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bad Idea 2010 Playlist Part I

Musically speaking, 2010 has clearly been the year of the reunion.  Four regroupings inparticular triggered my interest, each for a slightly different reason.  Observe my reaction to each:

Regarding Soundgarden's pre-Lollapalooza gig: "Holy shit!  I loved them in high school and am very excited!"
Regarding Pavement's reunion shows: "Holy shit! I only got into them during the Terror Twilight phase, so I missed most of their hey day.  This will be great!"
Regarding the Guided By Voices reunion:  "Holy shit!  I've missed these guys!  And they're only playing songs from between '92-'96?!  I don't have to sit through 'Glad Girls'?!  That's so great!"
Regarding new album/tour from Superchunk:  "Holy shit!  I forgot that band still existed!"

And while Soundgarden, GBV, and Pavement were all enjoyable, the re-discovery of Superchunk was my personal highlight of the year. 2010 has not been my favorite year for a variety of reasons, but I've listened to "Majesty Shredding" more than any other record since it came out in September, for no reason other than the fact that it's one of the few things within my control guaranteed to improve my mood immediately.  And look at all the happy bouncing taking place at the video at the top of the page!  For a band that's now known more for the label they started as opposed their musical output, this is the best album they've made.  I hope they don't take another 9-year break before the next one.

On that note, Allow me to present Part 1 of my 2010 playlist, AKA the songs I dug the most these past 12 months.  Part 2 is coming tomorrow.

UPDATE:   Soundcloud took down the stream - see the main page for the zip files.

Phosphorecsent - Remember how great Ryan Adams was at the beginning of the decade?  That's what this record reminds me of.
Beach House - In my top 3 for favorite albums of the year.  iTunes tells me I've listened to this track more than any other 2010 song.  It's fun when a song's personal worth to you can be validated statistically. 
Steel Train - Liking this song might mean I'm a 14-year-old girl, but so be it.  I thought the same thing last year when it came to the band fun.  Try and get this melody out of your brain.  You will fail.
Warpaint - My newest obsession of the year.  Their album is good, but the live setting is where they shine brightest.
Superchunk - Come find me in 20 years, and I'll be a 52-year-old still singing "Slack Motherfucker."  Majesty Shredding is streaming here, and a digital download of the album is currently less than $6 on Amazon.
The New Pornographers - The Steve Nash of indie pop bands.  Always reliable.  Always consistent.  Always Canadian.
Kanye West - Great album, but it is NOT perfect.  For example, that Chris Rock bit doesn't exactly improve with repeated listens (though the line "I put the pussy in a sarcophagus" does improve with age.)  The Nicki Minaj verse is so great here that it bums me out even more that her actual album is so terrible.  
DOM - I know nothing about this band.  If you told me they were a chorus of home-schooled children, I'd happily believe it.  It sounds like a trippy jingle for a Skittles ad.
The Hold Steady - "The theme of this party's the industrial age.  And you came in dressed like a train wreck."  Boom!  Roasted!  Best steampunk-related burn I've ever heard.
Deerhunter - It seems odd that this is the only band on the list to incorporate an animal within their name, since it seems like every other indie band formed lately involves a deer, bear, panda, bird, or fucking wolf in their name.  In fact, I just invented a new band named Bear Wolf and we should have coverage on Stereogum within the week!
Cee Lo Green - The can't-miss album of the summer!  So of course it was released in November!  Score another great decision for major labels!
The Besnard Lakes - These guys did an awesome free show at Millennium Park in May.  I was looking for footage on YouTube and found this crappy cell-phone clip, where the back of my head is featured prominently in the foreground.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti - If any John Hughes movies had featured recreational use of ecstasy, this would be the soundtrack for the montage scene.
Bottomless Pit - Last month, John Darnielle issued an order to see this band.  I followed that order.  He was right as usual.
Justin Townes Earle - Winter in Chicago encapsulated in 4+ minutes.  From the gospel according to Springsteen.

Part 2 (and a link for download) coming tomorrow.