Welcome back to the Music Video Round-Up, your monthly dose of musical eye candy! Every now and then, a music video comes along that’s just so staggering, iconic, and downright jaw-dropping that it forces you to block out any other video you see for days afterwards. Such was the power of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video; the hype just about drowned out anything else that dropped in the musical world this week.
That’s not to diminish the strength of any of the other videos on this list, however. All the videos on this list demonstrate deft filmmaking touch and represent a powerful marriage of music and visuals. But Donald Glover, the auteur that he is, managed to knock this video so far out of the park that all you can do is take a step back and applaud. Here are my thoughts on this and four other dynamic music videos from the past couple weeks.
Childish Gambino: “This Is America”
Every technical element of this video—the choreography, set design, cinematography, editing, and Glover’s own artistic presence—is mesmerizing. But the power of the video comes from the message it cultivates: that all the violence and prejudice in the black community will always be relegated to the background in favor of superficial song-and-dance gloss. Quite literally, all the mayhem exists in the video’s peripherals, while Glover’s unsettling tongue-in-cheek dance operates on the forefront as he moves through a warehouse maze full of tyranny and murder. It’s the most pointed message to come out of a video in years, making this Childish Gambino clip one of the very best music videos ever. And the VMA for Video Of The Year goes to…
Clairo – 4EVER
Clairo’s “Flaming Hot Cheetos” video was a favorite of ours earlier this year. And while the video for new track “4EVER” is low-budget and low-stakes, it is rife with delightful, friendly glee. Clairo and her friends frolic around their sleepy Boston suburb in a home-video homage to ’90s sitcom tropes—vintage dorky clothing, a cheesy title sequence, and lots of goofy camera posturing. Also, the rough, VHS-style camera work heighten’s the song’s DIY pop nature. Moreover, it expertly captures the song’s melancholy vibe and sense of romantic longing.
Father John Misty: “Mr. Tillman”
What is a Father John Misty video (or song, for that matter) without a heavy dose of mounting existential dread? The video for “Mr. Tillman” finds our iconoclastic hero navigating a frustrating, endless loop in which he imagines himself as a figurine come to life, leaping to his seeming death from the top of a miniature version of the hotel he’s staying in. Happens all the time. But really, this high-concept video utilizes Mr. Tillman’s presence to maximum effect in order to bring out the inner turmoil boiling within the song’s message. He should really consider acting some time. Because that face he makes as he attempts to drive away from all the horror is priceless.
Fooligans are an emerging grunge-infused garage band from Atlanta, and their video for new single “Carbon” takes the song’s detached nature and amplifies it with simple, mundane imagery and brilliant editing. Also, some of the camera shots in this video alone are masterfully executed, including THIS ONE featuring a fish-eye bubble lens:
Even the quick shots of the band peering out from a parking garage have a great sense of space and geometry. The visuals are just simple frames of the band driving around, hanging out and performing, but the camera work and deft editing touches—the four-way horizontal split screen of all the band members performing, for instance—is admirable for such a low-budget. Absolutely a band to watch out for.
Towkio: “Morning View” (feat. SZA)
Up-and-coming Chicago rapper and singer Towkio teams up with his longtime collaborator Todd Barrett to re-create the premise of Duncan Jones’ 2009 film Moon. Here, Towkio plays the lonely Sam Rockwell astronaut role, trudging along through his gorgeous but alienating home on the moon, holding the memories of a past relationship close to his heart. It’s a visually arresting portrait of old-school Romanticism. And, combined with the song’s understated beauty and SZA’s poignant feature, the video is moving and emotionally devastating. Plus, Moon is one of my favorite films ever, so this clip has got me hook, line, and sinker.