Top Ten lists are everywhere these days. It’s a quick entertainment fix to wash away the midday boredom. I came across a Top 10 list the other day that caught my attention: Top 10 Best Spike Jonze Directed Music Videos.
You may know Jonze from his movies Being John Malkovich and the upcoming film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, but you’d probably recognize at least a couple of his music videos.
I’ve always had a love for his Bjork, It’s Oh So Quiet video and some of his Beastie Boys videos as well. Though my favourite music video director turned film director is Michel Gondry. Gondry has directed a couple awesome movies (Be Kind, Rewind, The Science of Sleep and the magnificent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but his earlier work as a music video director is what really caught my attention. He has such an eye for editing and perspective, there’s no one else out there that even compares.
He’s the one responsible for creating the stopped time shots made famous by his Gap ads, and in the Matrix film.
10. “A Change Would Do You Good” – Sheryl Crow (1997)
Most of Gondry’s videos are very artistic, and conceptual, but he did a couple of videos that were more commercial. The video for Sheryl Crow’s A Change Would Do You Good mixes Gondry’s whimsical direction with quite a few well known actors to create a fun little “What if” scenario that takes the song’s message to heart. Be on the look out for Ellen DeGeneres, Heather Matarazzo, Andy Dick, Molly Shannon and Cloe from 24!
9. “Fell in Love with a Girl” – The White Stripes (2002)
The video that Pitchfork just declared the best video of the 00s. That’s debatable, but it is an incredible video. The number of hours that must have went into the construction of every frame, Gondry is either a sadist or a revolutionary. Or maybe a bit of both. Gondry mastered the same level of detail for The White Stripe’s The Hardest Button to Button, but I hate that song, so I’m not listing that video. This video both establishes the aesthetic of The White Stripes and the blocky legos sort of mirror the simplistic style of the two piece band.
8. “Around the World” – Daft Punk (1997)
Some artists make music that fit with Gondry’s style perfectly. Daft Punk is one of those artists. I was slightly saddened to see them use animation for all their videos from Discovery, but Around The World remains as a visual achievement. Envisioned with each set of dancers representing one of the instruments, the video’s choreography was initially developed by Gondry and flushed out by Blanca Li. I love how, just like with the White Stripes, Gondry can pick out visual elements that end up defining the artist.
7. “Come Into My World” – Kylie Minogue (2002)
Are you kidding me!? Watching this video as Kylie takes a brisk walk around her neighbourhood. Then watch as two Kylie’s seamlessly merge both their walks together. Then add another Kylie, and another. I don’t see how you can watch this video and not immediately see Gondry’s genius. Nevermind the video editing that was done to put this masterpiece together, but just think of how long this would have taken to plan out.
6. “Lucas With the Lid Off” – Lucas (1994)
A perfect example of how a video can enhance a song. One-hit wonder Lucas’ rap over a simple ragtime song is catchy sure, but the video is definitely what prevented him from being a No-hit loser. Amazingly done in one long continuous shot, the logistics for everybody to hit their marks and for all the props to be in the right place in the right time is just mind boggling. The video was rightly nominated for a Grammy and an MTV MVA. Additional fact: Lucas Secon is an accomplished producer and produced the Pussycat Dolls I Hate This Part.
5. “Star Guitar” – The Chemical Brothers (2001)
I think this video can be summed up by one commenter on YouTube: “wow this video is the shit when you’re tripping balls.” What seems like an innocent looking view out a train window evolves into video and audio synchronization that’s simply awe inspiring. Gondry took the music, beat and melody of Star Guitar and visualized it, literally.
4. “Army of Me” – Björk (1995)
Here’s one where Gondry just goes full on concept. Army of Me is less a music video and more an exercise in making tangible the subconscious. I mean, fueling a teeth car with one of your teeth… I have no idea what this video is about, but I don’t care. I love the modern cyber-punk look to it, the asian elements, and the sheer weirdness. Give Gondry free reign and you’re sure not to be bored.
3. “Human Behaviour” – Björk (1993)
I could have filled this list with just Björk videos. The relationship that her and Gondry have is unparalleled. Human Behaviour is the first video the two worked on together and is in my opinion the best. I remember watching this on Much Music as a little kid and just sitting hypnotized by the isolated style of the video mixing with the haunting drum beat. This video really captures Gondry’s signature style of cut out props, camera angles and perspective tricks. Beautiful.
2. “Everlong” – Foo Fighters (1997)
Everlong was the song that really separated Dave Grohl from his drumming grunge fame and established that he could write one hell of a pop song. The Foo showed in previous earlier videos like Big Me that they were willing to add a bit of humour to their songs. Everlong can get a bit campy with some of the props, Taylor Hawkins in drag is quite a sight, but the scene where the band members changes from their roles in the video to playing their instruments is enough to get it the number 2 spot on my list. Gondry plays out a story that has elements of surrealism, but you can still follow along.
1. “Let Forever Be” – The Chemical Brothers (1999)
Let Forever Be is the pièce de résistance in Gondry’s portfolio. It has all the elements that define his work, audio/visual synchronization, playful camera shots mixed with odd perspectives, confusing the subconscious with reality, insane choreography and a high entertainment value. I love the kitschy Broadway dancing mixed with the transitions between “the real world” and “the dream world”, it really captures the mood of the song.