Music videos have been around in some form for decades, with concert footage or footage of the band being recorded and shown on TV since the 1950’s. With the introduction of MTV in the 1980’s, music video clips began becoming a must have for all artists. However, very few have used the medium as a way to produce and create content that is unique, imaginative and visually stimulating. Michael Jackson probably did it best, as he used music video clips to tell stories and create mini-movies, such as ‘Thriller’, ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘Remember The Time’. Over time more and more artists began using the platform in inventive ways. However, making one amazing clip is one thing, but consistently creating exciting and challenging visuals is another. Below are some bands who ALWAYS bring the goods when it comes to music video clips.
I cannot underestimate how much I love this band, and part of it is due to their music video clips. With the exception of their first clip in 1995 for ‘Du Riechst So Gut’, which is a budget, PG Eurotrash looking clip, Rammstein have constantly delivered. From the next clip ‘Seeman’s industrial aesthetics to releasing a new video for ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ in 1998, which is a gothic horror opus (albeit the special effects are a tad dated). The German Industrial gods have created a range of visual masterpieces; making Snow White a drug abusing sadist in ‘Sonne’, showing the dangers of our obsession with celebrity thanks to ‘Ich Will’, the demented and scary life of the unhinged in ‘Mein Teil’, the beautiful, moving story of friendship in ‘One Dich’, the dangers of seduction in ‘Rosenrot’ and the outright pornographic with ‘Pussy’. Rammstein know how to shock, to provoke and to challenge its audience, which makes ‘Mein Land’ all the better. A clip that evokes the 1960’s beach party vibes with its wholesomeness and cheesy undertones, the film clip is a riot. Plus seeing singer Till Lindemann run on the beach ala The Hoff in slow motion is strangely erotic.
Ice Nine Kills
To accompany the recent release of their album The Silver Scream, Ice Nine Kills have created their music video clips so that together they make a mini movie. Telling the story of singer Spencer Charnas’ visit to a psychiatrist to discuss his disturbing dreams, the video clips are homages to classic horror films such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Crow and Halloween, as the accompanying songs ‘The American Nightmare’, ‘Thank God It’s Friday’, ‘A Grave Mistake’ and ‘Stabbing In The Dark’ tell the stories of these films through the protagonist or antagonists perspective. But Ice Nine Kills have been slaying the music video clip game for years now, all the way back to the clip for 2010’s ‘The People Under The Stairs’, which takes the introduction of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and expands on it. Then there was 2014’s ‘The Fastest Way To A Girl’s Heart Is Through Her Ribcage’, a 1950’s inspired horror story, before the (then) pinnacle of their career with the release of Every Trick In The Book and it’s clips for ‘Communication of The Cursed’, ‘Hell In The Hallways’ and ‘Nature Of The Beast’. Ice Nine Kills love horror just as much as they love music, and their video clips are testaments to that.
Everyone knows OK Go from the video clip ‘Here It Goes Again’, which went viral in 2007. And it is clear why, its choreographed to perfection, and made so many of us shake our heads in amazement and think ‘WTF! I can barely run on a treadmill, let alone do this!’ But they never stopped producing amazing feats of choreography using a range of tools, props and tricks to amaze and stun us. From the Japanese inspired ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ to ‘Obsession’, which uses printers and time lapse in ways that only OK Go can. Some of their feats are so unbelievable that the band has disclaimers at the start of some of their video clips to assure the viewer that what we are seeing is actually real, thanks to zero gravity in ‘Upside Down, Inside Out’ and slow motion in ‘The One Moment’. Seriously, if you have a free afternoon, do yourself a favour and check out OK Go’s video clips.
DIR EN GREY
I’ll be honest, I had never heard of this band, until Wall Of Sound writer Dylonov Tomasivich suggested DIR EN GREY, and god damn!!! Japanese culture is incredibly complex and diverse. The Japanese are simultaneously very traditional and conservative and yet are kinky AF and make some of the most fucked up films around. DIR EN GREY, definitely fall in the latter category. A visual kei band, their video clips are hauntingly beautiful, ‘Ranunculus’, or seriously messed up, ‘Obscure’ and ‘Ningen wo Kaburu’. Even the clips that are less dramatic and are seemingly your stock standard band playing to a crowd/ in a warehouse, there is still lots to look at purely based on DIR EN GREY’s aesthetic, see ‘Lotus’ and ‘Unravelling’. With ten albums, DIR EN GREY have plenty of video clips and music that fans or casual observers can comb through.
Fall Out Boy/ Panic! At The Disco
I have lumped these bands together, as they are so similar, and Brendan Urie pops up in Fall Out Boy’s music clips on the regular anyway. Both bands have diversified and expanded upon their sound over the decade or so, Panic! At The Disco with serious aplomb and Fall Out Boy with limited success.
Fall Out Boy’s releases since their hiatus have been, at best average and at worse a steaming pile of horse manure, yet they continue to release some great video clips, see ‘The Young Blood Chronicles’ (essentially, all he video clips from the woeful Save Rock and Roll album), ‘Centuries’, and the video for the duet version of ‘Irresistible’ with Demi Lovato, which is a tounge in cheek homage to N*Sync’s ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’, with appearances from N*Sync members Chris Kirkpatrick and the always hilarious Joey Fatone. And that isn’t even mentioning the clips we are all familiar with, ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’, which is all about self-acceptance and self-loathing, the vampire action of ‘A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me’, the cameo-filled ‘This Aint a Scene, It’s An Arms Race’, and a pre-famous Kim Kardashian making out with a monkey in ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’.
Panic! At The Disco on the other hand started with the now iconic emo clip, for ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ before continuing with the slightly weird; thanks to people having fish tanks for heads in ‘Lying Is The Most Fun…’ and mime sex in ‘But It’s Better If You Do’. After ditching the incredibly fashionable (at the time) and incredibly annoying, long winded titles, and as the band members started to drop off, Panic! At The Disco really began hitting their stride with musical and visual experimentation. The first great Panic!ATD video clip comes as Urie literally transforms into a devil before our eyes in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, followed by the body switching horror of ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’, and the sultry ‘Death of A Bachelor’, which, with its simplistic black and white, 50’s Sinatra vibes just screams sex. With the 2018 release of Prey For The Wicked, Urie has continued with to pump out exciting music video clips, as seen by the first two singles, the violent, bloody and action packed ‘Say Amen (Saturday Night)’, and the cocaine snorting muppet in ‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’.
This is another one that I have to thank someone else for recommending, my brother, Gwilym. Steve Wilson is a progressive rock musician from England who has worked with a diverse and broad range of musos including Opeth, Pendulum, Roxy Music, and Anathema among others. But it his music videos we are talking about here, and the man loves a great animated clip. From the hauntingly beautiful song about loss ‘Routine’, which looks like a Tim Burton/ Henry Selick stop motion animation, to the grittier alien horror of ‘People Who Eat Darkness’, and ‘Drive Home’ which uses newspapers and paper mache to show a man’s grief over the loss of his wife, Wilson works with the best to create intriguing and exciting visuals. Although the animations Wilson creates with some talented artists are astounding, there are a few other clips that are non-animated, such as ‘Perfect Life’ with its sublime cinematography and ‘Song of I’ featuring Sophie Hunger, which is very arty and a little peculiar.
This is probably the band most people think of when they think of a band who consistently put out great video clips. Starting with ‘Big Me’, which is a spoof of the Mentos adverts of the 90’s, the music clip shows the band’s willingness to get silly early on. With the release of The Colour and The Shape, the single ‘Everlong’ took the silliness to the next level, with the band playing multiple characters, and that giant hand… who can forget that? The Foo Fighters oeuvre is so extensive that there are a few stock standard clips among the back catalogue, but with brilliant video clips like ‘The One’, in which the band members are in a performing arts school, the soap opera action of ‘Long Road To Ruin’, the frustrations of the everyman in ‘Walk’, and the Foo Fighters as old men in ‘Run’, the band’s video clips are so well known, well regarded and well-loved that several music publications (including Wall Of Sound) have devoted entire articles to the best Foo Fighters video clips. And let’s not forget, this is the band that gave us the hilarious, brilliant ‘Learn To Fly’, which is undoubtedly the best of the best of the Foo Fighters.
Other bands worth checking out:
- Tool: lots of dark, atmospheric stop motion animation.
- The Aquabats: cheesy, B-grade family friendly fun
- The Offspring: either dark and depressing, or bright, fun and totally late 90’s/ early 2000’s.
- Slipknot: it’s Slipknot, so you know you are getting slightly unsettling and disturbing.
- My Chemical Romance: perfect blend of emo with more emo, and later with a bit of psychedelic rock.
- Muse: ‘Knights of Cydonia’ alone is worth mentioning Muse
Written by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos