Tuesday, September 15, 2009

20 Best Promo Videos Ever (Part Three)

The tabloids have been pestering us for weeks about what lies between #10 and #6 on the 20 greatest videos list. And now they have their answer.

#10 Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Y Control" (Spike Jonze, 2004)

"Maps" was the third single from Yeah Yeah Yeahs breakthrough 2003 LP Fever To Tell. It ultimately turned into one of those slow-burning classics that stayed in K-Rock's light rotation for nearly a year straight. However, the "we've arrived" moment was signified by its video, in which Karen O gives a heartfelt performance, shedding genuine tears, conjuring memories of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U." Somebody at their label did something correctly, because the video actually received daytime MTV airplay (not just MTV2.. yeah, the actual MTV.. the one that never plays videos anymore). It was a quite a triumph for indie bands who actually had a shot of receiving Top 40 airplay. (Over the next year, Modest Mouse, The Killers and Franz Ferdinand would all crash the Top 40 party briefly, but were too cool to stick around for longer than a year.)

The thing about "Maps," however, was that it almost set the bar too high, and sadly overshadowed its follow-up single, "Y Control," which never really got farther than MTV2's late-night show Subterranean and received no commercial radio airplay. One can tell right from the start that YYY's wanted to be noticed and create something huge, so they wisely called upon Spike Jonze to direct one of his few rock-video masterpieces from the 2000's. Apparently influenced by Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and "Thriller" videos, it includes shots of children engaging in acts of dismemberment and bludgeoning chaos, in an manner that takes violence no further than cheesy 80's horror movies. Its explosive nature somehow alluded Pitchfork, who preferred the "Maps" video for their "best of the decade" special, most likely because people actually saw it. Regardless of popularity, "Y Control" slays every time.

#9 Beastie Boys "Sabotage" (Spike Jonze, 1994)

"Sabotage" influenced the opening sequence of Trainspotting. Almost immediately beloved by MTV viewers, it's become one of the most revered and acclaimed videos ever, to the extent that I can't think of anything new to say about it.

And so on that note, let's hear what Beavis has to say...

#8 Nirvana "In Bloom" (Kevin Kerslake, 1992)

Everyone always seems to forget that Nirvana were jokes n jokes n jokes... In other words, they were funny as shit. It's probably their most underrated quality, period. Look no further than the opening sequence of Live! Tonight! Sold Out! or their various antics in 1991: The Year Punk Broke, or other various weirdness such as the Michael Jackson impersonator accepting their "Best Alternative" award at the '92 VMA's.

If you've seen "In Bloom" anytime recently, their sense of humor should be obvious anyway. This "second version" is best of them all, which combines two videos into one. The first version, simply their deadpan faux-Ed Sullivan performance by itself, enters a whole new level of mindfuck during the video's second half, after shots were included from an unused edit, with the stage destruction in dresses. Thankfully, this is the version that made it to MTV.

#7 Pulp "This Is Hardcore" (Doug Nichol, 1998)

Pulp claimed nearly every director who were presenting concepts for this video were all relating "Hardcore" to its more obvious sexual overtones. Doug Nichol was the exception, who accompanied the song's darkness to fake outtakes from a fake movie from the 1950's, starring Pulp themselves along with a cast of hundreds. It's unsure whether this portrayal is of a film that was plagued by disaster, possibly a film that was never finished. A fight sequence starting around 3:40 accompanied by one cast member having a fake-real heart attack darkens this mystique even further, as well as the closing shots of the "cast members" staring into the camera, waiting for a possibly angry and fed-up director to make another decision.

#6 Sonic Youth "Sunday" (Harmony Korine, 1998)

So much to say of such a simple video.. Upon this video's unveiling midway through a summer 1998 episode of 120 Minutes, Macaulay Culkin had not acted for a film camera since 1994's Richie Rich. And suddenly there he was, staring through a mirror at late night MTV viewers. Harmony Korine's slow motion film effect was one he had also used to perfection in 1997's Gummo, particularly in one shot of Chloƫ Sevigny staring into the camera in a very similar manner... They're similar in that Gummo and "Sunday" seem to blur the lines between what might be reality and what might be scripted or planned. Elsewhere in the video are both slow motion and fast motion shots of a ballet class, Macaulay jamming out with Thurston Moore, and Macaulay once again with then-wife Rachel Miner in a real-life moment of marital bonding. "Sunday" conveys simplicity, innocence and freedom, in a manner rarely portrayed with such darkness and discomfort.

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