gesamtkunstwerk in miniature

I love video clips. Music video blurs the lines between fine art, mass media and pop culture to the point where their distinction is untenable. It is, in fact, a synthesis of so many forms - live performance, film, TV, dance, music - that it's like the ultimate "total work-of-art" in miniature. Here's thirteen exemplary, and more recent, manifestations.

[Click on titles for youtube links; select videos embedded]

1. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - The Owl

The simplest concept, carried out so clearly, can have great aesthetic weight. The rising, drawn-out mood of the song is charted perfectly; listening to this song is now forever tied to the image of that malevolent owl.

2. U.N.K.L.E - Eye for an Eye
A Freudian Trojan horse? The ultimate story of good vs evil (and evil winning)? Why are the creatures are lacking in eyes themselves? Amazing.

3. Chemical Brothers - Believe
Whilst most horror movies take a good half hour of plodding around scary locations and dimly-lit warehouses to 'frighten' the viewer, Michel Gondry's clip takes less than a minute to scare the shit out of you, all in broad daylight! There was always a latent sinister quality to the Chemical Brothers music, too.

4. Kraftwerk - Robots
How did they manage to look so futuristic, and not at all kitschy, using only analogue means? Most special effects clips nowadays look dated and tacky in a year, but this video (and song) are timelessly avant-garde.

5. Daft Punk - Primetime of Your Life
"Long live the new flesh!"

6. Hot Chip - Over and Over
Meta-clips are great.

7. Eskimo Joe - Wake Up
Remember a much simpler time when these affable young lads made the nicest pop with the greatest videos ever? When they weren’t leather-jacketed sad-sacks muttering “straight-a dowwwn” in an empty, flashing warehouse? This video is a reminder of then.

8. Liars - There's Always Room on the Broom
This video is about as stupid as the song, and by stupid I mean brilliant.

9. Wolf Parade - I'll Believe in Anything

This pulls off what Sofia Coppola spent a whole movie doing, as well as being hilarious. Like when he throws his glass down or when the chickens are chased off the battlefield. And yet it's strangely affecting, too.

10. Fischerspooner - Emerge
Fischerspooner tread a fine line between extravagant artfulness and over-the-top comedy. This clip is both and neither. Amazing and hilarious. It has likely supplied the soundtrack and theatrical ideas to scores of catwalk shows since. Also scores the 'Best Ever Use of Mud in a Video' award.

11. Klaxons - Golden Skans
Klaxons were always a pop band and this video proves it. This video is one of the most extravagant, over-the-top and hilarious pop videos around, even compared to Prince’s offerings.

12. Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage
Simply the funniest filmclip I've seen. I remember I first saw it and thought "what the fuck is this boring Victorian costume drama?" then Dick Valentine and "Jack White"'s bits light up and I was pissing myself. It's so stupid, and yet such a brilliant idea. I love how the two of them sort of hesitate a tiny bit before they start smooching, you can just see the anticipation trip over itself.

13. Radiohead - Street Spirit (Fade Out)

I don’t think any video is more of a work of art than this one. A haunting and beautiful masterpiece.

0 riffs: