Thursday playlist: Best music videos of 2007

It’s a hard thing to compile a list like this. The great majority of music videos suck. And I'm a very intolerant critic. Which means there are precious few videos that make my year's-end list. The ones that make the list meet certain criteria that I’ve honed over the years: First, a video can’t be boring. Second, if it’s a little boring, it has to a least be a great song (see Fujiya & Miyagi). Third, something funny wins every time (see Justice and Jarvis Cocker). Four, something creepy does the same thing (see Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective). Five, single-take videos are nearly always great (see Feist, Bat for Lashes, and Spoon). Six, stop-action videos are often great (see Mum, Dirty on Purpose and Joanna Newsom). Seven, brilliant editing can make a cool concept into something extraordinary (see Familjen). Finally, if there are monkeys, muppets, dogs in costumes, people in dog costumes, puppets, aliens, dancing children, fat people and/or anorexics you can count on a great video. I'm happy to report that those things (and much more) appear in the following videos. Enjoy!

1.) Los Campesinos!, “You, Me, Dancing.”

My vote for best video of the year. And, of course, one of the best songs of the year. Los Campesinos! are arguably the most promising new band of 2007. Their debut LP won’t be released until 2008, but they released a mighty fine EP. They’re a very young exuberant seven-piece indie band. They’re from Wales! And they rule! Their cover of Pavement’s “Frontwards” is almost better than the original. They’re a precocious bunch of kids. They played a tiny venue in Philly this summer which wasn't sold out when we called about tickets that same afternoon. And then like idiots we didn't get a babysitter and go. Jesus Christ what were we thinking? Oh yeah, I remember. Being surrounded by teenagers at shows isn't that fun anymore. Cursed aging!

2.) Familjen, “Det snurrar i min skalle”

Pitchfork’s description of the video says it best “Not only is Sweden hoarding all the best pop hooks, but now the innocent-looking Scandinavian country is trying to corner the market on videos too. Spliced together from footage of a tent revival, this clip for Familjen's “Det Snurrar I Min Skalle” (which translates to “It's Spinning Inside My Head”) turns fluorescent electro-pop pulses into grainy black-and-white, but without losing any color. Director Johan Söderberg, who has worked on videos for the Knife, the Streets, and Beyoncé, syncs the preacher and the congregation to Johan T. Karlsson's beats, creating something very new from something very old. And the woman dancing in tongues is one of my favorite video moments of the year.” Amen. I still love watching this.

3.) Feist, “1,2,3,4”

Just in case you’ve been in a coma all year and haven’t seen the iPod commercials by now. It was a sensation and rightly so. The video was spectacular for the first seven or eight times. And, well, alright, it still is.

4.) Justice, “D.A.N.C.E.”

It’s quite clever the first two or three times you watch it. Really clever. But it doesn’t age as well as Feist.

5.) Justice vs. Simian Mobile Disco, “We Are Your Friends.”

Yes, Justice again. Love them or hate them, they seem to have the strongest talent gravitational pull of all bands out there right now. They attract gifted multimedia artists. Check out their creative performance on Jimmy Kimmel in case you're interested.

6.) Escort, “All Through the Night”

Muppets are the best. Especially when they say things like “Do you wanna sex me up?” Plus, TGW has expressed a special affection for the Muppet show.

7.) That McDonald’s video

It’s just so great, it deserves to be in this list, even if it is just a vehicle to sell more McNuggets.

8.) Grizzly Bear, “The Knife”

Song came out a couple years ago, but the video not till this year. Worth the wait. This video is hard to describe. And I won’t try. Instead, it’s a good time to thank Bryan for his very helpful and praise-deserving Grizzly Bear fan letter/exhortation a few days ago. These freakers are worth all the print. Since then I’ve started writing “I heart grizzly bear” across the back of every prescription I give out. Just doing my part to spread the word, brother.

9.) Animal Collective, “Peacebone”

Also a great song. And creepy as well, in a very different way. Wait for the 3:02 mark.

10.) Múm, “They Made Frogs Smoke Until They Exploded”

Props to Miller for bringing this video to TGW back in August, as well as the wonderful Bat for Lashes and Kanye West videos.

11.) Bat for Lashes, “What’s a Girl to Do?”

This video was excellently described this summer by several TGW staffers.

12.) The Wrong Trousers, “Video Killed the Radio Star”

This is what I mean about great random videos. Plus, it’s a great song. Oh, and it’s single-take filming. Oh, and adorable fat kids.

13.) Joanna Newsom, “Bridges and Balloons”

This is not the official video (there's not one), but a fan video by some precociously gifted magnet highschooler in Harrisburg. Just about the perfect video for this lovely song. And it’s safe on your work computer. In fact, the perfect thing to forward to your new indie love interest after she discovers your fantasy football addiction and Hustler subscription. The video should allay all suspicions about your twee credibility.  Forward away Jeremy!

14.) Spoon, “The Underdog”

One of the yummiest confections of a song this year. And like the sweetness of the song, the video features an easily digestible concept sprinkled with inoffensive good humor. Which almost kept it off this list. But the song is so great.

Runners Up:

Fujiya & Miyagi, “Ankle Injuries”

One of 2006’s best songs — again the video didn’t show up till this spring. White Stripes Lego effects applied here to dominoes. Interesting concept, and it’s nicely edited, but it’s a tad boring.

Dirty on Purpose, “Car No Driver”

Great stop-action video. But the song is forgettable.

Fionn Regan, “Be Good or Be Gone”

If you don’t have good speakers attached to your computer, this loses all effect. Plus, the song is only so-so.

Jarvis Cocker, “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time”

The song is just OK, but the video’s rather funny.

Caribou “Eli”

There's no official video for this song. But this footage of the band in a tiny pink room playing one of my favorite songs is pretty rad, although, extremely boring to anyone who doesn’t already love the song.

Deerhunter, “Hazel St”

how to make your ex want you back

Again there’s no official video. But again, this footage of the band playing one of the year’s best songs (not this recording of it) is worth watching for just a couple minutes. I include it mostly because watching this footage brought back the same feeling I had almost 20 years ago watching Jane’s Addiction videos. Maybe it’s just the heroin darkness. But I find the creepy freak-show element to be quite special. I pray this sort of thing bubbles up to the surface of our American culture swamp every few years.


28 responses to “Thursday playlist: Best music videos of 2007”

  1. this isn’t a playlist — it’s a week’s worth of entertainment!

    i’ve only made it through los camp! — the video (which was great) and the frontwards cover. you’re right about the latter — but should it make us feel old that pavement is being revived by a twee indie band that uses fiddles and toy xylophones? (i love their fiddles and toy xylophones, by the way.) sacha (who is also from wales) played “you, me, dancing” at record club earlier in the year & it’s been one of the best dance party songs since.

  2. Jeremy says:

    When do you find time to hunt down all of these videos, Farrell? Well, I’m glad someone’s scouring the web for things I should watch… Anyway, I’ve watched the first six, which are all great–but my favorite is that Familjen video. Amazing. (Oh, and that Feist video always fills me with joy).

  3. Tim Wager says:

    I only have time for the first two right now, but wow, that Familjen vid . . . damn, they got the spirit on that one.

    Thanks, Farrell! Yay!

    My favorite new find on the Youtube: I laughed ’til I cried.

  4. Tim Wager says:

    That link should have looked like this. Little help from the editing angels?

  5. Dave says:

    If my horrible Russian typo from yesterday can stand for eternity, so can your HTML problems.

  6. Tim Wager says:

    But the first link is nonfunctional, not just aesthetically unattractive. Безотносительно.

  7. farrell fawcett says:

    Sacha rules! She’s a bit precocious herself. Los campesinos have got a great future–they have the makings of a band that can evolve and make many good albums. After hearing their excellent cover of pavement, it made me want to hear a pavement cover album. why hasn’t that been done yet. their songs are ripe for reinterpretation. And yes, Bryan, it makes me feel old. Everything about los camps! makes me feel old. And Jeremy, as to when i find time for hunting down these things, well, i’ll come clean, I basically sort of read through the pitchfork new video/song postings in the ‘forkcast’ section every afternoon between my patients. It’s the perfect activity–besides following the TGW comment stream–when you have upredictable free 5 minute intervals throughout your day.

  8. farrell fawcett says:

    Oh, and i was going to make a disclaimer that I didn’t include any of the songs/videos from “flight of the conchords” because there are just too many and they are all really great. Anyone who hsn’t seen them is highly encouraged to youtube them. careful, though, an hour can quickly pass by while browsing through them all. Those two fellows are quite genious. Oh, and Tim, I enjoyed your youtube find. I hope more people pass along those sorts of things. For those who haven’t seen the funnyordie website with Will Farrell and his 2 year old daughter doing those routines, they are two of my favorite youtube sketches of the year.

  9. farrell fawcett says:

    here’s the link to one of them.

  10. bryan says:

    so i’ve had a chance now to watch almost all of the official picks and a couple of the unofficial ones. a couple more comments: thanks for the familjen. not only had i never seen the video, i’d never heard the song — or heard of them. i loved it. i noticed that several video responses attempted to call out the director for copying the central gimmick from other videos, like this one. maybe so, but the familjen video nails it to perfection. the way that woman swoons a little over a minute into it!

    i’d never seen the feist. you reminded me (oops, bad pun) why i fell in love with her the first time and made me want to give the new album another listen after several months without it.

    justice is one of the first things i’ve played around the house where anna goes: “ooh! justice! i love that song!”

    i’d not seen the f&m video either.

    and thank you most of all for including the oddities — the mcdonald’s commercial, the wrong trousers playing the buggles, etc. i love the fact that this wasn’t simply a stewed down version of top 10 lists from elsewhere on the web. what an entertaining post. i feel like pitchfork should hire *you* to curate their new videos section. maybe i’d pay more attention.

  11. i took a quick look through pitchfork’s top 50 videos — sure enough, you have a lot of great stuff that just didn’t make it there — stuff that’s better than a lot of the predictables they pulled.

    but right at the end, their very last entry is the wrong trousers! good for those kids.

    the next to the last entry is pretty good, too: a kanye song with a couple crackers lip synching (and one of them’s will oldham).

  12. oh! pwned again!

    farrell already gave miller props for bringing the kanye video to our attention. i can’t believe i’ve now linked to two of her videos without remembering she did it first!

  13. LT says:

    nice to see your name at the top of the masthead today, farrel. i gotta say that i love the grizzly bear vid– and had been loving the song for awhile. also been wanting to play “you, me, dancing” at west coast record club, but haven’t yet…now i’ll have to hunt for a new song…for which the effort is compensated by the freshness of this fantastic playlist.

    happy happiness to all.

  14. farrell says:

    Bryan, I like this new habit you’ve started. i think from now on we should make it a rule that everytime Miller posts a video clip, someone posts it again a few days later and talks straightfaced about how cool it is. And thanks for nominating me to run the pitchfork forkcast section. Your’e right about how much crap gets posted there. And since you liked the mcdonalds ad, i might as well post the link to the jc penney ad which i also adore. sentimental as hell, but another cute kid and another great song–this time an old john lennon track i’d never heard before. oh, and i liked the radiohead link. thanks.
    LT, thanks for the love. sorry to ruin your cool record club selection, how about the awsome song by black kids that would have made my list–but there’s no real video except this lame fan video. with the song set to footage of a trip to amsterdam.
    no one else has something else cool to link to? where are my people?

  15. farrell fawcett says:

    dave, can you release my last comment from purgatory?

  16. farrell fawcett says:

    it’s not dirty. no asses, shits or mary fucking jesus.

  17. Dave says:

    Mary fucking Christmas, Farrell.

  18. LHD says:

    mary, jesus, and joseph fielding smith

  19. LHD says:

    [slams her glass down on the bar]

  20. My favorite piece out of all the videos ( and I watched all your offical picks minus the ones that don’t work) is in the first video: the robots’ legs tremble.

  21. Miller says:

    Don’t worry, Bryan. If anything, your now multiple references to my post only confirms that my picks were as enjoyable to others as they were to me. And what does “pwned” mean anyway? I feel so out of the internets loop (did I use that correclty? I have a feeling I didn’t). Anyway, um, w00t and whatnot. Okay I’m stopping.

  22. Miller says:

    Oh, LOVED the playlist Farrell. I, personally, watched every single one. I’m going to set an example. And thanks for the shout out.

  23. Tim Wager says:

    “Pwned” defined.

  24. Miller says:

    Thank you, Tim. According to Wiki, Bryan, you just got pwned.

  25. lane says:

    Wow I just watched that swedish tent revival techno clip.


  26. lane says:

    That funny about the Muppets I’d forgotten that whole conversation.

    I swear it was totally unprompted at the “meat” up last week when I declared:

    Stephanie Wells is Janice.

    Lisa T. it’s true we’ve never met. And perhaps you are equally Janice like, and once again, I was NOT referring to the Muppet conversation earlier this year. But when I met Stephanie, heard her talk, took in her vibe, I just thought “My God, she’s Janice come to life.”

    So there you go.

    (and also, meeting Ruben was every bit as disorienting as I hoped it would be, and kudos to you R. for slipping out without saying goodbye – WELL PLAYED!)

  27. swells says:

    This should probably be on the “time and place” thread, but–it’s true, Lane ran out of the bar to tell me this. I must admit that no one had ever compared me to Janice before, so all I could respond was “Can you get behiiiiind it?” I guess all those years of having a giant Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem poster in my bedroom had some sort of, like, cosmic osmosis effect.

    Someone must go on over to that other thread about the Meat-up and give a full description of the merging of Ruben and Lane–it was galactic.