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2010 in review

#top 30 videos

2010 in review  #top 30 videos

This is a shot of music for the eyes. We at PlayGround have been showing you the latest videos on a daily basis. Sometime they’re chosen because of their visual aesthetic, at other times because they adorn a song that we love, and almost always because they illustrate the work of artists we find interesting. Now is the time to summarise the year in a selection of 30 videos we liked the most.

30. LCD Soundsystem: “Drunk Girls”

With intentions and behaviour worse than the protagonists of “A Clockwork Orange”, a gang of spaniels, or maybe they’re panda bears, are interrupting, punching, harassing and annoying James Murphy and friends in some kind of warehouse that looks like Guantánamo. A crazy video co-directed by Murphy and Spike Jonze. What a bunch of madmen. Javier Blánquez

29. Salem: “Asia”

Who knows, maybe the people behind “The Blair Witch Project” directed the “Asia” video. It has the same grainy texture of home video, the same trembling movement, and those poorly lit night scenes in which something deadly and invisible is threatening you. Although this is even worse. No witches here, but psychopaths with rifles and a murderous gaze. It could be some kind of remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” from the post-Lehman Brothers depression years. JB

28. Jamaica: “I Think I Like U 2”

Using stock material, adding some animation and notes in the form of subtitles, So-Me present the latest Ed Banger signing. The video tells the story –twisted, like they do on the small and the big screen– of the rise of former Poney Poney duo Jamaica, and then their tragic fall, which we hope will not happen. Mónica Franco

27. Babe Rainbow: “Combed”

A simple idea: a video in which you see the world from your perspective – not through the naked eye, but through the holes of a suit. You get home, take off the bear suit, go to the loo, check your messages on Twitter, then meet your mates. Monotony and routine shot in a set-up, directed by Kent Hugo, Alex Kurina and Chris Moberg, that’s almost dark. You’ll have to admit: living is strange. JB

26. Glasser: “Mirrorage”

A camera moving around a spectral and palpitating Cameron Mesirow. Carlos Charlie Perez nails it trying to visually recreate the dreamy fantasies of Glasser. In limbo. Franc Sayol

25. Nosaj Thing; “Us (Jon Hopkins Remix)”

It looks like a gore video, but no, it’s just a housewife making a blueberry pie (or are they strawberries?). The tricky part is how the people eat the pie and get their hands dirty: they look like cannibals having liver for breakfast. The best thing about the video is the realisation by Ryan Sievert, in the vein of the best Warp videos. JB

24. Games: “Shadows In Bloom”

Entirely created from morphed images found on YouTube, “Shadows In Bloom” is, according to its director Weirdcore, “a critique of globalism and hedonism on planes”. We’re not sure if he manages to reach that goal, but it doesn’t matter: it’s a feast for the eyes. FS

23. James Blake: “Limit To Your Love”

The best thing about James Blake’s first official video, directed by Martin De Thurah, is the elegant use of light. He alternates crepuscular chiaroscuro and blue light, and the objects floating before the most iconoclastic producer of dubstep contrast in brilliant tones in the semi-darkness of the room. Simple and magnetic at the same time. JB

22. Diplo feat. Lil Jon: “U Don’t Like Me”

The stuff made by the Taiwanese agency NMA started out as a WTF? that spread over the web like wildfire, but we’ve taken a liking to it. Diplo must have felt the same thing, as he requested their services for the video of “U Don’t Like Me”, in which we reminisce about those afternoons and coins spent in front of Street Fighter machines. MF

21. Gil Scott-Heron: “New York Is Killing Me”

Ten minutes of darkness. The silhouette of Gil Scott-Heron, the black Bob Dylan, outlined against the thickest darkness imaginable. By his side, in brief flashes, a neon New York appears, creeping like a menace, stripped of the glamour we usually associate with these kind of images. The return of Chris Cunningham to the video clip is, once again, a cyberpunk nightmare. JB

20. Sufjan Stevens: “Too Much”

The colourful and schizophrenic paraphernalia accompanying Sufjan Stevens on “Too Much” has been tagged as outmoded or as copying M.I.A.'s style. But is there a better way to translate the symphonic torrent of the track to the screen than Deborah Jonhson’s way? The merit here lies in finding a director as crazy as yourself. And since we’re talking about Stevens, you can double that. MF

19. OK Go: “This Too Shall Pass”

The most spectacular sequence in a long time. A work of chain-engineering that is a true mechanic fantasy. Directed by James Frost, Syyn Labs and the band themselves, it took them several months to prepare, but it was worth it. It’s no wonder they celebrated it as if it were a goal. Marvellous. FS

18. Chromeo: “Hot Mess”

Humour is a very important attraction in the video clip market. And in the idiosyncrasy of Chromeo, who in “Hot Mess” pay an ironic tribute to the female sex by letting themselves be punished by a pack of amazons, the faces of P-Thugg and Dave 1 are priceless in this production by Jérémie Rozan. Hell, shoulder hair has never before been so sexy. MF

17. Sebastian Tellier: “Look”

The concepts of “sex” and “Sebastian Tellier” often coincide in a sentence. Directors Mrzyk & Moriceau know that all too well, and when they had to put images to this “Look” by the French artist, they drew and animated a perfect female derrière which drops diamonds and ends up being devoured by a legion of... tadpoles? Whatever, it’s a magic butt. FS

16. Duck Sauce: “Barbra Streisand”

A-Trak and Armand Van Helden have more than enough (attitude, friends, hits, etc.) to accompany their second bomb as Duck Sauce. So-Me directs this tribute to the city of cities which, at the same time, is a who's who of its musical aristocracy. Cooler than cool. FS

15. Make The Girl Dance: “Kill Me”

What to do with a load of money if you have only a few days left to live is a question we have all asked ourselves, yet few have been able to materialise. Make The Girl Dance, directed by Pierre Mathieu, can say they are among those few. Greg Kozo and Mathieu are still alive and kicking, but they spent US 30,000 dollars and recorded it for this video. Get green with envy. MF

14. Holy Fuck: “Red Lights”

Either you’re a dog person or a cat person. The dog, as all of us animal haters know, is a filthy animal, it pisses in the corners of the house and requires more attention than a baby. The cat on the other hand, is not only softer, more beautiful, cleaner and independent, it also has aristocratic genealogy with its origins in Ancient Egypt. Holy Fuck know that, which is why they stuffed “Red Light”, in collaboration with Brian Borcherdt and Michael LeBlanc, with felines. Another option is to get a hamster. JB

13. The Books: “A Cold Freezin0 Night”

Sick. That’s the first adjective that comes to mind upon seeing the video The Books themselves have created for their track “A Cold Freezin’ Night”. In few words: histrionic kids saying murderous phrases. FS

12. Egyptrixx: “Start From The Beginning”

Meticulously geometric landscapes colliding with seas of mercury illustrate the first Egyptrixx video. The Berlin-based multi-disciplinary artist A. N. Fischer developed this metallic and changing landscape from his own sculptures, animating it afterwards in 3D. That’s how the first track of “Bible Eyes”, to be released in January 2011, is visualised. MF

11. Flying Lotus: “MmmHmm”

This video by Special Problems is a declaration of love. Warm like a puff of smoke, soft as a waterpipe, cosy as the fragrance of purple haze drying in the cupboard. Flying Lotus shouts his passion for weed from the rooftops, adorning the green gold with one of the most beautiful tracks on “Cosmogramma”. MF

10. Arcade Fire: “The Suburbs”

Once more, Spike Jonze is sending out a message in the shape of a video clip to the culture of reality-TV, police shows and crime films. In “The Suburbs”, what appears to be a tribute to youth and summer on the outskirts of the big cities, slowly turns into a nightmare of authorial intervention in which a group of youngsters are having a bad time. An allegory of modern America? Who knows? JB

9. Janelle Monáe: “Many Moons”

The metropolitan fantasy of Janelle Monáe in movement. Directed by Alan Ferguson and The Wondaland Arts Society, the video shows us an auction of androids, and our heroine animating the roost with a choreography that’s suspiciously reminiscent of André 3000’s in the video of “Hey Ya”. For an android, she does a marvellous moonwalk. FS

8. Lady Gaga & Beyoncé: “Telephone”

At this point it’s clear that Lady Gaga is the master of scenic recycling. On this occasion the “objective” is Tarantino, and Beyoncé is the guest star. Thought up by Gaga herself and directed by Jonas Akerlund, this video merges the singer’s ugly dada universe with the teachings of the pulp film master in a production that, of course, is packed with sex and violence. FS

7. Deerhunter: “Helicopter (Diplo & Lunice Remix)”

With the film “Slow Moscow” as footage for the video, The KiD plays with its movements and spatial dimension, hypnotising the viewer. Backed by some naked kicks and snares and a brilliant synth line, Lunice and Diplo made one of the best remixes of the year with this one. Or do you think this artistic communion of remixers doesn’t deserve our attention? MF

6. The XX: “Islands”

Minimalist like the music of its stars, this video by Jonna Lee uses a single scene and an apparently redundant choreography to hypnotise the viewer. With few resources but lots of intention. Everything fits. FS

5. HEALTH: “We Are Water”

In the past, Eric Wareheim made it difficult for us to choose between his creations for this list. This year we have no choice but to stick with “We Are Water” because it’s the only video he's made. The comedian has substituted the histrionics of the past with violence and blood. Nothing could be more apt to illustrate the noise made by HEALTH. MF

4. El Guincho: “Bombay”

Intro: tribute to Carl Sagan; and from then on, everything you could imagine. Echoes of Jodorowksy, girls, guns and disguises in a catalogue of hipster surrealism. A trip through the cosmos of our subconscious via a visual collage as delirious as it is tremendously sensual and evocative. Don’t try to understand it, just go with the flow. Made by Canada and masterfully directed by Nicolás Mendez, it is, without a doubt, the erotic video of the year. FS

3. M.I.A.: “Born Free”

In a year when M.I.A. has won herself almost as many new haterz as LeBron James, “Born Free” was a great target for poisoned arrows. The theme chosen by Romain Gavras is prone to controversy: the Warsaw ghetto-like pursuit of ginger-haired people (and their execution). There are people who see this as a cheap sequel to Justice’s “Stress” video, but the realisation, visual impact and, moreover, the political situation –didn’t they just want to pass a law in Arizona that made it possible to stop, arrest and deport illegal immigrants based on their appearance?– make this video something more than a boutade. On the other hand, going against political correctness should be mandatory for every artist in this time of gags. JB

2. Kanye West: “Power”

A video that isn’t a video but a moving painting and a hieroglyphic full of symbolism. Its creator, Marco Brambilla, says he was inspired by the frescos of the Sistine Chapel to recreate the end of an empire due to the excesses of greed - according to him, a false historic moment. However, the sword of Damocles over a Kanye surrounded by opulence forces us to read between the lines. MF

1. Die Antwoord: “Enter The Ninja”

When a video makes you throw up, applaud, shout, look away, then pass it on to everybody and on every social network, it is clearly working. “Enter The Ninja” doesn’t leave anyone indifferent, which is its main quality. The South African trio hasn’t only sent their work viral (“taking over the interweb”), thus earning themselves a multinational contract, they have also had a bearing on contemporary pop culture. All thanks to this video in which all the dirtiness and excess of Ninja, Yo-Landi and rapper Leon Brotha, survivor of that degenerative illness known as progeria. Horrible and at the same time euphoric and revitalising, this clip is a classic we will be watching every time the daily routine needs a provocative pinch. And if not this one, then any of their other videos (“Evil Boy” and “Zef Side”) that have built up the dirty, clowning and monstrous legend of Die Antwoord. JB

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