There are three types of music videos. Some are really, really unimaginative and uncreative. The band basically plays in a studio and the terrible lip-sync is recorded and slapped on TV.
Some have little cinematic value but are either so dated or otherwise hilarious that they deserve to be in constant rotation.
Finally, there are many that go all out, creating 3 minute masterpieces set to music. Of course Michael Jackon’s “Thriller” is one of the classic examples.
Here’s some of my favorites.
Johnny Cash – “Hurt.” I’m actually not sure I could say anything more about this video other than it’s probably one of the best goosebump videos ever. Simple, beautiful and poignant.
Autumn de Wilde’s videos – Her videos are some of the best out there right now. She’s does beautiful and interesting videos that show off the song and the artist without
overpowering either with blatant commercialism. Really, who else would have put Jenny Lewis in a “Hee-Haw” remake? Other shining stars are The Bird and the Bee’s “Again & Again & Again” and Rilo Kiley’s “Moneymaker” and “Silver Lining” in which Jenny leaves poor Blake at the altar.
More Rilo Kiley – “The Frug” is worth mentioning because it’s not an album cut, and it’s from before they were all O.C. popular and Jenny looks so young. “It’s A Hit” is cool too, but it’s nothing compared to the dance moves in “The Frug.”
Patty Griffin – She doesn’t have enough, but “Love Throws A Line” is one of my favorites. The way the pieces of junk/props come in right at the right time and the little kite at the end makes me happy. It’s a little dated with the hair and it’s a little jarring if you’re used to the Patty-look of recent but it’s really happy and peppy and you forget that it’s a little bit apocalyptic. Plus, I think she might win the award for coolest shoes in a non-Cyndi-Lauper music video. It was directed by Traci Goudie, who like Autumn de Wilde does some amazing videos.
Tom Petty – Tom’s got his fair share of boring studio videos, but the others are amazing.
In “Don’t Come Around Here No More” he’s the mad hatter in an Alice In Wonderland themed video, where they end up eating Alice. It’s twisted but great. Same with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” a little weird and creepy but very Tom and very cool. As a side note, both have random Stevie Nicks connections: supposedly she was asked to do “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and she refused to do it, or she was asked to do backing vocals and wouldn’t. Either way, her backup singers Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks did do backing vocals (and some claim Stevie’s on there too). And supposedly, Tom wanted Stevie to be the dead girl in “Mary Jane” but she was too short. However, I can’t swear to the actual source for either tidbit. If you happen to know, please leave it in the comments.
Fleetwood Mac – Since we’re talking about Stevie Nicks, seems like a good time to go into “Gypsy.” It was in the group of first film-type videos and really incorporates the feel of the song, the old-timey theme, the entire band (even Mick and John) and a story all in the same bit. Plus, the little dance scene between Lindsey and Stevie is probably one of the more heartbreaking moments in a music video that isn’t by Martina McBride. And it’s great how all the little relationships are so thinly veiled. It’s a shame that the rest of their videos aren’t nearly as great.
Stevie Nicks – Moving right along, she’s got some fantastically super videos and some fantastically corny videos. Not a whole lot in between.
“Rooms on Fire” is a really nice story, it’s sad, but it’s done really well with lots of great costumes. The original “Stand Back” video, known as the “Scarlett” or “Gone with the Wind” version is really neat too. It’s a shame that it was scrapped for the scary treadmill and wind machine version that was aired. I guess it has something to do with the fact that it makes no sense and was probably only half-baked. At least it was given some love on the “Crystal Visions” box set. Ok, come to think of it, maybe it’s just “Rooms on Fire” that’s great and the rest (“I Can’t Wait,” “If Anyone Falls,” “Talk To Me”) kinda are goofy. “Every Day” from “Trouble in Shangri-La” is nice and artsy, just not very coherent and she looks like Britney Spears in parts of it. Oh well.
Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette – This was on some CMT special and someone said that Loretta was the nicest lady, but she couldn’t lip sync to save her life. And that’s pretty accurate. But that’s not the point. The point is that it has every single great country musician you can think of in the same video all trying to get back to see the Honky Tonk Angels and they don’t let any of them back… until Chet Atkins shows up (once he finally got past security… “I don’t care it you’re Chet Atkins,”… “But I AM Chet Atkins!”) And fun tidbit, someone pulled the fire alarm while they were filming this, causing essentially the whole Opry cast to go sit on the sidewalk while they cleared it up.
Jill Sobule – Yes, she’s got some novelty songs, but the video for “Super Model” is just too pop-culture great to not mention. It’s Jill as Sissy Spacek as Carrie. It doesn’t seem to be on YouTube however.
Lyle Lovett – “If I Had A Boat” falls into the category of “so incredibly dated but so incredibly funny.” It’s something about the hair-do. He’s so cute and wonderful in such an unconventional way.