20. Jack White – “Sixteen Saltines” (Director: AG Rojas)
There’s something delightfully chaotic about the suburban Lord of the Flies situation Jack White finds himself in the video for Blunderbuss track “Sixteen Saltines.” Too bad he gets burned alive at the end.
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “We Almost Lost Detroit” (Director: Andrew Smart)
We’re not from Detroit. Nor are we on the verge of losing it. But there’s something about the video for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.‘s take on the Gil Scott-Heron classic that makes us feel like we have a stake in the Motor City. This is how you represent.
18. David Byrne & St Vincent – “Who” (Director: Martin de Thurah)
There are a number of reasons why the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense is one of the most memorable performances in modern music history. Perhaps the most important of these is David Byrne‘s dance moves. Although by no means ground-breaking, there is something hypnotic about their awkward simplicity. So naturally their return in him and St. Vincent’s video for “Who,” the lead single off their debut collaborative album, Love This Giant, kept our eyes glued to the screen. Although Annie Clark‘s presence helped as well.
17. Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built” (Director: Jim Larson)
Sometimes you don’t need fancy cameras and big production budgets to make a good video. Japandroids know what’s up in the visual piece for “The House That Heaven Built,” a collection of concert footage and clips of the Vancouver duo doing their thing (see: booze, grilling, fire).
16. The War On Drugs – “Brothers” (Director: Brewer)
Heartwarming is probably the last word you would use to describe a hostage situation, but that’s exactly what the one in The War On Drugs‘ video for “Brothers” is. If we ever get held captive, here’s to hoping it’s by an oxygen-tube wearing decrepit cowboy in a Victorian mansion like this one.
15. Cults – “You Know What I Mean” (Director: Isaiah Seret)
Speaking of heartwarming, the same goes for Cults‘ video for “You Know What I Mean.” This tale of an undying circus romance got us a little emotional. Just a little, we swear.
14. Panama – “It’s Not Over” (Director: A Nice Idea Every Day)
Bonnie and Clyde meet a Levi’s commercial in Panama‘s video for “It’s Not Over.” Turns out that’s a winning combination, as ANIED’s piece for the song had us hitting the play button over and over. And over.
13. Justice – “New Lands” (Director: Canada)
Justice combine football, lacrosse, baseball, roller derbies and lasers into the ultimate sport in their video for Audio, Video, Disco track “New Lands.” Seriously, did you expect this video not to make it onto our list?
12. Toro y Moi – “So Many Details” (Producer: Ghost Robot)
When did Chaz Bundick get so smooth? Maybe it’s just the turtleneck, but there’s something about the way he cruises through the Hamptons/Cape Cod/Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard in the video for “So Many Details” that makes us feel incredibly uncool.
11. Fenech-Soler – “All I Know” (Director: Elliot Sanders)
Fenech-Soler‘s video for “All I Know” is the only one on our list that doesn’t feature any humans. But who needs a story when pretty colors and shapes do the trick? Press play and get ready to experience nature on speed.
10. Races – “Lies” (Director: Edward Chase Masterson)
Surburbia goes awry for the second time on this list in Races‘ video for Year Of The Witch track, “Lies.” Though you wouldn’t expect it, violence pairs with this folky Americana track quite nicely.
9. The Shoes – “Time To Dance” (Director: Daniel Wolfe)
Getting Jake Gyllenhaal to star in your video is a pretty good way to grab our attention. Having him star as a blood-hungry, chain-smoking serial killer pretty much guarantees a spot on this list. Number 9, in fact. Well played, The Shoes. Well played.
8. Twin Shadow – “5 Seconds” (Director: Keith Musil)
We were pretty bummed to find out Twin Shadow’s video for “5 Seconds” lasted only five minutes long. The piece features characters from a novel George Lewis Jr. wrote himself entitled “Night Of The Silver Sun.” Until the book gets its own feature-length film, though, we’ll happily settle for this video.
7. Grimes – “Oblivion” (Director: Emily Kai Bock)
Grimes‘ video for “Oblivion” is another case in which simplicity prevails. Filmed on a meager budget with friend and director Emily Kai Bock, the piece stars Claire Boucher singing around Montreal — locations include a motocross rally and McGill football game — with her headphones on. Quite charming.
6. P.O.S. – “Bumper” (Directors: Dan Huiting and Isaac Gale)
Minneapolis hip-hop artist P.O.S. has built a reputation as a punk-as-fuck rapper without quite crossing genres in the traditional sense. The artist né Stefon Alexander’s raw, uninhibited talent comes to life through a mess of drums, wires and speakers in this live performance video for We Don’t Even Live Here track “Bumper.”
5. Purity Ring – “Belispeak” (Director: Brewer)
Purity Ring‘s video for “Belispeak” is the kind of thing usually reserved for nightmares. But despite the dark, swampy monster belly singer Megan James finds herself stuck in here, we’ve had no problem returning back to this visual piece for the Shrines single.
4. Woodkid – “Run Boy Run” (Director: Yoann Lemoine)
It’s rare enough to find an artist take a seat in the director’s chair. It’s even rarer to see them make the transition as well as Woodkid. Okay, so maybe the artist né Yoann Lemoine built his chops behind the camera before he took on a music career, but there’s no denying that his video for “Run Boy Run” is one of the most incredible pieces we’ve laid our eyes on over the past few years.
3. Antony And The Johnsons – “Cut The World” (Director: Nabil Elderkin)
Antony And The Johnsons‘ video for “Cut The World” is no light fare. By far the darkest video to grace this list, the Nabil Elderkin-directed piece stars Willem Dafoe in a gruesome tale of female empowerment. Considerably NSFW, these five minutes will sit with you for much longer than their duration.
2. Flight Facilities – “Claire De Lune (Ft. Christine Hoberg)” (Director: Dave Ma)
Flight Facilities video for “Clair De Lune” is another one that lingered in our minds well after the first watch. Director Dave Ma hit this eight-minute track out of the park with a dark, moving look at the recklessness of youth. Set aside some time to watch this one.
1. M83 – “Midnight City” / “Reunion” / “Wait” (Directors: Fleur & Manu)
Is it cheating to place not one, not two, but three M83 videos at the top of the list? Maybe, but it’s impossible to consider any of these amazing pieces without talking about the others. Fleur & Manu‘s tale of a band of renegade mutant children is so good we wish there was a Lord of the Rings-length film (or three) to continue their story. But for now this trilogy of music videos will have to do.