Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Top 5 Music Videos You Have Never Seen (Released After 2000)

I am a huge fan of the music video. I long for those nights where I just can't sleep, so I curl up in front of my TV and watch music videos until the sun comes up. Because of this habit, I have seen music videos some people may not even think really exist. This list is by no means exhaustive, even with the stipulation of the videos being released after 2000. It's a good starting point for recent forgotten music videos.

Number 5: Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap
Even with her recent Grammy nominations, Imogen Heap is not a household name, and she probably never will be. The most recognition she received was through the use of her song Hide and Seek on the TV show The OC, but even then, people learned the song and not her name. The music video is equally as impressive as the rich tapestry of layered vocals she created for the song with her keyboard and a vocoder. Instead of the standard wide screen format, the camera is turned ninety degrees, meaning the video is seen in a tiny vertical sliver on the screen. The visuals are simple: Imogen in a plain room with simple costume, lighting, and effect changes with her just singing her song. It's beautiful in its simplicity, and a perfect match for this rich musical experience.

Number 4: Gimme by Jill Scott
If I had to pick one artist who truly came into their own since 2000 that will still be relevant twenty years from now, it would be Jill Scott. Her second album, 826+, was a double disc album, featuring one CD of a live concert and another CD of newly released tracks that somehow didn't make it onto Who is Jill Scott: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1. The one single used to promote the release was Gimme, a mid-tempo jam about the joys of being in a strong, sexually fueled relationship. In the video, Jill Scott plays Dr. Love, who brings joy and happiness to all the patients in her hospital with her trust nurses Hugs and Kisses. In the end, everyone feels so great and filled with love that they all dance together. This video is great for two reasons: 1) it shows just how talented Jill Scott is while allowing her to show that she doesn't take herself too seriously; 2) it adds an entire new level of context to the song. Any video that can realistically expand and improve upon the song by adding more complexity to it is a great music video.

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Number 3: Natural Blues by Moby
This music video, more than any other, truly represents Moby's career. He is best known for his brilliant business sense, linking his songs to international ad campaigns with few people ever learning his name. This somber video shows Moby as an old man - a showcase of some of the best make-up since Michael Jackson's video Thriller - looking back on his achievements at the end of his life while wasting away in a nursing home. Eventually, Cristina Ricci appears as a dancing angel of mercy to end Moby's suffering and bring him new life. This video is so beautiful and so sad that I can't help but cry every time I see it. Leave it to Moby to create a brilliant statement on the fleeting nature of fame and everyone's inevitable end without anybody truly realizing what he is doing.

Number 2: Time and Time Again by Chronic Future
What? An anti-war video that doesn't blame the Bush administration for everyone's problems? Yes, Chronic Future's animated video for Time and Time Again is commentary on what can happen when people choose to fight in a war for reasons other than a true desire to defend their nation. Equally sad and infuriating, Chronic Future used simple, computer generated cut-out animation to make a statement that says far more in three and a half minutes than all the angry words a musician could ever say about war could ever achieve.

Number 1: Pagan Poetry by Bjork
This is a controversial video. It wasn't seen by many because it features brief glimpses of suggestive (and full) nudity. It wasn't aired by most because of the extremely disturbing physical content. The video to Bjork's greatest song - and my favorite song of all time (previously Gretchen am Spinnrade by Franz Schubert - has Bjork stitching strands of pearls into her skin with a needle. The sexual nature is suggested, not explicit, and the graphic content is artistic, not vulgar. This video may be hard to watch, but it is a perfect match to a deeply personal and passionate song. It easily belongs up on a wall in an art gallery as part of a digital display of film making.

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