The Musicians That Make the Best Music Videos

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As we noted last week, we were both intrigued and disconcerted by the arrival of the new Beach House video for “Wishes,” which features the ever-terrifying Ray “Leland Palmer” Wise lip-synching to the song as he directs some sort of weird gymanstic-centric cult meeting in a sports stadium. It’s the latest in a series of pretty awesome videos from Beach House, and it got us thinking about other bands who’ve really embraced the medium as an art form, making consistently great videos over the years. Here are some of our favorites!

Fever Ray

As if her album wasn’t amazing enough — it’s still on high rotation at Flavorpill Central some four years after its release — Karin Dreijer Andersson furnished its four singles with a series of remarkable videos, all of which shared a pensive, faintly ominous mood that echoed the music beautifully. The videos also seemed to share a loose conceptual theme — they’re dominated by images of nightmares, ruined houses, and strange, damaged women. “If I Had a Heart” (above) is our favorite, but they’re all worth seeing.

Of Montreal

Given how theatrical Kevin Barnes and co.’s aesthetic is, it’s no surprise that they’ve embraced the music video form with gusto. Their videos are just as over-the-top as their live show (although, in fairness, Kevin Barnes hasn’t featured naked or on a horse just yet). They’re also surprisingly discomfiting at times — see the Lord of the Flies-esque “Coquet Coquette,” for instance, which gets decidedly bloody and probably shouldn’t be watched with your boss looking over your shoulder.

Die Antwoord

The blackface aspect of “Fatty Boom Boom” was controversial, to say the least, but it was a rare misstep for a band that is probably more notable for its aesthetic than its music. Die Antwoord’s image has been uniquely striking from the very beginning, and has only grown more flamboyant and outlandish over the years. They’re also not afraid to poke fun at themselves, as the enduringly awesome “Umshini Wam” (above) demonstrates.

Kanye West

He may be a bit of a cock — OK, he is a bit of a cock — but this fact does have its positive side-effects. Foremost amongst these is that Kanye’s never seen an opportunity for self-promotion he didn’t like, and as such, he’s embraced the music video with gusto. He’s worked with luminaries like Hype Williams and Spike Jonze, but more notably, he’s often directed or co-directed his own videos, and done so with panache.

Lady Gaga

The best thing about videos: you can turn the sound down!

M.I.A.

On a similar note, M.I.A. may be somewhat erratic, but she’s definitely good at making bold, sweeping statements — something to which the music video form lends itself perfectly. The best example thus far has been the attention-grabbing “Born Free,” although we’ve no doubt she’s got something even more determinedly controversial in mind for the singles from Matangi.

Björk

Björk has made something of a point of working with talented and innovative directors over the years — her videography includes clips made by Michel Gondry, Stéphane Sedanoui, Alexander McQueen, Spike Jonze… and the inimitable Chris Cunningham, who made the iconic and gorgeous “All is Full of Love” (above.)

iamamiwhoami

It might be cheating to name a project whose entire existence was based around the idea of creating viral videos, but still, iamamiwhoami — eventually revealed to be the electronic-based side project of Swedish singer Jonna Lee — definitely made an impact with the videos in question. All in all, Lee has released 27 of them under the iamamiwhoami moniker, and the entire project stands as both a fascinating exercise in leveraging the artistic potential of YouTube and a series of really fucking weird and disconcerting videos.

Radiohead

No, we’re not gonna forget Radiohead, who have probably been more responsible for more memorable music video moments than any other band over the last 20 years — so much so, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite. If we had to pick, though, we’d go with “Just,” if only because all these years later, we’re still hoping that someone is gonna work out just what the lying-down guy is saying. (It’s not just us, either.)

OK Go

Well, come on, they do make great videos. That’s about all they do well, but still.