Music videos weren't particularly groundbreaking in 2004, nor did most genres stray from their conventions -- rockers still favored live performance shots while rappers opted for traditional money shots. Still, there were plenty of entertaining videos this year, ones that elicited either delighted awe or gossipy ridicule -- what marketing hacks like to call "water cooler moments." Here are some of each type.
Sarah McLachlan: "World on Fire"
This cost only $15 to create (director Sophie Muller worked pro bono while the record company budget went to charity) and spends the bulk of its time pointedly showing how the monies used for superficial things like catering on a film set for a day could save entire Third World communities. The result is a middle finger to both Hollywood and the music business. Soy lattes or village-wide healthcare: Which does one choose? Oh, the dilemma.
Nelly: "Tip Drill"
Feminists just loved "Tip Drill," which was filmed especially for programs like UnCut, BET's adult-oriented video show that airs in the wee hours. They particularly dug the part when Nelly runs a credit card through the crack of a stripper's ass. Hell yeah, that was really what did them proud.
Won-G featuring Gizzelle: "Rapture"
The Haitian rapper's loose cover of the Blondie classic is dreadful, but the video brings it all up to watchable car wreck status with an unforgettable Paris Hilton cameo and Won-G's strange doggy-style simulated humping of vocalist Gizzelle toward the end. Until it gets dethroned, this will stand as the Showgirls of the music video world.
Lindsay Lohan: "Rumors"
Wait -- maybe this is actually the Showgirls of the music video world. Let's see: The first video for the teen actress has bad dancing, endless nightclub clichés, and plenty of silicone accessories. Yes indeed.
Eminem: "Just Lose It"
Michael Jackson did indeed lose it when he saw Slim Shady's depiction of him, complete with little kids bouncing around on his bed while being filmed. Madonna and Hammer, also parodied, were also none too pleased, but they definitely had a better sense of humor and didn't call for the video to be banned from television (as the Gloved One did).
Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz featuring Lil Scrappy: "What U Gon' Do"
The first single off their recent album Crunk Juice has a video to match its pure bombast as Lil' Jon, Big Sam, Lil Bo, and guest Lil Scrappy each encounter their beef-wanting doppelgangers while trying to cool out at the club. An honorable mention goes to Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath" for employing the same technique in a You Got Served-style dance-off. Yeah!
Jay-Z: "99 Problems"
We're still waiting for H-to-the-Izzo to actually retire like he says he has, because it seems like he's still very active in the rap game. But this rocking Brooklyn epic -- featuring appearances from the song's long-haired producer Rick Rubin -- was a fitting scenario to kill off the character and make way for S. Carter, the executive-in-training. Even if some people didn't appreciate the bullet holes at the end.
Murs featuring Shock G and Humpty Hump: "Risky Business"
Another late-night offering finds Murs reprising the famous Tom Cruise role while he and Digital Underground's original big-nosed rapper frolic in a Girls Gone Wild atmosphere. It is humorous, but also has a certain accessible charm due to its home-video style.
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Britney Spears: "Toxic"
A slice of pop eye candy to match the infectious quality this song had during its brief shelf life, the "Toxic" video finds Mrs. Federline in her last evil single girl romp. Bonus points for putting a topless Tyson Beckford on a motorcycle racing our heroine through the streets of what's supposed to be Tokyo. But her pallid cover of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" and the creepy gothic wedding to her real hubby that is the centerpiece of its video is, like, totally tragic.
Chingo Bling: "Walk Like Cleto"
The independent rapper from Houston, also known as the "Tamale Kingpin," has a lethal champion fighting cock -- his rooster Cleto, you pervs! After killing both dogs and other birds in battle, the pimp cup-toting Cleto has been rewarded with a tributary song and video. And we don't see something like that every day, do we?