Over the past decade, MTV has attempted to murder the art of the music video by giving reality shows incessant airtime and even removing the phrase Music Television from the network logo.
But bands and solo acts are still constantly churning out quality videos. From simple performance pieces to narrative short films, the vid industry remains alive and well.
With 2011 about halfway over, here are five picks for top music videos of the year so far.
5. Titus Andronicus's "No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future"
The Jersey Shore has all but destroyed New Jersey's reputation over the past couple of years. But NJ punk outfit Titus Andronicus does its best to redeem the state with the video for "No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future" from their civil war concept album The Monitor. Frontman Patrick Stickles announces the band's intentions right off the bat, saying "We're going to show the world through this video what New Jersey's really all about." The rest is simply Titus Andronicus playing its music in various cool locations to only a handful of folks each time. This impromptu tour of the Garden State conveys the group's unmatched energy perfectly.
4. tUnE-yArDs' "Bizness"
Ignore Merrill Garbus's bizarre upper lip which possibly sports a moustache. Ignore the fact that her singing voice sounds almost exactly like Dave Longstreth's of the Dirty Projectors. This androgynous indie songstress knows how to make a video. And tUnE-yArDs' four-and-a-half-minute piece for her single "Bizness" uses kids, cult-like imagery, and some stop-motion techniques to create a whimsical and sometimes downright creepy foray into the artist's visual aesthetic.
3. Battles' "Ice Cream"
If any band can successfully pull off an incredibly trippy music video without it coming off as annoying and contrived, it's math rock trio Battles. Their video for "Ice Cream" features interesting overlaid images such as a man jumping off a cliff into a woman's underwear, and girls licking random objects as though licking ice cream. The psychedelic visuals are well shot and do not feel disjointed at all, but rather cohesive. It also represents the band perfectly as a sometimes silly but very calculated and talented group of smart musicians.
2. Kanye West's "All of the Lights"
Warning: This video has been identified by Epilepsy Action to potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised. So you know it's good. Kanye West's homage to Gasper Noe's Enter the Void starts off slow and calm, but soon becomes blazingly vivid and awesome, pounding color after color into our heads non-stop. Despite the seizures, the Hype Williams-directed piece remains Kanye's most accessible video from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. While the video for "Runaway" is 34 minutes long and "Monster" features content not suitable for anyone, "All of the Lights" is five and a half minutes of pure fun.
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1. Tyler the Creator's "Yonkers"
Tyler the Creator doesn't need any fancy sets or elaborate shoots to produce a great video. He can do it with just a camera and a white wall. In February, the controversial rapper collaborated with cinematographer Luis Panch Perez to create three minutes of grotesque, can't-look-away video madness for his track "Yonkers" off debut solo record Goblin. The black-and-white video portrait contains bug-eating, vomiting, crazy eyes, and other icky, fascinating imagery.
-- Alex Broadwell