In a year where the top 100 songs showed the staggering, eclectic and buzz worthy sounds of 2012, we thought it best here at ShufSounds to honour a year where music videos been the outlet for some of the ballsiest, classiest and most stirring moments to find a platform. Kudos to two-time featured director Emily Kai Bock for her phenomenal work with Grizzly Bear and Grimes. Lets hope 2013 offers promo films like this in equal measure. 

Words: Angus Harrison

Let’s begin with MIA who once again courted controversy, this time by arguably exploiting Arabic stereotypes in Roman Gavras’ video for her track ‘Bad Girls’. Whilst possibly a bit politically questionable, the video looks amazing and remains aesthetically a topical cultural collision.

Another take on unruly youth in Hip-Hop is Danny Brown’s ‘Grown Up’ that features a wild but strangely adorable seven year old version of the rapper, lip syncing amazingly to the track. Directed by Greg Brunkalla, the video is a humorous and effective portrayal of childhood without stablilisers.

Another theme of the year seems to be the juxtaposition of upbeat guitar rock with anguished souls. Firstly AG Rojas’ directed video for ‘Hey Jane’ by Spiritualized, which feature the exploits of a cross dressing hooker/waitress also raising his kids.

Then we have ‘Oldie’, which will served as a fitting obituary to OFWGKTA if they are all one day tragically killed in a freak pop-up store collapsing incident. The entire unit are on show, strutting and most importantly enjoying the best song that the album had to offer. The video is one continuous shot, as each member is rolled to the front for his respective verse, an approach that is married perfectly to the character of the track. All shot by super chic LA cliche Terry Richardson (just before he got Obama in his studio).

Adding to this collection of pained peoples, Beach House’s video for ‘Wild’ was a strangely incongruous affair, pitting fighting friends and passionate lovers against Victoria Legrand’s crooning. Directed by Rohan Renck, the video may be jarring to begin with, but as it goes on and crescendos, it is remarkably effective.

Visually two spectacles stand out. Firstly the suitably decadent video for Watch the Throne’s ‘Niggas In Paris’ which comes with both a directing credit for Kanye West and a very genuine epilepsy warning.

Finally, director of the year must go to Emily Kai Bock who has produced two of the years most striking and impressive music videos. Firstly her video for Grimes ‘Oblivion’ puts the elven artist in the midst of pure machismo, surrounded by topless athletes and football fans. Yet instead of focussing on making Grimes’ Claire Boucher seem vulnerable - or even sultry and seductive - the video allows this clash of worlds to create a brightly formed, almost dystopian, take on Americana brought together by a great, great, great song.

Following on from this Tame Impala’s video for ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ is surely the best use of clay stop motion in a video since Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’. It is beautiful to watch, and instead of trying to add a narrative to the emotive vocals, it instead evokes further mystery. Colourful and breathtaking, directed by Joe Pelling and Becky Sloan.

Kai Bock’s second stand out effort this year was her video for Grizzly Bear’s ‘Yet Again’. Similarly to her work with Grimes, she employs bright lights and classically American settings, placing in their midst a teenage skater, whose strange adventures culminate in a whirlwind of pain and anger as Daniel Rossen’s guitar clatters and soars. Take the time to watch Emily Kai Bock’s short making of documentary.

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AuthorDuncan Harrison