December 2, 2012

AwkwardSound Presents: The Best Music Videos of 2012

2012 was not only a breakthrough year for just some of AS' favorite musicians, but the directors who brought their music to life on our YouTube and Vimeo playlists as well. On top of a wealth of fresh creative perspectives from behind the lens, this year's list of Best Music Videos also features a recurring theme in which seeing artists placed out of their element paid off big time. Simple concepts and DIY production left behind some of the most lasting impressions when all was said and done in other cases as well. You can make a great song or album worthy of top year-end honors, but seeing music with our eyes has the power to make it mean a whole lot more. In no particular order, here are the directors and musicians who made the most of their art in AwkwardSound's Best Music Videos of 2012...

Best Coast - "The Only Place"
Director: Ace Norton

Ace Norton captures Bethany Consentino and Bobb Brueo's undying fun-in-the-sun fetish for the Golden State in the video for the title track off this year's pretty decent sophomore effort. Combining round after round of creative choreography and some crafty product placement of the "Best Coast" brand during a road trip through Southern Cali, Norton's vision for "The Only Place" easily sells AS on both the sights and sounds of the area.

Dan Deacon - "True Thrush"
Director: Ben O'Brien & Dan Deacon

The concept for Dan Deacon's "True Thrush" is both simple and in signature Deacon form, pretty DIY. With co-director Ben O'Brien, Baltimore's finest experimental pop artist and friends play a game of visual telephone by trying to recreate a room scene within an hour's time just as the other team before them had left it. Obviously, it's an intriguing look at how memory plays out, shining a little light into the mystery of the human brain, which will never, ever get boring.

Drake - "HYFR"
Director: Director X

The Director X-filmed video for Drake's Take Care cut "HYFR" is what happens when two unlikely worlds collide after October's Very Own decides to re-Bah Mitvah himself. The festivities includes all the fun that traditionally goes down during the Jewish coming-of-age celebration, except this time around, Drake's famous hip-hop friends (Lil Wayne, Birdman, DJ Khaled, Trey Songz, Mack Maine and Noah "40" Shebib all make cameos) are invited to put their own spin on it. All I know is that would have not gone over as well as it does here had it been a First Holy Communion, or something...

Fiona Apple - "Every Single Night"
Director: Joseph Cahill

It's no secret that Fiona Apple goes a little off the deep end with her thought process, and luckily director Joseph Cahill was able to capture her brainwave eccentricities in the gorgeous clip for "Every Single Night." Across a spread of scenes, we see Ms. Apple sporting hats made out of squids and blanket of snails, casually strolling through Paris as a giant octopus attacks the city in the background and hopping in bed with a minotaur. Every single night might be a fight with her brain, but those look like some pretty wild dreams regardless.

Grimes - "Oblivion"
Director: Emily Kai Bock

Emily Kai Bock had a breakout year behind the lens of some impressive videos for the likes of Grizzy Bear and Doldums, but it was her clip for Grimes' "Oblivion" that stands out as one of 2012's most enthralling watches. In it, she situates the electro-pop meme across a slew of testosterone-dominated public venues that wonderfully clash against Grimes' elfish stature, gothy fashion sense and My Little Pony-hued hair. She gets the bros dancing (and moshing, too!,) and there is isn't one weird look from any of them, making this social experiment a beautiful success.

M.I.A. - "Bad Girls"
Director: Romain Gavras

M.I.A. is the current reigning queen of making suggestive, yet ultimately highly entertaining and innovative music videos, and in 2012, when she defends her crown by re-teaming with Romain Gavras (the same director behind her ginge genocide "Born Free" clip) to liven up the Middle East with "Bad Girls." AS is fairly certain this video was banned the second it was released inside countries where women clad in burqas dancing around with machine guns is frowned upon, but for those of us here in the free world, seeing hip-hop's biggest music video stereotypes à la bling and sideways cars speeding down the desert also helps remind us that we aren't such a rational society either.

OFF! - "Borrow and Bomb" / "I Got News for You"
Director: Whitey McConnaughy

OFF! and director Whitey McConnaughy not only do an incredible job at paying "tribute" to the '80s youth-centric talk show Teen Talk in the video for tracks "Borrow and Bomb" and "I Got News for You," but they even get the VHS-quality film as seen in its correlating YouTube clip down as well. Points for authenticity! The result is the hardcore vet supergroup exacting revenge via satire against the evil forces of suburban California who tried to take them down decades ago by infiltrating them from the inside.

Real Estate - "Easy"
Director: Tom Scharpling

A year hasn't gone by where comedic renaissance man Tom Scharpling hasn't made it onto this list. In 2012, The Best Show on WFMU funny man lent his talents to several must-see viewings from the likes of Ben Gibbard, Aimee Mann and Nude Beach. AS' favorite directorial product of Scharpling's however comes in the form of fellow Jersey boys Real Estate's video for "Easy," which humorously exposes the dark side of the sunny indie rock quartet's questionable street team practices. Who knew Real Estate could employ such pricks?

Screaming Females - "It All Means Nothing"
Director: Screaming Females & Ken Castellano

There's something about over-the-top gruesomeness and kitschy horror comedy that will never cease to become stale when viewed in all of its audio / visual glory. Screaming Females team up with fellow New Jersey-ite Ken Castellano for the gory clip of "It All Means Nothing," in which Jarrett Dougherty and King Mike stumble upon frontwoman Marissa Paternoster's sick, twisted double life as a cat-killing predator. In order to stop her -- THEY MUST KILL HER. It's all very funny / bloody (Don't worry, Marissa rises from the dead soon after with the help of a loyal goth clique in the subsequent watch, "Leave It All Up to Me.")

Trash Talk - "F.E.B.N."
Director: Wolf Haley

On last year's excellent single "Goblin," not only did Tyler, the Creator prove he spit out a great rhyme, but that he has a talent for transforming a track into sensory-inducing eye candy on a black and white palette. This year he does the same under his directorial "Wolf Haley" moniker for hardcore labelmates Trash Talk in their video for 119 single, "F.E.B.N." It's a pseudo-panoramic tour that gives viewers a full vantage point of the inner happening at their SoCal creative space, filled with many a'moshing and partying, and while it plays out almost effortlessly, it still looks awesomely crazy in there.

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