#10: Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko “Stay”
Not all music videos make sense with the song they are for. Number ten on the Video Rewind’s Best of 2013 list sure does. “Stay” by Rihanna featuringMikky Ekko visualizes the feeling of the song. It’s about a relationship that is over, but both parties want it to go on. Rihanna is in a bathtub filled with water on her own. She’s naked implying vulnerability and cold, as she wraps her arms around herself. Downtrodden eyes are what you see as the lyrics seem to replay what she must be thinking about. Flash to Mikky who is in another bathroom fully clothed sitting on the edge of another bathtub. This one is empty of person and water. He also croons to no one. What you see is one conversation that should be taking place at the same time, but it is cut into two parts in different settings so that it doesn’t actually happen. And so, they fail to come together. If you’re not together, then no one can stay. Most of us will never know the stardom of Rihanna or even Mikky Ekko. What we can all relate to, what humanizes even those who are famous, is the feeling of wanting something you’re not going to, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart.
#9: Ellie Goulding “Tessellate”
Though Ellie Goulding only covered Alt-J’s “Tessellate” I truly believe she owns the song. Her vocals at the intro and the shift in style make this song seem so much more like a love song. Ellie gives us a lonely night in Paris. With her dark eyes and light hair, the choice of black and white over color for the video give a stark yet simple look that corresponds with her vocals. In some ways a burlesque show, in other ways the captivating trance of a Greek Siren, either way this version of Ellie Goulding prancing around as the only living soul on the Paris streets translates to the woman you either want to be with, or be.
#8: San Cisco “Fred Astaire”
This video is the reason I believe all men should know how to dance. Not just one style, but all. Women love to dance. And they love to dance with men. In their video for “Fred Astaire”, San Cisco find themselves looking young, and very attractive. They’re performing for an evening of dance where we find four couples all prepared to dance their specific styles the entire evening long. Lead singer Jordi Davieson gets out on the dancefloor and does his best to have fun. He’s always getting cut in on by the females’ original partners which leaves him with that sad look of an adolescent who doesn’t think he’ll ever get the girl. Scarlett Stevens, the drummer, also goes out to dance but finds herself quickly replaced. In the end Jordi and Scarlett get together on the floor. Though they are easily identified as the worst dancers, they make the best of it and have a good time. Hard not to smile at the end of this video.
#7: Fallulah “Out of It”
Fallulah’s video for “Out of It” plays out like Where The Wild Things Are for adults. Fallulah ventures out into the woods to come across a cabin. In this cabin she prepares a dinner party for some monsters. Everything goes well until Fallulah starts hitting the bottle heavily. Lyrically, she just wants to get out of her head and the crazy thoughts she’s having. These are her demons. The thing about demons is that at times they are the only things we have to leave on. You can tame them or they will devour you. She makes peace at the end of the video, standing silently with her demons as she waits for the sun to rise. It’s all so calm, and pristine. Isn’t that how it always feels when you accept the tragedy that has just befallen?
#6: Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra “The Bed Song”
The bed is a place of intimacy, which can come in the form of silence. That’s when things becomes scary, because it starts to feel like you don’t even matter anymore. This video for Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra’s “The Bed Song” portrays a relationship as it progresses from the view of the bedroom, or shared floorspace at the start. You meet, fall in love. You move in together with imagination for furniture. But life is the best it’s ever been. Then one day, you’re sleeping in the same bed but you’re so far apart you are no longer together. Quietly, your relationship moves on only to get older. Your circumstances have improved with a house and elegant furniture. You have more things but less of each other. There is one particular shot in the video where a middle aged couple are lying back to back and a canyon between them cold and feeling alone. The camera pans up showing each of the previous settings they have lain together on. They were closest so long ago, and that cheery getup of a party with its stringed lights looks so far away. In the end we follow a story where one person keeps wanting to know what is going on but never has the courage to ask. In the end, when it is too late, she asks. The other person admits that he would have answered if only she had asked. The moral here is, don’t leave the bedroom for silence. If you are going to be uncomfortable sleeping next to someone, at least find out why.
#5 Foals “Late Night”
For their video “Late Night”, Foals went off to Romania. They are performing in the lounge of a shady hotel. We start with some less than honorable looking men smoking and drinking. The events that unfold upstairs revolve around the cycle of life. In one room a couple are beginning to have loud, exciting sex. In another room a woman is about to give birth. And in the third room a man quietly sets about taking his own life. People are crying out in passion, in joy, in life, and a drunk man makes his way up the stairs to find another he cares about has killed himself. And in that silence, he too, begins to weep. Life doesn’t cease when the sun goes down. There are many things that go on, all capable of changing a life.
#4 Thee Oh Sees “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”
Sometimes, it is just not your day. The video for “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster” by The Oh Sees is just about that. We find a man who has already killed someone and wrapped them in tarp. He is just trying to place this dead body in the back of his minivan. Having accomplished this, he’s catching a breather when he notices another person in the parking has just observed him trying to get rid of the evidence. Our struggling murderer chases down this witness killing him with the very plastic grocery bags the victim was carrying home. Two bodies, no problem. But as our killer catches his breath again, he notices a second witness standing on the sidewalk. This man is going down to. Three bodies to dispose of. No living witnesses. Yet, when our serial killer tries to go to his preferred body dumping site, he finds another man there with a body of his own. This video ends with a cliff hanger, but I’m willing to bet the man with the minivan wins.
#3: Matt and Kim “It’s Alright”
For anyone who has ever wanted to see Matt and/or Kim of Matt and Kim in their underwear, it’s your lucky day. Sleeping next to someone can be difficult. It’s almost as though you have to learn to choreograph your movements so as not to bump into each other waking one another up in the night. The video for “It’s Alright” features the pop duo lying in bed before breaking out into a choreographed dance, all while lying mostly on their backs. There are some interesting Kama Sutra style positions that I have to give Kudos to both for being able to get into. Most of it is innocent fun, but it must have been a pain to do. I can’t imagine how many takes this required. They both have their eyes closed for the entire video. Easily, one of the best videos of the year.
#2: Travis “Moving”
In picking the video of the year, #’s 1 and 2 were very close to one another. In the end, I picked “Moving” by Travis for second. The video focuses around the cold breath of the band members in night. There is an animated piece that is projected into the cold whisps of breath, and it makes for one enchanting visual performance. A figure of a man starts walking, running, flying, and even swimming. He encounters obstacles along the way. One of the most impressive shots is when the man is falling and hits water with a splash. It’s just a cup of hot coffee or cocoa, but the positioning of everything is amazing. It’s strangely reminiscent of the image of God breathing life. The show ends when they stop puffing out. There is a neat duet scene towards the end of the video where lead singer Fran Healy is belting out the song and in the breath that forms is his silhouette singing right back. Who wouldn’t want to sing with the ghost of themselves?
#1: Polly Scattergood “Wanderlust”
I’m still unsure if this video for “Wanderlust” by Polly Scattergood is intended to be in the spirit of Groundhog Day or not. We start with a woman who enters a furnished room without anyone else in it. She makes her way, awkwardly, through the room and exists. When she enters the next room it looks exactly as the first only now there are people in it. Each time she enters there are more people, and sometimes they are dressed differently. Why, even she experiences a bit of a wardrobe change. Here movements are always the same and we see with each new element that her original entrance was not a choreographed dance move but rather simply her maneuvering through the obstacles that we don’t see.