By Nabi Dressler
Music videos are no longer a thriving art form and are predominantly used to not-so-subtly endorse products (especially those Beats pill speakers no one actually purchases). But on a less cynical note, 2013 ushered in some great songs with pretty cool music videos, despite being sponsored by certain brands and companies and drawing away from the artistic value of short film, but I digress. Here are some of the best songs/their music videos of 2013.
1. Janelle Monáe – “Q.U.E.E.N.” feat. Erykah Badu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEddixS-UoU
One fantastic difference about this video is although many-a females dance throughout this video, no one is objectifying themselves. They’re just grooving. Women dancing for themselves and not simply to compliment men in a video? It’s a wild concept some musicians should get used to (cough, Robin Thicke’s blatant female objectification and the fact that “Blurred Lines”’ lyrics sound like assault. Plus, why watch his music video when you can watch Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel “dancing” to the song at Taste of Chicago? I still laugh/cry).
Janelle Monae, per usual, oozes female and PoC empowerment, and it’s refreshing. This video has a ton of ‘60s-themed fashion, visual simplicity in terms of contrasting colors, and an awesome plot of a museum coming to life (few places are as exciting as a museum). If you appreciate catchy, soulful, dance-y music, you’ll appreciate this.
2. Panic! at the Disco – “This is Gospel” (It’s not gospel music.)
Cool music videos don’t need a huge budget, as proven by this video. It features the effortlessly talented Brendon Urie, the frontman of one of my favorite bands since elementary school when I discovered the radio, Panic! at the Disco. You might recognize him from Vine.
First off, this song is fantastic. Listen to it. It got a music video for a reason. And then you won’t be able to stop listening to it, because at the end of the day, nothing beats simple guitar riffs and powerful vocals.
The video features surgeons and endless ropes holding Urie back from something symbolic, I’m sure. I wish we could analyze videos in English classes. I won’t spoil it for you. You can decide what the video means in context to the lyrics after you watch it for yourself.
It’s also better for me to stay home and watch this video after that time I saw Panic! at the Disco live and came home with minor injuries, temporary loss of hearing, and the impending doom of school the next day (I’ve given up concerts on school nights. This setting priorities thing is kind of a bummer).
3. Sky Ferreira – “You’re Not the One”
As implied earlier, if you’re not listening to ‘80s-style music, you’re not living. Trippy lights, leather jackets and a little blood (edgy, right) are all incorporated in this video. I listened to this song and Ferreira’s album at least 400 times in 2013 (read about Andi Hayes’ love for Ferreira’s album, Night Time, My Time, here).
Ferreira is an up-and-coming musician who’s already toured with the likes of Vampire Weekend (the best band currently making music). Anyway, Ferreira’s video is a go-to if you feel like dancing or reminiscing over an ex because just look at the title of the song. It’s an extremely catchy song and an extremely fun music video with sad undertones depending on how closely you listen to the lyrics and study actors’ facial expressions throughout the video. All in all, it’s a video you should watch.
4. The Killers – “Just Another Girl”
Are The Killers on hiatus? Yes, but before that, they released a Greatest Hits compilation album, “Direct Hits,” on Nov. 11, 2013. “Just Another Girl” was one of two new songs on that album, and this music video takes viewers through the history of The Killers’ music videos.
One clever aspect of the video is that The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers is only in the video for seconds, possibly a statement about the fact that Flowers has captured the vast majority of attention as opposed to the rest of the band. Instead, Dianna Agron plays Flowers’ part as she weaves through the band’s old music videos and all members, except Flowers and his few seconds on-screen, are featured throughout the video. Cool concept from a band that sadly confirmed a multi-year break in 2013.
5. Childish Gambino – 3005
I’m a fan of long take music videos (consisting of one continuous, uninterrupted shot), and this video does a great job of mimicking the style with flawless transitions to and from Childish Gambino/Donald Glover and his blinking, breathing teddy bear. Glover consistently sports an expression void of emotion as he raps lyrics full of pop culture references, which it to be expected from this former “30 Rock writer” and current “Community” actor. His second album, because the internet, was released Dec. 6, 2013.
This video in its entirety takes place on a Ferris Wheel yet manages to be captivating. Not many people can sit on a Ferris Wheel for four minutes, act bored and manage to be entertaining. I didn’t even notice the teddy bear’s progression until watching it a second time. What’s cool is since the camera regularly pans away from Glover and the teddy bear, you get to imagine what’s going down in that time.