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    Category // Music Video

    Yuck. What a lousy group of videos. I found this year’s music video selections disappointing. There were times when watching them felt painful Don’t get me wrong, there’s something to like about each of these videos, but all in all, the nominees are unexceptional. 

    I enjoyed parts of Cults’ music video for “Go Outside,” directed by Isaiah Seret. I recently read Raven, the foremost seminal novel regarding cult leader Reverend Jim Jones. “Go Outside” features video from real news reports about the mass suicide and clips from the documentary about Peoples Temple and their raven-haired leader. In the Cults video, members of the band make green screen appearances, singing and dancing along with the Jonestown congregation. Trust me, the book was better. 

    Too many of these videos feature members of the band as actors. But they’re not actors, they’re musicians, and the crossover is awkward. “New Romance” by Miles Fisher spoofs the ’90s TV show Saved By the Bell with a violent twist. Moments of the video are humorous, but I can’t help but wonder: What’s the point? In the same vein, Foreign Language’s video for “Flight Facilities” spoofs ’70s television dramas and produces what Boogie Nights might look like if it fell into the wrong hands. TV On The Radio’s video for the song “You” opens with the band mates meeting at a diner to discuss their lives on the one-year anniversary of their break-up. Granted, the lead singer of TV On The Radio has acted in a few indie films, including Rachel Getting Married (which was horrible), but he’s known for his music more than his acting. “You” is a great song that deserves a better video.     

    The Karl X Johan video for “Flames” was well shot but boring. The Oh Land video for “White Nights” had cool art direction but absurdly long (as long as the video itself) and pretentious end credits. Eskmo’s “We Got More” video used neat motion graphics but not nearly enough to sustain interest for two and half minutes. The Apache video by Oneedo featured one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. 

    Sorry for all the negativity. There was a small glimmer of hope in this category, and it came in the form of Manchester Orchestra’s video for “Simple Math.” The video is directed by Daniels, a duo of two young guys named Daniel who are producing some of the most innovative music videos in recent memory. This video put them on the map. Since working with Manchester Orchestra, Daniels has created music videos for The Shins, Foster the People, and Battles, all of which should be considered some of the best made this year. 

    The “Simple Math” video is a slow burn; if you commit to the story, you will be rewarded. The simplicity of the premise is what makes it so great: a guy loses control of his vehicle and crashes, and in mid-air he recalls memories of a painful childhood. It has an unbelievable charm—at times, it looks almost homemade, with all the in-camera effects. The measure of a great music video is how much it improves upon the song and, in this case, the song, which is powerful and emotional, is made so much more powerful and emotional by the visuals.