10. Tiga – ‘Bugatti’
Video by: Hemli
The cheeky Canadian dance producer’s great novelty-leaning song received a inexplicable yet perfect GIF-style video.
Video by: Chino Moya
Annie Clark spent much of 2014 shedding any notions about herself as an artist and embracing an alternative vision of herself through performance and image. Her shock of hair, her considered clothing, her choreographed live performances and her new album, were all filtered through an alter-ego, buoyed no doubt by collaboration with David Byrne.
All of which comes together nicely in the clip for ‘Digital Witness’, a song about being too caught up in digital ephemera, which the superbly-directed video conveys via a colourful but dull future dystopia. Everything is awesome.
Video by: Jesse Kanda
Arca’s ‘Thievery’ track is one that gets under your skin. For the video for the song, there is loads of skin on display. It’s not clear just how much reality is present as what looks like a naked digitised dancer writhes to the song. The movements are real though, prompting an experience that is disconnected from reality but still real. Hyper-real.
Video by: Hiro Mura
With new album You’re Dead thematically occupied with that titular concept, it’s no surprise to see it in the video for the lead track too. It takes place at a funeral for a young child but through deceased dancing with an afterlife destination, the video is uplifting, joyous and supernatural. And yes, I prefer it to ‘Chandelier’.
Video by: Carlos Lopez Estrada
A simple idea executed with brilliant camera movement and style. The eerie suspended tone of the song is represented by a hanging foot ready to deliver harsh justice.
Video by: Nabil
Twigs sits on a throne in an Egyptian-style temple, bronzed, exotic and elegant, and those serving her (also played by her) as the camera pans out to show just how larger than life Twigs has become.
Video by: JLW and Oliver Hadlee Pearch
Video by: Kiesza, Ljuba Castot and Rami Samir Afuni
A one-take choreographed dance video that launched the pop career of a former navy-serving Kiesza. The choreography is not perfect but in a year of hyper-real videos, it was refreshing to see someone make the considerable effort on their own, which leads us to…
2. The Gloaming – ‘Sailor’s Bonnet’ (live on Other Voices Derry)
Video by: Other Voices
It’s a kind of magic at play in the music of The Gloaming. Brilliant players and quality musicianship. Witness the band communicate through looks, nods, winks and notes during the extended performance of ‘Sailor’s Bonnet’ from Other Voices in Derry’s Glassworks back in February.
On record, the song is four minutes long, here it is a living breathing, ever-changing thing, moving and morphing. Martin Hayes is the boss but they’re all serving the song. By nine minutes, the song reaches further into a breathless crescendo that makes the audience holler and has them up on their feet. It’s rapturous and it gets at the alchemy of what makes music so special.
1. Future Islands – ‘Seasons (Waiting On You) (Live on Letterman)
Video by: Letterman
If ‘Hideaway’ launched the career of Kiesza, the Late Show With David Letterman television performance re-ignited the Baltimore band’s career and showed the power of TV in a digital age.
Most things we consume from the internet these days are ephemeral: tweets, status updates, GIFs, mashups, Vines, Instagrams, video parodies. You consume them for a fraction of time, like pistachio nuts. You get a little hit and move on.
But there are some things that stand a longer test of time, that stay with you, a great movie, a brilliant novel, an engrossing album. That stuff is called art. Everything else, well, it’s just stuff. Sometimes, things that were intended to take up a few minutes of your time for entertainment purposes transcend that purpose.
The power of the video and performance of Future Islands on Letterman back in March has remained undiminished.
Herring’s performance is rare in music these days: an unfiltered, raw, authentic, beautiful expression of emotion that shatters the cool pretension of almost every other band’s performing style. Artists of all kinds should look at this and be inspired to put themselves out there in such a brazen way.
It could all have went so wrong. Herring’s style crouches on the line between parody and purity. There’s air-punching, chest-grabbing, crab-walking, dad-dancing, teary-eyed, metal-growling and rubber-necking. It’s so unnatural, it could only be natural.
Even if, Herring’s performance has some calculation to it, his black t-shirt and slacks style and brittle Wedding Singer stage persona is something that the man has been doing for over 10 years on stages. Letterman just gave him the eyeballs, proving there is still huge influence in older media platforms.
It helps that ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ has an air-punching anthemic quality to it already.
Herring does what great singers do – puts a performative yearning context on a song’s subject matter. You can choreograph music performances to within an inch of perfection but Herring shows us that genuine human reaction to music and sentiment can be even stronger than calculation.