Best Clips Of 2011
Tricks, effects, gimmicks, premises, punchlines – EDWARD SHARP-PAUL takes a look back at the best clips of the year.
Possibly the most subjective best-of list going around is the ‘best film clip’. Firstly, we’re music fans, so what do we know about film? Secondly, what of crap songs with good clips? Are quality visuals damned by their association with average sounds? What if a great-looking clip has little or no resonance with a song’s themes?
Narrative clips are often interesting, but never in a YouTube-y, “Holy shit! Look at that!” kind of way. Performance clips may be beautifully lit and shot, but if there are no lolcats, no one actually watches them all the way through (I don’t). So, with a few notable exceptions, this year’s list comprises clips that knew their place, clips for a post-‘Here It Goes Again’ world.
Tricks, effects, gimmicks, premises, punchlines; desktop fireworks for the after-lunch lull. They aim to divert for three minutes or thereabouts, and they generally work almost as well without the music that represents their nominal reason for being. Also, they’re mostly by mid-level bands; bands that can get access to some funds (so they can hire SPOD), but have the leeway to take some risks and have some fun with it.
1. All India Radio
(Oh Yeah Wow)
Put simply, this is just beautiful. A stop motion wonder, Darcy Prendergast and his Oh Yeah Wow (Gotye, Art Vs Science) team manage to create an entire world out of light. Painstakingly filmed over six months at a decrepit old brickworks in Brunswick (now reclaimed by a housing development, naturally), ‘Rippled’ features a variety of techniques that I won’t pretend to understand, or try to explain. Oh, and there’s something inexplicably heart-rending about watching the little plasticine creature darting between the bursting light towers.
In spite of the slightly cynical introductory notes, there is such a thing as a film clip that holds one’s attention and lends weight to the song that it accompanies, without resorting to gimmicks or stealing the show in its own right. Pussykrew’s clip for HTRK’s ‘Synthetik’ is one such clip. Visually arresting, there is something sensual and heartbreaking about the masked figures that transcends the initial revulsion that one may feel. As such, it is a perfect companion to HTRK’s violent, narcotic music.
3. Aleks and the Ramps
‘Middle-Aged Unicorn On Beach With Sunset’
Definitely of the “trippy clips that you really shouldn’t trip to” genre. Also, try watching these guys play live and not picture Aleks with a flower for a head.
4. Architecture In Helsinki
Directorial duo Krosm (Sarah Blasko, Midnight Juggernauts) come up with an appropriately tactile clip for AIH’s Contact High, which came in at #3 in our Tracks of the Year. The plot is simple; sleek yuppie (think Let’s Dance-era Bowie) gets seduced by disembodied arms, and winds up pashing on with a palm tree, amid a wash of dry ice fumes. A pair of saucy lips serenade him on the TV, and AIH appear, Billy Idol style, in his picture frames. I don’t know what else can be said about this masterpiece. Opulent, retro and ludicrous, just like the song.
5. Donny Benét
In a lot of ways, Luci Schroder’s clip for ‘Sophisticated Lover’ is a cut-price version of ‘Contact High’; a piss-take rather than a pastiche, a visual ’80s fart joke. Which is fine, because fart jokes can be very funny. Featuring David Hasselhoff’s old car KITT, some pouting blonde women and an elderly Benét doppelganger, the clip offers questionable visual evidence of Benét’s questionable romantic prowess. Basically, it’s pop culture eating itself, with hilarious results.
Archive-footage clips may be the new black – and a great no-budget option for your image conscious, but impoverished musician – but they still take great skill, and a curatorial eye, to get right. With Collarbones’ ‘Don Juan’ clip, band member Travis Cook proves all of the above. Footage of mass calisthenics aboard a battleship is interspersed with burnt-out ruins and interstellar computer-modelling. The incongruous material is blended in such a way as to lend it a sad, seasick quality.
‘Act Your Age’
What we have here is a slow-motion, bad-taste car crash. This clip is flat-out unpleasant to watch. That fact that one watches anyway is testament to director Sam Bennetts’ unquestionable skill. Pity about the soundtrack, though.
8. Pets With Pets
Diane Edwards’ clip for ‘Whalevolcano’ gets the nod, in part because it is probably the most perfect evocation of the music it accompanies (once upon a time, this was actually a primary objective), and partially for representing the ‘molten VHS’ strand of video art – see musician/artist Horse Macgyver’s excellent vimeo page for further details. This digi-collage, intentionally or otherwise, seems to offer a visual analogy to the cultural, spatial and temporal collapse of our Internet 3.0 lives. And it’s fun to watch stoned.
9. Little Red
(D’Arcy Foley Dawson)
Little Red frontman Dom Byrne looks somewhat manic and desperate at the best of times, and ‘All Mine’ provides the perfect setting for him to unleash his array of hangdog expressions. A Melburnian Omega Man, Byrne cruises around Ivanhoe on his skateboard, shreds outside Parliament station, and vainly seeks out fellow survivors (try not welling up when he finds that cussed disco ball).
Coming in at #10 is the mandatory SPOD effort, for kyü’s ‘Pixiphony’. The Sydney lens-flare-for-hire-man uses all his tricks – including lens flare. Stunt lighting, a single shot, a furry Cousin It-like creature with a face made of hands. Delightfully freaky.
MORE END-OF-YEAR LISTS: