Music videos inside the capitalist mainstream machine tend to be, just that, mechanical. With music videos there’s such an opportunity to create new worlds, unite the sensory experience, or annihilate that bond… but most of the time we just get a formulaic duplicate. Does the world really need to see another video of an artist looking hard while a girl(s) dances up on them in a club? Or a hollow, cheesy love story intercut with a performance scene? For some reason, a lot of people still relate to these videos and don’t really notice the amount of carbon copies within the format.
But the true beauty of a music video is that there really are no rules — and the audience accepts that. For every video a major label pumps out, there’s an independent artist doing their own work with their own voice.
This is a collection of important, passionate videos that have somehow evaded the zeitgeist, by a lot or by a little.
SOPHIE — “It’s Okay to Cry”
If you were a fan of SOPHIE before, waking up to the surprise notification of this video and playing it was a surreal experience. Until then, she completely nullified visibility for the entirety of her career — never showing her face outside of gigs, never speaking publicly, and never (explicitly) using her own vocals. With the self-directed “It’s Okay to Cry” we were introduced to her likeness, her raw, spellbinding voice, and an immensely vulnerable song. It felt like getting to learn someone all at once. Her incredible production and songwriting are met with a beautifully simple visual — a revealing, brilliantly choreographed, (mostly) one-take shot of an earnest SOPHIE.
VISIONIST — “Value”
From Visionist’s sophomore album Value director/animator Frederik Heyman actualizes the title track using Visionist’s likeness. Visionist and Heyman were able to caustically unite the embodiment of destruction and love in a way that feels overwhelmingly primordial. This is an innovative sonic and visual masterpiece that has treaded under the radar for far too long.
MASAKATSU TAKAGI — “Girls”
Filmmaker and musician Masakatsu Takagi manages to capture the sonic and visual spirit of youth, play, and nostalgia. Takagi’s work is one of a kind.
MOVEMENT — “Ivory” (NSFW)
The prodigious director duo Fleur & Manu deliver a spectacle for the sensual track “Ivory” by Movement. The video explores a theme that seems underrepresented — reflecting on our own sexuality through the lens of distance. Brilliantly, the filmmakers manage to convey the constellation of conflicting inner multiverses.
SCISSOR SISTERS — “Invisible Light” (NSFW)
Directed by CANADA, a group who is constantly churning out mind-bending original music videos, this is loaded with evocative and challenging imagery. The turbulent delivery of each potent visual comes together as a perfect portrayal of a dream-like state, remaining as elusive as the song itself.
NAOMI ELIZABETH — “God Sent Me Here to Rock You”
Naomi Elizabeth is an enigma. She’s an artist, but beyond that, nothing is really known about her. This only adds to the mystery of the myriad of mediums she works in. In 2011, she released a string of original music videos. “God Sent Me Here to Rock You” is probably the most jammable song, but equally as befuddling as the others when you consider the lyrics and video. The video is really not that weird — but Elizabeth is capable of dancing the line between “is she serious, or not?” better than anyone… and that’s the best part. She mesmerizingly dances in an office building (in a way you’ll never forget) and yields a sword around outside of an apartment complex. If you are intrigued, be sure to browse the rest of her portfolio here or listen to the audio version of her book, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Burritos on Spotify.