"Your Love" - Nicki Minaj
I've rambled about this before, but this is still one of my favourite videos of the year. "Your Love" is such a flowing, billowy song, the drape imagery everywhere really fits the mood. It's a love story of widely varying emotions, jealousy, naivete, anger, sadness, joy, all told within a few minutes. Nicki's death at the end is also pretty unexpected. She's also unexpectedly reserved in this video, much less crazy than just about everything else she's been in. It lends a more serious tone to the piece. Thankfully though, cleavage and cuteness are still on rapid display. There's a lot of little moments here that make the video great, from the Bitch frowning when Gamble touches Nicki in the Kung Fu class, to expressions of love shown in just a smile. There's an other-worldly feel to the whole thing (supported not only by the fact that all these Black People are evidently living and training in some Japanese-styled locale). It's almost dream-like, which the lyrics allude to. Fantastic stuff out of Nicki, who is unarguably one of the most talented Rap Artists around today.
"Power" - Kanye West
I'm still debating within myself whether this is actually an innovative video or just another expression of Kanye's ridiculous ego. The lyrics seem to contrast with the imagery -
No one man should have all that power
The clock’s tickin’, I just count the hours
Stop trippin’, I’m trippin’ off the power
Anyway, said imagery is one of the most beautiful I've seen in a music video in years. The detail is intricate while maintaining a compositional simplicity. The single-shot take (for the most part) is always impressive, especially with the slight Hitchcock-Zoom Out in effect here. The tableau Kanye presents is reminiscent of an African Royal Court, with dancers, fighters, columns and everything focused on Kanye himself as King of All. Again, the ego would seem completely out of control but he seems to be singing against the excesses of power, or at least admitting his ego. Once the pan is finished the whole thing looks like it could hang in the Romantic Wing of an Art Gallery. It's a true meeting of art, music and video that looks spectacular. I'm also a growing fan of Kanye's use of limited song snippets for his videos, just enough to get his point across (admittedly a 5-minute pan like this might be excessive, even for Kanye). "Flashing Lights" was much of the same, also one of the Best Vids of the Past Decade. Whatever he's tripping on, Kanye can keep it up to churn out more of this kind of material.
"Misery" - Maroon 5
I am no fan of Maroon 5. That's possibly why I like watching Adam Levine get his ass kicked for three minutes straight here. But anyway, the stunts and editing are pretty incredible in this video. I consider the subject matter a much much lighter, goofier take on Em and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie." That hate and love come from the same spring - Adam's misery comes from how much he loves this chick and then she (literally - decent metaphor) breaks him apart. This video also progresses to get much wackier by the end, with rocket launchers, cars overturning, a man on fire, these are crazy times. Also built upon subtle moments, there's this great face around 2:35 in where you can tell he has no idea where to go next. An emotional journey built on small moments with a light sprinkling of humour to disguise the intense package. Well done, boys. Now go back to my hated bands folder.
"Love the Way You Lie" - Eminem ft. Rihanna
Speaking of Em and Rihanna...I do ramble about this video every week so we'll keep it up here. Easy vid of the year (54+ Million Viewers can't be wrong!) so far, this is close to perfect. It's actually a relatively low-budget piece, there are pretty limited sets and effects (just a house that later...catches on a slow motion fire). This is probably how they could afford the Star Power, which is killer. Like Nicki Minaj, Em does well here because he's holding back. He's not in irrelevant goofy-mode or even at the center of the action in the video. Eminem belongs as omniscient narrator in a field, he can't carry a video like this. Rihanna gets less credit than she deserves, she's fantastic by being a barely felt presence, cooing and oozing over the chorus, with some incredible cleavage to boot. It coaxes the whole song into something it might not have succeeded without.
There's a real sense of pain here. I've talked about some subtle moments for all these videos (except of course Kanye...there's nothing subtle about "Power"), 3:15 in there's this great face on Charlie, this smile in his own world that is slowly destroyed by the realisation that this isn't just another fight with his gf. This is it. The lack of love recognition in his soul mate dawns on him and he reacts the only way he really knows how. Beats the shit out of her and sets the house on fire. That's the way he's been wired, overtaken with anger. It's this really tragic tale of where love and hate come from. Again, you're not going to get much closer to a perfect video for a perfect song.
Enough dick-sucking for the morning. These are four great videos based on subtle moments, original creative imagery, syncing subject matter, and fantastic editing and direction - vital to a four-minute story. Not only that, but all four of these tracks are pretty popular. Go music videos! Will the MTV VMAs feel the same way? Fuck, who cares.