This week the music video roundup is a celebration of the medium’s subtle side. Well, mostly subtle; the Paul Walker tribute from Furious 7 will beat you right over the head with your feelings. But besides the touching montage for Walker, the prevailing theme for these selections was solo performances, simple locations with a single subject embodying a narrative. The form has become a staple for Sia with the trio of videos accompanying her three lead singles from 1000 Forms of Fear, but it’s also a great way for lesser-funded talent to make beautiful visuals on a smaller budget. Or at least smaller seeming budgets. As the great Dolly Parton once told us, looking cheap can cost a lot of well-placed money. These videos may lack the pyrotechnics of Axwell and Ingrosso, but the effects are just as potent.
“Placed”—Reid Willis (Above)
Consider this: skull-faced sperm clouds swarming over pastoral landscapes.
“Big Girls Cry”—Sia
The Adventures of Maddie Ziegler, Part 3. This girl is going to have one hell of a chronicle of her strange tween years!
“On the Island”—Brian Wilson feat. She & Him
We don’t normally go in for a lyric video here in the roundup, but this one’s got a special charm, and really makes us want to live that island life—with spaceman helmets!
Who would have guessed that when “Pon de Replay” stormed US shores 10 years ago that this cat-eyed babe would become one of the most prolific hitmakers in music history? Rihanna—aka Robyn Rihanna Fenty—has a baker’s dozen in the Billboard #1s column, tying her with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, for most of all time. If we’re just going by numbers, guess that makes badgirlriri our Queen, and her majesty has something to say about the American dream. (Sorry we can’t show you the full video above, you have to have Tidal for that.)
“We Stand Tall”—The Church of Scientology
All right, so this video came out like 25 years ago, but the recent broadcast of Going Clear on HBO (and this week’s spoof on Saturday Night Live ) has really given it new life, and we would be remiss if we didn’t include Scientology’s catchy—and totally serious and genuine—little ditty “We Stand Tall” in the list of this week’s most buzzworthy videos. Really something special here, guys.
If Walter White had lacked the cunning to become a vicious drug kingpin, his foray into meth production might have looked like this, and Breaking Bad would have been an entirely different show.
“Speaking Machines”—We Are Match
Watch this if you want your brain to vibrate.
“See You Again”—Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
Anyone else have something in their eye that’s making them weep relentlessly? Must be a lot of sand in this room or something because we just can’t stop crying…
“Eternal Sunshine”—Jhené Aiko
We here at the roundup love a video that takes a simple concept and uses it to tell a very big story. Here, the creative team behind Jhené Aiko’s “Eternal Sunshine” manages to pack a whole life into one song using mostly one camera angle. It’s as beautiful as it is sad.
“I Ain’t With You”—Secaina Hudson
Secaina Hudson’s easy charm earns her a high five as our favorite solo performance of the week (sorry, Maddie Ziegler!). She isn’t selling sex. She’s just selling vibe in a crew neck T and hip spectacles. We want to know more. We want to hear more. Well played, Ms. Hudson.