I promise this is the last music-related twelve (an easy promise at part eleven). I got thinking about what made me such a music tragic in the first place. For me it was Saturday mornings watching music videos—mostly on Rage, but before that on some sad Channel Nine offering called Clipz (yes, with a Zed—I guess that was still cool in the eighties). A lot of people might have also pointed to Countdown, but I was just that bit too young to see anything half decent on it. I was eleven or twelve (don't read too much into the numerology) when I saw Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer video. It fair blew my adolescent mind. I'd never seen anything like it and I credit that one video with opening the door to some of the most beautifully intricate and emotionally deep music I've ever heard. That being said, I passed over Sledge for this twelve. It's widely acknowledged as one of the best music videos of all time; it hardly needs the snotty endorsement of some obscure Australian writer. Instead I plumbed for the anti-Sledgehammer. In the place of chirpy animation, Mercy Street plays out in relentless slow motion black and white (mostly black); the perfect visual accompaniment to the song. No performer, no miming, almost no faces. The sequence (from about 1:31) of the boat being pushed out to sea and the focus on the foot digging into the sand: these images have lodged in my mind as almost unbearably sad, though I really can't say why. No other video before or since has had quite the impact on me as this one, so it really was a simple choice.
As for the rest, I think there's a solid mix here from visually incredible, highly polished pieces to simple, almost off-the-cuff visuals (though inevitably, ones that are beautifully thought through).
Some of the all time best videos are the ones that play out like a short story (how predictable that I should think such a thing). They are a rare commodity in the industry, which I guess is why only three of the twelve qualify as such: Karma Police, Little Wonder, and the Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (the last possibly a long shot). Each are visuals practically independent of the music and only one actually has the performers miming. Ultimately I suspect a true twelve (one that I didn't make up from the top of my head) would contain all such videos.
- Karma Police, Radiohead
- Little Wonder, Augie March
- Pumping On Your Stereo, Supergrass
- Mercy Street, Peter Gabriel
- Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)—Eels
- The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song—The Flaming Lips
- Happiness (Rotting My Brain)—Regurgitator
- Walk This Way—Run DMC
- Once In A Lifetime—Talking Heads
- Make You Happy—Josh Pyke
- Whip It—Devo