COLUMN: Music videos can be more than just an afterthought


Black Eyed Peas perform with Earth, Wind & Fire Feb. 6, 2005, in the pregame ceremonies of Super Bowl XXXIX. Tribune News Service

Music videos are a lost art, ancient relics gathering dust at the top of a shelf. Honestly, most music videos are garbage. They’re lifeless, dull visuals pasted together.

Modern music videos are mostly just vehicles for dancing and flexing. They lack creativity. They’re all cut from the same cloth and a slog to get through. 

But some can be fun. Some artists are still committed to putting out some wacky videos packed to the brim with some absolutely wild imagery. Here are some of the best music videos out there: 

‘Oh Whitney’ by Hurry 

One man. One guitar. Approximately 74 fireworks. Hurry’s 2014 video for  “Oh Whitney” features the band’s attempt to break the world record for “Most fireworks set off on a guitar during a music video.” It does not go well.

‘Old Wounds’ by PUP

PUP’s “Old Wounds” may be the greatest music video of all time. It’s actually a retro choose-your-own-adventure game. You play as PUP’s tour manager and your main objective is to get the members of the band back to the hotel safely. Some choices are easy, like whether or not to let bassist Nestor Chumak order a pizza. Some choices are impossible, like whether or not to save lead singer Stefan Babcock as a bear rips his arms off. The video is psychotic in the best possible way.

‘Pump It’ by the Black Eyed Peas

This video makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. kicks ass with a bowling ball that doesn’t follow the laws of gravity. runs around in a circle, his feet pounding into the chests of random villains. Fergie throws it back so hard a guy flies forty feet into a wall and probably dies. What a way to go out, though. This video is pure lunacy, and I love every second of it.  

‘Giving Up the Gun’ by Vampire Weekend

There’s so much going on in this video it’s hard to focus on everything. A woman absolutely waxes Joe Jonas in tennis. She then takes on multiple different opponents, including a drunk Jake Gyllenhaal, until she finally duels herself. She struggles, but she's able to overcome her opponent with the help of her coach Lil’ Jon, who speaks French for some reason. Yes, this is a real music video. 

‘Wave Goodnight to Me’ by Jeff Rosenstock 

The video for “Wave Goodnight to Me” takes the chorus “They spent the last five years yelling: Come on! Come on! Get out of here!” and amplifies those words by a million. Jeff walks through the streets, waving and smiling at people only to get grimaces and angry looks in return. People throw drinks in disgust as he passes, parents cover their children’s eyes. Everyone hates him. He goes to a bar to get a beer only to be told “No Jeffs Allowed.” It’s a comedic look at those dark days where it feels like everyone you know hates you. 

Music videos can be more than just hot people dancing. They can be bonkers, fun and strange forms of emotional expression. They’re not dead yet.

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