Top 10 Music Videos of the Decade

by Taylor Berry and Johnny Mitchell

10. Johnny Cash: Hurt
Dir. Mark Romanek, 2002.

Johnny Cash was near the end of his life during the making of this shoot, and director Mark Romanek makes no bones about it. He shoots Cash as the frail human being he was. He looks worn out, feeble, and ready to call it quits. But as the song slowly picks up the pace and Romanek cuts in old clips of Johnny from the younger days, the man in black proves his still got enough gusto for one more go-round. It’s tough to push down the lump that slowly creeps up in our throats. Your tear ducts will probably barf out some water before this video is through, but go with it. Hurt is like a litmus test to see if you’re a human being.

9. Mum: Singalong
Dir. Kevin Phillips, 2009

I don’t presume to know what the fuck is going on with the old man, the young lady, and the stuffed deer in this video, but I know that I get too caught up in the beautiful images to really care. Sing Along might just be the best shot video of the decade. The locations are stunning, the colours are warm, and everything is just kooked enough to make this a contender

8. Gnarls Barkley: Who’s Gonna Save My Soul
Dir. Chris Milk, 2008

Remember that last break-up, where it really felt like you had ripped your heart out of your chest and gave it to the other person? This video is awesome because that metaphor actually happens, and the heart wears Nikes and sings. It’s a bold choice to have a voiceover in a music video, but the dialogue here cuts through the bullshit of a break-up and gets down to the blunt and bitter nitty gritty.

7. Fat Lip: What’s Up Fat Lip
Dir. Spike Jonze, 2005

If this video looks like it was made for a dollar, that’s because it was, but its lo-fi charms are purposeful. Fatlip was a member of iconic 90’s rap group The Pharcyde, but was kicked out, and what followed were a few dark years for Mr. Lip. He got into drugs and a some dark corners, but he cleaned himself up and produced this solo effort. His lyrics here poke fun at the insecurities he developed as a result of a brush with fame and too many broken friendships. Fatlip displays a level of honest sensitivity that is rare to nonexistent in hip hop. Spike Jonze manages to capture that sensitivity without parodying or cheapening it. We buy Fatlip kicking it around the streets of L.A in a clown suit, and more importantly we have a feeling that he buys it too. It’s equal parts sad and funny, but there’s an underlying hopefulness that really makes it amazing.

6. Basement Jaxx: Where’s Your Head At
Dir. Traktor, 2001

Monkeys with faces like people play instruments – need I say more?

5. MGMT: Kids
Dir. Ray Tintori, 2009

Kids is the second MGMT video directed by Spike Jonze’s protege Ray Tintori (the first being Time To Pretend). While Time To Pretend was an apt representation of the band’s acid-fused style, Kids is a much more remarkable clip. The practical effects at work here are stunning. Where increasingly inexpensive CGI has grown fashionable as the decade wears on, Tintori puts in the old-school effort to design the genuinely scary monsters that haunt this little gipper’s every move. To find a more insane video would be difficult. Apparently a few child labour groups wondered how it was possible that a kid that young could produce emotion that real and act that well, implying that he probably was literally terrified the whole time. They should know that to be part of a video this good is worth a day (or a life) of bad memories.

4. R Kelly: Trapped in the Closet
Dir. Jim Swaffield/R. Kelly, 2005

Haters to the left: this isn’t just a music video, it’s a hip-hopera. It’s evolved into a 22-chapter affair and a story that spans more than three years. There’s infidelity, a midget, some serious baby mama drama and a whole lot of R Kelly emoting. This beast of a so-called music video has gone viral thanks to the interweb.

3. The White Stripes: Fell In Love With A Girl
Dir. Michel Gondry, 2002

Somehow I’m still sick of this song eight years later, but this LEGO-animated video is unquestionably one of the best of the decade. A piece of trivia: the beginning of the video features Gondry’s son playing with LEGO blocks, and the video had to be shot frame by frame for this effect.

2. Outkast: B.O.B.
Dir. Dave Meyers, 2000

I’m unsure what more you could hope for in a music video: monkeys, children chasing Andre 3000, a purple sky, a gospel choir, and every kind of video ho imaginable. There’s Denim Skirt Video Ho, Scary Painted Face Video Ho, Pussy Poppin’ Video Ho, Golden Grill Video Ho and more! This video marks a transition into Andre’s out-of-this-world fashion choices and set the bar for booty shaking in a music video.

1. Fatboy Slim: Weapon of Choice
Dir. Spike Jonze, 2001

This video is the perfect example of the quality of a music video surpassing the track it’s accompanying. Christopher Walken, a trained dancer from musical theatre, does fancy footwork through an empty hotel until shit gets real at about 2:66 and he’s flying around like something out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. As if you didn’t love Christopher Walken enough before.

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