Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My Favorite Music Video Directors

I don't know where the thought came from, but I got the idea to spotlight my favorite music video directors. I guess it makes sense since a lot of music video directors make the transition to movie directors as of late. So, here's my list in no particular order:

Michel Gondry: I love this guy's videos. They are both visual treats and mental headtrips. They are full of energy and immense creativity. I mean, he made scenery viewed through a train window sync up with music ("Star Guitar" by The Chemical Brothers), animated The White Stripes in Lego ("Fell In Love With A Girl") and live-action ("The Hardest Button To Button"), explored adaptation in a large amount of depth ("Bachelorette" by Bjork) and created a split-screen backwards/forwards masterpiece ("Sugar Water" by Cibo Matto). These visionary videos paved the way for his work in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Out of the various music video collections out there, the only one I own is of his work.

Hype Williams: In the mid-to-late 1990's, you couldn't watch a show with hip-hop and R&B videos without seeing his work. At his worst, his videos are repetitive, gaudy, sexist, and they feel recycled. However, when he's at his best, his videos are among the best hip-hop videos ever made. His most recent videos haven't been up to par, though, with the notable exception of the full-length version of "Rain On Me" by Ashanti. His best works are colorful, sexy, cinematic, ambitious, and innovative. His collaborations with Busta Rhymes ("Woo-Hah! Got You All In Check," "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See," "What's It Gonna Be?" "Dangerous," "Gimme Some More") and Missy Elliott ("The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)," "Sock It 2 Me," "She's A Bitch") are great. Other classic videos include "Flava In Your Ear Remix" by Craig Mack, "Street Dreams" by Nas, "California Love" by 2Pac and Dr. Dre, and "Down Low" by R. Kelly and Ron Isley.

F. Gary Gray: Before he graduated to such films as Friday, Set It Off, and The Italian Job, F. Gary Gray was making very good videos. His best stuff includes "It Was A Good Day" by Ice Cube and "Ms. Jackson" by OutKast.

Francis Lawrence: Francis Lawrence's videos are glossy, polished, and serve whatever purpose needed. He can do creepy with videos like Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River," a dark, moody clip. He can do happy with videos like "I'm Like A Bird" by Nelly Furtado. And he can do energetic clips like "Let's Get It Started" by The Black Eyed Peas. I'm looking forward to his first feature film, Constantine.

Mark Romanek: If you need weird or gritty, this is the guy to go to. His videos for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" and "The Perfect Drug" are goth, eerie masterpieces. He has the distinction of directing the current record holder for most expensive video, "Scream" by Michael and Janet Jackson. His acclaimed video for Jay-Z's "99 Problems" turned hip-hop cliches on its ear and ended with Jay-Z getting shot. I hope he gets a music video collection released in the future.

Chris Milk: He's only directed a few videos that I know of, but so far they have been great. He directed two great videos for Kanye West: "All Falls Down" and "Jesus Walks" (Version 2). He also directed Modest Mouse's wonderful "Ocean Breathes Salty" video. His videos thus far are very creative and have a clean, movie-like look to them. I can't wait to see more.

Dave Meyers: Arguably the most versatile video director on the planet. He just glides from hip-hop and R&B to pop, rock, and everything in between. His videos with Missy Elliott ("Get Ur Freak On" "Take Away") are my favorites.

Bryan Barber: With his work on OutKast's videos for "Hey Ya!" "The Way You Move" and "Roses," I look forward to seeing his videos. I really want to see the film project he did with OutKast.

Spike Jonze: Very creative music video director. I really like clips such as "Buddy Holly" by Weezer, "Praise You" and "Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim, and most recently, "Get Back" by Ludacris.

There may be a few more directors that I am forgetting, but this is my list for the moment. I'll update this post if I think of any more that deserve to be on this list.

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