ACL 2022 ~ The Year’s Best Music Videos

Music videos may have migrated from TV to Vimeo and YouTube, but the industry is still going strong.  These short form art works are a perfect place for new creators to make a splash and for seasoned professionals to experiment.  While the primary intent of most music videos is to draw attention to a composer’s release, some do even more for the director.  Others fit the definition of music video while not being tagged as such.  One such gem is Disney+/Studio Ghibli’s “Zen – Grogu and Dust Bunnies,” which we’re not allowed to share for copyright reasons, but that we include in our Top Ten. These are the nine we can share from 2022: treasures for the eyes and ears.

Sarah Davachi ~ Alas, Departing
Director:  Dicky Bahto
Featuring Chloe Reyes

Dicky Bahto’s video is a perfect match for Davachi’s music: holy, patient, pristine.  The abraded film suggests the ancient and ineffable.  Searching hands stretch toward God, then find each other.  The late-video shift to color illustrates the joy of transcendence.

Oh No Noh ~ Relying On Words Alone
Director:  Katharina Huber

This is the second appearance in a row for Oh No Noh, who knows how to find great directors to bring their music to life.  “Relying On Words Alone” uses sound and image to convey messages of loneliness and comfort, isolation and connection, suggesting that one cannot rely on words alone.  Hand-drawn images, reminiscent of Biblical cherubim, are enhanced by flashes of color.

Botis Seva ~ Santo
Directed by Freddie Leyden
SFX:  Kevin and Páraic McGloughlin

The video starts simply and then gets wild, like something from The Peripheral.  Leyden’s work is part of “THOUROUGHLINES: Ongoing stories in art history with Christie’s,” and draws deeply upon sculpture and religion.  The dancer enters another version of himself, then multiplies like mitosis; a multiverse opens in museum form; fluidity of motion is welded to consistency of form.

A Shaman’s Tale
Direction, Animation, Music by Jules Guérin

We don’t often find videos in which the director does it all, but when we do, we’re impressed.  Jules Guérin’s animated collages and tribali music are a match made in psychedelic heaven.  Even the tarantula ~ of which we would normally be afraid ~ is transformed into an alluring work of art.

Rick Flair ~ I Gotta Cry (prod. Klaus Layer)
Directed by Francesca Colombara
Animated by Francesca Colombara, Matteo Dang

There are more visual ideas in this short video than in many full-length movies. Columbara creates an entire universe and populates it with creatures that win our curiosity and empathy.  The story is simple ~ do you really want to sell those mushrooms? ~ while the message is heartwarming.

Gaspar Claus ~ 2359
With Denis Lavant & Yanis Ben Seghaïer Cromier
Directed & Edited by Ilan J. Cohen

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.  Cohen highlights a man’s last burst of energy as he recalls the glories of his youth.  We would have retitled the track “Run,” suggesting not only motion, but running out of time.  Our only worry: did Lavant actually jump off that cliff, and is he okay?

Film : McGloughlin Brothers
Colour : Peter Oppersdorff
Video commissioner & Producer : John Moule

“The world is one big ZOETROPE,” according to the McGloughlin Brothers, who make yet another appearance on our list, underlining our belief that they are the finest 21st century artists when it comes to making music videos.  This is no mere pareidolia; there really are patterns everywhere.

Blutch – Remparts feat. Maxime Dangles
Réalisation : Romain Navier

Dubai is expanding.  Glaciers are melting.  The forests are shrinking.  The oceans are encroaching. Navier’s timelapse video highlights the many dangers facing the earth, while Blutch’s propulsive track conveys a sense of urgency.

Whatever the Weather ~ 17°C
Director: Michael Reisinger
Woman: Alana Rabor
Director of Photography: Laurie Polisky
Color: Peder Morgenthaler
Sound Design: Philip Ryan

Call it a guilty pleasure, but we really enjoy this video from Whatever the Weather (Loraine James). Rabor’s expressions, from wonder to exuberance to confusion (“What just happened?”) convey the disorientation of an extraterrestrial vision, as well as the thought that dance music can transport a dancer to another place.

Richard Allen

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