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January 9, 2009

Top 5 Music Videos of 2008

[img id="77128" align="alignleft"] 1. Justice — “Stress”

Had it with all those cutesy indie pop videos that make you want to hug yourself to death between fits of epilepsy? Justice was too. At least that’s this writer’s theory on the impetus for “Stress.” The clip has a ragtag youth gang wearing jackets branded with the trademark Justice cross while committing various acts of malfeasance: vandalism, purse-snatching, torching an innocent car, and a big helping of good old-fashioned violence. As much as music videos generally deserve to be figures of fun, it’s good for the medium that some artists take the trouble to push the boundaries and get their clips banned from TV. For rocking us, shocking us, and rendering us unable to look away, Justice takes the top spot this year.

2. The BPA ­[ft. David Byrne & Dizzee Rascal] — “Toe Jam”

The BPA takes a healthy “if you can’t beat ’em, mock ’em” attitude to censorship. Through a kind of pornographic, dry-land version of synchronized swimming, the familiar black bars hiding the cast’s naughty bits also serve as the building blocks that form arrows, smiley faces, bulls eyes, and even the song title. Finally: Artistic nudity gets in touch with its unpretentious side, and the dance video genre gets a much-needed dose of creativity. “Single Ladies” enthusiasts, take note.

3. Davendra Banhart — “Carmensita”

Perhaps this is the desi bias talking, but it’s the little details that make this parody of the motherland’s movies so great. On the top of the reel, there’s a certificate from the Indian government’s Central Board of Film, just like the ones preceding every Bollywood picture. The endearingly lame special effects are spot-on—por ejemplo, the magical teardrop that falls from Natalie Portman’s cheek and morphs into our hero, Davendra Banhart. And then there’s Portman herself—her skillful mimicry of Bollywood’s theatrical acting style makes you wonder how much research she put into the role of Princess Carmensita. If it weren’t for the singing in Spanish and the overtly ridiculous subtitles (“Grandma! I love you in a salad way”), you might just mistake this for the real thing.

4. Weezer — “Pork and Beans”

After all the hours you’ve spent on freestyling physicists, cats chasing laser pointers, and transvestites shopping for shoes, here comes your validation: Weezer’s “Pork and Beans.” Depending on your perspective, it’s a supergroup or a freak show of web celebrities lip-synching along with Rivers Cuomo. Though this video arguably deserves disqualification on the grounds of Cuomo’s mousey mustache alone, what makes this overdue tribute to YouTube’s mark on pop culture so cool is that metaphorically speaking, it’s a case of the head of the coin praising the tail. Weezer is a manufactured good; YouTube videos are user-generated and sold for free. Probably unwittingly, Weezer bows down to their antithesis with “Pork and Beans”, and for that they deserve props. Maybe someday they’ll think about making their tunes as inspired. And now, a word from our editor in chief:

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5. Dishonorable Mention: Beyoncé Knowles — “Single Ladies”

Justin here. You probably haven’t made it this far on Supriya’s list; I would have abandoned ship when Weezer’s lame YouTube experiment made the list (“Hey kids! It’s 2008, and we’re using the Internetz!”). Anyways, somehow in her vast and infinite wisdom, your Voices editor has forgotten what, bar none, was the best music video of the year. Let’s walk through my checklist for a baller video. 1) Really catchy pop song that makes me feel hip when I recognize it. 2) Cool concept—the whole thing was shot in a single take. Three and a half minutes of glorious dance. 3) Beautiful women. Would anybody not put a ring on Beyoncé? I think not. 4) Connection to Justin Timberlake. (The pop virtuoso did a remarkable parody of the video with Paul Rudd and Andy Samberg on Saturday Night Live—head to Hulu immediately.) 5) The video really annoys Supriya, who has demonstrated consistently that she does not actually know anything about good music. In other words, “Single Ladies” fires on every cylinder. Run, don’t walk, to YouTube and watch this video immediately.

Justin out.

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