2016 was a good year for music videos by Memphis artists, musicians and filmmakers alike. I resist making a ranked list of movies in my year-end wrap up, but I know the crowd demands them, so every year I indulge my nerdery by ranking the music videos that have appeared in the Flyer's Music Video Monday blog series. Since I sometimes go back into the vault for MVM posts, this competition is limited to videos that were uploaded since my Top Ten of 2015 post. (This proved to be a source of disappointment, since Breezy Lucia's brilliant video for Julien Baker's "Something" was in the top five until I discovered it had been uploaded in 2014). Last year, I did a top ten. This year, there were so many good videos, I decided to do a top 20.
Eileen Townsend in Caleb Sweazy's "Bluebird Wings"
A good music video creates a synergy between the music and the action on the screen. It doesn't have to have a story, but arresting images, fascinating motion through the frame, and meticulous editing are musts. I watched all of the videos and assigned them scores on both quality of video and quality of song. This was brought the cream to the top, but my scoring system proved to be inadequately granular when I discovered seven videos tied for first place, five tied for second, and three tied for third, forcing me to apply a series of arbitrary and increasingly silly criteria until I had an order I could live with. So if you're looking for objectivity, you won't find it here. As they say, it's an honor to just be on the list.
20. Light Beam Rider - "A Place To Sleep Among The Creeps" Director: Nathan Ross Murphy
Leah Beth Bolton-Wingfield, Jacob Wingfield have to get past goulish doorman Donald Myers in this Halloween party nightmare. Outstanding production design breaks this video onto the list.
19. Richard James - "Children Of The Dust"
Director: George Hancock
The Special Rider got trippy with this sparkling slap of psilocybin shimmer.
18. Preauxx “Humble Hustle”
Preauxx is torn between angels and his demons in this banger.
17. Faux Killas "Give It To Me"
Director: Moe Nunley
Let's face it. We're all suckers for stop motion animation featuring foul mouthed toys. But it's the high energy thrashy workout of a song that elevates this one.
16. Caleb Sweazy “Bluebird Wings”
Director: Melissa Anderson Sweazy
Actress (and former Flyer writer) Eileen Townsend steals the show as a noir femme fatale beset by second thoughts.
15. Matt Lucas “East Side Nights/Home” Director: Rahimhotep Ishakarah
The two halves of this video couldn't be more different, but somehow it all fits together. I liked this video a lot better when I revisited it than when I first posted a few months ago, so this one's a grower.
14. Dead Soldiers ft. Hooten Hollers “16 Tons” Directors: Michael Jasud & Sam Shansky
There's nothing fancy in this video, just some stark monochrome of the two combined bands belting out the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic. But it's just what the song needs. This is the perfect example of how simplicity is often a virtue for music videos.
13. Angry Angles "Things Are Moving"
Director: 9ris 9ris
New Orleans-based video artist 9ris 9ris created abstract colorscapes with vintage video equipment for this updated Goner re-release of Jay Reatard's early-century collaboration with rocker/model/DJ Alix Brown and Destruction Unit's Ryan Rousseau.
12. Chris Milam “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” Director:Chris Milam
Milam and Ben Siler riffed on D.A. Pennebaker and Bob Dylan's groundbreaking promo clip for "Subterranean Homesick Blues", and the results are alternately moving and hilarious.
11. Deering & Down "Spaced Out Like An Astronaut" Director: Lahna Deering
In a departure for the Memphis by way of Alaska folk rockers, the golden voiced Deering lets guitarist Down take the lead while she put on the Major Tom helmet and created this otherworldly video.