These aren’t the best five videos from 2011. These aren’t the most important videos. These are five videos I’d put in a time capsule, label ‘Earth 2011’, and shoot into outer space. Five videos to show people who ask “what was all the fuss about?”
2NE1 – I Am The Best
Move aside R Kelly and Rick Ross. South Korea’s 2NE1 have raised the bar on what it means to be baller. Their video is overloaded with joyful excess: The Tron Trains! The diamond-encrusted half-globe chair! The metal bat with the word HIT engraved on the barrel! The Taiko drummers, the light pyramid, the full leather cat suits, the strait jackets, the giant black diamond. Not to mention the song is just balls-to-the-wall incredible. Based on the 20.5 million views (half of which might be mine) there’s no arguing against the raw power of 2NE1.
M83 – Midnight City
M83’s stellar first single off of their epic double album Hurry Up We’re Dreaming deserved an equally dramatic video. This mini movie doesn’t disappoint. I know they’re already making a live action movie of Akira, but the producers of that should take notes from this cinematic mini-feature. Moral of the story? Psychic kids just wanna have fun too!
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – PonPonPon
Some videos shock you. Some scare you. And some, through plain strangeness, just burn their images into your brain. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s video for “PonPonPon” is one of them. It might be a joke meme to some (Japan is CRAZY, amirite guys? a hur hur hur), but behind the seemingly random imagery lies a deliberate attempt at stickiness. From the faceless, fat dancing grannies to the crowned, pastel animals, this is taking Andy Warhol’s pop-modernism and stretching it to its maximalist conclusion.
Tyler the Creator – Yonkers
Love them, hate them, or HATE them, 2011 was the year of the Wolf(Gang), with Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin album leading the charge. Sure, the critics were keyed in to his Bastard release, but it only took 3:05 for the rest of the world to become indoctrinated (or at least form some sort of reaction) to Tyler’s irreverent shock-and-awe act. “Yonkers” got everyone talking about hip-hop again, and in this ADHD world we live in, this video was possibly the closest we got to a monoculture event this year.
Lil B – Unchain Me
The BasedGod’s most #rare video. Say what you want about his lo-fi, shoestring budget approach to music videos, but Lil B’s got an eye for both the absurd and the dramatic, showing both off for his song “Unchain Me” off his I’m Gay (I’m Happy) album. Trudging out to the California coast at the brink of dawn, Lil B takes in a beautiful sunrise and waxes poetic on life, love, and being based. Thank you, Based God.