The Best Music Videos of 2013

by Jon Lisi and Steven Spoerl

17 December 2013


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Kronos Quartet with Bryce Dessner
“Tour Eiffel”

There were quite a few videos that operated in the realms of sadness this year. None of them came even remotely close to the final minute of “Tour Eiffel”. While the majority of the video is made up of time lapse footage of highway travel, it’s the story behind the journey that lends the affair a deep emotional resonance. It’s not much more than a father finally taking his son on a road trip he had been intending for a long time. What happens when they finally reach their destination provides one of the fiercest gut-punches imaginable. “Tour Eiffel” itself provides a backdrop that alternates between hope, patience, suspense, and despair. All that’s left at the end is a sense of completion, a father’s longing, and one of the most moving tributes anyone could ask for. Steven Spoerl



Cold Mailman
“My Recurring Dream”

Cold Mailman released the music video to its song “My Recurring Dream” in February, and it remains the most overlooked artistic achievement of 2013. Making use of cinematic techniques like time lapse and backwards film, the video is a technical marvel. It has blown virtually everyone away who has seen it, but as the YouTube and Vimeo numbers indicate, it has not garnered the wide exposure it deserves. This is the band’s second collaboration with director André Chocron since 2011’s “Time is of the Essence”, and they prove to be a winning team. Here’s hoping that they continue to push the creative limits of the music video form in new and exciting directions. Jon Lisi



Majical Cloudz
“Childhood’s End”

Truth be told, there were a number of Emily Kai Bock’s videos that could have made this list. The young photographer-director has already essentially set herself up as this generation’s Anton Corbijn and deserves to be placed alongside the likes of Nabil and the team of Alex Braverman and Poppy de Villeneuve. “Childhood’s End” was one of the year’s most striking visual feasts, utilizing Kai Bock’s composition mastery to a powerful effect. There’s a story to be found in the surprisingly moving plight of the video’s central character. Mortality is touched upon, as is increasingly the case with Kai Bock’s work, and one of the many standout tracks of Majical Cloudz‘s Impersonator causes it all to hit that much harder. There’s a sense of patience and implicit mystery on display that’s handled extraordinarily well. The central performance is a winning one, so much so that the suggested loss at the video’s close is a very real, very palpable one. In those closing moments, Kai Bock’s camera pulls up and the old man’s metaphorical coffin is lowered with the edges darkening around him. The moment makes a genuine impact and the video proves it’s worthy of the song. This is art operating on one of its highest levels. Don’t let it slip away. Steven Spoerl



“My Bike”

The Y.N.RichKids are a rap group that emerged from the Beats & Rhymes after-school program at the YMCA in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their 2012 video “Hot Cheetos & Takis” went viral, earning over seven million hits, and they returned in 2013 with “My Bike”, a follow-up ode to bicyclic mobility. The video gives each of these unique, talented kids a space to express their own distinct personality through hip-hop, thereby illuminating the importance of after-school programs like Beats & Rhymes. The viewer is bound to choose a favorite—mine is Ben10—but all of the contributions are wonderful. Even if these kids don’t pursue rap careers in the future, “My Bike” serves as a testament to their creativity and originality. This video is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Jon Lisi




“Reservoir” was one of the most visceral and immersive experiences any format in 2013 had to offer. PUP’s intensity gets ratcheted up to levels approaching the impossible and the filmmaking involved reflects that intensity to a terrifying degree. To try and attempt to cover everything that makes this video as perfect as it is would be an exercise in gross futility. At the very outset of this video, there’s a muffled cry of “Are you guys done dicking around?!” that sets the tone for what’s to come. From the moment someone flips a replacement drumstick to the drummer, who catches it in stride while drumming, to the absolutely stunning final shot of the band beaten all to hell and reeling over their busted equipment, there’s barely a moment that’s not ridiculously thrilling. There have been several directors who have attempted to make a video that captures the essence of what small venue punk shows are like, but by depicting a bloodletting as vicious as this, while painting a portrait of a band who’s going to finish a song at any and all costs, Chandler Levack and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux are the first two to actually get it right. There’s even a moment where Kyle Fisher from the Dirty Nil comes flying out of nowhere to step in on drums after PUP’s drummer sustains a nasty cut and is getting his hand bandaged that perfectly mirrors the sort of supportive nature that’s been woven into this particular genre’s culture for years. Punk was never dead—but even if it was, as this video proves, you can revive just about anything. Steven Spoerl

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