Best Music Videos 2004

Music videos continue to push boundaries, visual, technical, and political. And new artists continue to emerge alongside the old.

:: BEST MUSIC VIDEOS 2004 By Cynthia Fuchs

Music videos continue to push boundaries, visual, technical, and political. And new artists continue to emerge alongside the old. From promoting video games to easy targeting (Michael, Pee-wee, and Madonna in one video?) to statement-making, music videos are the future.

1. "99 Problems" (Jay-Z and Mark Romanek)
Simply the smartest, best publicized, and most compelling video of the year, stretching out Jay's fictional/personal history from Marcy through his jaunts with Rubin (and Vincent Gallo, apparently) to a Jimmy Cagney-style finale. And now he's not so retired as his spectacular murder on tape once suggested.

2. "American Idiot" (Green Day, Samuel Bayer, colorist Beau Leon)
Gorgeous, profuse, and angry, the video echoes the single, and really, the entire Big Concept album. The boys are back, sickly-green, harsh and scratchy, their sound as dense and timely as the argument: consumer culture will eat you alive.

3. "Breathe" (Fabolous and Erik White)
Arguing that existence has more value than that accorded by jewelry and rims, Fab's video also shows his "other side." He's not just beautiful, he's also thoughtful. Brilliantly executed, haunting, and all about the beat of life: in and out.

4. "Drop It Like It's Hot" (Snoop, Pharrell, and Paul Hunter)
Minimal and memorable, the percussive track is made even more so by this sharp black and white video. It's the pitch, baby. Always.

5. "Hey Ya" (OutKast and Bryan Barber)
So many Andrés. And they all want your sugar.

6. "Jesus Walks" (Kanye West, three videos, directed by Michael Hausmann, Chris Milk, and Coodie and Chike of Channel Zero)
The highest concept video(s) of the year, perfectly attuned to the plaintive, pounding point of the track. The visual threeway (one available only on line) stretched out the possibilities of music video, suggesting that the imagery currently attached to mainstream hip-hop (cars, bikinis, pimp cups) might make way for new waves.

7. "Mosh" (Eminem and GNN's Ian Inaba)
The revolution was not televised, but this video -- which boomed onto the net and then tv with a force rarely known -- suggested that the usual suspects might best watch out. If the power of media might be harnessed, and the mood of the population might be shifted, the status quo might yet be shifted, if only for a minute.

8. "Naughty Girl" (Beyoncé and Jake Nava)
Beyoncé amazes no matter what pose she strikes -- writhing (and flipping backwards) on the beach, strutting down the street, popping blue bubblegum. Here she's all champagne and huge hair, sashaying like a cover girl and out-moving Usher.

9. "Outrageous" (Britney Spears, Snoop, and Dave Meyers)
Britney and Mr. Televizzle nuzzle during a pickup basketball game. No wonder this video has not made it to air, but only B's DVD video collection. It's her prerogative, and it's an exceedingly odd fantasy.

10. "Talk About Our Love" (Brandy, Kanye, and Dave Meyers)
Brandy all grown up, and still hunching her shoulders in that funny little dance move. Still, the crowded house and Kanye's "Juwanna Man" puzzle notwithstanding, her face in the moonlight is enough to melt all defenses.

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