Musicians have immense power in creative direction and decision when writing, recording, and producing music. Every artist also has a different opinion on whether or not a song still belongs to them after releasing it to listening ears. However, their artistry does not always stop once a record or track is released. Either way they lean, having some sort of control in the perception of a song is crucial to the creative process- and music videos can be the perfect way to put your vision in the eyes of others. These videos allow a whole other space for artists to tell their stories, bringing listeners into their psyche, letting them visualize and witness the narrative. Imagery and audio alone are both incredibly powerful mediums, but when accompanied together, it is an entire art form that gives the audiences of both formats a new universe to explore. Here are our four favorite music videos of all time. Watch, listen, feel.
Agnes - Glass Animals
Dave Bayley says that Agnes is the saddest song he will most likely ever write. The song itself bears an extremely heavy emotional weight, narrating the pain of loss and longing, and attempting to navigate the grieving process. When it came time to bring those intimate sensations to life for the music video, director Eoin Glaister explained “In searching for ways to explore the weight of grief, I remembered my grandfather used to perform tests on a human centrifuge- essentially it’s an extremely large bit of kit that spins around very quickly. As it does so it subjects its occupants to increased levels of G-force. The faster you go, the heavier you become.” This machine becomes the central element of the video- with Bayley strapped in.
The day of the video release, Dave shared on Instagram- “It’s hard to explain exactly how it feels inside a human centrifuge...It’s claustrophobic and uncomfortable and also incredibly hot. Slowly the whole thing starts to rotate like a helicopter blade. Faster and faster until every part of you becomes crushed under the extreme gravity. It’s like being slowly sat on by an elephant, or like your whole body being punched in slow motion. You have to flex every muscle and use every ounce of strength you have to keep going. Breathing requires serious effort. Movement becomes incredibly strained and almost painful. Everything that once weighed 5 kilograms now weighs 50... Veins and capillaries burst under the pressure and bruising begins. It’s a rapid physical overdrive...The blood rushes from your brain making it impossible to think rationally or focus...but the most striking thing is the way that the machine pulls on your heart. You can actually feel it struggling to beat and changing shape…flattening inside of your chest. It’s similar to that horrible sinking, tugging heartache that comes only with complete and overwhelming sadness. and then you pass out.”
What makes this music video so stunning is the honesty behind it- Dave Bayley clearly emoting extreme pain and discomfort throughout his whole body, and it’s all completely genuine. He was physically experiencing those intense sensations in real time, and his body and facial movements were doing an amazing job at representing the emotional turmoil behind ‘Agnes’. Tears stream down his face, his muscles start to spaz and tighten, his entire being is dripping in sweat, he’s constantly on the verge of screaming out in agony. He holds up white roses towards the beginning of the video, and as time progresses, the flowers wilt and die, unable to withstand the force. The pain seems to come and go- intensely increasing, then peaking to becoming almost unbearable, and then slowly declining, creating a release or moment of peace, only to be met with the pain beginning to increase again. This adds to the theme of grief and loss of life, reminding the viewer that healing comes in many forms, and can be nonlinear. Physical conditions while shooting the video aside, this track especially strikes a chord with Bayley, that unlike most Glass Animals narratives, it bears a sense of truth and transparency, as the song was written about a close family member committing suicide. With such a personal and heartbreaking topic, the breathtaking music video only adds another layer of depth to the track.
Maggie Rogers - Fallingwater
From start to finish, this is a video portraying a story of rapid change, Maggie dancing between dunes and the high sun beating down on her skin, physically moving through these high tides and currents. Using choreography to exhibit her need for physical release when emotions are running too high, we’ve seen her skate with college friends, drift through house parties, and on top of her summer camp tables, shaking off the worries and letting in the light. Fallingwater plays out during the span of an entire day, starting off as the sun is high and her skin glistening from the desert heat, the beginning to a tumultuous route to release. Then the sun starts to set, hitting the edges of the dunes, starting an all encompassing build. Screaming and fighting for some sort of reckoning, Maggie falls to her knees and onto her back, giving in as blue hour sets in. Feeling absolutely everything all at once as if that overwhelming change is vascular, ingrained in every ounce of you. If you’re familiar with the cycle of change you can see the steps fall in line throughout this video. Contemplation, preparation, action, the upward spiral, then maintenance. As Maggie sits in the soft and somber moments washed in blue hues with water falling over her, contemplation. The she faces the storm headed straight for the downpour and lightning, action. The last seconds are the most somber and vital part, reeling from the jarring change and finally breathing out, maintenance.
Casio - Jungle
Directed by frontman of the Brit modern funky soul group, Jungle, Josh Lloyd-Watson showcases both his directing and dancing skills in ‘Casio’. From their latest album, For Ever, ‘Casio’ has kept us dancing around our rooms as if we’re in the warm dimly lit club, gliding along the floor, taking part in the choreography along to the track. Band member Nat Zangi is to credit for the choreo, and we deeply thank him. Everytime I listen to this track, I can’t help but lightly mimic the moves from the video, the group of actors dancing along with me in my head. It feels intuitive, the movements perfectly going along with the body’s natural response to the track. The calmness and carefree attitude of the setting immediately relaxes you and allows you to let go, inducing a sort of dream like or meditative state.
This piece perfectly fits alongside Jungle’s other music videos, with a beautiful attentiveness towards the cinematography and mood. The group’s entire aesthetic is incredibly original and fresh, while also maintaining a classic and nostalgic feel.
I'm Just Snackin' - Gus Dapperton
Gus Dapperton is widely known for his eccentric take on art direction and he has truly been able to shine through his series of music videos. Multiple of Gus’s videos have gone viral, his most acclaimed being ‘Im Just Snackin’ that has gained almost 4 million views and buzz all around the creative community. I’m a sucker for a music video with a narrative and this one hits all the marks, and is done so with the an incredibly visibly appealing execution, dropping in retro references giving me all the nostalgia one could ever need. Cutting between him dancing the blue hued streets alone while wearing the iconic neon orange bomber jacket—which is given a call back in his latest video for ‘Fill Me Up Anthem’—listening to music through gaudy headphones and his handheld CD player, missed calls and voicemails from lovers in true 90’s fashion, and a house party filled with 20 somethings and their dance partners for the night. While there is little to no dialogue the rhetoric of loneliness is still clear, being delivered through a masterful color palette of the deep blue streets versus the striking orange of Gus’s jacket, when we go from the neon lit market to when the ingenue is alone in the bleak and muted elevator. With these visual queues we are able to pick up on the solitude Gus submits himself to, in a room full of people moving and singing he still finds himself sitting in the corner, wishing he picked up the phone.