What makes a great music video for me is a combination of aesthetic, meaning and synergy. So the music should sound great and the video look great. They should convey some sort of captivating story or meaning. And they should enhance one another and work best as a pair – when it’s got just right I find it’s hard to tell whether the video was made for the music, or the music made for the video, as they both seem so integral to the function of the other.
For this piece, I was asked to choose my favourite 5 videos, which has been fun. The only problem is that I’ve got more than 5 favourites I can’t choose between. So here’s seven of my favourite videos instead!
The Flashbulb – "Undiscovered Colours" – By Ebit Breazile/Ben Jordan
One of my all-time favourite pieces of music, with epic stop-frame nature footage, it works. Really well.
Björk – "All is Full of Love" – By Chris Cunningham
The amazing voice and originality of Björk, in the context of a beautiful piece of music, with Chris Cunningham’s genius and unparalleled visual approach, and making a deep philosophical statement about feeling and consciousness with the title and robots in love. Arguably the best ever music video?
Royksopp - "Remind Me" – By H5
An infographics epic. I love the sea of information, making a nice statement about the system we live in, and fed in a thoroughly enjoyable musical and visual form. Check out David McCandless’ work too if you like this sort of thing.
Flairs – "Truckers Delight" – By Unknown
I’d never seen this video until a couple of days ago when I posted a message saying I was writing this piece and asking people for their favourites in case I’d missed anything (thanks Stef Schenkelaars). This is really made me laugh, ha…and it’s amazingly well done…computer game genius sleaze with perfectly fitting music. Not sure who it’s by though, no credit on the youtube video.
Flying Lotus –" Zodiac Shit" – By Adult Swim
All the animals of the zodiac in trippy melting hand-drawn form. It’s just a beautiful piece of work, with the music perfectly in sync stylistically. Always the way with these favourites, the music and visual almost seem inseparable when they’re just right for each other.
Bonobo – "Cirrus" – By Cyriak
I love the way the video captures the production approach of Bonobo here, with his real instrumentation and live sound giving the retro element, but brought together in a very modern and computational manner, just like what happens in the video.
Plaid – "Itsu" – By Pleix
The amazing music of Plaid starts with an innocence here, I love how it counterbalances and reinforces the dark undertones before it drops in to full twisted mayhem. Puts a big smile on my face, tells a great story, makes interesting and important points, and it’s a great piece of music. Had to go on my favourites list!
So there you have it, I’ve missed loads of amazing videos, shame I couldn’t add more, but hopefully those were enjoyable. One more I have to mention though, but one that didn’t fit the youtube/standard music video format is Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio, with the music of Philip Glass. It’s an 86 minute masterpiece musically and visually, certainly one of my top 5 favourites.
I’ve also been asked to talk about a couple of my own videos too, which seems a bit embarrassing after that list of my all-time favourites. The first is the most recent video for my track “Numb” with Kathrin deBoer. It was a bit of a live improvisation session from Kathrin, who just captured the feeling of my rough ideas, going for a numbed by intensity approach to the piece of music. When it came to the video and Henning M Lederer was interested in the project, I asked if he could apply the same concept to the westernised lifestyle. So we went for a “numbed by the capitalist machine” approach, with the poor man being run ragged by the machine of the modern city.
Max Cooper Feat. Kathrin deBoer – "Numb" – By Henning M Lederer
My second video to show is something a little more abstract. I love trying to make pieces of music based on non-musical concepts, as I find it leads me in fresh directions. For this track I wanted to make a track representing a summer meadow, with the warmth and relaxed feeling complemented by the hive of activity at smaller scales. For the video I worked with One False Move (Andrew Brewer), and I asked if we could make an abstracted line-drawing of a meadow, with the lines interacting to form Moire patterns. Andy took the idea and developed it beautifully with the rain falling, the plants growing, and the sun coming out. It was a great example of how he was able to give the music more meaning, particularly with the piano riff he interpreted as rain, to reinforce and improve on the initial concept.
Max Cooper – "Meadows" – By One False Move