I've narrowed down the 1,000 plus videos I've seen this year to a list of my favorite 10 fully produced videos and five one-take video sessions from artists you would hear on my show, Elevated Rhymestate.
"Beatbox: by Bliss n Eso (Running on Air Live)
This track doesn't appear on the albums and has forever been an exclusive to the live shows, which generally means I hadn't had any experience with it. They used some original ideas with this video, mixing from many performances and really brought the viewer with them on tour.
"Woke Up One Morning Like…" by Brett Gretzky
I have to admit, sometimes it's simply fun to see your friends doing funny things around your favorite sites in town. But as true as that is, it's not why this video makes my list. It's original, fun, and the track itself is one of my favorites of the year. This one might have been really fun to be part of had I not been working the day they shot it.
"The Beat" by C2C
Truth be told, I should put every C2C video on this list, but I felt two is more than enough to show how amazing these videos all have been. This one in particular took a visual artist to mask video under animation and create something both simple and beautiful, while remaining fully demonstrative of the sound of the song.
"Happy" by C2C feat. Derek Martin
If I had made such a list last year, it's certain that C2C's debut video "FUYA" would have been 2011's top video; this year, I'm really leaning on this one for the top prize. Thus far their videos have all been innovations in visual effects and animation, and each remarkably so. They abandoned that entirely and instead went with a black and white period piece featuring some absolutely remarkable dancers. This is their first video from their debut LP, as the previous had all come from tracks on their earlier EP release, and would have been one of the last tracks I would have thought to make a video for, but that's perhaps what made it so brilliant.
"Beacon" by Doomtree
I admit I was a bit disappointed that Doomtree didn't perform this track when the group came into the studio, but the video seems to have adequately appeased my discontent. They went all out on this one with professional costumes and production, featuring a pretty impressive strobing/shaking effect that matches the musically beautifully. Plus, Dessa gets to fly. Yeah.
"Shredding the Balloon" by Hilltop Hoods
This video features a mix of two images, primarily following a young woman through her night of partying, and cut to the boys (Hilltop Hoods) sitting at the end of an elaborate dining table in the nest of wealth. The intensity in Suffa's expression and face mirrors an external perspective on the girl's activities, and fun quickly builds into trouble again and again. I'm not entirely sure about the imagery of the dining room, but greatly enjoy the track and the tone and style of the video.
"We Hate Everyone" by K.Flay
Muppets. That's probably enough explanation, but truly a notable track and video nonetheless. In the boudoir of musical tastes, this video defines kinky. Its loud and obnoxious production mixed with a constant barrage of the word "hate" would normally be everything I detest in music, yet the satire and musicianship behind it rocks my world in ways I had never before imagined.
"Animal Style" by Murs
There were many members of the hip-hop world that decided to use 2012 to speak up against the homophobia and hate that's prevalent in the culture. This song is a narration of a couple in high school and some of the issues they face, and the video portrays the story directly. The whole thing is done well and serves as a very powerful piece.
"Winter in America" by Bill Ortiz
This is a powerful track about the hardships of life for those at the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum in the U.S. Accompanied by a masterfully crafted track by the former Santana trumpeter and vocals by Tony Lindsay and the Grouch, they chose to forgo any appearance in the video and instead have a series of powerful images to illustrate the points and tone of the song.
"Card House" (feat. Jon Reichardt) by Smiles Again
The imagery in this video is fantastic as it follows two young children, one building a house of cards and the other a bully, repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to disturb the first boy. It's easy to relate to the child and a strong message of peaceful determination. All of this is accompanied by a beautiful production and poignant verse.
"Same Old Thing" by Elodie Rama (MDA Session)
I forget whether it was 20Syl or Mr. J. Medeiros that first sent this around via social media, but this was my first solo impression of the beautiful, singing Elodie Rama who had appeared on a few Hocus Pocus tracks. I've seen a few other video sessions she's done of covers, but this original piece is a definite favorite. I LOVE the design of the studio, and the track is innovative, jazzy, and exquisite.
"Bloody Poetry" (Acoustic Remix ft. Jonathan Olivares) by Grieves
I've long been a sucker for acoustic remixes and this was already a favorite track from Grieves' 2011 "Together/Apart." It starts with a couple outtakes to lighten the mood before this already dark-toned song slows down into a deep groove. It seems that Grieves only ever comes to town as part of obnoxious summer tours, so for now, this is the closest I have to a live performance from one of my favorite lyricists.
"A Change Is Gonna Come" by The Herd & Radical Son, Nooky & Sky High (Like a Version)
Anyone not aware of the Like a Version series on Triple-J radio (Sydney) should explore it. For this session, one of my favorites adds a couple and covers Sam Cooke! Like they say in the pre-performance discussion, it's really not possible to mess up a Sam Cooke cover, and here they remain true to the original while still taking it to a different place. That's a hard balance, and done well in this one.
"Smiley Face" by Spose Unplugged (Live - 10/20/12)
I love how this one intros a bit rough but then just drops into that groove and the crowd just eats it up. The entire Spose Unplugged series is great, but this one is a favorite. When he came to town, I was excited to recognize Kristina Kentigian from these videos, and have certainly learned to appreciate Spose on a new level of musicianship.
"Too Soon" (acoustic version) by Tuka
I've replayed this video more times than I care to admit. I love how Tuka's slightly melodic style is highlighted by this arrangement, and I'm just in love with the flute sample coming from the MPC, despite it disturbing a purely acoustic set-up. This video was done simply, but not at all carelessly, and produced a valuable track musically and visually. Plus, it was nice to learn how to pronounce his name correctly (it's "Tucka" not "Tooka").