In the past years we tended to start NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s annual music video recap article way too often with a ‘Look, look, the music video isn’t dead yet’ phrase. Let’s skip that part this time because by now you should be aware of the fact that the digital video distribution platforms are filled with so much wonderful artistic masterpieces that we often find it hard to overlook it all. That’s why gave the task of compiling the best music videos of 2017 into the hands of true professionals. Berlin-based visual artists Schall & Schnabel are not just longtime buddies (who helped us creating our new Palms & Circumstances series), they also know their way with music videos as they created multiple ones over the past years. Just take the following puppet-torturing one as an example:
For NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION, Eileen and Pierre aka Schall & Schnabel picked their favourite 13 music videos of 2017 which coincidentally also includes some of our favourite artists like Björk, Kendrick Lamar, Bonobo and St. Vincent. Find their picks and explanations right under this little Q&A with the two filmmakers.
Do you remember the first music video that really stuck with you when you were younger? The one that draw your attention to the genre?
Eileen: I think I was 8 or 9, when I first saw Madonna’s music video for Frozen; the other music video, that drew my attention was Michael Jackson’s Earth Song. Both videos had a dystopian, dark atmosphere, which excited me back in the days, when music television was still a thing. (And my dad loved Madonna, so he really put up the volume, when her video appeared on VIVA)
Pierre: I don’t really remember, which music videos I liked, when I was a child. One of the first music videos, that really got to me, was Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box by Anton Corbijn with all it’s existential, unambiguously metaphors and the other music video, that hit me as a teenager was Foo Fighter’s Everlong by Michel Gondry. He was the first director, with his huge variety of different styles and techniques, that stuck with me.
How did you end up in the field of music video production? What excites you about that form of video art?
Everything started with a stop motion music video we created for and in collaboration with the Berlin based acapella band Delta Q two years ago. Last year it got awarded at the Berlin Music Video Awards and a London based agency for directors (OB Management) got in touch with us afterwards offering us to work with them in the future.
What excites us about working in that field is the challenge to empathize into the mindset and creative environment of different artists and their music and coming up with concepts, that suits them.
What are the artists you’d like to shoot a music video for in the future. Any dream candidates?
E: We always enjoy, when we get the chance to create something outside of our visual comfort zone or anything that differs from what we have already done. To work for artists, who already have a huge back catalogue of music videos, or those, who needs visuals, which brings the music conceptually to the point, is what we dream about for the future.
These are our 13 favourite music videos of 2017, picked by different criteria
Bonobo – ‘No Reason’
The central idea and implementation of this music video by Oscar Hudson (who also directed another one of our favourite music videos in 2017 – Radiohead’s ‘Lift’) is ingenious and we really have no clue how they did it. Chapeau!
Kendrick Lamar – ‘Element’
The award-winning music video by the director Jonas Lindstroem brings some of the photographs of photojournalist, writer, musician, and director Gordon Parks to life; an obeisance or almost a video essay with a unique cinematography and style.
Radiohead – ‘Man Of War’
Through a refined and perfected camera & editing technique, two stories are told in the same setting, but as a juxtaposition of darkness and brightness and meet in the end. It was directed by Colin Read.
Björk – ‘The Gate’
Björk, James T. Merry and director Andrew Thomas Huang teamed up again for The Gate. Even if you can not deny this video has a slight tendency towards kitsch, this piece of art sets new off-worldly standards. We don’t need to mention that we like the colors and the off-beat datamosh glitch right in the middle.
Arca – ‘Reverie’
The set in ‘Reverie’ is simple, the video focuses solely on the Arcas performance. He is a bull and matador at the same time. Both can only lose. Director: Jesse Kanda
Resident – ‘Somos Abnormal’
We have seldom seen anything more absurd than a larger than life woman hatching out of an egg and ‘laying people’. A peculiar interpretation of genesis. Be careful, explicit pictures! Director: Resident. René Pérez
St. Vincent – ‘Los Ageless’
In a candy-colored plastic world full of beauty shops and beauty salons, the video displays some surreal images of the dystopian world of ‘Los Ageless’. Just wonder how real this dystopia is already. Director: Willo Perron
Spoon – ‘Do I Have to Talk You Into It’
Why not even make a music video from photos of the singer of the band Spoon Britt Daniel in Photoshop? It will be beautified, deformed, skinned, skeletonized and transformed into a wolf within minutes. Chapeau to the director Brook Linder for this simple and great idea.
OK Go – ‘Obsession’
Production Effort & Concept
OK Go are and remain the pioneers of elaborate music videos. This time it’s not a one-shot video, but at least as impressive as ‘The One Moment’ or ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’. It is remarkable, how they exaggerate a simple idea and work with all kinds of animation techniques. Incidentally, the singer of OK Go Damian Kulash is the brilliant mind behind all their videos. How much ink did the 567 printer consume?
Alt J – ‘3WW’
Narrative & Cinematic Feel
The cinematic feel and look of Alt-Js ‘3WW’ by Young Replicant just stuck with us somehow. We can’t explain. Well, and we don’t need to, right?
The Horrors – Machine’
Also The Horrors video ‘Machine’ by Jon Emmony is visually impressive. Sometimes you get the feeling you observe bacteria under a microscope, sometimes you dive into the deep sea and sometimes you are pushed into the upcoming transhumanistic age.
Lunice – ‘Distrust’
Everything’s mingling and shifting in this visual masterpiece by director and visual artist Sam Rolfes.
AB Syndrom – ‘Rauch Licht und Raufaser’
Implementation of their interactive video (Click here for the full experience)
Finally, we want to mention a music video that caught our eye through its interactive approach. In ‘Rauch Licht und Raufaser’ you find yourself in an endless loop and only by pressing and holding of the space key you can free yourself and discover the music video. Pretty clever idea of the band, who usually create their music videos on their own!