There's a long feature on music videos this week over at Pitchfork, inspired by the recent release of four brilliant new "Directors Label" series DVDs from Palm Pictures. The first three in the series -- started in 2003 -- were collections of the music video work of Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. The discs act as mini-exhibitions, with the showcase videos buffered by interviews and behind-the-scenes material, all put together by the directors themselves. The four new discs feature the creative works of four of the brightest talents working in the medium today: Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbijn, and Stéphane Sednaoui. None of the four are solely film directors, but as Pitchfork notes: "That so few people consider the form a destination only reinforces three crucial criticisms that have dogged music videos since the Buggles' 'Video Killed the Radio Star' aired on cable 24 years ago: that these short clips are faddishly disposable, that their visuals remain necessarily secondary to the music even as they detract from the listening experience, and that music videos are works of commerce, not art. What makes music video direction a dubious profession, however, also makes the medium a potentially exciting art form defined by the cross-pollination of ideas and approaches from various disciplines." We ran a bunch of videos from Romanek a few weeks ago, but here are some links to explore the others: Stéphane Sednaoui's official site includes several of his best videos, like Mc Solaar's "Le Nouveau Western"; Suicide Girls ran an interview with Jonathan Glazer about the new DVD, and here's his controversial and plain amazing video for the Thom Yorke-DJ Shadow collaboration "Rabbit in Your Headlights" (huge 50 MB file); Anton Corbijn's site has a lot of info but is kinda skimpy on video, so here's his classic video for Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box."
One director who very well might appear in the next round of "Directors Label" is Adria Petty, who's made some great, weird little videos. Here's a magical "Itchy and Scratchy"-inspired video for the Ditty Bops' "Wishful Thinking," and stop-motion, play-figure fun in Stellastarr*'s "Sweet Troubled Soul."
Some videos from recent releases: The playful snarkiness of Franz Ferdinand's deceptively straightforward "Do You Want To"; pre-orange jump suit Lil' Kim in "Lighters Up"; cheese-rockers Nickleback in their video for the wildfire single "Photograph."
And it's not a video, but fans of the Decembrists will enjoy this live version of "The Kingdom of Spain" from a performance last month in San Francisco.