Spike Jonze’s 13 Best Music Videos: Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Fatboy Slim, and More
The ‘Her’ filmmaker is one of the best music video directors ever, and here are his greatest videos.
The Breeders – “Cannonball” (1993)
This song off alt-rock band The Breeders’ sophomore album Last Splash featured a memorable music video co-directed by Jonze and Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth). The Gen X-y video boasted a giant cannonball rolling down suburban streets, as well as front woman Kim Deal singing underwater.
Weezer – “Buddy Holly” (1994)
The second single from Weezer’s debut album Weezer (otherwise known as The Blue Album) has one of the greatest music videos ever, portraying the band performing at Arnold’s Drive-In diner from the ‘70s sitcom Happy Days. Footage of the band playing is mixed with retro clips from the show and, due to some nifty editing, Fonzie can even be seen dancing along to the band. The video won Breakthrough Video and Best Alternative Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.
Beastie Boys – “Sabotage” (1994)
The debut single from the Brooklyn rap group’s fourth album, Ill Communication, features a classic music video. It pays homage to cheesy 1970s cop shows like Starsky and Hutch, and sees the group’s three MC’s playing mustachioed cops in great retro wigs, as well as the perps.
The Pharcyde – “Drop” (1996)
The first single off the group’s sophomore LP Labcabincalifornia opens with a sample from the Beastie Boys’ “The New Style”—“mmm… drop!”—and then features the rappers performing the song backwards, which was then replayed backwards, while walking along the streets of California, creating a very trippy effect.
Daft Punk – “Da Funk” (1996)
This one’s strange. The music video for the song, which was featured on the French electro group’s 1996 debut album, Homework, tells the tale of an anthropomorphic dog in a leg cast with a ghetto-blaster—playing “Da Funk”—wandering the streets of New York City.
The Notorious B.I.G. – “Sky’s the Limit” (1997)
This music video for the late Brooklyn rapper has a fun conceit: kids playing Biggie and his crew. So, you see kids partying in a mansion, lounging in a pool, driving a Mercedes—all the standard rap video tropes. And the kid playing Biggie is a dead ringer for the silky smooth MC.
Fatboy Slim – “Praise You” (1998)
One of the most iconic music videos of the '90s cost only $800 to produce. The video for “Praise You,” off dance music maker Fatboy Slim’s sophomore album, You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby, was shot guerrilla-style in front of a group of confused onlookers outside a movie theater in Westwood, California. It features Jonze as Richard Koufey, leader of a fictional group dubbed The Torrance Community Dance Group, doing a dance routine to the track while it plays on a boombox.
Fatboy Slim – “Weapon of Choice” (1999)
Christopher Walken. Dancing. The video, shot in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles, is so amazing it won six awards at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards as well as the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video.
Björk – “Triumph Of A Heart” (2005)
Icelandic chanteuse Björk seemed to have a predilection towards working with Charlie Kaufman collaborators, with music videos helmed by both Jonze and Michel Gondry. This video contains lots of surreal imagery, including a husband played by a housecat, and the singer frolicking through a field singing with hearts coming from her mouth.
Kanye West – “Flashing Lights” (2008)
This mysterious video was one of three produced for the song. Co-directed by Jonze and West, it’s filmed entirely in slow-motion, and features Playboy model Rita G. stripping down before walking towards a Ford Mustang Bullitt in the Vegas desert. She opens the trunk to reveal West inside, bound and gagged. Then, the woman stabs West repeatedly with the shovel.
LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls” (2010)
This psychedelic dance track from James Murphy and Co. features an appropriately strange music video. Co-directed by Jonze and Murphy, it was shot in Brooklyn, and features the group trying to perform the tune while being harassed and assaulted by people dressed like pandas.
Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Otis” (2011)
The first single off a then-hyphenated Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative LP Watch the Throne boasted an Otis Redding sample and a gleefully luxuriant music video featuring the two rappers customizing a Maybach 57, doing wheelies with it in a parking lot, and setting off fireworks. It’s a helluva fun time.
Arcade Fire – “Afterlife” (2013)
This song off the band’s fourth album, Reflektor, featured a fascinating music video that was filmed live by Jonze during the First Annual YouTube Awards in New York. It stars a dancing, punching Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), who is wonderful (as always).