In this week’s top music video picks, we survive an Old West bar brawl, get captured by pirates, have coked-up sex on an airplane, and learn about American history with the Backstreet Boys. From hip-hop to electronic and indie rock, with artists like Panic! at the Disco and Lupe Fiasco, see which music videos are becoming viral.
Calvin Harris feat Ayah Marar—Thinking About You
The latest video from Calvin Harris features pirates, but more of the Somali ilk than the Caribbean variety. This might be a cautionary tale about the dangers of a life of frivolous luxury. Topless models doing cocaine in a huge mansion, airplane sex, youthful fisticuffs, a boat of rich partiers get taken hostage by pirates—these are the the scenes played out during this vid. The only thing that seems to stay the same is the gorgeous locale.
Anyone wanting to see an old Western, but unwilling to spend the money and sit through nearly three hours of The Lone Ranger, should look no further than this video, featuring and directed by Wilmer Valderrama. If the name Sky Blu doesn’t sound familiar, you may know him better as one-half of the now-on-hiatus LMFAO. No word yet on whether there’s an album to go with it—for now, this high-noon showdown is plenty of fun.
Panic! at the Disco—Miss Jackson
Panic! at the Disco has never been a band to release coherent music videos, but they have a style all their own. Lead singer Brendon Urie travels from a seedy motel room to some kind of cult meeting presided over by a beautiful soul-sucking goddess. When she tries to suck out his essence, she gives him a katana and he cuts off her head and all of the souls escape out her neck stump. All this in front of a huge neon exclamation point and the entire scene is depicted in a painting hanging at the motel room. What any of this has to do with Miss Jackson (if you’re nasty) is anyone’s guess. It doesn’t actually matter what the story is, it all looks great.
The Backstreet Boys—In a World Like This
Backstreet is finally back and celebrating their 20th anniversary with a new album. Their first single, “A World Like This,” is generically happy and upbeat, but the music video is bizarre. The weirdness is twofold. First, that in the year 2013 the Backstreet Boys, now long past boyish teen band, are still posing and crooning like they are still that band from the ’90s. Second, when the video isn’t about the Backstreet Boys singing in a bright field, it shows people watching the news during the moon landing, the 9/11 attacks, and the legalization of gay marriage. The message is confusing, but that makes this one all the more weirdly fascinating.
MS MR—Think of You
Performing on faux late-night television shows must be a trend this week. “Think of You” has considerably more going on, with some shots only lasting a fraction of a second. It’s a trippy look at what seems like hundreds of public-access shows all crashing together in an explosion of static and animation. Dance shows, keyboards on fire, and a man with a TV for a head destroying things with a bat are a just a fraction of what is in this visually dense video.
Lupe Fiasco—Lamborghini Angels ITAL (Roses) & Audubon Ballroom
The last video on the list isn’t really one video. The entire video is three songs and three videos that run together and clock in at almost 13 minutes long, but it’s 13 minutes well spent. Lupe Fiasco is no stranger to social commentary. His video for “Bitch Bad” addresses misogyny and the word “bitch” in hip-hop. In this one, he seems to tackle that and more. The first video is a kaleidoscope of fast food, drugs, money, shoes, jewels and a faceless woman. It’s a purposefully exaggerated, though artistically shot view of how Lupe Fiasco sees most hip-hop videos. The subsequent videos present situations to critique the first sequence, filled with various commentaries in their own right. Education, religion, the prison system, and more get explored in this epic three-part video sure to, at the very least, encourage discussion.
The best part of this video is the first 40 seconds. The rest, which includes the actual song, is quite good too, but what propels this into “best of the week” material is the introduction. The video starts on what seems like a late-night talk show, complete with audience laughter, as William Shatner delivers a hilarious monologue about the state of rock ’n’ roll. From there, it goes to a set right out of the ‘80s where the band plays the song lit in harsh, fuzzy neon hues. Come for the Shatner, stay for the music.