Before we begin today’s top ten countdown I’d like to take a moment to give a proper shout out to Antonio Harper of Braider for sharing a link to the Music Matters Mixtape on his Facebook page (Braider’s “H1h” appears on that mixtape). The blog got a lot of extra traffic today because of his mention and I just wanted to take a second to say that I appreciated the extra attention. If you’re keeping score at home that’s a Braider track on each of the last three mixtapes. Not only did I put “H1h” on the Music Matters Mixtape but I also put “Dust” on the Runner-Ups Mixtape and “Milk” on The Can You Take The Heat??? Mixtape. Plus I wrote up Braider’s Nitetech EP here (and I almost never review music without a video). If you like their music (and you should) make sure to pick up the rest of the Nitetech EP (if you haven’t already) on their Bandcamp page.
BTW, if Mediafire’s statistics are to be trusted (and I’m not entirely sure they are) a lot of you only downloaded Part 1 of the Music Matters Mixtape. That’s only half the music! I know that Part 1 is where Braider’s “H1h” appears, but there’s a whole lot of other great stuff on Part 2 as well. Maximize your musical happiness and download Part 2 right now!
10. Major Lazer – Bubble Butt (feat. Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga & Mystic)
“Bubble Butt” is definitely one of the most, uh, memorable videos of the year. There seems to be an unspoken bond shared between anyone who’s seen the video. All you need to do is walk up to someone and say, “Have you seen ‘Bubble Butt’?” and if they nod their head and give you the look (you’ll know the look), you don’t have to say another word to them because you already know everything they’re ever going to say about the matter without ever saying another word. If you somehow haven’t seen this video yet, here’s the gist of what you are about to see: A giant black Amazon with a massive booty finds some skinny ass hoes listening to shit dancehall music, sticks some hoses up their flat asses and makes them bootylicious with some o’ dem glorious bubble butts. In a year where Miley Cyrus horrified a nation by bring “twerking” into the national lexicon, Major Lazer made sure to let us all know who brought it to America in the first place and then showed us what twerking’s like when done right. This is a weird ass video, but man, is it fun.
9. Baddy Paris and Rufus Starlight – We Are Brothers (A Best Man Song)
How does a wedding present made by two brothers mourning the loss of their third sibling to the bonds of holy matrimony become one of the best music videos of the year? By being flippin’ awesome, that’s how. “We Are Brothers” features a host of amazing 80’s clichés, from the Miami Vice jackets and the metallic headbands to the genius retro synth work and epic German-accented vocals. No matter how many times I watch this video it never gets old and I bust a gut every time they jump out and scream into their father’s ears (see above). This video really is the best present you could give anyone.
8. HAIM – The Wire
2013 will definitely be known as the year HAIM blew up. Just about everybody wanted a piece of them. They were opening for huge acts like Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, Florence + the Machine, and the xx and celebrities were crawling out of the woodwork to hang out with them. Basically everything nice you ever could have wished happen to them after you saw their amazing “Forever” video (#7 on last year’s Best Of list) happened to them. They released hit single after hit single this year, all leading up to their fantastic debut album, Days Are Gone. And by far the best song and video of the bunch was “The Wire”. “The Wire” sounds like T.Rex, Fleetwood Mac and The Runaways mixed up in a blender and produced one of the catchiest singles ever. It’s nearly impossible not to love the song after hearing the “Well I know, I know, I know, I know / that you’re gonna be OK anyway” part. And the video has lots of fun playing with gender stereotypes by having the tough girls break up with the sensitive guys (lead by Lonely Island member, Jorma Taccone) who then sob uncontrollably for basically the entire rest of the video. “The Wire” really is a hit, in every sense of the word.
7. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams)
“Blurred Lines” was probably the most controversial video of the year. People complained that the “I know you want it” line was a little too rape-y (which, out of context, I can kinda agree with) and things weren’t helped out much by Miley Cyrus doing unspeakable things with his foam finger during their performance together on the VMAs. Feminists called out the fact that all the models are naked in the video while all the guys stayed fully dressed. Then Marvin Gaye sued over its similarities to “Got To Give It Up”, which is frankly a little ridiculous. There are some similarities, sure, but copyright infringement? Bitch, please. That’s like the first guy who ever used a C-chord on a guitar in a rock song suing, well, everybody who’s ever written a rock song. The fact that this song was played, like, A BILLION TIMES this summer, which caused everyone to then have an opinion about it, helped drag its reputation through the mud even more. In the future when people argue over what the song of the summer of 2013 was, this or Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” (also produced by Pharrell Williams, mind you), I feel like “Blurred Lines” is going to get a raw deal because of its bad reputation, which is kind of unfair because it really is an amazing song/video.
In reply to the claims of the song’s sexist overtones, most intelligent bloggers have already pointed out that the song is actually about female sexual freedom and expression. The “good girl” talked about in the song is dating a guy who won’t let her sexually express herself freely, and Robin Thicke is just letting her know that if she wants to get her freak on, he’s game. The song says to women that it’s OK if they want to get a little freaky from time to time, that it doesn’t make them a slut for going outside of what society deems a “good girl” should be. Being upset at this song is kind of reverse slut-shaming. And love it or loath it, the nudity in the video plays into this idea of female sexual freedom. I mean the girls in the video seem to be having even more fun than the guys. What’s wrong about that? Seems pretty win-win to me. The sad reality is that a lot of the video parodies that switched the gender roles to show how horrible this video is happened to do more harm to gender roles and stereotypes than this video ever did.
But enough about what everyone else hated about the video. Let’s talk about what I think makes it great. The song is catchy as all hell and super fun, definitely an earworm. And the video has a simple elegance to it that is quite smart. It’s titillating while being fun and innocent at the same time. The #THICKE hashtag, which a lot of people seemed to hate, I think is pure genius. Robin Thicke jumped onto something there in the zeitgeist way before anyone else thought to do it. It was in-your-face superliminal advertising in the YouTube/Twitter age, basically making the video go viral before it actually went viral. That’s why I don’t think the nudity in the video is just a throwaway sexist thing to do. They knew exactly what they were doing here. And Emily Ratajkowski is a true breakout star here. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, but she totally sells the whole concept of the video. Without her I might not be so quick to defend it.
This is the NSFW nudity-filled version of the video. If you want to check the video out sans nudity you can find it here.
6. Lily Allen – Hard Out Here
Now you can pretty much forget everything I just said in the last post, because Lily Allen had her own response to “Blurred Lines”, Miley Cyrus, twerking, Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” and any other number of other sexist female clichés that exist in today’s pop culture, and she put all of that collective energy into one hell of a music video. (One could argue that I placed “Blurred Lines” very strategically on this list.) It’s weird that I feel I have to defend loving a music video like “Blurred Lines” (which is objectively a pretty fantastic video) but you realize why that’s even necessary after you watch “Hard Out Here”. The beginning of the video is a direct criticism of all of the people who shamed her in the tabloids by saying she let herself go (after having two children), a concern I’m sure a lot of women can share with her. Lily then uses her dry sarcastic wit to hilariously reveal the dual-standards that plagues women in the industry today. A common recurring gag in the video is that it’s the middle-aged male studio executive who is showing all the girls how to be seductive, how to twerk, etc. The idea being that it isn’t women who are making up all of these romantic ideals for themselves, but men forcing these ideas on them. The music of the song amps up the layers of meaning to this by exploiting the pop song format while making fun of it at the same time. All and all, it’s a superb showing, and I’m glad Lily didn’t let the haters keep her down.