Naomi Southwell – ‘Two Weeks’ – FKA Twigs
The video for “Two Weeks” opens with FKA Twigs centre of frame, the sensual lyrics of the track awash with a sumptuous, hazy, burnt gold light. This sounds understated except Twigs is placed in a Grecian palace and sits atop a throne. She is magnified in comparison to her backing dancers, smaller versions of herself dressed in gold. In the past, FKA Twigs was a backing dancer for the likes of Jessie J and Kylie Minogue. Now she carries out this role in full fruition in her own music video of the lead single of her album LP1. The video was directed by Nabil Elderkin, who has worked with the likes of Foals, Alt J, and Kanye West. FKA Twigs frequently co-directs or directs her own videos, a fact that often gets over looked. With questions routinely posed about female artists agency in their music videos, especially ones with sensual or overtly sexual content, there is no doubt of Twigs’ prominent role in “Two Weeks”. The extended panning out shot of Twigs atop a throne gently gesturing to the rolling beats of “Two Weeks”, gazing hypnotically at her former backing dancer self.
Henry Holmes – ‘One’ – Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan is an Asian-Canadian queer art punk collective (they also describe their music as noh-wave) and their videos are as beautifully intersectional as you’d hope. There are videos with much higher budgets and ambitions, but ‘One’ is outstanding in its simplicity. Interspersed with shots of the band playing the song (one of the highlights of the exceptional album Uzu) is essentially the greatest feminist dance party you’ve ever seen. The video is full of basically the coolest women you’ve ever seen. They have great clothes, they have weird makeup and it’s all to the incredible soundtrack of bizarre chinese opera-inspired art punk. There’s a massive range of whomever you’d like, and they’re all just so much cooler than you (sorry). In the best middle finger to cisheteropatriarchy you could imagine, the video has fat women, trans women, Asian women and any others you could possibly ask for dancing like a badass and not giving a fuck. Take me to Toronto.
Kate Bickerton – “Kiss and Not Tell” – La Roux
The only way to describe the comeback video from La Roux is 80s style phone sex with a twist of pop art. The video for ‘Kiss and Not Tell’ features the lead singer, Elly Jackson, charming her way through a series of callers of all types through a variety of phones. Playing a persona of a sex line operator, the video shows Elly dancing seductively against a backdrop of a metal fence and cheekily winking at the viewer through a TV screen. Mouths are open, lips are bitten and eyebrows are raised. Yet the reason I love this video is not because Elly is sexy. It’s for its attitude towards female sexuality. She isn’t objectified; her work is not portrayed as dirty or seedy. It is clear that she is in full control of her sexuality (and the sexuality of others in the video.) The video also highlights the acceptability of women seeking their own pleasure and the changing attitudes towards doing so publically. The video and the song combined are a compelling and inspiring fuck you to the patriarchy and a celebration of female sexuality.
Lucy Clarke – “Close to Me” – The Cure
The Cure are famous for having some pretty “out there” music videos. Tim Pope, the genius behind Spider Man in “Lullaby” – I didn’t sleep for weeks after that – and the springheeled joy of “Friday I’m In Love” was at his best in the video “Close to Me”. The year was 1985. Robert Smith’s hair had it’s own field of gravity, the miner’s strike had ended, and The Cure were playing their instruments in a wardrobe on the edge of a cliff. In fact, one of them’s playing a comb – apparently producing the trademark plinking riff. perhaps the best moment comes when the wardrobe falls off the cliff and the music continues unhurried. A saxophone then plays the soundtrack to the apparent watery end of the band, who notably continue to play their instruments/combs as brine fills the wardrobe. It’s upbeat in the most bizarre way, and it’s brilliant: it’s bizarre, full of the disregard for anything sensible that characterises The Cure’s videos, and absolutely in tune with the dizzy sighs and synth riffs of the song. Also, who wouldn’t want to watch five goths fall off a cliff in a wardrobe?
PHOTO/ FKA Twigs