The 25 Best Music Videos of 2011

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Clever, artful music videos are the little self-contained moments of happiness that we often forget to enjoy. That’s why we’ve collected 25 of the year’s best for you right here. You’ll find plenty of dancing, animation, labors of love and yes, cats, in the list of the 25 Best Music Videos of 2011.

25. Foo Fighters – “Walk”
Director: Sam Jones
Dave Grohl really doesn’t like traffic. Or Coldplay. Or phones with dead batteries. Or phone booths. Or tiny burgers. Or dudes with numchucks. Good thing he’s Dave Grohl and doesn’t have to put up with such pedestrian unpleasantness.

24. Ben Howard – “Keep Your Head Up”
Directors: Mickey Smith & Owen Tozer
It takes a little while to get to the payoff, but what begins with a few hay bales becomes the world’s coolest Slip ’n’ Slide.

23. Cults – “Go Outside”
Director: Isaiah Seret
What goes with the year’s shiniest, happiest song? If you’re Cults, then, well, cults. Footage of Jim Jones is interspersed with period shots of devotees singing “Go Outside.”

22. Das Racist – “Michael Jackson”
Director: Weird Days
Opulence and eccentricity rule the day in this video featuring a Michael Jackson impersonator.

21. Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part 3: Escape from No Future”
Director: Tom Scharpling
Your guide to New Jersey, brought to you with love buy Titus A and all of their friends.

Clever, artful music videos are the little self-contained moments of happiness that we often forget to enjoy. That’s why we’ve collected 25 of the year’s best for you right here. You’ll find plenty of dancing, animation, labors of love and yes, cats, in the list of the 25 Best Music Videos of 2011.

20. Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)”
Director: Natasha Pincus
Another slow starter, the blending of background and body art is worth the wait.

19. Hollerado – “Good Day at the Races”
Director: Michael Maxxis
I always forget about this band until it’s time to look at the year’s best videos, and they always seem to have something worth considering. This is year it’s…what the hell, ostrich races?

18. Woodkid – “Iron”
Director: Yoann Lemoine
Evan as music-video budgets shrink, their scope hasn’t grown any less grand, as Woodkid’s birds of prey and war horses attest.

17. Rich Aucoin – “It”
Director: Noah Pink
With nods to Ghostbusters, Die Hard, Top Gun, Forrest Gump and countless other iconic movies, Canadian Rich Aucoin takes his party to the small screen.

16. Phantogram – “When I’m Small”
Director: Isaac Ravishankara
Sarah Barthel fired a shot across Karen O’s leather-clad bow as commanding-frontwoman-of-the-moment when this video went viral from a relatively unknown Barsuk band.

Clever, artful music videos are the little self-contained moments of happiness that we often forget to enjoy. That’s why we’ve collected 25 of the year’s best for you right here. You’ll find plenty of dancing, animation, labors of love and yes, cats, in the list of the 25 Best Music Videos of 2011.

15. Deer Tick – “Main Street”
Director: Colin Devin Moore
The first time I met John McCauley, he showed me his bruises from diving into the drumkit the night before while playing a set of Nirvana covers. So it’s no surprise to watch his band get fireworks shot at the them, destroy their instruments and set fire to whatever remains in this video.

14. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”
Director: Jesse Dylan
Whoever this guy is dancing and lip-synching to the duo’s first single off El Camino is compelling to watch. The one-dude dancing was something of a theme this year.

13. Best Coast – “Crazy For You”
Director: Bob Harlow
It was a good year for cats in music videos, too, and they serve as director and crew for this trippy one from Best Coast.

12. tUnE-yArDs – “bizness”
Director: Mimi Cave
Bringing children in to sing and dance to your music is nothing new, but the wild joy of these schoolkids along with the human formations and bizarre expressions of their adult counterparts fits Merrill Garbus’ primal music.

11. Battles – “My Machines”
Director: Daniels
A man falls down an up escalator for four-minutes in this collaboration between Battles, Warp Records and The Creators Project’s The Studio.

Clever, artful music videos are the little self-contained moments of happiness that we often forget to enjoy. That’s why we’ve collected 25 of the year’s best for you right here. You’ll find plenty of dancing, animation, labors of love and yes, cats, in the list of the 25 Best Music Videos of 2011.

10. Parenthetical Girls – “Doughnut”
Director: Cãoceito & Burdman
Like Dylan and his posters, filmmaker Cãoceito helps the Parenthetical Girls say it all through redesigned classic vinyl album covers. I’m not sure it’s even an official video, but it’s fun to watch, just the same.

9. Is Tropical – “The Greeks”
Director: MEGAFORCE
You don’t expect kids with Nerf guns to make Tarantino seem like a lightweight, but that’s before the animated gore. Even the teddy bear gets it. A little disturbing but completely original.

8. Herman Dune – “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”
Director: Toben Seymour
You’ll be forgiven for mistaking this video starring Jon Hamm and a little furry blue yeti for the trailer for a new Spike Jonze movie.

7. Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
Director: MCA
The Beasties get destructive (or at least Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood dressed as the Boys do) in a nostalgic sequel to “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” Cameos include Rashida Jones, Will Arnett, Ted Danson, Steve Buscemi, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Kirsten Dunst and tons more. There’s even a 15-minute dance battle in the extended version between the actual Beastie Boys and their younger doppelgangers.

6. The National – “Conversation 16”
Director: Scott Jacobson
Kristen Schaal as president. John Slattery the Secret Security man with a crush. James Urbaniak as the leader of a Soviet Republic wooing her away. The third video off High Violet wasn’t released until this March and makes for a compelling companion to the song.

Clever, artful music videos are the little self-contained moments of happiness that we often forget to enjoy. That’s why we’ve collected 25 of the year’s best for you right here. You’ll find plenty of dancing, animation, labors of love and yes, cats, in the list of the 25 Best Music Videos of 2011.

5. St. Vincent – “Cruel”
Director: Terri Timely
Family dysfunction gets a new twist as Annie Clark gets kidnapped by a man and his two children and enslaved—and domesticated—before getting buried alive. Cruel, indeed.

4. Mastodon – “Curl of the Burl”
Director: Robert Schober
Does Mastodon’s new video feature a chainsaw, a mad chemist in a trailer park, anthropomorphic mushrooms and ax-wielding blondes who shoot fire out of their breasts? Of course it does.

3. Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math”
Director: Daniels
As Andy Hull’s pick-up truck flips over and over, so does the life flashing before his eyes.

2. Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”
Director: Garth Jennings
There are few people in the world cool enough to dance like Thom Yorke dances in this video without becoming a joke, but Thom Yorke is most certainly among them. He seems completely un-self-conscious, a feeling most of us haven’t experienced in front of 14 million (and counting) YouTube viewers.

1. Superchunk – “Crossed Wires”
Director: Whitey McConnaughy
Kitty cam? Kitty cam!... Bad kitty!!

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