@Videostatic Bishop Briggs "Dream" (Dano Cerny, dir.) https://t.co/2YdVSkWdkQ #video #musicvideo 1 day 15 hours ago

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Deep Diving on the Grammy Video Noms

On Tuesday, the nominees for the 59th Grammy Awards were announced and have already inspired a flurry of conversation about competition within the categories. Will Adele or Beyoncé reign supreme for Album of the Year? Or will be somebody else sneak in and pull off an upset. One category that isn't scrutinized quite like Album of the Year or Song of the Year but regularly brings out strong competition, is the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.

By Will Kay on December 8, 2016 @ 1:01pm PST

Nihilists "Wallspace" (, dir.)

The latest single from Manchester born band, Nihilists. Availavle for pre-order now. Nihilsts lead singer and former member of Puressence James Mudriczki, decided he wanted to create "almost post-apocalyptic music with an emotional thread running through it's spine." Wallspace certainly offers a taste of this idea. The video itself, expertly produced by Digifish, is a beautifully abstract interpretation that emotionally connects a singular narrative to the lyrics and theme of the song.

The Avalanches "The Was" (Chris Hopkins, Al Smithee, dir.)

What is The Was? The Was is amazing, a 10-minute ode to classic NYC soundtracked by The Avalanches. Classic movie and TV clips, and some cartoons, get rotoscoped ande edited to create a distinctly original new work/work — think of it like remix culture applied to a music video.  As to who made it? The directing credit goes to The Avalanches creative director Chris Hopkins and our old friend Al Smithee, but the opening title shouts out Soda_Jerk, a visual sampling collective that specializes in this sort of genius. 

David Bowie, RIP

A man on his deathbed with button eyes, thrashing about as the spirit pulls away and the past comes creeping out of the wardrobe for one last dance.

That video "Lazarus" struck me last week as just a footnote to David Bowie's epic 10 minute "Blackstar" opus, a smaller sidestory with that clip's Button-eyed man. I was wrong. "Lazrus" is the main event, as intimate and direct a film as Bowie ever made — there's no hiding anything in a 1:1 aspect ratio — a perfect parting note from The Man Who Fell To Earth, dead at age 69, after an 18 month battle of cancer, succumbing merely three days after the release of "Lazarus" and his latest, last album, Blackstar.

A shocker, but only because we weren't paying as much attention as we should have been.

You watch and listen to "Lazarus" now and it's all right there.

Look up here, I’m in heaven I’ve got scars that can’t be seen I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen Everybody knows me now

...

This way or no way You know, I’ll be free Just like that bluebird Now ain’t that just like me?

Of course. Ain't that just like him?

Last month I got to produce some behind the scenes coverage of the "Blackstar" video premiere event, where the video aired a few times throughout the day at a Brooklyn cinema. There were fans there from all around the world, taking in the video again and again, poring over every detail and mystery, giving it their time and focus, wondering what it all meant. That's pretty amazing, especially in an age where most artists are lucky if their fans go past their latest tweet or give them even 9 measly seconds to watch a Vine, let alone travel (in the rain) to a theater and repeatedly watch a 10 minute video.

I wish I paid that sort of attention the first time I watched "Lazarus," not because I would have figured it out, but because that's what true art deserves.

Something happened on the day he died Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

RIP, David Bowie.

Director Phil Mucci’s Music Video Monster Mash

When I'm looking for something metal and/or creepy, I turn to director Phil Mucci, who knows how to make his own creepshow videos, but also has a brainful of good/bad stuff. And there's no better day to needle him for some picks than Halloween.

Phil Mucci: If you’re like me, you’re probably sick of the same old list of classic horror music videos trotted out every year, where Micheal Jackson’s Thriller comes in at #1, followed by half a dozen Aphex Twin videos and Ozzy’s Bark at the Moon. For my own list, I decided to pick some of my favorite monster music videos from the last 10 years (sorry, MJ). So if you’re into demonic nuns, over-sexed aliens, shape- shifting parasites, lesbian vampires, and surfing skeletons, this is the list for you. Happy Halloween!

Kanye West Is Your 2015 MTV VMA Video Vanguard

Kanye West is your 2015 recipient of MTV's Video Vanguard Award — a Lifetime Achievement that's been doled out to a fairly equal mix of directors and recording artists, from Godley & Creme, Wayne Isham and Hype Williams, to Beyonce, U2, LL Cool J and some band called The Beatles.

Deserving? C'mon.

Kanye West has been one of the most daring and unique visual artists in hip-hop since his debut video "Through The Wire" — a fearless bulletin board biographical clip that's still resonant today with it's journey from hope to tragedy and then triumph.

He's worked with a dizzying array of creatives: cartoonist Bill Plympton, artist Takashi Murakami, and who's who list of important video directors: Hype Williams, Chris Milk, Nabil, Michel Gondry, Director XRomain Gavras, Coodie & Chike, Spike Jonze and on and on. 

The award comes at an interesting point in time since Kanye seems to have been in an anti-video mode lately, with his most recent two being decidedly simple, yet still powerful clips in the fashion portrait "FourFiveSeconds" and the diaristic "Only One." Otherwise his videos have largely existed in even more ephemeral places, be it projected on a building or within the confines of a limited museum run.

Kanye has also graced the VMA stage many times, although never more infamously than his "Beyonce had the greatest video of all time!" moment — which is worth revising as a bizarrely misguided, yet magnanimous moment for an artist who often gets criticized for being self-centered. We might catch Kanye in a sharing mode and paying tribute to videos and the directors he collaborated with along the way when accepts the Vanguard on August 30, and pivot back to making bigger videos. Or, maybe he'll say nothing at all and never make another traditional video, which would also be a typically punk rock move from Yezus.

Just don't expect an explanation of "Bound 2" — that speaks for itself.

Director Josh Forbes Wants and Gets His MTV (VMA Tickets)

Is it ironic that Josh Forbes' second most successful video is one lamenting the fact that his most successful one didn't pay enough money to attend the MTV VMA awards?

There are grievances a'plenty for music video directors these days — a lack of budgets, a lack of respect, a lack of video revenue sharing, a lack of any of the benefits or protections that the DGA provides for every other stripe of director out there, and so on and so forth — but these are the things people are willing to deal with when pursuing the music video dream, and a big part of that dream still includes the chance to add a Moon Man to your mantle. 

So when Josh Forbes directs a video for a song that becomes a pop smash and gets nominated for a VMA, dammit, he's gonna go that awards show. At which point he learns that the VMAs have apparently long been kinda like a Bon Jovi concert: Unless your last name is Bongiovi, you're likely gonna have to pay for your ticket. (I hear Jon Bon runs a tight ship.) And, unless you're a music video director who traffics in expensive pop, or supplements the video work with a steady stream of Pancake commercials, then your disposable income is probably on the smaller side. 

There's a happy end to this story here, which is that Josh Forbes put up a GoFundMe asking his friends and colleagues to help pay for his tickets and BAM, he got an outpouring of money, and the thing became a news story, spurred on by a Daily Beast story. He even got his face drawn on by Perez Hilton, which is not typically part of the music video dream, but still something to print, laminate and hang on your wall.

I'm of course being a bit flippant about all this, mainly because I know Josh fairly well and I think it's clear from his GoFundMe that he's not coming from a place of anger. But, also because the VMAs have evolved much like most pop culture has evolved: It's bigger, quicker, flashier and emphasizes celebrity and pop music and mass appeal over a lot of other things. Viewers want to see the stars and the performances and the spectacle, and probably don't even know one director from another, let alone want to see them accept anything on-stage. Ask Joseph Kahn and he'll tell you. And if you think directors are the only ones who pine for the old VMAs, imagine how most rock bands feel as they've been marginalized off nearly all mainstream stages.  

Silver linings for everyone involved? You bet.

  • There's now a rolling, if not roiling, discussion about directors receiving credit, and compensation. This is something you'll be hearing more and more about, especially as the digital economy grows and the public pays more attention to where their entertainment originates from (much to the Fat Jew's chagrin)
  • If anything the hubbub proves yet again that the MTV VMAs is still the biggest night for music videos. For instance, when I told my mom I won an MVPA award, she said she had no idea I was into military vehicle preservation. Whereas if I said I won a VMA, she'd ask if I met Miley. (Speaking of which, is it too late for a 2015 MVPA awards to dive deep on all the behind the camera folks who help keep the pop machine moving?)

An old and lame joke is that the best way to stay sober during the VMAs is to have a drinking game were you do a shot everytime an artist thanks a director. But maybe, this will be the year where all the pop stars take three seconds to thank the folks who often create the visuals that defined them and helped pave the way for their own massive success.

Kanye West "All Day" Screens at LACMA (Steve McQueen, dir.)

"Music is art, and art is important and rare" - Taylor Swift

Bet you didn't think Kanye and TayTay had much in common, huh? But, catching glimpse of Kanye's music video collaboration with director Steve McQueen will require you to make it to LA's LACMA museum before the video heads back to destination unknown on Tuesday...

LA Times has the video pegged as a nine-minute one-taker that starts kinetically with Kanye antagonizing and engaging with the camera, but then ends with the rapper collapsed and virtually still.

Check out MTV.com's report for a breakdown of the video installation... and stay tuned for where or if it shows up next.

Taylor Swift "Bad Blood" Breaks Viewership Records

Yes, we know Taylor Swift is popular, but just to make sure you realize how big she is on the heels of her star-studded "Bad Blood" video, take a look at the numbers:

  • 20 million - "Bad Blood" broke the 24 hour VEVO record for most views in one day, getting nearly 20 million views in one day.
  • 37 million - Total "Bad Blood" views as I write this, four days after the premiere.
  • 5 billion - Total view count for all her videos.
  • 11 million - Total estimated viewers to the Billboard Music Awards, which televised the exclusive world premiere of the video.

It's like there's the music business, and then there's the Taylor Swift business, with the only similarity being that they use some of the same notes... 

LA Music Video Festival 2015: Call For Entries

LA MUSIC VIDEO FESTIVAL 2015: CALL FOR ENTRIES NOW OPEN

We are thrilled to announce the official Call for Entries for the 5th Annual LA MusicVideo Festival!  As always, the most important part of the festival is THE VIDEOS.   Head to Withoutabox to see all the deadlines, rules, and official categories: Narrative, Non-Narrative, Student, Unofficial, and Animated.  Regular deadline is June 30th for just $20.

Stay tuned for all festival updates and announcements at www.lamvf.com

Meerkat and Madonna Get a Video Premiere Mulligan

Everyone loves to be the first to premiere a music video on a new platform, and any new platform would certainly love if that artist is of the caliber of Madonna. That's assuming the technology works, of course.

New app/service Meerkat, which allows any Twitter user to livestream video to all their followers, took a bow for Madonna's new "Ghosttown" video yesterday. Or, they were supposed to, but apparently technical difficulties got in the way.

So, if you were too busy on Periscope, you get another chance: The Meerkat/Madonna (re)launch happens at 1pm ET / 10am PT, where you'll get the first look at this new Madonna video directed by Jonas Akerlund (who also directed her "Ray Of Light" video)

The End of the Free and Open Video Era?

Want to watch the new Rihanna "American Oxygen" video? Unless you're willing to at least take a free Trial membership for the new audio/video streaming service Tidal, then you're stuck waiting. And then there's subscription video startup vessel, which has a deal with Universal Music Group and Warner Music for early access premieres for certain music videos.

Then we have YouTube announcing a subscription tier, which as of now isn't promising any exclusives, but will strip away all those annoying pre-roll ads (sorry, they're annoying). Plus Facebook beefing up their video offerings, while VEVO continues to refine and expand their service.

If this isn't the start of the end of the free music video era, it's at least a sign that the era of the YouTube monolith is showing some cracks...