Alanis Morissette, “Ironic” (Stephane Sednaoui)
In Stephane Sednaoui’s video for “Ironic,” four Alanis Morissettes ride along a wintry highway and discuss things both ironic and, as many would gleefully point out, un-ironic. But grammar usage and execution aside, this colorful video clip captured Morissette’s multifarious public persona quite perfectly.
Foo Fighters, “Everlong” (Michel Gondry)
Inside their happy suburban home, a husband (Dave Grohl) and wife (Taylor Hawkins in drag) communicate via dreams. Grohl is Sid Vicious at a lame costume party. Pat Smear and Nate Mendel are the bouncers hot on his tail. The thugs access the couple’s shared consciousness, kidnapping the wife and hiding her inside a remote cabin in the woods. Water imagery and opening doorways heighten Grohl’s penetration anxiety. A ringing phone figures prominently in and out of sleep and serves to clue Grohl in to the power of dreams over reality. Or is it the other way around? Magritte meets Lynch in this surprisingly intimate paean to lucid dreaming.
Daft Punk, “Da Funk” (Spike Jonze)
Spike Jonze challenges the way music is incorporated and represented in music videos with his bizarre, ’80s-style clip for Daft Punk’s “Da Funk.” Charlie the dog-boy moves to the East Village with a pocketful of dreams and a ghetto blaster by his side. Coping with a broken leg and lack of friends, this anthropomorphic creature is rejected by one New Yorker after another. “Da Funk” is his failed battle cry; indeed, an ornery street vendor reacts less to the noise emanating from Charlie’s boombox than he does to the dog’s lame attempt at “keeping it real.” A chance meeting with a childhood friend suggests things will get better yet the video’s devastating finale suggests that Charlie will never learn.
Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer” (Stephen R. Rosen)
Peter Gabriel and director Stephen R. Johnson teamed with the Brothers Quay and Nick Park (Wallce & Gromit) in an effort to make a video that Gabriel called “a bit groundbreaking.” Clearly meeting their lofty goal, 1986’s “Sledgehammer” paved a stop-motion, claymation path for videos by Primus, Tool and, most recently, the White Stripes. Though the award-winning “Sledgehammer” isn’t exactly profound, its visual pretenses are crafty and certainly fun to watch.
Nirvana, “Heart-Shaped Box” (Anton Corjbin)
Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” is as ripe with allusions as it is oversaturated with color (the video was shot in black and white and then computer-colorized). Directed by Anton Corjbin, the clip features surrealistic images including a winged, gluttonous woman reaching for plastic fetuses hanging from a tree and an emaciated Jesus with a Victorian beard and Santa hat climbing onto a cross. While the song makes vague references to cancer, umbilical cords and meat-eating orchids, the video entangles faith and sickness with the clarity of a man who’s damn close to giving up his eternal search.