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Yo La Tengo (#110 of 3)

Listen to Slant‘s 25 Best Singles of 2013

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2013
Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2013

Last year’s biggest hits heralded the return of good times unto perpetuity, eternal youth and the enduring pleasure of receiving your first phone call from the set of washboard abs next door. Perhaps taking a cue from Britney Spears’s prescriptive “Till the World Ends,” maybe just drunk on borrowed time, 2013’s biggest singles took the pleasure principle to reckless new, solipsistic heights. It was the sort of year when the real-life counterpart to Mike Seaver could slick his thick hair up and let the devil horns sprout, betting the farm that nothing unlocks a good girl faster than “agreeing” with her with a wink in your eye that lets you both know you’re lying. Still, the year’s best tracks invariably stared down the lies of the moment and opted instead for sincerity and honesty. And the truth often hurts. This embittered sincerity gave listeners a whole new set of hashtags to test out in the hope that, next year, everybody will be dancing and be doin’ it right.

Music Video Round-Up: Beyoncé‘s “Sweet Dreams” and Yo La Tengo’s “Here to Fall”

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Music Video Round-Up: Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” and Yo La Tengo’s “Here to Fall”
Music Video Round-Up: Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” and Yo La Tengo’s “Here to Fall”

One part Victoria’s Secret commercial, another part dream logic anti-narrative, and a CGI-assisted freakout all around, Adria Petty’s video for Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” one-ups the minimalism of the instantly iconic internet meme and, um, Kanye approved “Single Ladies.” Director Jaka Nava’s video for “Single Ladies” already dropped the sensory overload expectations of music videos for a basically blank set, in front of which Beyoncé and her dancers could approximate the singularly-focused energy of a live dance performance. No narrative, no props (save for Beyoncé’s robot hand), just dancing.

That odd performance piece couldn’t and shouldn’t be repeated and it’s why follow-up videos for “Diva” and “Ego” at least conceded to a setting, but now Beyoncé and director Petty have found a way to make a video even more minimal, even more performance-based—via green-screen and computer-generated effects. Rarely ever is the use of CGI associated with minimalism—it’s more often connected to excess—but in “Sweet Dreams,” CGI’s employed to create a context-less void in which Beyoncé and her dancers can blow our minds anew.