Music Videos in the Twenty-Tens

The Mayans did not predict the end of the world in 2012. Their calendar system was cyclical, so the date 12/21/12 was not meant to be the end, but a transition into the next cycle. Not the end of days, but a new era. And fuck me if the past decade hasn’t felt like a completely different world from all the years that came before it. Mayans, the Large Hadron Collider, or just every bad decision humanity has ever made finally culminating in some ultimate consequences, the past decade has been defined by three letters: WTF.

“Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake

As I mentioned in my list of music videos from the 2000s, I am not writing about what’s widely considered to be the best music videos as I am in no position to present myself as someone with the knowledge or understanding of the medium or the industry to say anything of the sort with any kind of authority. I’m merely making short lists of the music videos I enjoy and why I enjoy them, attempting some sort of humor in the meantime.

Which is why it feels like cheating to include the video for “Turn Down for What,” which clearly is not only the best music video ever made but the best piece of art ever produced by a human being. Humanity has reached its dizzying pinnacle and while art can still be produced as what the fuck else are we going to do with our time, all of it must now be held up to these three minutes and thirty-six seconds.

“Shia LaBeouf” by Rob Cantor

Strictly speaking, this one shouldn’t count. It wasn’t made by a popular artist, never featured on MTV or other music stations, and exists only in that dark, terrifying back alley called All of the Internet (seriously, all of it is a terrordome and if you don’t understand that someone is eventually going to steal your identity/kidney). But this is the new world, baby, one where if there are rules no one understands them yet so fuck it. We’re all going to do what we want until the seas boil.

The best part about this video is how it gets bigger and bigger until you can’t keep track of what’s going on. I’ve probably watched this thing three dozen times since 2015 and I am just now noticing the guys with the red Mohawks toward the end. And if you really think about it, Shia LaBeouf as a person is kind of a perfect representation of millennials in the 21st century. We all thought we were going to be normal, happy dudes, then at about the same time we collectively realized that we’re all kinds of weird and fucked up and it might just be better to lean into that than keep showing up in Michael Bay movies.

 “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow Featuring Run the Jewels

Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly thinking out of the box to make a duet diss track into a scene representing American politics (CSPAN would have a lot more viewers if there were more diss tracks, though) but this is just so well done. The panoramic and movie-style cinematography just make it so much funnier when hell breaks loose and everyone starts trying to kill each other.

“I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers

I don’t even really have anything to say about this one. I just love it.

“Timber” by Pitbull

I didn’t used to like Pitbull. I didn’t listen to his music, either, but I just knew I wouldn’t like it. Look at him. He’s some kind of joke, right? Like, a joke artist? On purpose?

This video is what made me get over myself, specifically the moment starting at 1:50. He’s in a boat and he’s feeding sharks. But not like you might expect a rapper who thinks he’s a badass would show himself feeding sharks, upright, glaring at the camera, throwing the chum like its dollar bills (I also don’t know how to act like a bad ass rapper). No, he’s kneeling at the back of the boat. There are sharks. He tosses some chum in. The sharks eat it. Pitbull then proceeds to look at the camera with the exact same face a ten year old boy doing the same thing would. That’s when I realized that I was hating on a dude that’s just out here living his best life. It’s basically the same realization we all had about Guy Fieri a few years back. Pitbull just wants to make his music and dance around with sexy ladies. And he gets to do that, and he’s obviously extremely happy about it, and I just can’t stay mad at someone who’s living his dream.


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