This week, Wilco released its first music video in more than a decade. For “Dawned On Me”, a track off of last year’s The Whole Love, the band resurrected an animated, muscle-popping, spinach-chugging Popeye. We were so charmed by Olive Oyl’s goofy dancing and Wilco-branded canned greens that we decided to dig up some other illustrated music videos worth giving a look. Prepare to plunge into the depths of some of the weirdest and and most wonderful animated worlds in music. If you begin to feel disturbed by Bjork’s homicidal bathtub piranhas or Gotye’s demon synth from outer space, just remind yourself that nothing could ever be as surreal and depressing as that whole Mickey Mouse/Joy Division t-shirt kerfuffle. Get 2D after the jump.
1. Bjork – “I Miss You”
There might be some animated bunny slippers and bouncy bubble baths involved, but Bjork’s music video for “I Miss You” is no romp through Disneyland. It’s more like what would happen if Ren & Stimpy met mescaline, which makes sense, as it was illustrated by John Kricfalusi, the animator of Ren & Stimpy fame. Dismembered cartoon characters? Murderous piranhas? Dancing condom towers? Yup, this one has it all.
2. Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
The music video for “Paranoid Android” is a classic, even though it looks like it was made in MS paint. Part of the video’s (and main character Robin’s) ponderous, severely depressing charm, really.
3. Gotye – “State of The Art”
A prim earthling family inherits a demonic synth from outer space that consumes their souls and turns them into parts of a pipe organ. The video’s got that crisp Jetsons kind of feel, and perhaps a touch of the macabre from Courage the Cowardly Dog. You guys know that show.
4. Clinic – “Bubblegum”
With a music video starring a bubblegum-chewing cat wearing a babydoll dress, you might think that Clinic’s “Bubblegum” wouldn’t involve death, destruction, depression or dismemberment, but you’d be wrong. Gum cat levitates by gum bubble and travels the land, passing giant doughnuts, merrily popping popcorn and rainbows. That is, until it reaches the moon and explodes. No more gum cat.
5. We Cut Corners – “Pirate’s Life”
I discovered this music video by Irish band We Cut Corners by chance through Vimeo, and it’s completely dazzling. “Pirate’s Life” strays outside the cartoon criteria slightly, but artists Katarzyna Kijek and Przemyslaw Adamski illustrated each frame by hand, and to striking effect. You can watch the “making of” supplement here, though it just kind of looks like one person doing something ambiguous under a blanket.
6. Flying Lotus – “Zodiac Shit”
A trippy, flowing rendition on the cycles of life, death and morphing signs of the Zodiac, illustrated by Atlanta-based Lilfuchs.
7. Blockhead – “The Music Scene”
So THIS is what happens when you watch too much TV.
8. N.A.S.A. feat. Kool Keith & Tom Waits – “Spacious Thoughts”
Montreal-based art collective Fluorescent Hill designed this video, absolutely one of the most impressive on this list. Tom Waits’ voice is at times personified as a billowing plume of oil, while a bouncing Hershey Kiss character embodies Kool Keith. For more on the “making of,” check out this interview with the animators.
9. Death Cab For Cutie – “Grapvine Fires”
“Grapevine Fires” director, Walter Robot, is the pen name of video-producing duo Bill Barminski and Christopher Louie, who first gained recognition as the winner of Modest Mouse’s “Missed The Boat” video submission competition. The video above won Audience Award for Best Music Video at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.
10. Every Gorillaz Video Ever
It’s impossible to choose just one. Still, “Dare” and “Feel Good Inc.” are pretty good places to start.
You can follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone