WARNING: The video featured in today’s vault is definitely NSFW, though it is definitely SFA (safe for awesome).
Old lady sentence alert: When I was a teen, music videos mattered enough that the artform went through an interesting renaissance/avant-garde period that resonated throughout popular culture and filmmaking. It was not unusual in the mid- to late-90s and early 2000s to see world-class directors like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry apply their considerable talent to the realm of a 3-4 minute music video. There was money and goodwill to spare in the music biz then (le sigh) and so the videos we saw reflected that: high production values, high artistic value, and sometimes, even some game-changing thrills. Remember Fat Boy Slim’s “Praise You” (speaking of Spike Jonze)? Beastie Boys’s “Sabotage”? Radiohead’s “Just”? Many others besides?
Then, of course, things changed. I need not hit the details you already know, but suffice to say there was a definite music video slump in the aughts, one that is only now beginning to lessen largely due to the single-serving power of YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, and other such services, the commitment to artpop (and ready cash) of people like Lady Gaga, and the sharing power of social media.
But rarely does a music video make your hair stand on end anymore, unless there’s some other THERE there (ie: the Beyonce visual album, aforementioned Gagaism). Enter Lil Jon–yeah, that Lil Jon (here with DJ Snake)–and a video so crazy, so weird, so intensely awesome, it can’t be ignored. So, yeah, music videos can still be important and mindblowing. They can still surprise you. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present “Turn Down for What”