Stellastarr, "Sweet Troubled Soul"
Congrats to up-and-comer Adria Petty for this total director's-cut winner. Compelling off-speed lip-synced sections-which are further enhanced by the hot-chick presence of bassist Amanda Tannen-are intercut and sometimes integrated with a strangely desolate, Edward Hopperesque tale of stop-motion love between two women, one of whom has a Van Gogh complex. And the song is definitely worth your ear.
Director: Adria Petty, Revolver Film Co. Director of Animation: Peter Sluszka, Hornet Editor: Holle Singer, Consulate
Lushly animated stick figures, from New York design house Loyalkaspar, dramatize a romantic tale of doomed young lovers sort of in the manner of Romeo and Juliet, but with, uh, stick figures. Congrats to the two Pinback guys, one of whom is named Armistead Burwell Smith IV, which must make it very difficult to be selfless, for staying the hell out of their video. This is even better than not lip-syncing, and the song is pretty good, too.
Director: Elliot Jokelson
Idiot Pilot, "Day in the Life"
Washington State teenagers Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson may be lo-fi pilots but they sure ain't idiots, because, for less money than, say, Keith Richards probably spends on cigarettes in a month, they've made what is surely one of the best clips of the year. They simply beat each other up, for no apparent reason, throughout the vid, without inflicting much damage since they're kinda, like, wimpy. When they're not hitting each other, they're trying to find each other so they can hit each other. This is fairly well-staged for a cheapo clip, and it's completely compelling, as is the track. Two fists up for Shafei & Levitz.
Directors: Shafei & Levitz, Revolver Film Co. Editor: Ben Darling
Madonna, "Hung Up"
Madonna is "Hung Up" and we remain hung up on Madonna, who is quite the pretty in pink here and still in peak physical condition despite-or maybe thanks to-what we suspect is a daily sexual regimen that could probably kill the average 19-year-old. Featuring the usual breakdancing, along with Parkour street gymnastics and plenty of krumping a la David LaChapelle's Rize, this is surely one of the lesser singles in the flimsy Madonna catalog, but Johan Renck's camera loves the Kabbalah babe, whether she's at the barre or the bar.
Director: Johan Renck, Black Dog Films
Editor: Johan Sodenbergh, Chimney Pot