Harry Nilsson, “Life Line”
I never actually seen The Point but I love Nilsson's soundtrack album, and I love this style of animation. Minimal and a bit shaky, but you can tell a story with line drawings and beautiful imagery just as well as you can with a few million dollar's worth of shiny CGI.
Peter Gabriel, “Big Time”
But if you're going to spend a huge wad of cash, you might as well really go for it. This doesn't have the production values you might expect nowadays for a big budget single – it's classic made-for-MTV mid-80s in tone – but PG wasn't content to knock together any old performance video (i.e. empty stadium, gurning to camera, spinning around with unplugged guitars, hello Bon Jovi) and throughout the 80s he was trying to make videos which beared comparison to the quality and creative impetus of the music.
Michael Jackson, “Leave Me Alone”
Okay, so you have to imagine a parallel universe where Michael Jackson's undoubted musical and vocal transcendence is matched by his self-deprecating humour, droll wit and a well-proportioned sense of the absurd. Now watch the video. It's funny and silly and smart. And the song (and the production) is amazing. Best also to imagine a world where people don't waste their time posting stoned conspiracy theories up as comments to MJ vids when they could be engaging with the governments and political and economic processes that actually exist.
Björk's catalogue of videos is probably the richest and most innovative there is. She's also probably the best 'collaborator' out there, pushing and being pushed by great producers, musicians, film-makers, costume-makers and always restlessly into new territory. The video for “Jóga” is unusually minimal but the song is so beautiful and evocative that to clutter up the screen with images would have been totally unnecessary.
The Fiery Furnaces, “Tropical Iceland”
I'm going to finish right back where I started. Minimal and a little bit shaky but good-humored and irreverent. The challenge these days for bands is to make videos that are worth watching but don't cost very much to make (because it's pretty foolish to bank on selling enough records to make that kind of outlay worthwhile). For me the best way to get there is not to take yourself too seriously. The alternative is, of course, the new style of boring performance video (i.e. in a sweaty club, surrounded by cool haircuts, hanging out, yawn.)