While some may gripe about MTV's tendency to barely even play videos anymore, at least the network still annually dedicates three hours of its prime programming to the MTV Video Music Awards, celebrating the best videos of the year. Good for them.
While this year's Video Of The Year nominees--Lady Gaga's "Telephone" and "Bad Romance," Florence + The Machine's "Dog Days Are Over," Thirty Records To Mars' "Kings And Queens," Eminem's "Not Afraid," and B.o.B. & Hayley Williams' "Airplanes"--are all worthy contenders, we sadly think some really awesome music videos got shafted in this big category.
So here, in ascending order of awesomeness, are our write-in Video Of The Year candidates for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.
Mika - "We Are Golden"
With the help of mad-genius director Jonas Akerlund (famed for Madonna's "Ray Of Light," Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi," and Primal Scream's "Country Girl"), British fop-popper Mika made his big bid for U.S. superstardom by dancing around a teenhood bedroom in his underwear. Maybe it alienated some conservative American viewers, but the video perfectly captured the effervescent mood of the song. Because seriously, who didn't want to dance around the house in one's skivvies to "We Are Golden" in 2009? It was the year's the ideal pure pop song--as if the Bay City Rollers recorded a disco mashup of Annie Lennox's "Walking On Broken Glass" and Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth"--and it was so shiny and happy, we're still hoping that the cast of Glee will perform it when the series returns this month. But until then, we'll just be watching Mika boogie in his boxers, over and over and over:
Goldfrapp - "Alive"
This clip has just about everything you'd want from a video and so much more: pentagrams, vampires, dry ice, jazzercizers, glittery rainbow-colored fake blood, capes...it's like if Motley Crue had hired Bonnie Tyler to be their Vince Neil replacement instead of John Corabi. The MTV judges seriously missed the boat on this one, although, come to think of it, "Alive" does really look like it should have won a moonman back in 1985, not 2010:
Julian Casablancas - "11th Dimension"
The Strokes frontman claims he's broke after spending all his money promoting his ambitious debut solo album. Well, if that's true, then this video was worth breaking the bank. A time-traveling mini-movie that flips back and forth between old-timey colonialism, what appears to be the '80s underground nightclub from "Desperately Seeking Susan," and some sort of neon-lit "TRON"-esque futureworld (with Julian's mid-2000s hipster shag haircut remaining intact throughout, natch), "11th Dimension" should be added to the VMA ballot at the 11th hour:
Kylie Minogue - "All The Lovers"
MTV should have nominated this provocative video just so there'd be an excuse to recreate it at the VMAs ceremony, with a giant pile of nubile, underwear-clad bodies onstage. That would have been ratings gold:
Beyonce - "Why Don't You Love Me?"
Beyonce's "Single Ladies" was the big VMA winner last year, and she's up for multiple nominations this year for her duet clip with Lady Gaga, "Telephone." But we say this pinup-retro romp is her finest video to date. She's never looked classier, or foxier, nor has any video she's done ever been this fresh, edgy, or arty. Why didn't the VMA judges love this?:
BPA - "He's Frank (Slight Return)"
Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, has made some of the most iconic videos of all time. And in his most recent side-project BPA, he continued to impress with "He's Frank," featuring the vocals of the real Iggy Pop and the uncanny puppet likeness of a fake, felt Iggy Pop. (Read on about Coldplay's entry below, to learn more about why PUPPETS RULE.) The Stooges finally got inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2010, but we think Iggy's immortalization in this hilarious clip is, frankly, a far more honorable tribute:
Peter Bjorn & John - "Nothing To Worry About"
They'll probably forever be known as "that whistling band" from Sweden, whose "Young Folks" made them the ultimate one-hit wonders of the indie-rock set. But what PB&J really should be remembered for is their slice-of-life mini-documentary of Winehouse-pompadoured, leatherclad, Tokyo teddyboys busting a move in Yoyogi Park. These breakdancers are the young folks who really caught our eye last year:
Lady Sovereign - "I Got You Dancing"
The self-described "biggest midget in the game" returned with a vengeance in 2009 with her eerily perfect video homage to The Warriors. Yes, people, THE WARRIORS! Make way for the S-O-V, because this video just RULES:
Katy Perry - "California Gurls"
This did earn nominations for Best Pop Video and Best Female Video, but it was oddly shut out in the big race for Video Of The Year. This is a bit of an upset not only because of Katy's major domination of MTV and the fact that "California Gurls" was one of the most watched and parodied videos in recent memory, but because of its universally crowd-pleasing extras like dancing gummy bears, cupcake bras, and whipped-cream boob-bullets. Either the VMA judges are diabetic, or they're not so sweet on Katy anymore because she's engaged to controversial ex-VMA host Russell Brand:
Datarock - "Give It Up"
These tracksuited Norwegians actually shot this video before Michael Jackson's tragic passing, but their witty "Beat It"-inspired clip turned out, ironically, to be one of the coolest King Of Pop tributes of the year nonetheless:
Coldplay - "Life In Technicolor II"
Everything is better when puppets are involved. This is just a FACT. And this fact is especially factual when it comes to music. Various musicmakers have featured puppets in their videos, but Coldplay's Thunderbirds-meets-Punch & Judy sendup is now officially one of the best to date. The only thing that could've made it better would have been a Joe Satriani marionette bumrushing Chris Martin's puppet show in plagiarism protest:
Tinted Windows - "Kind Of A Girl"
With a lineup featuring members of Smashing Pumpkins, Hanson, Fountains Of Wayne, and Cheap Trick, powerpop supergroup Tinted Windows could have made some big-budget blockbuster video like the ones they'd made in the past with their respective A-list bands. But sometimes it's better to keep things simple. So Tinted Windows instead introduced themselves to the world via a cheaply shot, fake '80s public access TV show, Rock After Dark. And it was so totally rad, we still wish the clip's monotonal star, Godwin Alexander, was a real person--so we could hire him to be an MTV veejay. Rock After Dark should be a real show on MTV, seriously:
Shakira - "She Wolf"
Just what was it about this worthy-of-full-screening video that made it SO compulsively viewable? The flesh-colored leotard? The uni-legged unitard? The cage? The quadruple-jointed yoga poses? The underground lava tunnel? The "ah-ooooooo"? Hmmm...maybe a combo of all of the above. All we know is, we still...Can. Not. Stop. Watching. This:
Adam Lambert - "If I Had You"
It was the feelgood video of the summer, and VH1 was so supportive of it (as VH1 was with Adam's other videos), the network might as well change its name to "AL1" by now. And Canada's MuchMusic network gave Adam a trophy earlier this year, too. But MTV just wasn't feeling the love. Apparently VMA voters don't like fun. Adam's gal pal, VMA-nominated Ke$ha, complained in the press about this snub, and rightfully so. (It's probably the only classy thing Ke$ha's ever done.) At least Adam looks like he's having too much fun here to care about silly awards.
The Black Keys - "Tighten Up"
Has bad parenting ever been this funny? Has playground rivalry ever been this cool? Have middle-aged fathers ever seemed this hip? No, no, and no. This video, one of the most unique and amusing of the year, just made every hipster in America wish that one of the Black Keys was their dad:
Empire Of The Sun - "Standing On The Shore"
We'd say this cinematic tour de force from the adventuresome Australians features the best casting of mermaid/swordfish hybrid dancers in pointy fish masks and Smurfette-blue Spandex unitards. Which is true. It also features the only casting of mermaid/swordfish hybrid dancers in pointy fish masks and Smurfette-blue Spandex unitards. For that reason alone, it at least deserves an honorary mention:
OK Go - "This Too Shall Pass"
Have OK Go gotten a Video Vanguard Award yet? They deserve one. The treadmilling powerpoppers never fail to shock and awe with their groundbreaking, instantly viral videos, and this video was their most ambitious yet. In what appeared to be one take, the band sang their tune while the world's most complex Rube Goldberg Device whirled, spun, crashed, and hammered in perfect unison with the song. Amazing. The MTV voters should not have passed this one up.