Lists, Top 10 Lists — August 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

10 Incredible Music Videos Made By Amazing Directors


No ranking here, we’re just compiling incredible music videos by super-famous film Directors. It seems that most of these guys are now pretty busy with their high budget movies, but some are still active for music, or are starting to experiment with the genre. Happy discovery!  (YouTube playlist below).


Johnny Cash – “Hurt” by Mark Romanek, 2002 

The very last video clip from legend Johnny Cash is a nature morte / archive videoclip, a poignant reinterpretation of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. If you saw Never Let Me Go or Photo Obsession, you probably have noticed Romanek’s sense of drama and tension which is always brought with restraint and a good load of nostalgia and/or arbitrary regret.

Quote: “Most videos are about creating eye candy, a pretty image that can be a marketing tool. We just tried to show the simple truth of what’s going on in his life. It’s kind of a sucker punch when you see it the first time because we’re not used to that emotional depth in music videos.” 


The Crystal Method – “Born Too Slow” by Gore Verbinski, 2003 

The story says that Verbinski switched from punk-rock guitarist to filmmaker by selling his beloved guitar to buy his first camera when he was young. Since then, he made The Ring remake and the series with Johnny Depp and his pirate friends I’m sure you’ve heard of.

Quote: “If you make your choices alone, how can I trust you?”


The White Stripes – “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” by Sofia Coppola, 2003

After unsurprisingly directing Air’s “Playground Love” and Kevin Shields’ “City Girl“, both featuring her movies’ soundtracks, Sofia Coppola teamed up with Kate Moss for The White Stripes cover of Burt Bacharach’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”. Between a fancy lingerie ad and a praise to the supermodel, this music video is quite far from her usual filming environment – although there’s this private peep-show sequence in Somewhere that might be a reminiscence of that black and white shooting.

Quote: “That’s the way I work: I try to imagine what I would like to see.”


Blonde Redhead – “The Dress” by Mike Mills, 2007

Filmmaker and graphic designer, Mike Mills has worked on a bunch of movies (Thumbsuckers, Beginners with Ewan McGregor*), documentaries, commercials and, of course, music videos (Air, Everything but the Girl, Moby*) and album covers (Sonic Youth, The Beastie Boys*). Apart from being pretty successful in his endeavours, he’s also married to the indie (and one of my favourite) filmmaker, Miranda July. *among many others.

Quote: “I think we’re afraid of both [love and death], which is totally human. We’re big, messy complicated creatures. And the idea that we’re constantly seeking to put ourselves in smaller and smaller boxes makes me kind of sad.”


Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs” by Spike Jonze, 2010

From the Jackass series to Being John Malkovich and Where The Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze is known as an arty and visionary agitator, but also for having a continuous relationship with music. Like his movies, his music videos all have a special appeal, a certain cuteness blended with a good dose of weirdness. Arcade Fire will contribute to the soundtrack of his upcoming movie, Her, to be released this year.

Quote: “I think the way kids create is so inspiring. They’re drawing a picture? They love the picture they drew; they’re not tortured about it”.


Lil Wayne – “Mirror ft. Bruno Mars” by Antoine Fuqua, 2011

Antoine Fuqua is into American blockbusters but also into R’n’B music. He recently directed Olympus Has Fallen and Shooter, and his most famous music video might be Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” – yes, back in the days. In a recent interview, he said that Lil Wayne is actually a good actor and that he should start an acting career. Who would have thought of it? Next music video projects might be with Alicia Keys, Frank Ocean or Eminem.

Quote: “’Cause movies are human drama, that’s it.”


Björk – “Crystalline” by Michel Gondry, 2011

Michel Gondry’s visual world is poetico-papier-mâché. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, it’s always about imagination, emotions, dreams. He has directed numerous music videos through his career, for French artists, international pop artists and my personal favourite, “Je Danse Le Mia” from legend hip hop band IAM.

Quote: “I’ve dreamed a lot, but I’m not a very good sleeper.”


David Lynch – “Crazy Clown Time” by David Lynch, 2012

David Lynch wears two hats. Or more, as he also designs clubs among other projects. He’s an accomplished filmmaker – Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Sailor & Lula, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive or his latest Inland Empire – and he’s also a musician and composer. He wrote some bits of his movies’ soundtracks and released two albums as a side project. They are musical and visual experimentations, between noise music and musique concrète.

Quote: “It’s better not to know so much about what things mean or how they might be interpreted or you’ll be too afraid to let things keep happening.”


The Killers – “Here With Me” by Tim Burton, 2012

Yes, world-acclaimed filmmaker Tim Burton takes part in this list! When his colleagues began with commercial and music video production, Burton’s first music attempts are quite recent: he has only worked with The Killers for “Bones” (2006) and “Here With Me” (2012). His distinct theatrical, odd and well-polished imagery remains, and it’s a complete story that Burton is telling in a handful minutes. Bonus: you will notice an obsession for bold scalps and a penchant for famous actresses and actors – but that’s not new.

Quote: “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.” 


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “We No Who U R” by Gaspard Noé, 2013

Chocking Irréversible and Enter The Void by Argentinean filmmaker Gaspard Noé both made waves when released. His music videos could all be rated as very provoking: you might want to check the totally NSFW “Protège-moi” by Placebo, the slightly disturbing “Love in Motion” by SebastiAn or the very suggestive “Applesauce” by Animal Collective. Unexpectedly, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ video is following a very different story-telling trail but still keeps Noé’s famous hand-held filming.

Quote: “The interest is not to please or to displease, it is to produce a reaction.”



Watch the YouTube playlist: