2011 was host to a legion of ambitiously unconventional music videos — often so rapt in their quest for originality that quality (and logic) fell by the wayside. Surprisingly, the songs themselves often aren't stinkers — but the visual adaptations are. Applauded for their audacity and mocked for their absurdity, here's a top 10 of front runners.
10. Confusion Reigns
“Need You Now” — Cut Copy
Directionally befuddled, “Need You Now” opens with an array of hard-bodied athletes set infront of unrecognizable cityscapes. Midway, the narrative shifts to a gladiator-esque melee where the teams (and the motives) are dubious at best. We're giving the Aussie boys the benefit of the doubt and assuming they purposefully aimed for the campy, sporty effect — making the video so out of character that it's funny. As one YouTube commenter accurately put it, “This is what would happen if they ever shut down World of Warcraft.”
9. The Boring One
“Love On Top” — Beyonce
For a song so full of passion, we were expecting a video with more of B's signature vivacity and spark. The video turns out to be a sleeper, following the typical group-dance structure that Beyonce has rocked since her “Upgrade U” days, but with only two costume changes and one scene shift. Equally baffling is the presence of the microphone stands, which serves only to limit the songstresses' movement.
8. The Grim
“Ruffneck” — Skrillex
While no one past their primary years buys into Santa's artifice, watching a loose-skinned childhood hero choke down fistfuls of pills and glare at babes slack-jawed and hollow-eyed is, nevertheless, macabre. Discontent with the simple debasement, Skrillex takes his grinching to new peaks — mutilating St.Nick before giving him a chance at sweet, snowy redemption.
7. Worst Dance Sequences
“100” — Howie D
The video very well might be low-budget, but Howie D should be applauded for his impudence — never before has someone made such a heroic bid at making a laundromat erotic. Regardless, the former boy band star is cognizant of how diverting household chores can be — next time your clumsy roommate reaches for the mop, ditch it and opt for a sexy backwards slide across your linoleum floor.
6. Worst Special Effects
“Fireball” — Willow Smith ft. Nicki Minaj
A fireball in her own right, Smith is in no way accountable for her appearance on this list. Led astray by a rogue graphics team, the preteen super-sensation is seen here cut infront of ineffectual fire after-effects, which only helps to cheese up the entire number. Conveniently, for someone so young, Smith's swagged-up dance moves are stunningly voltaic — it almost compensates for the presence of the former.
5. Worst Las Vegas Visit
“No Beef” — Steve Aoki and Afrojack
“Were in Vegas now, what should we do first?” — Aoki. “I dunno man, we gotta at least try to out-dork Guetta. Let's go to a gift shop and try on dumb stuff. Then, let's go walk around in a hotel lobby.” — Afrojack. Wild!
4. Worst Product Placement
“Hold It Against Me” — Britney Spears
By all odds, Spears presumably stopped caring about what anybody in the 'biz says after she buzzed her goldilocks. But for the benefit of the skeptics, there's about 10-seconds of glaring Plenty of Fish advertising around the 1:29 minute mark that adequately reflects the popstar's dispassion.
3. Worst Use of Half-Naked Women
“Where Them Girls At” — David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida
Leave it to ungainly David Guetta to make markedly libidinous babes look grotesque. In Guetta's world, bubbles brimming with music wander around alleys assaulting unsuspecting attractive urbanites, causing them to flail like possessed limp-wristed rag dolls. As Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) once put it on “Community” — “I have the weirdest boner right now.”
2. Too Long
“Marry the Night” — Lady Gaga
Last year when Gaga dropped the “Alejandro” music video, which had a leisurely two minute introduction before the actual song commenced, we knew the New York native had just discovered another vexing method in which to express her artistry. “Marry the Night” starts a whopping eight minutes in, after the audience is treated to numerous frames of Gaga coating herself in milk and cereal, and proceeding to seize and jerk around madly. Normal.
1. The Worst
“I'm On One” — DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne
In opening scen of “I'm On One,” Drake appears in a partially vacated apartment, rapping in front of a group of mannequins that are far too disquieted by their human counterparts' propensity to stain furniture. More than one element of this video has gone awry — the hackneyed Four Loko product placement, the banal subway ride, a retina-searing SHIRTLESS Rick Ross (at least we warned you). The culminating video is rather monstrously and mortifyingly anti-swag.