Gorillaz stay in a haunted house, James Blake teams up with a pregnant Natalie Portman and a middle-aged rapper successfully trolls the most powerful person on the planet
This month’s music videos saw Lorde cutting shapes on her comeback single “Green Light”, HMLTD doing debauched glam-punk western sci-fi rodeo with “To The Door”, baked boobs with 10LEC6’s “Bedjem Mebok”, and a caped Daft Punk cameo in The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming”. As usual, we’ve rounded up five must-see videos this month, whether for their inventive concepts, incredible photography, or the controversy they caused.
ARCA – “REVERIE”
In “Reverie”, Arca (Alejandro Ghersi) plays both bull and matador. Directed, as usual, by friend and visual collaborator Jesse Kanda, it’s erotically charged yet vulnerable, depicting Ghersi walking on hoof-like boots while pierced and bleeding. The bullfighting metaphor, according to Arca, is “a piercing metaphor: you are fighting a bull, and at the same (time) yourself. You are not the victim or the oppressor, you are both – animality and bestiality are conflated. Evoking sex invokes our animality. And evoking our animality, in turn, invokes spirituality.”
JAMES BLAKE – “MY WILLING HEART”
Up-and-coming filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits) helms the memorable video for James Blake’s “My Willing Heart”, taken from last year’s The Colour In Anything. Shot in black-and-white with soft focus textures, the video stars Natalie Portman and depicts the heavily pregnant actress rising to the surface from underwater. The stunning visual was shot in Los Angeles just a few days before Portman gave birth – in fact, it’s possible to see the baby kicking at the 2:20 mark – with Holmer reinterpreting Blake’s romantic lyrics as something more maternal.
GORILLAZ – “SATURNZ BARZ (SPIRIT HOUSE)”
Gorillaz have been teasing their return for months now, but last week the virtual band finally announced their long-awaited new album Humanz with a characteristically offbeat music animated video. “Saturnz Barz”, featuring Jamaican dancehall vocalist Popcaan, is a six-minute short film that sees the band spend the night in a haunted house and subsequently find themselves terrorised by the demons within. (It also features Murdoc flying naked through the nth dimension.) Like most Gorillaz videos, it mixes cartoonish goofiness with something genuinely macabre. It also comes as a special 360-degree version, which you can watch here.
PERFUME GENIUS – “SLIP AWAY”
The video for “Slip Away”, the first single from Perfume Genius’s new album No Shape, comes directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, best known for his series of visual collaborations with Björk. It’s a surreal fantasy, a fairy tale that’s sometimes sinister but always very fun, where Perfume Genius’s Mike Hadreas and Teresa ‘Toogie’ Barcelo play best friends on the run from gremlin schoolchildren. As Huang explained to The FADER (who also produced the video), inspiration came from tales of sisterhood like Thelma & Louise and the late Jacques Rivette’s cult classic Celine & Julie Go Boating: “I just came up with the idea of a video where Mike is opposite a really close friend. They’re like two sisters on the run from the man, you know? They had to be running from something, so I had the idea of them running from little schoolboys, but we would cast old men that kind of look like Donald Trump.”
GOD COLONY – “TURN MY G DOWN” FEAT. STASH MARINA
London-based producers God Colony launch their collaborative audio-visual series with NTS Radio with long-time creative partner Stash Marina. Even though the three are yet to meet IRL, there’s always an unmistakably personal edge to the songs, which always brings out Stash’s melancholic aggression and encourages God Colony to dial back their production to a dreamlike state. The video is directed by Jacob Chabeaux and features a stunning solo performance from dancer Maeva Berthelot, who was assisted on choreography by illyr. The result is a mesmerising, psychedelic drift in and out of reality.
SNOOP DOGG – “LAVENDER”
The video for Snoop Dogg’s remix of BADBADNOTGOOD’s Kaytranada-featuring “Lavender” stars character actor Michael Rappaport as a man living in a world of clowns; at the end, Snoop points a gun at a clown version of Donald Trump and pulls the trigger. In Snoop’s words, there’s “a lot of clown shit going on” that he “really wanted to lock into (for the video) like police, the president, and just life in general.” The video became enough of a talking point for Trump himself to respond, taking to Twitter to whine about it like a toddler. The video isn’t exactly clever – it doesn’t really work as an effective form of satire given that by this point, real life has gone way beyond satire – but we’re still including it here because, frankly, any music video that can cause the man in charge of one of the biggest nuclear arsenals on the planet to start an online beef with a middle-aged rapper must be doing something right.