Great Music Videos from the Last Decade: 2005

Indelible clips from Sigur Rós, Beck, and more

Myspace was still the most-visited social networking site around and Chuck Norris jokes were making an unprecedented comeback as the internet’s meme of choice. Green Day discovered mascara, Youtube was new, and the double-popped collar was somehow an acceptable fashion statement for adult men (or at least that’s what I told myself on the first day of university as I strode the dormitory halls dually clad in golf shirts).

Yes, 2005 was a simpler, more embarrassing time. Still, the year of the Rooster had more than its fair share of music video gold. Below is part one of our ten-part series looking at some of the greatest vids of the last decade.

The Chemical Brothers – Believe

Directed by filmmaking duo Dom and Nic, “Believe” tells the story of a paranoid factory worker who thinks that the automated assembly robots he works with during his day job at a car plant are following him off-hours. As the visions get worse and the world around him disintegrates (possibly due to the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs), he eventually becomes resigned to his fate at the hands of the machines, laughing hysterically as lies on the street. Trippy and beautifully animated, “Believe” remains thrilling more than a decade after winning MTV’s Best Video Award.

Beck – E-Pro

Set in a computer-animated wireframe environment, “E-Pro” has Beck rising from a grave, running from skeletons, getting his head blown off and ultimately flying away on a giant musical note — all in the span of three minutes. Created by London art collective Shynola, the video may be heavy on the FX, but the filming process was actually quite vigorous. Beck suffered a debilitating spine injury while shooting the vid, which eventually led the artist to take a six-year hiatus from recording to recover. As Joey Waronker, Beck’s longtime drummer, explained in an interview with Rolling Stone, “There was this crazy choreography, where he was in a harness inside this moving wheel, being hit with sticks…. In the footage, it looked like he was floating around. Somehow, he got seriously hurt.” Sure, it may not have been totally worth the trouble, but there’s no denying that the video was one of the year’s best.

Björk – Triumph of the Heart

If Beck takes top spot for weirdest video of the year, Bjork’s “Triumph of the Heart” is a close second. Over beatboxing from Gregory Purnhagen, Dokaka, and Rahzel from The Roots, the video follows Bjork, tired of her dapper house cat husband, as she goes out for a night of drinking on the town. After a night of revelry with locals, she finds herself injured on a road out of town with hearts pouring forth from her mouth. Cinematic, bizarre, and endlessly re-watchable, it’s a video that only Spike Jonze (the greatest of all time in the medium) could have produced.

Sigur Rós – Glosoli

With cinematography as grand and dazzling as the music itself, “Glosoli” is perhaps Sigur Ros’ most unforgettable video. It follows a group of children dressed in traditional Icelandic garb as they frolic through the country’s breathtaking, rocky coasts in a dreamlike reverie. The video is not only visually stunning but conceptually rich, with direct allusions to J.D. Sallinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives

Sometimes referred to simply as “16 by 32” and directed by frequent collaborator of the band Aaron Stewart-Ahn, this was certainly the cleverest and most scathing satire of the year’s videos. Shot at a Portland, Oregon high school, “16 Military Wives” utilizes a model UN as an incredible vehicle for illustrating the band’s political opposition to the US invasion of Iraq. Characterizing the US delegate as a hawkish bully, unwilling (or unable) to compromise, Colin Meloy and gang not only produce a daring political statement, but a damn funny one as well.