12. Viol – Gesaffelstein

Leave it to one man to show you the dark side of the French music scene.  Techno-electro genius, Gesaffelstein, premiered this music video for “Viol” earlier this year.  It features a fixed-gear gang of “ghost riders” running wild in the streets of France.  This video is one of the most badass music videos of 2012 and most of the heavy lifting is done by the music alone.  The combination of seering, erie music and a dark tone makes this a great visual for a great track.  If I was on the streets in France while this was being shot, I would walk the other way.

11. Rolling Stones T-shirt – Dada Life

Who has the most fun in the electronic music world?  Dada Life.  These two Swedes love to party (especially with their signature Bananas and Champagne). Their live shows are as rambunctious as the music, and this video comes with a surprise twist.  Dada Life is known for their light-spirited take on life and this music video reflects that with no problem.  The song itself is pretty sub-par for the two, but the video clearly makes up for it.  The first comment on the video reads: “I have the weirdest boner right now.”  You’ll either leave the page or press play immediately after reading that.

10. New Lands – Justice

Coming in at number ten is the French duo, Justice.  In their visuals for “New Lands”, we’re presented with a mashup of existing professional sports, where even the referee’s get involved in the action. The “New Lands” video is a melting-pot of football, lacrosse, baseball, roller derby and Tron motorcycles. Maybe this is merely a critique of the ultra-masculine sports today, but either way, this seems like a bit of a departure for Justice’s always serious demeanor.  Just think, in 2025 we might see a new super-sport inspired by two skinny, chain-smoking musicians from France.

9. Grown Up – Danny Brown

Danny Brown might be one of the most influential and talked about hip-hop artists of 2012.  His style is unique, his flow is tight and everything that comes out of his mouth is rated NC-17.  “Grown Up” is the perfect hip-hop track to begin with, and the music video only makes the song more memorable.  The young emcee has more swag than any one of us will ever possess, and is as reckless as the real-life adult Danny Brown.  If you’ve ever wondered why Danny’s front teeth look like a 80-year-old Brit’s, this video might answer that question.

8. Neato – Three Loco

If there are any rappers in the game who honestly don’t give a fuck, it’s these three. Three Loco is Andy Milinokis, Dirty Nasty, and RiFF RaFF.   Collectively they came together this year and made waves.  RiFF RaFF has confused thousands with his unexplainable, alien-personality, yet we still love the music like it’s anybody else.  The trio’s self-titled album, ¡Three Loco!, released on Mad Decent, has made a whole new genre of nerdy hip-hop come to life.

“Neato” introduced us to Three Loco earlier this year and the video set the stage for their comedic undertones. Andy’s unforgettable opening lines, RiFF RaFF’s unmistakable facial hair, and Dirt Nasty portly love interest all contribute to securing a spot at number eight.

7. Vengeance Rhythm – Two Fingers

Amon Tobin’s side project, Two Fingers, makes it onto our list with a video about a Teddy Bear gone mad.  The “Vengeance Rhythm” music video features a small bear on a bad hit of bath salts, out to kill any stuffed animal in its path.  The use of stop-motion, high speed camera, and excessive amounts of fake blood makes it truly stand out among the other live-action videos this year.  With the imagination that Amon Tobin possesses, it’s not hard to believe that he hired like-minded individuals to create this bloody massacre of a video.

6. About You – XXYYXX

XXYYXX is possibly the most unlikely artist to make it onto this list, but after a viewing of this video, you’ll understand why he’s here.  Seventeen year old Marcel Everett hit gold with these slow-motion visuals. The simplicity of great static camera work and super slow-mo makes this a video that you can get mesmerized by.

If you haven’t seen it yet, first, close your eyes and listen to the song alone.  Then, after, watch the video again.  Your imagination might have come up with something very similar to the video.  You might be surprised to know that since “About You” was uploaded in April, it has garnered an impressive five million plays.  Now that is something to brag about if you’re a 17 year old who enjoys making music in his spare time.

5. Duality – Captain Murphy

Holding down the number five spot is Captain Murphy’s 35 minute NSFW music video for his mixtape Duality.  It was revealed only weeks ago that the faceless Captain Murphy is in fact Flying Lotus; no surprise these are among my favorite hip-hop tunes this year. This music video is just as baffling as his new alias.  If you have 35 minutes to spare, this video is well worth the trip.

4. Wait – M83

“Wait”, the final installment of the visual trilogy between M83 and directors Fleur & Manu, is an epic visualization of a post-apocalyptic scenario.  Its themes of destruction, depression, and loss give us a beautiful look into what would be a devastating end of the world.  Wolves, vultures, triangles in the sky, and a hit of acid characterize this video in a stunningly beautiful way that few could reproduce. The final sequence, the boy falling from the sky, is as powerful and epic as the track itself.  If there is one video you will want to watch on doomsday, this will be the one.

3. Bad Girls – M.I.A.

The most badass video of the year goes to M.I.A.  Her single “Bad Girls” created as much hype as her now globally-recognized single “Paper Planes”.  The music video, directed by highly acclaimed Romain Garvas, was shot in Morocco. The insane car stunts are inspired by YouTube videos of Middle Eastern children performing insane drifting tricks, or, as they call it, Hagwalah. (Want to know more? M.I.A. also released a 13 minute behind the scenes video).

2. Get Free – Major Lazer

It goes without saying that Major Lazer perfectly combines culture, music, and people.  Major Lazer’s single “Get Free” is a reggae-meets-pop tune with beautiful vocals from Dirty Projector’s Amber Coffman. The music video is shot in docu-style, showing the world of the Jamaican dancehall scene.  Not a lot of people know this, but Diplo is a huge film fan.  He even had his directorial debut with a documentary called Favela On Blast. To add to the video’s creditability, it’s directed by Parisian, So Me (Bertrand Lagros de Langeron), an influential figure for Ed Banger Records who has also directed videos for DJ Mehdi, Kid Cudi, Justice and MGMT.

1. Big Bad Wolf – Duck Sauce

You’d be hard-pressed to find a ‘Best Of 2012’ list that doesn’t have Duck Sauce’s graphic yet hilarious video for “Big Bad Wolf”.   I’d love to know the story about the concept, and the eventual pitch.  The producers behind 2010’s global hit “Barbra Streisand” may not have seen the same popularity with the actual track, but this music video certainly makes up for it.  If you’re into weird and awkward situations, this video will work nicely.

About John Cywinski