The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

Pin it

As selected by acclaimed cinematographer and director Max Goldman.

While you thought music videos were dead, Max Goldman was shooting them for every band you've ever heard of, including Gnarls Barkley, Jay Z, The Killers, Cat Power, Rihanna, and Jakob Dylan, among many others. He's just completed his directorial debut, a video for the Kings of Leon song "Pyro." Nerve asked Max what he thought were the best videos of the year; here are his choices.

Klaxons, "Twin Flames"

This video is just straight genius. It's innovative and gutsy as hell. This is the way visual effects should be used. I really don't like when VFX are used as a crutch to breath life into a boring concept, but this video's concept and effects are a perfect marriage. One could not exist without the other.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

OK Go, "This Too Shall Pass"

This video is a true feat, a triumph in execution. A great piece of art stands on its own, and this one only gets better when you add a great song and a great band.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

M.I.A., "Born Free"

This video does a great job of crossing genres. I think a good basis for what makes a successful video is setting up a convention and then turning that convention on its ass. In this case, the video's set up like an action film, but the director takes an extremely unusual approach to this genre. The result is a very surreal art piece with a complex subtext, but still accessible to even a teenage viewer.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

Jay-Z, "On To the Next One"

Just like the M.I.A. video, Jay-Z's video plays with genres. This video is both an art installation and a classic hip-hop video. I love how that adds complexity and avoids a predictable video. Shot with elegance, it seems to raise the bar on hip-hop culture.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

Röyksopp, "Senior Living"

These days, video directors are having their budgets slashed to almost nothing, which means a video-maker has to be more resourceful than ever. Here's a great example of using what's around, and making it look like a million dollars. On paper the idea of making a post-apocalyptic odyssey like would be miles beyond a music-video budget. However in this modern economy, we have a great city called Detroit that is an ideal stand-in for a vision of a dark future. I loved the way they frame the girls within the rundown architecture to guide us through this adventure. The casting and VFX were fully convincing, making it seem like a possible version of a not-so-far-away future. Visually satisfying but very haunting.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

Francis and the Lights, "Darling, It's Alright"

The concept of this video is simple — a single shot of a band performing in a warehouse, edited by turning the lights on and off — but it's done so well. It's beautifully choreographed — extremely theatrical, in a way that kind of reminds of me of a Bob Fosse film. And on top of that, I will never get sick of watching Francis dance.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

Groove Armada, "Paper Romance"

I love the emotional journey this video takes you through. So rarely does a video tell a human story that feels authentic. We see a life through the eyes of a troubled young girl. Beautiful, naturalistic camerawork helps us navigate this strange world.

The Top Eight Music Videos of 2010

Cheryl Cole featuring will.i.am, "Three Words" 

This is a gorgeously shot video. It creates such a great mood. I know it was shot in L.A.'s Chinatown, but it somehow feels like a much more exotic place, photographed like a Wong Kar-Wai film. I will never get sick of looking at these images.