[Editor’s Note: Two major trends have emerged in the recent history of new media: 1) Music videos are the new music and 2) YouTube is the new MTV. With that in mind and to keep you up to speed with the greatest and latest in this online video category, Tubefilter has partnered with INDMUSIC, YouTube’s largest independent music network, to bring you at least one must-watch music video every week. Turn up your volume and we hope you enjoy the analysis, sites, and sounds. For more Must-Watch Music Video installments, click here.]
Sunday, November 3, 2013 marked the first ever YouTube Music Awards. Streamed live from New York City, the event featured a slew of performances each doubling as its own music video. All of them were shot live at the event and showcased a number of different directors, genres, and styles. The awards were doled out to everyone from Lindsay Stirling to Eminem, who took home an “Artist of the Year” award (despite being silent for the last 6 years and who’s album only came out today—oh well, I supposed you can’t argue with a fan vote!). But the real winners of the evening were the music videos.
Below is each performance/video from the night in no particular order.
Earl Sweatshirt featuring Tyler, The Creator – “Sasquatch”
Although they didn’t take home an award, clearly the prize for “most fun had while making the video” goes to the rappers from Odd Future. Directed by Tyler aka Wolf Haley, who recently voiced his frustrations with the awards in general, the video is a perfect representation of what it’s like to see these guys perform live. Unlike any other rap concert, this video is a stand out because it’s authentically raw Odd Future, and is a great showcase for their fans, which are some of the most diehard ones in the genre.
MIA – “Come Walk With Me”
As part of a big promotional push for her new record, MIA also shot some behind the scenes content for the making of this kinetic, hypnotic performance. Like much of the visuals for the rapper’s new record, the moving picture version is bouncey, mesmerizing, and vibrant thanks to the directorial work of Fafi. If you like what you see, you can find a ton of new content for her MIA’s new album here.
Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife” got the opening spot of the YTMAs, which makes sense because it was the best video of the night. The performers, which included the star of Frances Ha, Greta Gerwig and a slew of children, surely benefitted from having more time to prepare, as they didn’t have to shoot amidst the chaos of the middle of a live broadcast. The team behind the video also reportedly spent all week blocking the dance moves in rehearsal. It shows.
Like much of Arcade Fire’s music, the video builds up to a series of dynamic crescendos and set changes featuring some epic “manic, pixey dream-girl” dance moves from Gerwig, who is at once cute, powerful, and perfect in the video. If they give out an award for best YTMA performance next year, this one will surely be a nominee.
Lindsey Stirling – “Crystallize”
The only performance of the night from a true YouTube phenomenon came from Lindsey Stirling. The crazy talented violinist was one of the first artists on YouTube to parlay her success off platform with international tours. Her video for “Crystallize” features her virtuoso violin skills coupled with the improvised dance moves that made her so watchable. This time, instead of exploring a fantasy world as she does in her many videos, she’s flying through the city by way of a handy jet pack.
Lady Gaga – “Dope”
An intimate rendition of “Dope” from her new album ARTPOP, shot by Spike Jonze and Chris Milk, had Gaga seated at a piano dressed in her best flannel and trucker hat sans pants. It was an intimate performance that was a definite change of pace from the crazy theatrics and boisterous short films shot during the rest of the night. The video seemed to get a bit of a lukewarm reaction and now we see that Lady Gaga has split with her longtime manager. Coincidence?
Eminem – “Rap God”
Shot in total black and white, the Artist of the Year winner proved why we should all be excited to have him back after a long absence from the mic (while some however, are understandably not so happy). The rapper’s video was one of the longest and more traditional performances of the evening. Looking to highlight the song and his lyrics, Mr. Mathers stood up front and center and spit one of his fastest rap’s from his upcoming album. And according to YouTube, Eminem spit 6,077 words in 6 minutes.
Avicii – “Hey Brother” / “You Make Me” / “Wake Me Up”
Shot as a short film written and directed by the wonderful Lena Dunham (of HBO’s Girls), this video also featured the acting talents of Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Man of Steel) as the Swedish DJ, and Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers) as the flirty girlfriend of the “sad boy in the corner,” played by Nick Lashaway. It’s a hilarious and fun short film that features a great comedic performance by Dree Hemingway as well as a “Choose Your Own Adventure-style” interruption by host Jason Scwartzmann that let’s the crowd decide what happens next.
All said, the YouTube Music Awards were a great success, with loads of awesome content created for viewers and fans to enjoy and share. We only hope that next year they’ll showcase performances from more YouTube artists and creators, the people who really make the platform what it is. Although the show and voting is over, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts via Facebook and Twitter @INDMUSIC or @Tubefilter.
Arshan Sadri is the Channel Manager at Brooklyn based, INDMUSIC, YouTube’s largest music Network. He got his start booking comedy and music at the University of Maryland. On weekends he refuses to travel above 14th street, likes to run, and plays in two bands that are just ok.
INDMUSIC is YouTube’s Largest Music Network, allowing independent music content creators to monetize their YouTube views without sacrificing creative control or rights to their content.