Thursday, May 25, 2006

The 100 Best Music Videos On YouTube

I want to ruin your weekend.

While YouTube may represent the ultimate extension of the internet's endless capacity, it's still a disorganized mess. YouTube holds treasures galore, but tracking down the rare gems can be a real bear.

I've put in hours of work compiling this list of the 100 best music videos at YouTube. Take a look for yourself at my YouTube profile page. The list represents my sensibilities, of course, but very few people won't find something to love here. I hope that you'll kill at least a couple hours using my list as a springboard for your own investigations. (How could that guy not list any James Brown!) There's plenty of jazz, soul, punk and blues. I've got prog-rock and hyphy. There's folk and there's noise, old stuff and recordings made just last month. And there's whatever you call Sun Ra.

I tried to select only live performances and I attempted to avoid obvious selections, although I did include revelatory clips from a few usual suspects, such as Thelonious Monk, Ike and Tina Turner, and Beck. And because they're readily available elsewhere, I ommited standard promotional videos. I made an exception for the best video of all time, Devo's "Jocko Homo." I guess the old reels of Fats Waller and Louis Jordan also fall into this category, but I just couldn't resist them. And I have no idea what's going on in the Los Hooligans feature; watching it fills me with rapturous joy.

The genius of YouTube is that anybody can upload anything, as long as it's not porn and the copyright holders don't object. Lots of people are sneaking cameras into clubs and concert venues these days. And while the sound is often atrocious, and the video is typically dark and grainy, my favorite videos here are for-fans-only peeks at live shows. These includeTaking Back Sunday, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Lady Sovereign, Art Brut, The Hold Steady, Lucero and E-40. What they lack in professional gloss is more than made up for in the way they capture the thrill of attending shows by these artists. Even Chuck Berry still smells like teen spirit.

Another set of videos on my list features musicians in unlikely settings. These include John Fahey on what looks like a public access show, Husker Du on Joan Rivers' program, Townes Van Zandt on a stuffy TNN variety show, and the Grateful Dead with Hugh Hefner and his bunnies. What?! I hope one of you explains to me exactly what those go-go dancers are doing as Roger Miller sings "England Swings." Interestingly, the world's greatest human fits in just fine on Captain Kangaroo.

I tossed in a few novelties just for grins. Lordi, the new Eurovision song contest winners, make Taylor Hicks seem pretty darn good. Bob Dylan looks extremely uncomfortable in his duet with Van Morrison. Keith Moon allegedly passes out before the climatic drum solo on "Won't Get Fooled Again." I could write a book about what may be the last three minutes of transcendence in the life of Elvis. And don't miss the adorable little kids in Smoosh.

Other top picks? Elis Regina sings my favorite song, "Judy Is a Punk" is brutalized by The Ramones, George and Tammy preen in their prime, Ray Barretto and the Fania All-Stars tear it up in the '70s, a freestyle battle gets personal, Pere Ubu shows how it's done, and Maria Callas thrills.

Caveats: Please realize that I didn't post any of these videos, nor did I label them. And lawyers may yank some of my selections at any moment. For example, I can't believe this set by The Replacements is still available.

So what are you waiting for? Go waste some time!


moose & squirrel said...

Darn you Happy In Bag. I already spend too much time at You Tube and now you come of with this list of favorites.


Yurodivy said...

Three letters for you, brother: O C D.

Beautifully done!

Happy In Bag said...

Thanks for your endorsements, Moose and Yuro. I'm taking a lot of heat via IM and email about this over-the-top post. But I tell myself that those guys are just upset that I didn't include any Journey footage.