10 Great Animated Music Videos of this Century
The 00s have been the biggest decade(2000-2009!) in history for animated music videos. The hardware and software needed to create these animations has become considerably more affordable making it a go-to for many artists and filmmakers. The flexibility of animation makes it possible for artists to create worlds that better serve the emotional landscapes of the music and evoke a feeling that live-action music videos sometimes can’t. Although the animated music video for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, created more than 20 years ago, still holds many MTV records, here are 10 animated music videos from different genres, musically and graphically, from this century, that we think are worth watching.
Radiohead - A Wolf At The Door
From Radiohead’s 2003 album, Hail to the Thief, A Wolf At The Door, is a dark and scary tale, drawn in black and white with touches of red, and touches of humor (the bouncing ball head over the lyrics “I keep the wolf from the door … but he calls me on the phone. Although it uses limited animation techniques, the design, the beautifully textured drawings and animated camera moves carry the video successfully, albeit with a bit of sadness.
The White Stripes - Fell in Love with a Girl
From the 2001 album, White Blood Cells, the Fell in Love with a Girl animated music video features Lego blocks, animated to represent the band playing. The visual effect is unique: because of the blocks it looks 2D and 3D, at the same time as looking like huge primary colored pixels. The video did well at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002, winning Breakthrough Video, Best Special Effects and Best Editing.
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
The song is Arcade Fire’s Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out), with the animation directed by Plates Animation, this fast paced, mix of 3D computer animation, 2D motion effects and special effects of sparks, flames and flashes, is visually effective. The editing is a bit abrupt in a few spots, but the color design, camera movements, character and atmosphere of the piece more than make up for a few misplaced jarring cuts.
Coldplay - Life in Technicolor ii
While this music video is not entirely animated, and even the parts that are, might be considered more puppetry than pure animation, the video contains enough great animation that we didn’t want to leave it out. The online karaoke version of Coldplay songs are always a blast to sing. The attention to detail for the stage set (once the band really starts to play), not to mention the crew, including stage hands and sound crew is really fun.
Kwoon - I Lived On The Moon
The video for I Lived On The Moon, by the French indie-progressive group Kwoon, from their Tales & Dreams album, was animated by Yannick Puig using a variety of computer animation techniques (3D and 2D motion graphics) and has won multiple awards in Europe. The dreamy story that a father tells his son about life on the moon, is as full of imagination as the images that Puig created to accompany the music. This video will take you on a voyage to the moon.
Moray McLaren - We Got Time
The music video for singer-songwriter Moray McLaren’s We Got Time, is one of those pieces that makes you really wonder how they did it - it looks like smoke and mirrors and in fact - mirrors are used to create the motion of the animated drawings that are placed on the disc. It’s worth it to watch the making of video, if you want to understand the technique behind it.
M. Ward - Rave On
Moving in a completely different direction, the animated video for Rave On (cover version of a Buddy Holly tune) is animated using stop motion which matches the nostalgic styling that M. Ward has given to his cover version: the slower tempo at which he sings this song is echoed by the visual slow motion effects of the video. The album title, on which this song is found is not coincidentally titled, Hold Time.
U2 - I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
Whether people are digging U2 now or not, the video for I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight is simply beautiful. Using flat moving shapes (no lines), David O’Reilly designed the shading and color composition to give the environments depth. The animation of the characters, while seemingly limited, is really well timed and acted, capable of conveying emotions whether walking out of a hospital, dancing for change in the street, meeting a stranger or running after a friend. The moving pieces of the background maintain a smooth flow, making the cuts seamless as well as seamlessly integrating the video into the music. Truly a wonderful work of art.
Lambchop - Is a Woman
Lambchop, an alternative/alt-country band from Nashville released their Is A Woman album in 2002. This animated music video was created by the British art group by the name of Shynola, who have made many other beautful animated music videos, this is no exception. The colors, textures and movement are all mesmerizing.
If you liked this one, you’ll also like Shynola’s music video Pyramid Song for Radiohead.
Santogold, Casablancas, & N.E.R.D. - My Drive Through
Animated photographs carry this music video through flipping movements of paper. Very visually entertaining and much different than any of the others mentioned here. Even though it might be considered more of a commercial than a pure music video, since it was made for Converse shoes, we thought it worthy to mention.
We’d like to give a shout out to Drawn.ca, one of our favorite blogs for illustration, cartooning and where we found a few of these clips. If you’re looking for more clips like these, you’ll find more animated clips and other beautiful illustration and artwork over there. Thank you Drawn!
Feel free to comment to add your favorite animated music video of recent years, we surely missed a few.
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