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Revisiting Spike Jonze’s Best Music Videos

by Rob Slater on March 03, 2014

Last night at the Oscars, director, producer and writer Spike Jonze took home the award for Best Original Screenplay for Her, the quasi-romantic comedy about a man who falls in love with his operating system. This was Jonze's first Academy Award and first major award win despite his involvement in films such as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are, all of which garnered major award nominations.

Before Spike was a screenplay writer, however, he was known for his creative and elaborate music videos. Working extensively with the likes of the Beastie Boys, Weezer, Kanye West and Arcade Fire, Jonze has an impressive video resume.

While he still dabbles in music videos from time to time (see Arcade Fire's "Afterlife"), his work is primarily focused on feature films at the moment. In honor of Jonze's baptism into major motion picture writing, here is a look back on some of his best music videos in chronological order.

Beastie Boys: "Sabotage" (1994)

Jonze's trademark in music videos is the incorporation of thematic elements, essentially creating a small film set to music. No video is a better example of that than the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." Jonze created a Foo Fighters music video before the Foo Fighters had a chance to do it, and the result is one of the best music videos ever.

Daft Punk: "Da Funk" (1996)

We were all pulling for Charles the Dog to get the girl in this video for Daft Punk's grungy, fuzzy Homework track, but in the end all he got was a broken leg and a broken heart.

Fatboy Slim: "Weapon of Choice" (2000)

Christopher Walken doing parkour to the words of Fatboy Slim. What more could you possibly want in a music video?

LCD Soundsystem: "Drunk Girls" (2010)

The combination of Jonze's creative vision with the bizarre mind of James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem yielded this terrifying and nightmarish video for "Drunk Girls." The band ends up getting terrorized by some bears (Cats? Dogs?), particularly poor Nancy, who gets pelted by eggs while James Murphy serenades the camera before getting gang-tacked. Good luck sleeping tonight.

Arcade Fire: "Afterlife" (2013)

While Jonze didn't direct the official video for Arcade Fire's latest Reflektor track, but rather created the video the group would display at the YouTube Music Awards. Filmed live at the event, actress Greta Gerwig danced around to the beginning of the track before Win Butler appears behind her, revealing the live aspect of the video. The last 90 seconds of the video is incredibly brilliant, with the band performing amongst a bunch of dancing kids and Gerwig. One of the most unique videos in Jonze's repertoire. Not coincidentally, Will Butler and Owen Pallett scored the movie Her and were nominated for Best Original Score.


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