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Year-End Lists

The 20 Best Music Videos of 2010

Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig / Lady Gaga / OK Go's Tim Nordwind

Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
Directed by Francis Lawrence

Oh, decadence: so 1999. Let’s welcome its brief return in this big-budget, fetishistic vision — which also serves as an important reminder that mind-bogglingly absurd outfits happen everywhere, not just in Japan.

Death Cab for Cutie, “Little Bribes”
Directed by Ross Ching

A track so good that it’s enough to watch the band stand onstage in the dark while cumulus clouds roll by behind them. Anything more would be a distraction.

UCB featuring Wale, “Pat Your Weave”
Directed by Rik Cordero

Patting one’s weave is just a sassy little gesture of self-confidence, much like this video.

Beck and Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Heaven Can Wait”
Directed by Keith Schofield

Every scene here would be almost normal if something wasn’t a tiny bit… off. Come to think of it, the same could probably be said about the songwriters.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Heads Will Roll”
Directed by Richard Ayoade

We imagine things went down like this in Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.”

Handsome Furs, “I’m Confused”
Directed by Scott Coffey

Just when you think this house party’s gonna be like every other-red cups, haggard blondes, puke — there’s an end-of-the-night hook-up that changes everything.

The Dead Weather, “Treat Me Like Your Mother”
Directed by Jonathan Glazer

One wonders what the motivation was for Jack White and Alison Mosshart to storm towards each other gripping machine guns. Domestic dispute?Blood feud? Too many Meg jokes?

Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp”
Directed by Radical Friend

It’s impossible to tell nude hipsters apart! These ones could very well be the same as those in the Flaming Lips’ “Watching the Planets.” But thanks to Yeasayer for sparing us close-ups of crack.

Bat for Lashes, “Daniel”
Directed by Johan Renck

Soon, Natasha Khan will have paid homage to every moment that made growing up in the ’80s so memorable. This time, it’s rainbow make-up and The Karate Kid. Next, it’ll be slap bracelets and The Legend of Billie Jean.

Depeche Mode, “Wrong”
Directed by Patrick Daughters

Depeche Mode – Wrong – directed by Patrick Daughters from Bruno Dejonghe on Vimeo.

A backwards, disturbing nightmare, with a Michael Myers-ish mask thrown in for creepy measure.

She & Him, “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
Directed by Mark Webb

500 Days of Summer took Zooey Deschanel’s cuteness and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s earnestness too far. Here, working with the same director, they make a charming pair — and graceful dance partners.

Manchester Orchestra, “Shake It Out”
Directed by Isaac Rentz

As Over The Top‘s Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) might say, “The world meets nobody halfway.” Manchester Orchestra goes all in on this satire of (homage to?) Sly’s arm-wrestling epic, yet another ridiculous ’80s classic.

Chairlift, “Evident Utensil”
Directed by Ray Tintori

Complex and mesmerizing, the band members emerge like a blur from a jungle of color before disappearing into the scenery again. Sort of like the Predator but friendlier.

The Avett Brothers, “Slight Figure of Speech”
Directed by Jody Hill

I’m sure the song is good but I didn’t really listen to it because I was too busy rewinding the hilarious intro skit in which Eastbound & Down‘s Andy Daly plays a local shopping network host.

Major Lazer “Pon de Floor”
Directed by Eric Wareheim

Major Lazer “Pon De Floor” from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

Did you know about daggering? It’s like if, instead of dancing, you just violently dry-humped. Watch and learn. Or maybe just watch.

Nyle, “Let the Beat Build”
Directed by Chadd Harbold

For his school project, NYU senior Nyle Emerson rewrote the lyrics to a Lil Wayne song, got his talented ladyfriends to harmonize and convinced the rest of his class to play their instruments. They recorded this live in one take. Take that, Feist.

Fever Ray, “When I Grow Up”
Directed by Martin de Thurrah

There’s something sad and unsettling about a neglected pool after the summer ends, sort of like a discarded tree after Christmas. The mood — and the mad, paint-smeared conjurer — suits this haunting song.

Brat Pack’s mashup of Phoenix’s “Lisztomania”
Directed by Sarah Newhouse

An appropriate, if accidental, eulogy for John Hughes.

Matt & Kim, “Lessons Learned”
Directed by Taylor Cohen and Otto Arsenault

The simplest ideas are often the most amazing. I could watch these two walk down the street a million times and still be impressed when they reveal their rude bits. In the middle of Time Square. In February. As stunts go, it was both brave and frugal, and what better survival techniques existed in 2009?