Iconic Videos Live On

For our last scene as arts editors, we predict which videos from our generation will cement themselves as classics. The winner: “Yonkers”

“National Anthem”

Anyone who knows Lana del Rey’s music videos knows that, for better or worse, they are aesthetically very similar. In keeping with her preferred aesthetics, however, the female artist added a twist by spicing up her video for “National Anthem” with a theme: America’s favorite couple, JFK, played by A$AP Rocky and Lana herself as Jackie O (and a little bit of Marilyn time also, at the beginning). The Americana aspect of the song fits perfectly with Lana’s unique choice for a theme, and the entire video is beautiful, boasting scenic shots of Nantucket-esque landscapes and three beautiful biracial children. In the end, it goes without saying that Lana and A$AP have chemistry, and that the video will live on not just as a notable and artistic music video, but even perhaps as an interesting historical commentary.


Despite never having been officially released, the video for Kanye’s smash collaborative hit “Monster” turns the heads of all who watch it. Taking the title literally, the music video portrays a creepy, gory, and ghoulish scene. Apparently a commentary about the ugly side of fame, the video features tall, beautiful models as lifeless as marionette dolls, alongside flesh-hungry vampires eating the intestines right out of a corpse and grabbing for Kanye whenever they can. The video is perhaps most famous for Nicki Minaj’s verse and scene: this song put her on the top of the rap scene and showed that she could roll with the big boys despite her short time in the limelight. The music video is certainly worth a Google: its creepy cinematography is perfectly fitting for the song, and one can’t help but get goose bumps after watching.


After a hugely successful sophomore album and nabbing the famed Best New Artist Grammy this year, Wisconsin singer/songwriter Bon Iver solidified himself as arguably the finest alternative solo act in the game in 2012. Much of this promotion can be pinned on the triumph of “Holocene,” the methodical and cerebral single for his self-titled album. While the melody and lyrics speak for themselves, the song’s music video added a new and profound dimension to the song’s meaning.

Filmed in Iceland, the video illustrates the story of a young boy and his journey through a wide array of breathtaking landscapes. The blonde-haired child emerges from his shire-like home and embarks on an epic journey past crystal glaciers, majestic waterfalls, and roaring oceans. With its wide shots of the scenery surrounding the youthful traveler, the video aims to point us toward the insignificance of humanity in the face of Mother Nature. It’s a film that is both grandiose and simplistic, and stands alone as a masterpiece.

“Bad Girls”

In a world where Islamic nations stand as our most imposing foreign adversaries, singer M.I.A. puts us right in the middle of the turmoil with the video for her hit single “Bad Girls,” released earlier this year. Looking to shed her one-hit wonder status, the British pop star, known for her 2009 hit “Paper Planes,” set the video for her Arabic infused track within a traditional Islamic town. Aligning her unique style and souped-up cars with traditional Islamic garments and camels, M.I.A. creates an artistic tension between the West and the Middle East.
But it’s not a threatening tension. Townsfolk dressed in burkas join in to dance with the singer, and by the end they are sitting on top of trick cars tilted on two wheels. It’s a thoroughly odd sight to see, but maybe M.I.A. is looking to bridge the gap between the two clashing regions. Or maybe she’s just thinks it looks cool.


Tyler, the Creator is no stranger in Scene spreads, so it seems only appropriate that we included his equally noteworthy video for “Yonkers” as our prediction for the most iconic music video of our generation. Set against a plain white background, “Yonkers” depicts an angst-ridden Tyler in black and white as he muses about the problems facing him. His eyes go black, he eats and then regurgitates a cockroach and, in a grand conclusion, he steps atop a stool and hangs himself. It’s provocative, and some call it immature, but it speaks volumes about the rapper’s troubled psyche. He’s a brilliantly tortured soul who has proven himself to be a genuinely dark human being, rather than a flash-in-the-can provocateur who does it for the attention.

The song and the video both call attention to Tyler’s-and the rest of Odd Future’s-perception that rap as a genre has hit a critical juncture in its maturation. The rapper takes other musicians, like Bruno Mars, B.o.B., and Haley Williams, to task for their role in the commercialization of a style that started on the streets. With over 51 million views at the time of this writing, “Yonkers” has clearly made an impact on the viewing public. Although it has been criticized for its graphic depictions of violence, it makes its point in an extraordinarily unique and electric fashion. Tyler has yet to match the greatness of the “Yonkers” music video, though he has tried valiantly-think the “Rella” and “She” videos, for instance. Yonkers is the city where I was born and raised, and now, “Yonkers” will go down in the history books.


November 14, 2012
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