Soap Box #4: A Collection Of My Favourite Music & Music Videos... Includes Some *Squirrels*...

Updated: May 24

Videos That Do Justice To The Songs... And Perhaps Make You Think & Feel

Plus a Figurative Lobotomy, (here and there...)

There is a lot to be said about the crafting of a good music videos as both a source of entertainment and an effective marking tool to promote an artist’s music.


Please note the minor disclaimers, including: these are purely musings of the author (c'est moi), a figurative lobotomy (piece of my mind, lol, get it?) of sorts, and may not necessarily reflect those of the artists listed. I am, after all, a teacher (and student), not just in the school environs… but life in general.

But I digress: whether the videos be humorous, thought-provoking or aesthetically-appealing; music videos have become an art form in their own right. As an English teacher, and educator in general, I think they can be a valuable actual teaching tool, as well as a life-teaching tool, and can provide insight into the greater scheme of things.


So, if you happen to be an ESL teacher, there are a few nuggets embedded herein. I post from time to time on ISL Collective and other sites. Even though I know choosing to be a teacher, operative word 'choosing', I have a clear disdain and feel abhorrence to the proverb, "Those who can, do. Those who can't... teach". I maintain my love for teaching and deem it an important and necessary entity. Sure you can pretty much learn everything you may want to electronically these days, but, you may call me out for being old-school, nothing beats face-to-face learning and teaching.


If you are not a teacher, no worries, I hope you still enjoy this selection – it is meant for everyone and anyone.


The criteria for this list are admittedly very subjective – they’re videos that appeal to my specific tastes in music, which usually reflect an alternative, slightly less-than-commercial proclivity.


The choices listed are varied: I like unusual, sometimes slightly dark themes. At other times, I appreciate more light-hearted themes – we all need a good laugh from time-to-time. However, (Nige, if you're reading this, I'm doing an "Infamous Nigel Pregnant Pause", lol! Love you mate!) I always appreciate the artistry, creativity sheer talent displayed.


Controversial topics are sometimes addressed, which reflect fundamental and universal themes of the human experience: thoughts on sex and sexuality, love, loss, security, childhood, geo-politics, the human psyche and condition, to name but a few. Go research the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, if you wish, or just check out this dinky diagram for a summary re: human needs and wants:

Don’t worry, I only go on a few tangents and try to remain on-point, despite my inner-*squirrel* propensity. Click here if you don’t get or need to be reminded of that particular reference… In case you're wondering: Nope, I'm not a so-called Furry... WTF is this shit?


And if you still didn’t get the reference to *squirrel*, just watch the movie Up, it’s gorgeous; even though it’s animated and primarily aimed at children, I simply loved it.


Plus, I love animals, I sometimes... often... think they're far kinder and nicer than humans... Usually, a lot, OK, always.


This all be part of the Figurative Lobotomy, I'm afraid, you were fore-warned... lol... forgive my sardonic sense of humour from time to time... But this blog ain't called a Soap Box for nothing...


As usual, I digress - ya know - *squirrel*. Videos produced by, for example the so-called King of Pop, Michael Jackson, don't quite fit into my personal music taste. Even though credit is given for their originality, at the time of the 1980's. To me, it is just nah... because...


During the research for this blog, I came across an article which listed the most expensive music videos of all-time. Reading through this was pretty eye-opening and gave me pause for thought. Hence my comments on the Sarah McLaughlin music video below. No, this is not virtue-signalling, merely pointing out stuff and raising awareness.


No surprises, the videos which were the most expensive to produce were all for big name artists like Michael Jackson, Will Smith and the like. Here is the link, and somewhat proves my point on why we should subscribe to listening to more independent artists.


Visual appeal of music videos aside, the actual music mentioned herein is awesome! Included under some of the listings are suggestions and links for further listening. The actual music videos may not be particularly mind-blowing, but the music certainly is.

Amongst the other minor disclaimers: take it or leave it, we are all entitled to our opinions. I will, however, state that this post is intended for an older and more mature audience, recommended for audiences 16+. YouTube has 'kindly' censored several of my choices... "You're such a child, how will you handle this..."? FFS... Like I said: it’s intended for the adults in the room... To quote a YouTuber (whose name escapes me), "If you're a children, piss off", lol!


I’m really not a mean-spirited person, and generally pretty laid back and accepting of all people, regardless of sexuality, race, political-leaning etc. Guess I’m just rather sick and tired of the infantilization and division of people in general, so I am not particularly PC, but I am always honest and try to live as consciously as I can.


The selection is based on merit, on what I subjectively enjoy, and not in order to fulfill a quota... I find this personally patronizing and insulting to everyone of talent. If you're talented and good, why not showcase this? Through one's actions, work through the bullshit... which is what my intention in creating this article is all about: merit – give credit where credit is due!


I may consider tweeting this article to some of the artists listed, perhaps rack up an interview or two, who knows (hint, hint if you are the artist reading this – DM me). Forgive me… always a big picture thinker… Force of habit!


For the full YouTube playlist, click here. Without further ado, here is the selection of music videos I have appreciated and been entertained by over the past few years, accompanied by the occasional inner-musing, in no particular order:

1. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal

There is something sublime about watching old-fashioned stop animation, with its simplicity and artistry, no bells and whistles or CGI effects.


2. Oren Lavie – Her Morning Elegance

Humans are used in stop animation, and the result is an interesting story depicted. Here is a peak into the ‘behind the scenes’ video. If I weren’t a teacher, a career choice of music video maker, fireman or journalist would’ve been serious considerations. I don’t know about the latter #1, but here’s my attempt at the latter #2 :)


3. John Newman – Love Me Again

Granted, this pick is on the slightly more commercial scene. Call me slightly twisty and a-romantic, but the controversial and unexpected ending of this video made me laugh out loud, purely because it was the antithesis of a “happily ever-after ending”. You’ll have to watch to the end of the video to see what I mean… Yeah, slightly dark and twisty…


4. Bastille – Bad Decisions

From the ironic Man Bun, to the Porn-stache of some of the ridiculous characters depicted, you have to give it these guys – it’s an amusing music video.


There are so many other great music videos, a few other honourable mentions include, but certainly not limited to:

- Icarus

- Laughter Lines

- Good Grief

- World Gone Mad


Teachers: for ESL materials, you may want to check out my channel on ISL Collective, particularly the one based on Flaws by Bastille, and a video activity based on Edgar The Dragon’s Christmas.


5. Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down

From the iconic and legendary Johnny Cash and cameo appearances by Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Johnny Depp, to name but a few, who pay tribute to this artist three years after his passing.


My inner-nerd dares you to watch the video first before you continue reading and see how many recognizable faces you see… Just out of interest sake. Answers below.

This music video, directed by Tony Kaye, was made in late 2006. It features a number of celebrities, including (in order of appearance): Rick Rubin, Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Chris Martin, Kris Kristofferson, Patti Smith, Terence Howard, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Q-Tip, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Chris Rock, Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss, Sir Peter Blake (Sgt Peppers Artist), Sheryl Crow, Denis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Amy Lee of Evanescence, Tommy Lee, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire (Dixie Chicks), Mick Jones, Sharon Stone, Bono, Shelby Lynne, Anthony Kiedis, Travis Barker, Lisa Marie Presley, Kid Rock, Jay Z, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Corinne Bailey Rae, Johnny Depp, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin and Owen Wilson. The video finishes with Rick Rubin traveling to a seaside cliff with friend Owen Wilson to throw a bouquet of flowers up in the air.


Special mention also ought to be given to Cash’s cover of the NIN song Hurt. I’ll probably do a separate blog on entitled something along the lines of “Best Covers You May Not Have Heard” at a later stage. Watch this space! Perhaps if enough people buy me a coffee*, I’ll consider pursuing this option soon :)


6. Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

I love this music video for its artistic appeal, particularly the use of split-screen techniques. There are definitely many other videos that are worthy of mention, which include:

- Just (what did he actually say at the end??! Perhaps a question I can pose to Thom Yorke at some stage…)

- Fake Plastic Trees

- High & Dry

- No Surprises


7. Trent Dabbs – Inside These Lines

Just like Just by Radiohead, sometimes, we all just want to lie down on a busy street some days. I also have a great love for his stripped down acoustic versions, including Mountain Song. This is a song that makes one yearn for simpler times.


8. A-Ha – Dark Is The Night (For All)

Initially banned in the 1990's, for being ‘too disturbing’, presumably because of a slightly scary and gory depiction of a man breaking though a body, it ought to be given merit for its artistry. This one is also good, albeit slightly more commercial, viewing: Take On Me.


9. Seafret – Wildfire

In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron conducted an experiment to see if strangers could fall in love. Strangers were arranged in pairs and asked to work through 36 questions and then stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Aron’s experiment worked. Six months later two of his participants were married. This music video is a 2015 recreation of this experiment.


For a transcript of the initial questions the strangers were given, click here. It’s worth a read.


PS. I loved the concept of this so much, I developed an ESL worksheet based on this idea. For a free copy of this worksheet, click here. Should this link not work, you can find details on my blog.


10. OK Go – The One Moment

My inner-nerd solutes these guys and their creative music videos. Special mention must absolutely be given to their other music videos, as these are on a par with the above-mentioned one, namely:

- I Won’t Let You Down

- Here It Goes Again

- This Too Shall Pass

- Upside Down & Inside Out

- End Love


Should you possess an inner-nerd like me, check out the ‘behind the scenes’ videos of the above-mentioned videos in YouTube. Here is the playlist.


They also present an interesting TED talk on creativity entitled How To Find A Wonderful Idea. Watch here:


I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I tend to have like 20 tabs open in my browser at any given time and sometimes forget about the others *squirrel*… and old age… perhaps…


11. Nine Inch Nails – Closer

Granted, this can be viewed as a very dark, degenerate music video, but it’s interesting, nonetheless. Another one depicted in this vain: High As A Kite – Someone Who’ll Get It. Sometimes we need to embrace the dark, in order to appreciate the light. A Prozac-induced society doesn’t do anyone well. A well-balanced, thinking, feeling and being society does.


12. Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly

This was just amusing due to all the characters and rather silly storyline. I do appreciate it when artists don’t take themselves too seriously. Click here for a nice summary of some of their other great music videos, which includes the following tracks:

- Monkey Wrench

- Breakout

- Walk


13. Banners – Someone To You

A relatively new artist, but quickly becoming a firm favourite. My inner-nerd simply adores this particular music video! Other worthy mentions include:

- Got It In You

- Holy Ground

- Shine A Light


Be sure to check out the stripped down and acoustic versions of his songs. BTW: he’s very active on Twitter, and seems like a wonderfully down-to-earth guy.


14. Wolf Alice – Moaning Lisa

As with Someone To You by Banners, this music video tickles me, due to an affinity with underdogs.


15. Dorothy – Raise Hell

This is clearly my little inner-rebel that thoroughly enjoys raising a little hell from time to time…


16. The Parlotones – Push Me To The Floor

A little South African flavour… Yes, we know A Clockwork Orange, despite it being banned in SA for many years… BTW: I am South African, for those who didn't know this :)


17. Björk – All Full Of Love

The iconic and original Lady Björk. BTW: Do yourself a favour and watch the movie Dancer in the Dark if you haven't yet.


18.