The 8 Ball 05.07.12: The Top 8 Beastie Boys Music Videos
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 05.07.2012
From "Fight For Your Right" and "Intergalactic" to "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," "Hey Ladies" and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 Beastie Boys music videos of all time!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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As you are probably aware if you've been keeping up with music news, Adam "MCA" Yauch passed away on Friday at the age of 47. Yauch, who had been battling cancer since July of 2009, was a founding member of the Beastie Boys along with John Berry (who left in 1981 and was replaced by Adam "Ad Rock" Horowitz) and Michael "Mike D" Diamond and remained a core member of the group for the duration of its existence. The group has been one of the most enduring acts in hip-hop, selling over forty million albums worldwide and earned an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year as only the third rap group to do so.
Personally when I think of the Beastie Boys I of course think of their music, particularly the hits early in their career that were instrumental to the rise of the rap music scene. But I first think of their music videos. The group hit it big when MTV was reaching its height and even after the channel more or less dropped music videos from their regular rotation the band continued to put out great video after great video, many of them directed by Yauch. So this week in memory of MCA's passing, I thought we would look at the top Beastie Boys music videos of all-time.
Caveat: Pretty self-explanatory. If it was an official music video from a Beastie Boys song, it was eligible. Keeps it simple, don't you think?
Just Missing The Cut
"Ch-Check It Out" (2004)
"Root Down" (1995)
"Body Movin'" (1998)
#8: "Hey Ladies" (1989)
Starting off our list is the first single off the band's sophomore album Paul's Boutique. While Boutique was a relative commercial disappointment when compared to the huge breakout success of License to Ill, it was popular among critics for its razor-sharp lyrics and innovative sound. "Ladies" was the only song off the album to chart but it was also the first single to chart in the Top 20 of both the Billboard Hot Rap Singles and Modern Rock Tracks charts. For the music video, the trio took it back to the era of disco and funk complete with polyester suits, platform shoes, afros, neon-lit dance floors and karate moves. There's so much going on in this video that you have to watch it a second time to get everything. There are memorable moments galore, including the cowbell-wielding hands coming out of the wall and the scuba diving bit. And then of course there is the mariachi band, which is awesome in and of itself just by its presence. As a concept video, this is a really fun one.
#7: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" (1987)
One of the things that made Beastie Boys appeal to such a wide crowd in the early days of hip-hop was their sense of humor. While they certainly developed a party boy reputation--more on that later--their ability to lampoon themselves and seem like they weren't taking things too seriously was warmly received. The video for "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" is a great example of that sense of humor. The video is a parody of glam rock bands with the unforgettable intro scene, where the guys show up for a concert and get turned away because as the promoter says, "we only play rock music here!" So they show back up in full glam get-ups and proceed to rock/rap out. Like many of the band's earlier videos, this both parodied a particular theme and exemplified it...because let's face it, this is one of the better glam rock-themed videos out there, even as it mocks the genre's conventions. The song is a classic, with guitar riffs delivered by (of all people) Slayer guitarist Kerry King and the catchy, infectious sound that made the Beasties a must listen-to group.
#6: "So Whatcha Want" (1992)
MCA directed the music video for "So Whatcha Want," the biggest hit off their 1992 album Check Your Head. Yauch kept the concept simple in theory, with the three Beasties dropping their rhymes in a woodland area with clips of DJ Hurricane and Money Mark interspersed throughout. The trick is the photo negative and "heat vision" effects, alluding to the movies Wolfen and Predator respectively. This was definitely a simple video but sometimes simple is best and the visual style is absolutely striking. The song itself is the kind of hip-hop tinged with rock that the Beasties were iconic for. This is exactly what it needs to be; a showcase for the group's great lyrical skill and solid rhyme flow with just enough visual flair to attract attention. Sometimes, going back to basics gets the best results and the trio proved it here.
#5: "Shadrach" (1989)
From an artistic standpoint, this was just an amazing music video. Coming from Paul's Boutique, the song never reached any level of chart success which is actually rather unfortunate because it's a great piece of work. Who back in the late 80s was thinking of doing rap songs about biblical stories from the book of Daniel? It just wasn't being done, and they did it in a way that stayed thoroughly true to their well-known sound. Meanwhile, the music video took live performance footage and reworked it to turn it into a moving piece of impressionistic art. Rotoscoping animation has been done before, but it has never been this successful in terms of creating an enjoyable piece of entertainment. A whole host of music videos featuring live footage of band members turned into animation owe as much of a debt to this video as they do to a-ha's more famous "Take On Me." And in fact, as much as I'm a fan of that 1980s pop-fueled video, it's "Shadrach" that I enjoy watching and listening to more, both because it's a better song and because it's a better video.
#4: "Intergalactic" (1998)
In the mid 1990s the Beastie Boys were coming back into the public eye after almost a decade of critical love and relative commercial disappointment. The success of License to Ill pretty much made anything that wasn't a huge, runaway hit a disappointment, which wasn't fair to the band but was the perception nonetheless. The band returned to the top of the album charts with Ill Communication in 1994, and then topped themselves with 1998'd Hello Nasty. It was one of the singles from this latter album that shoved them firmly back into the realm of unmitigated commercial success, and that single was "Intergalactic." Another one that MCA directed himself, this was a giant, ambitious music video even if it was incredibly low-budget. Or more appropriately, because it was so low-budget. Like so many great independent film directors, MCA and the rest of the Beasties used a budget constraint to fuel their creativity and we got a classic giant monster movie, complete with a giant robot, a tiny city and an epic fight sequence. All the while you had the Beasties sounding incredibly inspired on the track. This song--and this video--was pure win and delivered in a huge, huge was for the act.
#3: "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" (1987)
This actually might be a controversial choice, though I don't think it is. When discussing the Beasties, "Fight for Your Right" is an essential part of their legacy. And yet, they joked that the song "sucked" (which was in fact a joke, to be fair) and were disappointed that people missed the point. The song was a parody of "I Wanna Rock" and other wild party anthems, but it was lost on most people and it became the unofficial anthem of the very people being mocked by it. If you pay attention, you can absolutely hear where the jabs are and the music video makes it a little more obvious. But in all honestly, that's the great thing about it. Some people argue that the best art is that which can be interpreted in wildly divergent ways by different people; it becomes something that means something to everyone. I think that's the genius, intentional or not, behind the song. As for the video, it was an instant hit and for very good reason; it's hilarious and established the trio's alter egos. Of course it would end up typecasting them a bit, but it also inspired them to come back strong and without that we may not have had them as fired up as they ended up being. For good or ill the song was hugely impactful on them and its significance can't be understated.
#2: "Make Some Noise" (2011)
Speaking of somewhere that you can see the influence of "Fight for Your Right," this video starts off with that breakout hit playing. I ask people who claim that the Beasties legitimately hated "Fight" this: If it were true, why would they do this video, which is a sequel of sorts? Anyway, this video has been cited in the year since its release as one of the most star-heavy music videos ever, and it's difficult to disagree. Just in the five-minute version of the video you have Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Elijah Wood, Rashida Jones, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, Amy Poehler, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Maya Rudolph, Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, Orlando Bloom, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black among others. I think what really makes this work though isn't the number of the cameos; it's the quality of the cameos. I'm talking particularly about the three "leads" in Rogen, McBride and Wood, who embody the energy of Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock incredibly well. Wood in particular is great to watch; I really do consider him an underrated actor. And even after you watch it the first several times to catch all the cameos, there's still something to be gained from the video by kicking back and enjoying how it all comes together. It's the Beasties' last great video of the MCA era and also MCA's last directorial effort. Great stuff.
#1: "Sabotage" (1994)
There really wasn't any other choice for me. I love "Fight For Your Right," I love "Make Some Noise," "No Sleep" and so on, but "Sabotage" is one of the most ridiculously fun music videos I've ever seen. Put together as a spoof on 1970s cop shows, it's simultaneously exciting, thrilling and hilarious. The Beasties running around with giant aviator shades and wacky facial hair makes for enormous levels of hilarity and an insane amount of energy; it's the kind of thing where you half-expect that they downed like twenty Red Bulls apiece before going on full roar throughout the shoot. It doesn't hurt that it's one of their best songs to boot. For pure unmitigated enjoyment in music video form it's hard to beat "Sabotage," which is clearly the best in a damned awesome library of the Beastie Boys' videos.
CRAZY GALLAGHER QUOTE OF THE WEEK
For once, for the first time in over six months, neither Gallagher has said something insane for a seven-day period. I'm stunned by this revelation; at this point I thought it would go on forever. Good on you, boys!
Great choices all around.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed.
From Michael L:
Great category for a musical genre that rose quickly in the mid 90's but fell almost as quickly. I'll admit that I'm not as knowledgeable about industrial metal as others, but I did catch a number of artists on the list. Great call on White Zombie, but I'd have it even higher, as I consider Astrocreep to be one of the finest albums of the 90's, no matter what the genre.
I consider the Downward Spiral to be overrated and the beginning of Reznor's descent into self-indulgence artristry at the expense of rocking out pretty well. IMO, Pretty Hate Machine was NIN's best album and nothing he's done since then has touched it.
One band I really like is the industrial supergroup PIG, who has a couple of really good albums, most notably Sinsation.
I don't know if you'd include Stabbing Westward as industrial metal, but if so, then I'd definitely have Wither Blister Burn and Peel up on my list, as a great soundtrack for a breakup.
From Jeff Bayard:
Streetcleaner not making the cut is blasphemy. And where the fuck is PIG on this list?
I enjoy PIG, don't get me wrong. But PIG is generally considered more pure industrial than industrial metal. The sound is more orchestral, with more emphasis on ambient sounds than the more abrasive sounds of industrial metal. Stabbing Westward borders on industrial metal for me and I enjoy both Wither and Darkest Days, but I was on the fence about them so left them off in favor of purer industrial metal.
Broken by nine inch nails is by far a better industrial *metal* album than The Downward Spiral. Spiral just pushed nin further into the main stream than Broken ever could have. That's all really. Broken is *way* more metal the Spiral. Shorter, tighter, more focused, more angry, more edgy, just overall *better* than Spiral. Don't get me wrong, Spiral is an absolutely amazing work of art, Broken is just a better album in terms of what your column is talking about. And while Antichrist Superstar is one of my most favorite albums of the 90's it was not industrial metal. Metal yes, industrial, no. Great list no doubt about that, just a little too mainstream. Basically, if you've heard of X band, the album listed here is more than likely why.
From Guest#9050: What about Crossbreed? Apartment 26? Spineshank? Dope? I mean, no offense, but it seems you lazily took mainstream stuff. Which, sorry, some of this isn't industrial to me.
From Guest#9940 (Guest):
Glad that Rammstein made the list, but is Mutter 'industrial'? I thought only their first two albums were industrial, and Mutter was something else. Still a great album though.
This is what I figured the biggest problem would be; differentiating between metal, industrial and industrial metal. Since it wasn't really spelled out by anyone, let's use a clear definition. As I said in last week's introduction, industrial metal is generally recognized as music that combines the transgressive themes and electronic influences of industrial rock with the hard-hitting sound of metal. Industrial metal is generally more abrasive and aggressive than industrial rock, with some songs relying on repeated guitar riffs to amp up the machinery-inspired sounds, but more electronica-inspired that pure metal or thrash metal. Industrial metal makes the distortions of electric guitars a crucial part of the music. The lyrical themes often focus on bleak worlds and moods, using the genre's sound as a way to express its sense of alienation from the world; it tends to be much more personal for a lyrical standpoint.
Now, while we all have our own definition of "what is industrial metal" and what isn't, that is the generally-accepted one that I was going with. By those definitions, I don't think that anyone can deny that Antichrist Superstar fits the genre. Themes of alienation, distorted guitars, electronica-inspired and yet more aggressive than straight industrial. That's the album to a tee. Mutter, I think, also very much fits those guidelines. And while Crossbreed, Spineshank, Apartment 26 and Dope are all absolutely industrial metal bands and I enjoy stuff from each of them, they weren't personally more enjoyable to me than my list. As for Broken vs. Downward Spiral, I would say that they are both industrial metal at their core. Yes, Broken is more of a pure industrial metal album and a fantastic piece of work, I just enjoy Spiral more and I think both fit comfortably in the genre. I will, however, also admit to giving Spiral the edge because it's an LP as opposed to the EP that Broken is. Good suggestions though and all good bands!
I love me some Ministry!
Why no love for another band that was on the MK soundtrack along with KMFDM?
Fear Factory's Demanufacture was, and still is, one of the best industrial metals best albums.
Say what you will about the band after Obsolete, but this album was tits!
Demanufacture was my "Album I Forgot About" this week, and I feel silly for having done so. I probably would have put it at #5 or so if I'd thought of it.
From Jon Butterfield:
Hey guys, Jon Butterfield from the MMA zone here - for those interested in the HEAVIEST aspect of industrial metal (and Jeremy makes some great choices here, make no mistake), here's my Top 5 :)
Ministry – Rio Grande Blood (2006) – If you like your industrial metal with a caustic, political edge, Ministry are the band for you. Rio Grande Blood starts with the song of the same name, and amidst the incredible, accessible, but ultimately relentless grind of the song come spliced clips of George W Bush claiming to be a ‘brutal dictator', ‘a weapon of mass destruction', and telling you he wants ‘your money' and ‘crude oil'. Yeah, thinly veiled to say the least! As the album rolls on, similarly vehemently political messages are vomited forth from a band who won't stand on ceremony for anyone in authority – and frankly, it's a breath of fresh air! This isn't Rage Against the Machine and their radio-friendly rock, this is in-your-face, sledgehammer-subtle stuff from masters of the industrial genre. Songs like ‘Yellow Cake' are as schizophrenic as Ministry have ever produced, and ‘Palestina' and ‘Khyber Pass' are wonderful forays into the unexpected. A great album.
Red Harvest - Sick Transit Gloria Mundi (2002) – Norwegians Red Harvest start the album Sick Transit Gloria Mundi as they mean to go on - in breathtaking fashion! With first song proper 'AEP' still proving to be nothing short of a severe sonic beating ten years on, singer Ofu Khan's apocalyptic warning that it's the 'last chance to evacuate the earth' sees Red Harvest set out there stall and possess a boatload of epic ideas. Songs like ‘Godhead', ‘Humanoid', and ‘Cybernaut' are slightly less in-your-face, coming with a higher dose of atmospherics, and that trend towards emotion-over-brutality continues with slower, bleaker songs like ‘Desolation' and inevitable outro ‘Dead End'. A great, varied album, and one of the finest examples of industrial metal out there.
Fear Factory – Demanufacture (1995) – A perennial top 5 candidate for all industrial metal connoisseurs, Demanufacture is an album that will only need introducing to true rookies of the genre. With ‘Replica' being the most played song on the album, that's probably where you should start – but definitely not where you should stop! ‘New Breed' follows on, and offers an in-your-face look at the kind of inspirations bands like Rammstein and even Red Harvest took in prior to completing their finest works. A seminal album, Demanufacture is varied-yet-single-minded, brutal-yet-accessible, and intelligent-yet-blunt, strong-headed stuff. Magic!
Strapping Young Lad – City (1997) – It's hard to believe that Canadian Devin Townsend and co. created this album FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, but it's true! So fresh, vital and alive with promise does this album sound that you could swear the waves of pure electronic malevolence must have been produced this side of 2005 – and that's the beauty of ‘City' – there truly isn't a contemporary peer for this incredible, pulsating slab of industrial gristle. It has NOT been topped. Go listen to songs like ‘Oh My ****ing God' right now and then sew your face back on.
Blut Aus Nord – The Work Which Transforms God (2003) – Secretive French metal act Blut Aus Nord will probably be considered a black metal act by most, but The Work Which Transforms God from all of 9 years ago very definitely dabbles in the equally dark art of industrial metal, and does so brilliantly! For those interested in the slower, heavier, and yet more beautiful aspects of this genre, ‘Procession of Dead Clowns' is the best example I can think to give you. ‘Metamorphosis', and, well, every song this album is a must-listen, but ONLY for those who have the time to give art like this their fullest consideration. Not for the faint of heart, and NOT for those in need of cheering up! Try a hug instead!
Thanks to Jon for these ones; you can't go wrong with any of these that I am familiar with (I don't know Blut Aus Nord or Red Harvest, but I will be checking them out).
Gravity Kills over Godflesh? Seriously? Other than that, good list.
Kinda had a feeling Gravity Kills would get me a hard time. As you may have noticed, Streetcleaner earned a spot in my Honorable Mention; while it's obviously an important album in the genre and a damned good one, I just dig GK a bit more.
No Skinny Puppy????
I singled Skinny Puppy out in my caveats. They're more of an electro-industrial band, and I can't think of any of their albums I'd call industrial metal.
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.