As Canadians, we have made great strides when it comes to producing our music videos. For those who are unaware, the Canadian government subsidizes and provides financial support for local artists to shoot these videos, and as of late it would appear that the budgets have increased. Gone are the days where the benchmark of great cinematography were shots of Choclair and a woman having an in-air exorcism on his bed, or whatever Raine Maida was odoing when he made this. Now, we have real budgets from generous philanthropic organizations like FACTOR Canada, Much Fact and other less conspicuous organizations.
Being the selfless aggregator that Noisey prides itself on being, we’ve decided to curate the best music videos that the Canadian government has helped fund. Let’s go over the very brief yet stringent judging process we used: first, all videos must explicitly mention that they were funded by an organization of some sort, so if a video doesn’t have that information included, it doesn’t count. Second, all videos included have been released from December of 2013 up till now, so if your favourite video isn’t here and you know it was funded by the Canadian government, we're sorry that it sucked or that it wasn't in the data bank we refered to. To keep judging as fair as possible, some videos were muted to ensure complete objectivity. Some of the videos here excel in their artistic vision, while others are here because they took the time to film in HD. In any case, here are the 50 best videos we found.
Pup – "Guilt Trip"
Blessed be the people who made “Guilt Trip.” The video apparently documents the very early beginnings of the band (at least I think) and doesn’t go anywhere you expect it to. In fact try and tell me this fantastic piece of cinematography isn’t the greatest true crime documentary you’ve ever seen. I expect an If I Did It autobiographical book from Steve Sladkowski immediately.
Andrew Austin – "Disappear"
“Disappear” is clearly the logical conclusion of Alexisonfire’s debut album cover but as a musical on the cleanest subway station ever (probably Pape). Either way the video doesn’t take itself seriously and is that the little girl from those Missy Elliot videos all grown up at the two and a half mark because she maneuvering something serious.
Austra – "Habitat"
From what I gather “Habitat” is a dark and abstract video that features couplings of different sexualities while they go “your body is a wonderland” on each other while lead singer, Katie Stelmanis sings in a laundromat. I believe the video is supposed to challenge the ties between love, youth and sexuality and it does that successfully, but t’s also really nice to look at. Out of curiosity anyone know what Wes Anderson movie Austra got that yellow font from? Nvm, found it.
Justin Rutledge – "Locked In The Trunk Of A Car"
In the succinctly titled, “Locked in the trunk of a car” we follow the exploits of a very rare hybrid Anthony Hopkins/Rutger Hauer look-a-like who drives along a deserted road and digs his own grave. But then again if your career devolved from Silence of the Lambs and Blade Runner into The Mask of Zorro and True Blood you would do the same thing too. I like old people so all is forgiven.
The Trews – "Whats Fair is Fair"
You know when you look at something and it has no substance but it’s still cool? This is one of those. Sans the Tron-looking nylon leather jackets and the first person view of fireworks going off that look like Geometry Wars Reloaded this is a very basic rock video but its enjoyable. Sometimes Colin MacDonald is on a rotating dolly without sunglasses, so he’s at least attempting to connect with you on an emotional level.
Rich Aucoin – "Yelling in Sleep"
This gorgeously animated video filled with muscular lobsters, ghost with stunner shades, and a lumberjack that goes full Gundam won an award for Best Music Video at Brooklyn’s Animation Block Party 2014 so that means its good. Good
Timber Timbre – "Curtains"
Just before writing this I was going to write a huge spiel about the look of thie well shot neo-noir styled visual, but then YouTube commenter, gonzojazz wrote, “Lesson 1. Don’t shoot a periodical look on digital” so now I feel like a loser. Anyways, the video enhances the moody track and I now realize I’m not the great auteur of visual criticism Introduction to cinema class told me I was.
Lowell – "The Bells"
“The Bells” opens with Lowell going all Ms. Lady Vengeance on some perpetrator before she lowkey crip walks with the classically trained dance extras from The Warriors in one continuous shot. Truthfully, its another vehicle for this super catchy song to get in your head with an intentionally grindhouse sheen that makes it pop. If it wasn’t clear I like this video.
A Tribe Called Red – "Sisters"
Sometimes you got to stunt through a sunroof reppin’ the Six Nations of Iroquois with the Mohawk warrior flag in an all-white Scion while turning up at an Electric pow wow. A Tribe Called Red explained in an interview that they wanted to show that Native Americans are like everyone else who are fashion conscious and go the club on a Tuesday. In light of the disappearances of Aboriginal women and children this video shines an alternative spotlight on an often overlooked community that is more than a troubled headline.
The Darcys – "Hunting"
This video is the by-product of James from James and the Giant Peach catching the fade at recess and deciding to have a daydream about Second Life, which for those who are unfamiliar was where people tried to find love and build a home online and not the sesspool of random hook ups you heathens engage in on Tinder. Apparently this video was created through a mix of live footage and 3D modelling and none of the other videos have that so its gets trophies.
Born Ruffians – "Oceans Deep"
Alright so “Ocean’s Deep” is very pretty. The kyuul night time visuals with the neon lights in the shape of mushroom moths and giant flies on top of the band’s heads seem like the band also saw Cirque Du Soleil (great show by the way) and robbed the costume designer when the curtains closed. I really enjoy the summer-y vibez and wow actual colours unlike all the other monochromatic black and white videos artists love to make.
Bryan Finlay – "Bulletproof"
And apparently I’m a hypocrite because I really like this black and white video of “Bulletproof” that centers around Finlay pursuing a woman who looks like Spencer Hastings from Pretty Little Liars. But truly I’m a sucker for people who sing in the rain. Sure, it’s a familiar R&B/Pop trope but you’re not going to tell me that “One Wish,” “Burn” and the baby father of them all “Singing in the Rain” ain’t classics.
Mark Berube – "Ethiopia"
Speaking of birthing children “Ethiopia” is clearly the offspring of GOAT video and go-to song for movie trailers in 2010, Kanye West’s “Power.” Rocking Professor X’s Cerebro helmet, Berube stands with almost The Weeknd levels of stationary while the camera pans out and people dance around him. It’s all good fun and his fantastic woollen scarf really sells the entire package.
Wake Owl – "Candy"
“Candy” follows the trials and tribulations of the Wahlberg brothers before Marky Mark started his illustrious supermodel career. The video starts with oldest brother and semi-cast off, Paul who starts dreaming about some brunette. Somehow he and his friends somehow get into a violent car crash and die but it’s awesome because the video sneak foreshadows the accident at the minute and a half mark with a clip from GTA V which means it all comes full circle. We see you, Christopher Nolan, we see you.
Black Pistol Fire – "Dime Store Heartthrob"
Originally, Black Pistol Fire's “Alabama Cold Cock” was supposed to be here so I could make half flaccid sexual innuendo jokes,but this video was much better. Anyways we got the squad out here in full cowboy gear and more choreographic precision than Beenie Man’s dance troupe. From the bottom of my heart I feel this video valiantly shows the greatness of square dancing and honestly if it this is how serious things get at high noon you’ll never catch me at a fete again.
The Mohrs – "Perfectly Sane"
The battle for your soul motif is a nice touch and Jackie’s vocals are great otherwise this video is blasé but sometimes you got to finesse these in to fill the quota.
Lisa Leblanc – "J’pas Un Cowboy"
Does anyone remember the MuchMusic show, French Kiss that only aired French speaking videos? Well, that show hits a special soft spot for me since it introduced me to a world where people made music that wasn’t English and Moka Only. In any case, “J’pas Un Cowboy” and more particularly Leblanc stirs those same feelings. Watch as she flexes with the holy spirit of circa 1995 The Woman in Me-era Shania Twain while going ham in a room full of trophies. You Win my Love, Leblanc, you win my love.
A.A. Wallace – "Lipstick & Stethoscopes"
In what begins the series of “Canadian artists really like 4:3 aspect ratio and VCR recordings” we have “Lipstick & Stereoscopes.” Bathed in Stereoscopic vision the video is the most effective direct-to-DVD sequel of BeeGee’s “Night Fever” I’ve ever seen but with more golden glow filters and prisms. However, the video still works swell. Will definitely give you a huge migraine but still swell.
Mounties – "Pretty Respectable"
For “Pretty Respectable” we have clips of the Apollo 13 landing, John F. Kennedy, a jolly sultan with a scabbard, and what looks like a dancing tin man from Grimes’ Boiler Room set. There’s probably a really deep concept here that requires very careful analysis or perhaps maybe none at all and its in this confusion I find this enjoyable.
Sidney York – "Hearts"
I’ve always felt being in an ambulance truck is an anxiety inducing experience especially when I ended up in the back of one after I fainted in class and my tooth went through my bottom lip but that’s neither here or there because “Hearts” believes it to be a sweet endeavour. In the opening moments of the video, Daphne from Scooby Doo, is run over by said ambulance truck, sustains a serious head injury, and then gets reincarnated as the girl from the Wendy's logo. Genuinely, I find this song atrocious but the video has spunk and IT WILL NOT BE DENIED.
Rich Kidd – "The Valley"
“The Valley” is a very important after school special in the art of peer pressure. Dude from
wasn’t even about any “splash n’ dashery” yet here we are watching him being disseminated in a blender after trying to hook up with some cannibal. Have we as people learned nothing since the Hannibal season two finale? Do not ramp with wealthy and attractive people who believe in fine cuisine. Also quick shout outs to RT! who is clearly a fan of
House of Cards
because we all know that on screen text message display is the most memorable thing about the first season. Unfortunately, the web rip I watched had the words in Chinese so I missed several major plot points.
The Posterz – "All I Know"
Sometimes, a video can open your eyes to young and overlooked talent. Take for instance, The Posterz. This video is not unique and I’m not sure it's wise to have your dog caged beside your refrigerator but in any case the cool colour palettes and the overuse of fog machines neatly packages this banger of a track, “All I Know” into something of substance.
Jeremy Fisher feat Serena Ryder– "Uh Oh"
Here we have some neat piano playing by Jeremy Fisher before it reverts into claymation. The video—which was made by Fisher himself—references infamous politicians such as Rob Ford and Anthony Weiner up to tomfoolery over a vinyl. Besides the obvious social commentary on these troubled personalities the video reminds me of brighter days. Namely, when Eddie Murphy’s short lived series, The PJ’s was still airing on FOX.
Naturally Born Strangers – "No One Knows My Struggle"
According to the opening credits this video was filmed in Nine Mile, a mountainous area of Jamaica and birthplace of Bob Marley. Moving on, the video is very well shot and clearly has an extensive budget while Adam Bomb, Tona and Rich Kidd rap on the same boat used in Life of Pi. But more importantly it spins a very real depiction of Jamaica and just look at those beautiful wide shots.
Kevin Drew – "You in Your Were"
Before we go any further did Zach Galifianakis just name drop “Mambo no.5”? Which is by far one of the greatest music moments of our time? More importantly, how the hell does “You in Your Were” only have 20,000 views? Clearly someone isn’t on their job. You got Kevin Drew swooning over his mic, Galifianakis comedically doing squats with people who are in better shape than him. Even Feist hops in here like she’s ready to add another verse to “Shampoo Suicide.” (I feel that went over all of yall’s head). Soap bars! Sorry, it was too easy to resist. Screw you all for not supporting this video.
Wet Secrets – "Maybe We’ll Make a Plan"
In “Maybe We’ll Make a Plan” we see the couple from those Tide commercials reminiscing about a time when their relationship was fresh, new and in *sigh* grayscale. Eventually, in a bout of random engineering ingenuity they set off an elaborate contraption that ends with the Pixar lights suffocating them in their sleep. In between all this the video effectively tells a story about divorce and life that is earnest and semi-beautiful.
TRUST – "Capitol"
So, for the very masochistic bunch who decided to read this piece a second time you may notice that there is a new video here instead of “Are We Arc.” Why is that? Because we had the wrong video, that’s why. (Y’all thought I was joking about the strenuous nature of this list). Anyways, I have no idea why but "Capitol" examines the very special relationship between a young Ellen Burstyn from Requiem For A Dream and her TV before going into some Close Encounters of the Third Kind territory with a neon light prism and…I think I'm done here. Great colour correction though.
Dennis Ellsworth – "Hazy Sunshine"
Serving as the Canadian tuxedo version of Andre 3000’s “Prototype,” “Hazy Sunshine” documents Ellsworth and some lady in a red dress who long for each other’s touch despite teleporting through the other at odd times. The video also contains enough beautiful yet abstract images of eagles flying and teal coloured oceans that you can only ask yourself, where does life go from here? My answer to this was to make a stop at the dollar store and pick up Serene Sounds from Around the World.
Thugli – "Run This"
This video actually dropped in early December but I don’t care it’s awesome and deserves all the acclaim it can get. Pretty much this shows what happens if Omar from The Wire decided to become a cop while busting caps and “ridin’ around shining’” by the waterfront. “Run This” is one of the very rare times where a video completely supersedes the song and for that I salute.
Chad VanGaalen – "Monster"
Here we have a balding fetus that looks like Benjamin Button before “animorph-ing” into some tree-aardvark-centaur thing with an eagle head that is as disturbing as it sounds. The video is simple and straight to the point although I'm unsure where it all leads to but its still VanGaalen, so it’s still awesome.
Cold Specks – "Absisto"
Cold Specks makes her acting debut as a blind psychic while somewhere in the distance a war vet is wandering around a forest at night. Sounds like a great plan, right? Nope. Eventually, he’s haunted by ghosts and is struck by some sling-shot venus fly trap combo and he dies but not before having his soul trapped in a portrait. All in all a very strange yet intriguing video that teaches you that a very important lesson: He may look like he’s in love, but only on camera.
USS - "Yin Yang"
It took me several tries on YouTube to put in the song Yin Yang before the site would stop auto completing my inquiry with Ying Yang Twins. In any case this dude-bro duo have crafted visuals that add to an already large pile of videos about old men making eyes at younger woman that culminates in a dance off but for all intents and purposes its fun, I guess. Yup that’s all I got for this one.
TOPS- "Way To Be Loved"
Yaaaaa, more 4:3 aspect ratio and purple-reddish hues and—are those Mac Demarco’s balls? Anyways, "Way To Be Loved" is great because the crew love is so apparent with appearances from fellow artists like Cadence Weapon, Alex Calder, and She-Devils, becoming every bit the indie alternative to Bricksquad 1017 that we deserve. Clap, Clap, Bravo.
Nikki Yanofsky – "Necessary Evil"
If Drake can buy himself an Ocelot I demand a Panther. Just look at how it slinks ever so elegantly through this video while Yanofsky’s penchant for side profiles continues to be a tour de force in this video. But truly this deserves to be on the list because of its immaculate set design. Man, everything looks so pretty while Panthro (yes, I named it) rests on a fireplace making this video even more loveable. Someone cop me that cat.
Owen Pallett – "Song for Five & Six"
Look at the dedication, the passion, the discipline it takes to do ballet. Listen to the words, beauty, and chord arrangements of Pallett. Appreciate the beauty, grace, and spirit of this video. Understand the time, patience, and relative ease of this literary device.
Wet Secrets – "Floating in the Sky"
If David Lynch was ever hired to make a tennis commercial for Nike it would probably look a lot like “Floating in the Sky”. Taking visual cues from every scene transitions in That 70’s Show the video makes fantastic use of high speed and phantom cameras while the band stays fly rocking a Bearskin hat in all white, feeling godly.
Grandtheft ft. Keys N Krates – "Keep it 100"
In a long line of expensively shot EDM music videos that have absolutely nothing to do with the song, “Keep it 100” is about a monster truck driver who believes in destroying ugly cars and dousing himself and two Swedish models in champagne showers for an entire minute or so. Anyone who says there’s a deeper meaning to this video is a liar but I appreciate the fact this is the closest thing I’ll ever get to a Mario Kart movie that’s soundtracked by a Diplo and Friends mix.
Grimes – "Go"
From the creators of Dune and the Highlander series comes ”Go.” This song was supposed to be on Grimes new album but it got scrapped because she thought it sucked so I’m not sure why this video was made but wheyever. There’s a lot of fisheye lens where Grimes interpretive dances and doo-doo squats her way through a desert while splicing in scenes from the Best of Electric Circus. There’s not much else to add except she’s really fond of whipping her hair while the video loops back in reverse (Exhibit A). Besides this “Go”seems very expensive and validates the 1080p option on Youtube. Also is it just me or does this song have the same bassline as “Mercy?”
Alvvays - "Archie, Marry Me"
According to critics this video encapsulates “sun soaked Best Coast like vibes of a fun time not so far gone but too close to remember.” I’m just kidding no one actually said that. Well, half kidding at least, but who doesn’t enjoy watching a video shot on Super 8 cameras. What I specifically love about "Archie, Marry Me" is that singer, Molly Rankin is one chord away (in my mind) from singing "What Shall I Do Today"which would make this video even better than it already is.
Akua – "One’s Company"
I spent the entirety of this video trying to figure out why Akua's dancing in a church, and then in a graveyard, while driving a hearse that presumable is carrying her dead body and… I have nothing. Oh great, now there’s two of her dancing in the autopsy room. But I guess since I finished it that makes it compelling.
Carleton Stone – "Climbing Up The Walls"
I feel like John Mayer, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Spencer Krug, Billy Ray Cryus, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Sting, Kelly Clarkson, Willie Nelson,Bon Iver, Laura Marling,Kurt Vile, Ryan Adams, Elliot Smith, Neil Young, Tim Buckley, Black Keys, John Ritter, Woody Guthrie, Sun Kil Moon, Dan Sartain, Clayhill, Morrissey, The Tallest Man on Earth, Nick Drake, Diane Cluck, Sharon Von Etten, Taylor Swift, Jana Hunter, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Paul Simon, Lynrd Skynyrd, Carole King, Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, Bill Withers, George Harrison, Billy Bragg, James Taylor, Joan Baez, Elvis Costello hell even Phil Collins have considered or already made this video before. I like the song though, so I guess that makes it okay.
Alyssa Reid – "Hurricane"
I watched a Broken Bells video earlier this year that looks almost exactly like this and while I could care less about the song I like this video because of all the wide shots. I truly do just enjoy looking at mountains while watching the beautiful story of how an astronaut falls out of space and in love with Michelle Branch.
Doug Crawford ft. Obie Trice – "RECKLESS"
In “RECKLESS” Doug Crawford gives us a gift in the form of the greatest rapper to ever come out of Detroit, Obie Trice. After viewing the intense and harsh scenery of this video I did a quick Wikipedia search on what Obie Trice has been up to. Apparently since his commercially and critically acclaimed debut, Cheers he’s provided the world with two more albums and has a mixtape called, Watch The Chrome. Take from that information what you will. I’m going to be honest and say that I wasn’t too fond of this video but it’s always nice to find out what happened to the guy who made a song called “Got Some Teeth”
Balconies – "Boys and Girls"
Finally, a video with some spunk. According to the credits for “Boys and Girls” this was shot at Adelaide Hall which is one of the few venue spots in Toronto that isn’t being torn down for new condos, which is always nice to hear. The lead singer forgoes the cliché Coyote Ugly bar table dancing and actually drops some moves on the floor while engaging in a mini stare/dance off with…herself and my heart is overwhelmed by the energy of this woman. I was not ready.
Auresia – "Chocolate"
I don’t know why but "Chocolate" is amazing. Not only is it insightful look into the health benefits of Chocolate (including, but not limited to, body messages and eliminating migraines). Did you also know that the seeds of a cacao tree can also be used as a trap phone? Neither did I. Chocoooooo choclatey-chocolatey-chocoltey-chocolatey. I love this song too.
Hindu V feat. Young Buck & Gorilla Zoe – "Find Your Way"
Here are my observations: Young Buck made a song with a rapper who actually goes by the name of Hindu V, Gorilla Zoe apparently still makes music and has taken Morgan Freeman’s role as God. And seriously who in 2014 still makes flash animated videos?
Jef Kearns feat. Karen Jewels - "Back Again"
I stand corrected.
Muneshine – "Venus & Mars"
This video neatly juxtaposes when these two love sick human beings fell in love and how their love has endured the test of time. Its also well shot, the video makes sense, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and its enjoyable. This folks is the very embodiment of less is more. Take note struggle artists.
Bonus: Sky – "She’s Some Kinda Wonderful"
This is on the list simply because I could. Be thankful I didn’t use Serial Joe.
*A sincere and special thanks to the lovely people at FACTOR Canada for their assistance.
Jabbari Weekes has recieved a FACTOR grant since writing this - @daysandweekes