The Best Surrealist Music Videos

November 16, 2018

Kali, Mitski, St. Vincent, and Solange have delivered out-of-this world music, and have gifted us with surreal music videos to match. Take a deep dive into their alternative worlds, ones which in some cases are utter nonsense and in others are brilliant works of art.

After The Storm” by Kali Uchis ft. Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins

In the music video for Kali Uchis’s “After The Storm,” featured singer Bootsy Collins appears as a character on a cereal box come to life in the opening scene. After Kali is seen sitting solemnly at her kitchen table, then shopping at the supermarket, she is in her home garden, with her hair being held up by two birds, a la Snow White. All of a sudden Tyler appears as a part of the grass, popping up like a literal flower. The final part of the video shows Kali, now a happy housewife with her grow-a-husband, Tyler, The Creator, and their two children, who are part-flower with ivy-clad afros. It then flashes to Tyler and Kali as Chia Pets, an apt end to a surreal scene. The video fits perfectly with Kali’s fun and funky song, and her facial expressions are the icing on the cake of the overall aura.

Nobody” by Mitski

This video is objectively weird. It opens with Mitski, staring at Mitski, at a diner, sharing a Milkshake, that’s actually an hourglass. She then awakes abruptly, and half her bed is pulled away from her. She goes outside, picks up a package, the package is a portrait of her face but lacking her features. Then a frantic hand pops out of her wall. She’s not scared. No! She goes to hold the hand! As it transitions into the chorus, she parades through a line of cardboard cutout people whose faces are scratched out. The portrait she got in the mail hangs on her wall, but two wall-hands pop out and scratch a hole in it, which Mitski pears through, seeing the back of someone’s head. She THEN goes to the door of the artist of the painting, and the person who answers the door is wearing an ipad with Mitski’s face on it, which blurs out. At that point she runs away in fear. She returns home, and pulls out an incredibly large diary from under her bed, which is actually a Russian nesting doll of a diary, with the smallest one containing the word “Nobody” over and over again. The video ends with a zoom out showing Mitski in the set, the final frame containing the director’s chair and other background filming features. This is interestingly also how her music video for “Best American Girl” ends. However, that video is much more, well, normal. The significance of the surreal for this goes way over my head.

Los Ageless” by St. Vincent

St. Vincent is the queen of the surreal. If I had to fit her music into a genre, that might be it. In her most recent album, set of music videos, and concert performances, she has utilized surrealism in ways that perfectly match her music. In the video for “Los Ageless,” St. Vincent uses vibrant and contrasting colors, interesting and innovative textures, and simplistic set designs to highlight her insanely creative imagination. Part of the video has her at a plastic surgeon, gauze over her nose, with women in the background having fully-gauzed faces. Another part has her sitting in a chair while a full set of legs comes out of a television in front of her. She is also pictured at a beauty parlor in a beautiful shade of pink while green slime crawls up her legs. There are some weird looking pieces of sushi that she longingly stares at. This video captures the feel and meaning of the song, and showcases her incredible talent in a multiplicity of artistic outlets (video, lyricism, guitar, aesthetics).

Cranes in the Sky” by Solange

Solange’s music videos are incredibly artistic and beautiful, but I had to question whether or not they fit into the frame of surrealism. At the end of the day, it’s about the ~feeling~ you get from it, and it certainly feels unreal. Her outfits are the most surreal part of the video, as she wears a giant pink coat that evokes the image of a mitochondria, as well as a pink mini dress that looks as if its made of a garbage bag (however she looks incredible in it), and one long purple dress that is actually multiple dresses connecting her physically to her background dancers. Her dancing could also be seen as surreal; its interpretive and involves untraditional movements that highlight the dreamy feel of the song itself. The video is ethereal and intensely beautiful in its artistry. It’s truly one of my favorite pieces of art across all mediums, and if you haven’t seen it you’re missing a necessary part of your human existence. If her and St. Vincent ever do a collab, my heart might explode

Claire Goldberg
is the Voice's former editoral board chair and halftime leisure editor. She "says a lot of funny things," according to Emma Francois.

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