MTV's 2012 Best Rock Video prize was given out during the Video Music Awards on September 6. For rock fans, it's really the only part of the show that means much of anything. (Pop and hip-hop tend to dominate all the other categories, including Video of the Year.) This year's five nominees for the Moonman are filled with familiar faces, although there is one rookie band hoping to pull off the upset. Let's take a closer look at the contenders...
Of the five nominees, "Lonely Boy" is easily the simplest in its conception. Where lots of videos spend tons of money for fancy effects, this Black Keys clip simply features musician and security guard Derrick T. Tuggle dancing and lip-synching to the song. The single-take video came about by accident. Tuggle was meant to be just an extra, but he started dancing, catching the eye of the producers. Soon enough, Tuggle was the star of the video. Tuggle, who's also an actor, said, "My acting teacher Mark McPherson, he has us do this thing before we start class called 'Song and Dance,' where he'll have us sing one of our favorite songs, and then while we're singing it, he'll have us do a crazy dance, or a sexy dance, and I guess it spawned from that."
Coldplay have made lighthearted videos in the past, but "Paradise" is particularly whimsical. It stars singer Chris Martin as an elephant who escapes the zoo and tries to go home, where he is reunited with his elephant buddies, who are the other members of the band in costume. The Mylo Xyloto smash is about escaping the mundane realities of everyday life, and the video finds a clever way to illustrate that concept.
Update: Coldplay ended up winning the prize.
Four out of the five Best Rock Video nominees are from established artists. The fifth is Imagine Dragons, a quartet out of Las Vegas who will be releasing their first full-length later this year. In the meantime, they've caught the ears of rock fans with "It's Time," a cheery tune that's accompanied by a strikingly despairing video. In the clip, the band members wander through an empty post-apocalyptic landscape. Considering that the award usually goes to a veteran group, my bet is that Imagine Dragons might want to just be happy that they were nominated.
Linkin Park have won three Best Rock Video trophies in the last 10 years. Will "Burn It Down" be their fourth? The clip for the Living Things single boasts the high-tech production values that are typical from the band. As is also their custom, it's a performance video with Chester Bennington and the rest of the guys delivering their song with a lot of focused intensity. This clip is also nominated for Best Visual Effects in a Video.
The most abstract and disturbing of the five nominees, Jack White's "Sixteen Saltines" turns the hard rock track from Blunderbuss into a distressing snapshot of youth gone wild. White appears in the video, but the imagery is dominated by young people getting into all kinds of mischief ranging from getting tattoos to pouring gasoline all over White's car while he's trapped inside it. The clip doesn't have a direct connection to "Sixteen Saltines," but the visuals are a perfect complement to the song's rampaging guitar riff.