5 Music Videos That Upgrade Their Songs

Matt Nathanson’s music video for “Headphones” recently reminded me how much I love the music video as a piece of media. Matt and a cameraman tagged along with Starkey Hearing Foundation to give away a thousand hearing aids to Peru’s deaf population. The resulting music video is absolutely irresistible. You can’t help but be touched by the intense emotions playing out on the screen.

As much as I love Matt Nathanson (and feel a growing affection for featured artist Lolo), I find “Headphones” to be a somewhat forgettable song. The lyrics and the music video only tangentially relate to each other—the idea of using music as a private escape meeting the act of allowing people to experience music for the first time. It has brought to mind a somewhat random list of other instances when a great music video changed my opinion of a song.

Johnnyswim, “Heart Beats”

This is a cool song, one that I would hum along with on the radio, but not necessarily seek out to add to a playlist or listen to otherwise. I caught the music video on VH1’s Top 20 Countdown in 2013—yes, that still airs, and if I happen to be in front of a television on a Saturday morning I’ll tune in—and this video left me dumbstruck. I can’t really put my finger on why. It’s loaded with music video clichés like a bathtub, running through the wilderness for no apparent reason, a random horse…but it all works. The music video raises the stakes on the intensity of the song.

The All American Rejects, “Move Along”

Okay, to be honest, I already liked this song a lot when it came out, but the music video took it to the next level for me. I like the sort of glum humor of the video, and I’m a huge sucker for the jump-cut filming style.

Gwen Stefani, “Cool”

Like “Headphones,” my experience of the song (skip it) is very different from my experience of the video (love it). Gwen Stefani is captivating here. You can’t take your eyes off her. Every element is mouth-wateringly stylish, even a decade after the video was made.

My Chemical Romance, “Helena”

Last but certainly not least, this is probably the most powerful music video I can think of off the top of my head. I loved emo in its early, guy-sitting-on-stage-with-an-acoustic-guitar phase, but My Chemical Romance downright scared me. This video, though…it is a gorgeous, goth piece of mini-cinema.

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