TikiKiti Awards: February 2019

From the depths of winter’s chilly bosom, we bid you a warm welcome! Since we’re snowed in for a few weeks, let’s watch some hot Unofficial Music Videos, the best of the bunch from February’s cultural crop of adolescent tension. It should help pass the time till we’re all too weak from hunger to eat each other.

You may have noticed that photo finishes are becoming de rigueur around these parts. True to form, we’ve got another tie for top honors this month, so we’ll be sending out two Barclay Awards for Excellence in Video Arts. So much winning!

1. Producer: Avikbangalee
Artist: Disturbed
Song: “The Sounds of Silence”
Category: Vérité

I’m just going to come out and say it. This is the best rock video from Bangladesh I’ve ever seen. The Simon & Garfunkel chestnut evolves into a grand piano anthem with a glorious new worldview. Equal parts inspiring and visually compelling, this video shimmers like a neon painting.

1. Producer: Raegan Masterson
Artist: Joji
Song: “Slow Dancing in the Dark”
Category: Narrative

A somber, unsentimental romantic shrapnel grenade gets dropped at a kegger. Disappointment and confusion are the guests of honor at this party.

3. Producer: Jonny Young Trujillo
Artist: Zero 7
Song: “Pop Art Blue”
Category: Performance

Infatuation, missed opportunities, and the stuff of dreams: Jonny Young Trujillo sensitively captures the bittersweet fumble of freshmen in love.

4. Producer: Jackson Ross
Artist: Jose Gonzales
Song: “Dead Weight on Velveteen”
Category: Narrative

It’s the daring drone shots that really elevate this production, lending needed perspective to a very down-to-earth story about a boy and girl who seem to strangely like each other. Or like each other strangely.

4. Producer: Juliette Films
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “You Should See Me In a Crown”
Category: Performance

In the game of life you don’t have to play the cards you’re dealt if the dealer’s cheating. Leave the table and find another hobby.

Allusions to abusive relationships are becoming a frequent UMV trope, which is good news for young artists in need of a canvas for a cathartic statement. You’ve got a phone haven’t you? Access to a computer?

Lights, camera, action, life.

TikiKiti Awards: January 2019

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!

The new year is here, and we’re off and running (just a wee bit late), with a fresh pot of video java percolating on the stove. Speaking of heating up, the competition was boiling this month, as two very different works tied for top honors. Looks like we’re handing out a pair of Barclay Awards, which we present on a more-or-less regular basis for outstanding achievement in the field of Unofficial Video artistry.

1. Producer: RankTheLion
Artist: Yellow Ostrich
Song: “Whale”
Category: Performance

Here’s a budget throwback to music video buffoonery of the highest order. It’s worth noting the recent passing of The Monkees’ Peter Tork, who contributed much to the widely held belief that rock bands all lived in the same house and had wacky adventures when not onstage. RankTheLion hits the funny bone!

1. Producer: JonZombie + Meikee Magnetic
Artist: Blvck Ceiling
Song: “Body Electric”
Category: Narrative

The female protagonist cannot resist the allure of… sexy stuff. Temptation is steamily rendered with kinky, occult panache. It’s safe to say JonZombie and Meikee Magnetic have a keen understanding of visual seduction and an arsenal of ideas.

3. Producer: Shoot To Frame Productions
Artist: Pearl Jam
Song: “Black”
Category: Narrative

There is still room in the world for angst, and this sincere effort rings true. Nothing hurts worse than adolescent broken-heart burn, and Pearl Jam is fitting accompaniment.

4. Producer: Tilo Zhu
Artist: The Chainsmokers
Song: “Sick Boy”
Category: Narrative

Chinese teen contemplates his own mortality, alá the Danish Prince. Instead of a soliloquy he takes a cellphone video of his own sick soul.

5. Producer: Avgusta Volchenkova
Artist: Beth Hart
Song: “Jazz Man”
Category: Performance

You’ve got to love a Russian troupe showing off snappy steps and genuine razzmatazz in a salute to decadent Western music. Putin may have won the Cold War, but you can’t dance to him. Let’s thaw out those diplomatic relations, already!

As always, Team TikiKiti would like to thank the classy creatives from all over the globe whose work we can’t help but make a fuss over. Let’s never part!

Winter Winner’s Circle

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Once again the crew of The Calypso is taking a deep dive into the trenches of our last three Barclay Award winners to sift out the pirate treasure and illuminate unseen creative caverns. Check your air!

1. Producer: Kornelia Malczewska
Artist: DJ Snake + AlunaGeorge
Song: “You Know You Like It”
Category: Performance

It’s the little things that bring out the best scores. The art direction and costumes in Kornelia Malczewska’s production are spot-on. The near-lurid neon scenes represent the dancer’s inner world, where she dresses and moves like a superhero, contrasted with the mundane reality of daily harassment by idiot boys.

Note to producers: For a performance video it’s imperative to find a choreographer/performer with substance as well as style. Ecaterina Cirlan is the dancer’s name here and her focus is downright fierce, reminiscent of Madonna in her MTV prime. Cirlan is the revving engine, while Malczewska plots the course—a first-rate collaboration.

1. Producer: Unlocked Films
Artist: April March
Song: “Chick Habit”
Category: Narrative

We’ve seen videos by Northwest filmmaker Jesse Locke before, and for good reason. He brings a strong storytelling sensibility to his work, informing each frame with tension and mood. As in the case of Locke’s previous winning video, he operates in the low-budget punk-thriller genre, once again with fearless female protagonists taking action when the going gets tough.

As for the notion that witches are back in a big way, Locke nails the zeitgeist perfectly, even as Netflix gains spell points with its Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot. Now is not the time for passive heroes.

1. Producer: Hadi BA
Artist: Zhu
Song: “Good Life”
Category: Vérité

The way things come in and out of focus in Hadi BA’s travel montage mirrors the disorienting intoxication of travel, suggesting that it is indeed a tiring ordeal, but that we are better because of it. The omniscient narrator gently reminds us to get over ourselves and to look at different people in faraway lands to experience spiritual growth.

The use of black-and-white photography here is exquisite, blurring the line between arrival and departure through transitional landscapes (shuttles, airplanes, airports) that require their own navigation. The monotones both fade and command attention, but we’re usually moving too fast for serious contemplation.

TikiKiti Awards: December

Sometimes it feels like we’re everywhere at once, with all these video postcards from India, Jamaica, Poland, and Jolly Ol’ England giving us a great seat for the Parade of Nations. The TK Crew has definitely benefitted from being exposed to so much cultural dynamism. Our morning meetings now feature jicama scones and Free Trade coffee.

Seriously though, we live in times where seeing beyond borders to find a message can be challenging. There are those who insist on doubling down on their ethnocentrism, refusing to acknowledge the common humanity that binds us. Perhaps they need to watch more videos.

As for the present, we’re still a little behind the times, but this edition represents the finalé for the year 2018, with the top finisher once again taking home the coveted Barclay Award, presented each month for excellence in Unofficial Video artistry.

1. Producer: Kornelia Malczewska
Artist: DJ Snake + AlunaGeorge
Song: “You Know You Like It”
Category: Performance

Another powerful example of dancing in the face of oppression. Revolutionary steps and blistering choreography are given the respect they deserve.

2. Producer: Red Pop Dance
Artist: Lorn
Song: “Acid Rain”
Category: Performance

A provocative Polish dance ensemble spins a dark Eco Fable through incisive movement. A teachable moment without a fairy tale ending.

3. Producer: Alex Bosserman
Artist: Portishead
Song: “Strangers”
Category: Abstract

We all have our own way of seeing life as it unfolds and it’s important to share perspectives. Otherwise we’re all just strangers stumbling around in the dark.

4. Producer: Krispy Films
Artist: Pink Floyd
Song: “Great Gig In The Sky”
Category: Narrative

A bored English schoolboy slips through a crack in reality and discovers the infinite moment that is right now. Old-school psychedelia to the rescue!

5. Producer: Sumit Lekhari + Lavina Lekhari
Artist: Imagine Dragons
Song: “Believer”
Category: Performance

Don’t like the world you’re living in? Dance a better one. If you can Imagine Dragons, anything is possible. But you can’t do it without full commitment.

We’ll see you cats next year, which should be any day now!

TikiKiti Awards: November

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’… somewhere between the present and the future.

I swear, we’re almost there. November is over, the turkey has been snuffed and stuffed. And speaking of overindulging, we’ve got six videos on tap this month, the final two entries were judged a photo finish by our distinguished panel of mimes and marionettes.

As always, the prestigious Barclay Award is presented each month for outstanding achievement in indie video artistry.

The current Top Six feature amazing women who take no shit, a hip-hop horror movie, and “Dolphins On Wheels,” which belongs in a genre all its own.

1. Producer: Unlocked Films
Artist: April March
Song: “Chick Habit”
Category: Narrative

Pundits and savants are already quaking in fear over the possibility that now is the time that righteous women take back the night and kick ass. We welcome our new witch overlords.

2. Producer: Chris Cotton
Artist: Loyalty Is Timeless
Song: “Space”
Category: Narrative

Hip-hop and horror go together like spice on rice. The line between grim reality and mad science is gossamer thin, and we have to stick together against bumps in the night.

3. Producer: Alex Videographie
Artist: Markus Schultz
Song: “We Are The Light”
Category: Narrative

So, the skateboard is a metaphor for making the best use of the tools around us? Or perhaps the story boils down to showing more respect for the paths taken by others. Anyway, it’s a thought-provoking vignette, shrewdly rendered.

4. Producer: Skinny PM + Mane Precieuse
Artist: Holly Guelce
Song: “Mwen Jenn Manmou”
Category: Performance

Dancer Mane Precieuse’s defiant choreography transforms this deceptively simple video into a torch of revolution and release. Our souls are free to dance despite oppression to the body.

5. Producer: Anna Harvey
Artist: Sia
Song: “Bird Set Free”
Category: Narrative

A beautiful model has a psychotic break because she’s lost control of her life. The editing contrast between her composed exterior and her fraying grip on reality is frighteningly realized.

5. Producer: Faculty of Art + Design (FAD)
Artist: Kill The Noise + Dillon Francis
Song: “Dolphins On Wheels”
Category: Narrative

I will never forget where I was when I watched “Dolphins On Wheels.” This video demands your attention and never surrenders. A childish farce that offers a nerd hero who won’t conform, the Faculty of Art and Design have created a very special spectacle that you won’t forget, even if you try.

That’s what we do at TikiKiti: Display Unofficial Music Videos from all corners of the world that wash up on our shore like notes in bottles. Keep sending them, we’re here and loving it.

TikiKiti Awards: October

Boo! Halloween has attacked and retreated for another year, but we ignored the doorbell and ate the candy ourselves. Except Skittles. They’re all you, man.

As winter begins its frosty descent, we Kitties warm ourselves by the pale fire of Unofficial Music Videos vying for the prestigious Barclay Award, given out each month for outstanding achievement in indie video artistry.

This month’s Top Five features bold statements in black and white, snotty schoolboys in disgrace, and a full-on head trip that’s either mind-expanding or a complete fabrication.

1. Producer: Hadi BA
Artist: Zhu
Song: “Good Life”
Category: Vérité

Evocative black and white photography and a dreamy pop song forge a strong alliance in Hadi AB’s striking meditation on travel and time.

2. Producer: Aztec Llama
Artist: Phantogram
Song: “Mouthful of Diamonds”
Category: Narrative

There are interludes of dancing here, but it definitely has an unsettling narrative story structure, as well as a deft editing hand. A sumptuous array of images awaits.

3. Producer: Loic Xavier
Artist: Noah Cyrus
Song: “Again”
Category: Narrative

More scenes of travel, romantic fallout, and Marilyn Monroe come together in a painfully cathartic collage. Pro tip: You’re never over it.

4. Producer: Harry Bloomfield
Artist: Slaves
Song: “Ninety Nine”
Category: Performance

Producer Harry Bloomfield isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. These are all familiar rock-vid tropes, but he correctly serves them up piping hot.

5. Producer: Henry Hedlund
Artist: Travis Scott
Song: “Stargazing”
Category: Narrative

Is the world ready for suburban psychedelia? Who knows what evil lurks at the other end of the Ping Pong table?

In the not-too-distant future, we’ll have more artist profiles, scintillating analysis, and possibly even something by you, dear reader. Get motivated and make magic happen. This isn’t the rarefied air of some highfalutin’ creative collective.

We’re just like you, and we’ve all got something to say when the time is right. And there’s no time like the present!

TikiKiti Awards: September


We’re having a nice trip this Fall. How about you?

It’s back to school time for many of our young filmmakers, who routinely send out their student productions for a little extra credit. And we’re honored to bring these scholarly efforts to a wider audience to discuss the juicy bits.

This month’s Top Five definitely made it a September to Remember.

1. Producer: Oregan Izak
Artist: Confidence Man
Song: “Boyfriend”
Category: Narrative

Cool and confident, as only a pair of frightfully fashionable British teens can be, the sullen protagonists artfully air their grievances against a Basic Cable boyfriend. Another repeat episode.

2. Producer: Mitchel Federan
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “You Should See Me In A Crown”
Category: Performance

The editing is spot-on and the dancing Mihacevich sisters are 100 percent committed to the visceral and decidedly anti-glamor choreography.

3. Producer: Maxime Sauvant
Artist: Jett
Song: “Take It Easy”
Category: Performance

The colors and exotic locations really pop in Maxime Sauvant’s languorous short, a visual postcard from a tantalizing Twilight Zone.

4. Producer: Jesse Jenner
Artist: Jaws
Song: “Right In Front Of Me”
Category: Narrative

A potent pastiche of imagery accompanies this moody bit of Brit-pop, reminiscent of MTV’s glory days more than 30 years ago. Echo and the Bunnymen? Thompson Twins? They never left.

5. Producer: Malachite Mangusu
Artist: Mystery Skulls
Song: “Losing My Mind”
Category: Narrative

Another troubled teen finds his senses working overtime when he hits the reality wall and slips through the cracks.

From big-budget bonanzas to strapped students testing the limits of their ingenuity, we are continually amazed by the depth and dimensional thinking of our international video artists. Buckle up, boys and girls, this is getting good.

TikiKiti Awards: August

Summer’s over…

Or is it? We’re still in the Dog Days here at TikiKiti HQ, sorting out the latest crop of UMVs (Unofficial Music Videos) that we’ve been carefully drying in the sun until we can harvest a full spectrum of delicious, nutritious ART.

Behold, our Top Five for August.

1. Director: Eva Berbel
Artist: Cardi B + Bad Bunny + J Balvin
Song: “I Like It”
Category: Performance

Supertight choreography, a healthy wardrobe budget, and spot-on direction from Eva Berbel, who serves up a densely layered hip-hop Busby-Berkeley swimming pool fantasy.

2. Producer: Johnny Copter
Artist: Morgan Page
Song: “Running Wild”
Category: Verite

Johnny Copter’s vibrant photography makes “Running Wild” a soaring visual odyssey that plays like Wes Anderson’s audition reel for Nike. Moving pictures, indeed!

3. Producer: Yardley Estiverne
Artist: Amy Vachal
Song: “Field Sense”
Category: Performance

This black-and-white tone poem features a veiled woman with mountain goat horns meandering through a church, and it breathes with a confessional intimacy.

4. Producer: Marty Rait + Angelina Lobanova
Artist: 100 Monkeys
Song: “LDF”
Category: Narrative

An attractive couple moodily explore the boundaries of their relationship, again in glorious black and white.

5. Producer: Perpetual Goose
Artist: Aphex Twin
Song: “54 Cymru Beats”
Category: Abstract

This near seizure-inducing driving collage could probably reprogram an entire cult of brainwashed acolytes into functional citizens. Or send them off the deep end.

You folks are killing it. Every day we see things that we’ve never imagined. Curious dreams, romantic vignettes, nervous puzzles, cathartic explosions… an ever-widening continuum of aspirational wonder and experience from all corners of the planet.

This is our jam. Welcome.

TikiKiti Awards: July


Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lie, welcome to the month of July!

The margins continue to get narrower in our TikiKiti judge jams. In the latest round of tabulations we came up with a three-way tie for fourth place, which means this is another Bonus Content post! Six videos! Can you believe it? Keep feeling fascination, everybody!

1. Director: TheArtElaquare
Artist: Marina & The Diamonds
Song: “Teen Idle”
Category: Mashup

Is that cat real? We’d be lion if we said we were unimpressed by the presence of the King of Beasts. Photoshop or Rent-A-Critter? In addition to Simba, the judges were fairly floored by the seamless editing and sumptuous visual choices.

2. Producer: Smith Video Productions
Artist: Gallant
Song: “Weight In Gold”
Category: Performance

Powerhouse choreography and nimble camerawork are all you need to make a statement. Dancer Chaos Omnivox has enough power to light up a small country.

3. Producer: Anders Overgaard
Artist: Alan Walker
Song: “Spectre”
Category: Narrative

Love is a silly game… Until it isn’t. A surprisingly enjoyable romantic drama deftly rendered.

4. Producer: Ilker Toy
Artist: Dredg
Song: “Down To The Cellar”
Category: Narrative

There’s definitely a vibrant international flavor this month, and Turkish scenarist Ilker Toy has no problem imagining a world of possibilities.

4. Producer: The Gurung Group
Artist: Phosphenes
Song: “Know This Time”
Category: Narrative

Genuine poignancy is hard to pull off, but the Gurung Family (siblings?) makes it look easy in an artfully moving short from Nepal.

4. Producer: Silens Films/Oshin
Artist: Daughter
Song: “Still”
Category: Narrative

Identity and familial conflict are prevalent themes in Unofficial Music Videos from anywhere on the planet. Figuring out how and where to put your best foot forward can take time.

Questions? Comments? Clarification? Send ’em our way! Nothing makes our day more than original correspondence from actual people. Call us crazy, but sorting out spam is a lonely business.

The Winner’s Circle

As promised, we’re going to spotlight the creative efforts from our last three Barclay Award winners (there was a tie in June, hence two winners) and isolate some of the singular elements that contributed to their victories.

Director: Roma Kong
Artist: Lady Gaga
Song: “Bloody Mary”
Category: Narrative

It’s not always necessary to make a spectacle, but here director Roma Kong successfully crafts a big-budget blockbuster that cunningly combines costumed pageantry with a horror movie sensibility.

The madhouse setting is reminiscent of the Peter Weiss play, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. Like its thematic predecessor, the narrative illustrates the fundamental divide between the idea of helping or “rehabilitating” humanity versus simply exploiting our suffering for the entertainment of others.

The presence of a Jesus and a Mary Magdalene embodies the conflict of divine aspirations with all-too-human desires, and the result is madness, apparently. The burden of creating art and images that stand on their own is simply too much for ordinary mortals. A once noble vision is transformed into something grotesque, a horrific symbol of our inability to grasp what’s truly important.

Director: Román Reyes
Artist: Oh Wonder
Song: “Technicolour Beat”
Category: Performance

Now this is a performance video, perhaps the best we’ve seen. Román Reyes takes a very different approach to storytelling and boils it all down to the artful positioning of dancer Nora Peinador in a number of shimmering tableaux—and it succeeds brilliantly.

We often bandy the term “commitment” when reviewing our videos and here is a sterling case in point. The subtle movements of Ms. Peinador are in stark contrast to King’s Freak Show cabaret, but no less expressive, as each gesture is delivered from the soul, and carries myriad meanings.

In the hands of artists like Reyes and Peinador, we get dozens of stories for the price of one. By turns hypnotic, sensual, and heartbreaking, “Technicolor Beat” is a seamless, moving objet d’art that requires neither context nor wardrobe.

Producer: Miguel Angel
Artist: Brockhampton
Song: “Sister/Nation”
Category: Narrative

Thanks to the magic of algorithms, TikiKiti attracts a whopping number of international student videos, most of which are meditations on the mundane aspects of adolescent existence.

I personally have watched several dozen short films that include scenes of students waking up, brushing their teeth, and gathering their backpacks for school.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with verisimilitude. After all, we tell what we know, right? But you have to ask yourself at some point in the process: is this a story worth telling? Does my ambivalence about reality transcend the form and actually resonate on some level?

Director Miguel Angel pulls off a rare feat by ingeniously parodying the typical student video of kids goofing their way through some badass hip-hop tune to mostly comic effect. This is just the setup before the rug gets yanked out from under us.

Angel, whose man-crush on director Quentin Tarantino is apparent from the opening credits, ramps up the danger level significantly and soon we’re not sure what we’re watching. Our silly teen protagonists have gone for a joyride and seemingly gotten themselves into a world of grownup trouble, where actions have consequences.

Angel and his actors have provided us with an apt metaphor for onset adulthood, one filtered through a cinematic filter. It’s a time when life transitions from a teen comedy into a gritty action flick.