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TikiKiti Awards: January ’20

Signs, signs, everywhere signs
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?

Ever think we’d look at two months ago as “the good old days?”

The “nasty bug” has evolved into an indiscriminate killer, a viral assassin that has the potential to change our world faster than you can say “gesundheit.”

Folks and friends, we’re going into lockdown and hoping for the best. As long as water, food, and visual entertainment are plentiful, then we should have the fortitude to emerge on the other side of this episode as better humans.

Since we’re all going to be riding the couch for a while, how about a challenge? The Brain Trust is currently incubating an idea about a quarantine-themed music video campaign/competition. More about that very soon.

Remember, TikiKiti is the place where we critically examine your Unofficial Music Videos on a sort-of monthly basis, and present the Barclay Trophy to a deserving filmmaker.

Now let us share the bounty of January’s five finest flicks.

1. Producer: Shayan Rahmati
Artist: ArtSaves
Song: “My Autumn’s Done Come”
Category: Abstract

We’ve seen these elements before. Multi-speed footage of commuter traffic is nothing new, but set upon a cityscape that appears entirely bereft of humanity drives home a grim point. Shayan Rahmati delivers thoughtful images that just keep unfolding.

2. Producer: Sanne Gunes
Artist: Dotan
Song: “Home II”
Category: Narrative

In the military, you find reasons to fight. When that’s over, you find a reason to live. The road home can be filled with dangerous missteps, but it’s the people who live there that make it necessary. An exhilarating and poignant creation.

3. Producer: Elio De Filippo
Artist: Röyksopp
Song: “Running to the Sea”
Category: Narrative

Can we ever really escape the darkness or is it just another part of the landscape that we have to navigate? And what do we sacrifice to achieve our goals? Keep on running and don’t stop until you get there. Evocative and provocative despite redundancy. It’s about the resilience of the human spirit, and how we often don’t get it right the first time.

4. Producer: Cloud (Lou)
Artist: Cloud
Song: “Crawl”
Category: Performance

An illustrated and annotated guide to the various self-doubts and anxieties typically found in both adolescence and art, searingly and skillfully revealed by artist/musician Cloud. We will undoubtedly be hearing and seeing more from her.

5. Producer: J Films
Artist: Aurora
Song: “Churchyard”
Category: Performance

Colors, commitment, and choreography rendered without artiface. The editing and unstable framing lend even more movement to an already moving experience.

Have we told you lately that we adore your work and that these intimate glimpses into wildly different cultures make the world a little smaller for everyone?

We’ve been apart for so long. Let’s get together.

Top Videos of 2019!

We’ve had the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the NBA Slam Dunk competition, but awards season is far from over. The TikiKiti brain trust has decreed that we will presently name the best Unofficial Music Video of 2019, from among our monthly Barclay Award winners.

If you want to send us your valuable opinion or organize an office pool, please do so.

Here are some of the parameters that we consider when rating a video:


1.  Production quality: includes cinematography, production design, location and sets.

2.  Creativity and Performance: includes acting, costumes, dancing, lip syncing, abstract imagery.

3. Editing: includes cutting to beat and motion, creative editing,  fast-paced cutting, image-replacement editing.

Here are your past winners!

December
Producer: Tanya Kostadinova Artist: Boney M, “Daddy Cool”

Filmmaker Tanya Kostadinova conveys megawatts of sustainable energy with editing that writhes like a second skin to an insidiously bouncy pop tune.

November

Producer: Ross Reinier Artist: Gary Clark Jr, “Come Together”

Precision cuts combined with a gnarly rock ‘n’ roll insurrection demonstrates the power of attitude over authoritarianism—an emboldened Philippines youth culture is given a glam makeover by Ross Reinier.

October

Producer: Bhai Log/Team Transformerz Artist: Billie Eilish, “Bury A Friend”

An Indian ghost story about three pals exploring a haunted house set to Billie Eilish’s downbeat dance tune.

September
Producer: Ido Fruchter Artist: Asaf Avidan & The Mojos, “The Ghost of a Thousand Little Lies”

Director Ido Fruchter has successfully fashioned a marvelous miniature dystopian drama that depicts learning and knowledge as a painful process.

August
Producer: Derek Newman Artist: Françoise Hardy, “Comment Te Dire, Adieu?”

Derek Newman deliciously blends self-improvement and horror to sensational effect.

July
Producer: Toey PPS Artist: Arianna Grande, “Bloodline”

Supple editing, a committed performance, and imaginative art direction carried it to the July winner’s circle.


June
Producer: Kathryn Janko Artist: Solomon Wilbur, “Show Me Love”

A trio of overworked paper-pushers try to smash through the glass ceiling while simultaneously realizing their jobs pretty much suck—a powerful and unsettling message.

May
Producer: Will Lucas Artist: Arianna Grande, “Sometimes”

Very robust visual storytelling and sensible use of metaphor imagery, e.g., mousetraps, fishing lures, board games.

April
Producer: Kevin Bodin Artist: Saez, “Les Cours Des Lycées”

The assured craftsmanship exhibited in Kevin Bodin’s provocative video is faultless and hypnotic.

March
Producer: Nicole Adams Artist: Quinn XCII & Kailee Morgue, “What The Hell Happened To Us?”

A flawless narrative continuum—the lip-synch is tight as a drum and every detail is correctly styled and properly executed.

February
Producer: Avikbangalee Artist: Disturbed, “The Sounds of Silence”

Equal parts inspiring and visually compelling, this video from Bangladesh shimmers like a neon painting.


January

Producer: Rank The Lion Artist: Yellow Ostrich, “Whale”

Here’s a budget throwback to music video buffoonery of the highest order.

Okay, you’ve seen the contenders. We’ve assembled an august panel of judges for the occasion, but by all means jump and make yourself heard! Comments, criticism, comedy, controversy… We welcome it all.

TikiKiti Awards: December ’19

When you first took my hand/On a cold Christmas Eve/You promised me/Broadway was waiting for me

Theoretically, it’s Christmas. Now that’s a great song title.

Icebergs are melting, the waters are rising, and there’s a nasty bug going around the office. So let’s bundle up with a hot drink and watch this month’s pageant of Unofficial Music Videos, lovingly created by creative types just like you.

TikiKiti is the place where we rate, curate, and bloviate over videos on a monthly basis, and present the Barclay Trophy to the amateur visual artist with the most promise.

Let’s unwrap our Top Five toys for December.

1. Producer: Tanya Kostadinova
Artist: Boney M
Song: “Daddy Cool”
Category: Performance

Bright lights, big city, and girls having naughty fun at a peep show and psychedelic carnival. Tanya Kostadinova conveys megawatts of sustainable energy with editing that writhes like a second skin to an insidiously bouncy pop tune.

2. Producer: Jeff Scher
Artist: Inventing Fire
Song: “Handlebars”
Category: Abstract

Utilizing an assortment of animation techniques and effects, producer Jeff Scher explores the allure of the open road, and captures the joy of leaving wreckage (emotional and otherwise) in the rearview.

3. Producer: Vipul Devrani
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “Bury A Friend”
Category: Performance

One of the symptoms of being a hardcore Billie Eilish fan is the overwhelming desire to dance in a haunted house. Exorcise the creeps right out of your life and take control.

4. Producer: Corban Phillips
Artist: Tenth Avenue North
Song: “Paranoia”
Category: Performance

When you’re in high school, the need for peer approval can be a necessary evil that seemingly dogs your every step. And everywhere you go—there you are.

5. Producer: Laura Shi & John Huang
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “Bury A Friend”
Category: Narrative

More friends are buried. The Eilish song acts as a banishment incantation to our own worst tendencies. Spoiler alert: The devil whispering in your ear is you.

This month, it seems the common ground we’re finding is ourselves. Who are we, and do we always have our own best interests at heart? Should we drive away temptation or simply recognize that we occasionally seek the darkness, despite advice from the better angels of our nature?

Getting to the heart of the artist can be a bumpy ride, so buckle up. There be monsters.

TikiKiti Awards: November ’19

“But one lesson I have learned/It’s not to trust you when my back is turned/So don’t be phonin’ tellin’ me you’re blue/cos’ baby I suffer, too/When the night falls/When the night falls.”

November already?

Traditionally, this is the time of year that we give thanks for still being here, fogging the mirrors on Planet Earth, the only home we’ve ever known.

It’s a place where visionaries, sullen teens, posh private school kids, and emerging artists from all over the map send us Unofficial Music Videos for perusal and possible praise.

That’s basically it. On a monthly basis, usually rooted in the recent past, we award the Barclay Trophy to the budding auteur whose work knocks our collective socks off.

So without further ado, our Top Five for November.

1. Producer: Ross Reinier
Artist: Gary Clark Jr
Song: “Come Together”
Category: Abstract

Now this is editing you can dance to! Precision cuts combined with a gnarly rock ‘n’ roll insurrection demonstrates the power of attitude over authoritarianism. We see an emboldened youth culture given a glam makeover by director Ross Reinier. If the kids are united, we will never be divided.

2. Producer: Sean Corbin
Artist: The Struts
Song: “Body Talks”
Category: Narrative

Great casual choreography and loads of editing flair! It’s a credit to producer Sean Corbin that the video flows like water, never once pausing for breath. This, kids, is showbiz with all the requisite snap, crackle, and pop.

3. Producer: Megan Lang
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “You Should See Me In A Crown”
Category: Abstract

Our heroine uses secret mystic woman powers to cast off her oppressors—lousy boyfriends, mansplainers, dirty old men—and takes a victory lap. Billie Eilish continues to serve as the patron saint of the Emerging Young Female Empowerment genre.

4. Producer: Kazuhiko Hiromaki
Artist: Machina
Song: “Namu Amitibul”
Category: Abstract

Managing to be both austere and vibrant isn’t easy but this one pulls it off. The mood and sound shifts gracefully from surface world sensations to inner turmoil freakout, and it really builds exquisitely.

5. Producer: Latymer Media
Artist: Oli Orson
Song: “Dance With Me Tonight”
Category: Performance

Hey kids, let’s put on a show! Can we call this “adorkable” and leave it at that?

More than ever, our video offerings are reflecting the tension and stress that’s become the new normal. And when you can no longer deal with all the hate, corruption, and lies that rain down like a manure typhoon?

You take action and “come together” as we see in the first video. Or dance like there’s no tomorrow—because there may not be.

TikiKiti Awards: April 2019

“I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse/For the crime of having no dough/Now here I am back out on the street/For the crime of having nowhere to go.”

Glad to have you back for another trip around the video Mulberry Bush with our five top-shelf entries from April. Did you get your taxes done? I tried to tell the IRS that no one was interested in seeing my taxes, but we’re still miles apart on that subject.

This month’s Top Five includes impressive work from France, Thailand, and Indonesia, proving once again that teen angst transcends all borders and timelines.

As you are no doubt aware, the top finisher for the month will collect the esteemed Barclay Award for Excellence in Video Arts. If you’re a past winner, why don’t you send us a snap of the trophy perched majestically on the mantle in your lovely home? Besides, we hardly ever hear from you except for Christmas and birthdays!

1. Producer: Kevin Bodin Films
Artist: Saez
Song: “Les Cours Des Lycées”
Category: Narrative

Oh, thank heavens it was all just a dream. The denim-vest wearing French protagonist is executed by a disappointed girlfriend for the crime of being lame. The assured craftsmanship exhibited in Kevin Bodin Films’ provocative production is faultless and hypnotic.

2. Producer: Unlocked Films
Artist: Alt-J
Song: “In Cold Blood”
Category: Narrative

Another stylistic knock-out from Barclay Award winner Jesse Locke and the Unlocked Films team. A true Battle of the Titans plays out before our unbelieving eyes, somehow combining Tarantino, Italian opera, and big-time wrassling to full blooming effect.

3. Producer: Dino Squirrel
Artist: New York Dolls
Song: “Stranded in the Jungle”
Category: Narrative

Superb animation welded to a tasty tune. Pro-level moves from Dino Squirrel, and we look forward to more.

4. Producer: Pond TR
Artist: Krewella
Song: “Be There”
Category: Narrative

What begins as pop video confection turns apocalyptic and deeply personal—a father worries that he can’t keep his daughter safe in this touching tale from Thailand.

5. Producer: Riki Sodikin
Artist: Kodaline
Song: “Caught In The Middle”
Category: Narrative

Deceptively and sweetly simple, this Indonesian entry radiates the unbridled joy of creativity. Finding your joy is the key to unlocking it all.

My apologies to Marie Kondo, but she’s definitely on to something.

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.

Billboard’s Top Fan-Made Videos

SketchShe

While scaring up internet intelligence on Unofficial Music Videos, I happened upon Billboard magazine’s “10 Most Popular Fan-Uploaded Music Videos From 2015.” As the title clearly indicates, it’s a popularity contest, as one would expect coming from a chart-focused publication.

There’s nothing wrong with winning the popular vote, but Billboard’s list would seem to be another example of rewarding the most familiar formulas, e.g., one video is for the ubiquitous “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. Even though innovation isn’t the goal, the list does include some noteworthy highlights.

Two of the top 10 videos are treatments of “Watch Me (Whip & Nae Nae)” by Atlanta artist Silento, with this performance by Heaven King and her crew drawing over 190 million views.

Let’s face it: You can’t go wrong with cute kids in a video, and Heaven King and her dancing divas are downright adorable. The choreography reveals plenty of hard work and preparation, but it’s still joyfully ragged, and practically begs the viewer to join the fun. It’s a good time and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In this and other videos (shot by her mom), we see Heaven driving a “fancy car” with her dog, and she even has her own little entourage, a child’s view on the trappings of adult success. Hopefully when she’s older and a bit more worldly, she can create inspiring videos about having the smarts to avoid the usual pits and snares that gobble up our young creatives.

Elsewhere on Billboard’s list we get a heaping dose of ambition, as the Rockin’ 1000, a veritable army of musicians, covers Foo Fighters’ “Learn To Fly” in order to convince bandleader Dave Grohl to bring FF to Cesena, Italy for a concert. As the director himself says in the video, it was a project that took over a year to make.

The supple editing and swooping camerawork is impressive, as is the sheer scope of the project. In that regard, it’s the exact opposite of Heaven and her friends picking up a few steps. One can’t help but admire the logistical sophistication of the endeavor, which paid off to the tune of over 36 million views (and presumably, a Foo Fighters concert).

Apparently Mime Through Time is a “thing” perhaps inspired by the viral success of The Late Late Show’s Carpool Karaoke. Here, three Austrailian friends known as SketchShe share a ride through rock history, complete with costume changes and a hurricane of remain-in-your-seat jigs, gyrations, and gesticulations.

The premise is original, energetic, and once again extends an enthusiastic invitation to the viewer to rock along, whether stuck in traffic or stuck behind a desk. Shake what Mama gave you!

The ending is also funny as hell, and it compelled me to watch more Mime Through Time videos by SketchShe, whose groovy moves have attracted over 40 million views to YouTube. Nice job, ladies!

It’s encouraging to know that Unofficial Music Videos (even popular ones) reveal variety and imaginative solutions, qualities we hope to cultivate further at TikiKiti.

This is a test…

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