Best Music Videos of 2020*

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*As far as we’re concerned, that is

It’s that time of year — just about every media outlet you can swipe at publishes a “Best Of” listicle. Books, movies, tv shows, songs, music videos, video games, Internet memes. Even lists of lists. You name the subject and somebody’s got a list.

Well, so do we. It’s a quirky little list, consisting of five music-related videos we enjoyed this year. Notice we said “music-related.” With one exception these aren’t really music videos, per se. And all are in some way reflections of the current pandemic. But still entertaining for all that. We hope they help lift your spirits.

So enough disclaimers already. Here’s the list:

5. Paul Simon “American Tune Til Further Notice”

We’ve already blogged about this poignant and intimate video by one of the country’s most enduring songsmiths. Simon’s “American Tune” takes us back to his 1973 album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, when “Kodachrome” was in heavy rotation on Top 40 radio. Though it’s missing the propulsive rhythm of that single, “American Tune” is arguably the better song. It certainly resonates with us in this plague year. Here it is again, twittering birds and all:

Paul Simon “American Tune"
Click to play on YouTube

4. Sylvan Esso “Ferris Wheel”

So here’s the actual music video we mentioned earlier. Well, sort of. Compared to some productions out there, it’s more of an anti-music video in fact.

This isn’t even the official “Ferris Wheel” video. Sylvan Esso made this one for the TBS program Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. We love the dogs (and the pig) running alongside this dilapidated pickup (fix that tail light, buddy!) jouncing along a dirt road somewhere in rural North Carolina.

It’s daft, mesmerizing and thoroughly enjoyable:

3. Rock Bottom Remainders “Don’t Stand By Me”

The Rock Bottom Remainders began as a charity fundraising act for a book fair in 1992. Amateur musicians all, the group included several literary superstars — Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson and Scott Turow among them. They “played music as well as Metallica writes novels,” in the words of Dave Barry.

The Remainders performed off and on (mostly off) for the next two decades. Although they never produced an album, RBR marked their 1993 East Coast tour with (what else) a book: Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude. (If you can find the ultra-rare audiobook edition we produced, let us know and we’ll make a cash offer.)

In this video, the Ben E. King classic gets the full (virtual) Remainders treatment, with lyrics updated by Dave Barry for these troubled times. As always, the authors have employed a ringer to help raise the over-all musicianship. All donations go to help struggling booksellers and their staff members.

Don’t Stand By Me
Click to play on YouTube

2. Boston Dynamics “Do You Love Me”

Robots. Dancing. ‘Nuff said.

1. Little Kids Rock “Touch of Grey”

We’re loving this video, an update of the Grateful Dead’s one and only hit record. The Dead’s own video was kind of a masterpiece in itself, as we recall. But this collaboration of Little Kids Rock with the Rex Foundation has taken the jam band classic to a whole new level of awesomeness. With a stellar cast of guest musicians, including New Orleans’ own Trombone Shorty … we give you the video that we enjoyed the most in 2020:

Click to play on YouTube

The only thing there is to say
Every silver lining’s got a touch of grey

I will get by
I will survive

Robert Hunter