March 28 2013

The Art of MTV: A New Exhibit Puts Your Wasted Youth in Focus

New York-To Do

If you grew up in the early-‘80s-to-late-‘90s in a non-Amish household, you probably spent a couple hundred hours of your life watching videos on MTV — the same 20-odd clips, over and over again, until every lyric and jump cut was seared on your cerebellum. Though your parents never quite understood your fascination with watching what were, essentially, CD commercials, The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria certainly does, and has a brilliant new exhibition on now.

“Spectacle: The Music Video” is a rousing multi-media tribute to the art form's “lasting effects on popular culture globally,” packed with artifacts (animation stills from A-ha’s “Take on Me”; custom props created for Björk’s "Wonderlust"”), artist-specific installations, and a tightly curated selection of the most historically relevant mini-movies of all time. The exhibit runs through June 16th. Take mom and dad next time they're in town!

Of course, everyone has an opinion on what makes a classic video. Below, the Standard Sounds crew counts down their favorites ...

#15. Fatboy Slim, “Praise You”
Year: 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Highlight: Jonze's uncredited performance as the dance troupe leader

#14. George Michael, “Freedom! '90”
Year: 1990
Director: David Fincher
Highlight: Linda Evangelista's legs. Shy Michael refused to appear in the video and used supes instead.

#13. Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game”
Year: 1989
Director: Herb Ritts
Highlight: Helena Christensen's nuclear hotness

#12. Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”
Year: 1994
Director: Spike Jonze
Highlight: The Boys' hilarious hack acting

#11. Nirvana, “Heart Shaped Box”
Year: 1993
Director: Anton Corbjin
Highlight: The singing crows

#10. Sinead O'Connor, “Nothing Compares 2U”
Year: 1990
Director: John Maybury
Highlight: :'(

#9. Missy Elliott, “The Rain”
Year: 1997
Director: Antonine Wagner
Highlight: Missy's trash bag couture

#8. Daft Punk, “Da Funk”
Year: 1996
Director: Spike Jonze
Highlight: "No radios"

#7. A-ha, “Take On Me”
Year: 1985
Director: Steve Barron
Highlight: When the poster boy comes to life. Gets us every time.

#6. Nine Inch Nails, “Help Me I Am in Hell”
Year: 1992
Directors: Eric Goode and Serge Becker
Highlight: It stars The Standard's F&B director, Howard Schaffer! True story.

#5. Kanye West, “Runaway”
Year: 2010
Director: Kanye West
Highlight: The creepy piano

#4. Jamiroquai, “Virtual Insanity”
Year: 1997
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Highlight: Jay's neo-moonwalk

#3. Madonna, “Justify My Love”
Year: 1990
Director: Jean-Baptiste Mondino
Highlight: The S&M hotel-hallway tableau

#2. Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”
Year: 1986
Director: Stephen R. Johnson
Highlight: The chicken

#1. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
Year: 1983
Director: John Landis
Highlight: When Mike's eyes turn yellow. Still scawy!