SSTV Music Video Awards Picks

Each year the folks at Space Shower TV select the best PVs of the past year to recognize and present with awards; I've been given the task of watching all five insane hours of PVs to give you my thoughts. As I watched these PVs, I formed my opinions around four categories: the video I think should win, the video I think will actually win, best song, and "WTF was this nominated?”. Follow along as I geek out, question the nominators' taste, and get to know some of the very best PVs of 2010.

Written by Erin Grace

Male Video

KREVA - "Kamo" : Kreva dances with himself
Saito Kazuyoshi - "Zutto Suki Datta" : Kazuyoshi joins The Beatles
Suga Shikao - "Sayonara Home Run" : Shikao travels by paper
Hirai Ken - "Ai Shiteru" : The dead are remembered
YO-KING - "Sekai no Moto" : Love is animated 

"Sayonara Home Run" is my pick for winner and for best song in this category - both the song and video are fun and interesting, and I especially loved the use of the stop-motion effects.  Despite that, "Ai Shieteru" just has a stronger emotional impact, not to mention some amazing acting, and will probably be the winner. The animation angle was very cute in “Sekai no Moto,” though I didn’t find it as innovative as “Sayonara Home Run.” Meanwhile, Saito Kazuyoshi gets a solid "WTF?" for trying to be cool by copying The Beatles... making himself a copy-cat, and therefore not cool.

Female Video

Amuro Namie - "Break It" : Shiny sets and competent dancing
Kato Miliyah - "X.O.X.O." : Strange sets and weird dancing
Kimura Keala - "Ring a Ding Dong" : Kaela gets lost in a Scooby-Doo mansion
Superfly - "Eyes on Me" : Superfly is shipped to sea
Hamasaki Ayumi - "Virgin Road" : Ayu and hubby are the new Bonnie and Clyde

Kato Miliyah is absolutely my pick on this one: although "X.O.X.O." is essentially just a dance video, her fresh and slightly weird treatment of the sets and dancing make it stand out from the crowd. Sadly, it'll probably lose to "Break It," which is nothing more than a typical dance video and therefore likely more palatable for the judges. Ayu offers the best song, though, bringing her usual high level of performance with emotive vocals and building intensity.  Kimura Keala gets the "WTF?" as she goes off the quirky-sets-and-weird-dancing deep end. 

Rock Video

9mm Parabellum Bullet - "The Revolutionary" : The band is over exposed
Sakanaction - "Aruku Around" : Sakanaction walks around the lyrics
the HIATUS - "The Ivy" : Necrotizing bodies and bloody statues
THE BAWDIES - "HOT DOG" : Ketchup and mustard bright
ONE OK ROCK - "Kanzen Kanku Dreamer" : Split-screen four-player co-op mode

I will be so disappointed if Sakanaction doesn't win this one.  Although it's becoming more and more common for bands to put their lyrics on-screen as the song plays, Sakanaction's creative and visually stunning treatment of them in "Aruku Around" makes for a beautifully varied PV that I still feel is one of the best of the year.  The HIATUS, however, still beats them as the best song of the group with some of the hardest j-rock I’ve heard yet.  No "WTF?" in this group - all the videos are good. 

Alternative Video

amazarashi - "Christmas" : Teru-teru-bozu saves the day
Clammbon - SUPER*STAR : Mini-Michael Jackson does Japan
group_inou - "THERAPY" : Late-90s internet makes a music video
People In The Box - "Kyuushigai" : Regicide by poker
POLYSICS - "How are you?" : In 3D!!!

The Alternative nominations bring the “WTF?” in almost every video, but usually in a good way. My pick for winner is “How are you?” and it’s hilarious treatment of the new 3D TV fad, but I think it might lose to “Kyuushigai,” which offers a totally surreal animated world, and the best song of the group. “THERAPY” could easily win the “WTF?” award here if it wasn’t so smart and funny, pointing out the shallowness of commercialism through the vehicle of 90s TV, so “Christmas” gets the “WTF?” instead, since it appears to be bizarre without motive. 

Pop Video

Abe Mao - "Lonely" : The making-of-the-PV PV
AKB48 - "Ponytail to Shushu" : Bikinis and dancing
Shoujo Jidai - "GENIE" : Tiny ladies dancing
Perfume - "VOICE" : Treasure hunt in a paper world
MONKEY MAJIK - "SAKURA" : Toyama no Kin-san as a Canadian

Did I say being a copy-cat is bad? I take it back, if only for “SAKURA.” Monkey Majik’s take on the Toyama no Kin-san legend/ TV show is so creative, hilarious, and well-done that it deserves the win for this category, and I think it’ll probably get it. It also nearly gets props as the best song on the list, but I’m just too much of a sucker for “VOICE.” “Ponytail to Shushu” get the “WTF?” for this category; it’s a cute video, but nowhere near the caliber of the other nominees. 

Groove Video

Ishiwatari Junji & Sunahara Yoshinori + Yakushimaru Etsuko - “Kami-sama no Iu Toori” : Apartment listings go modern art
iLL - "Shinu Made DANCE" : Dancing Indians
80KIDZ - "SPOILED BOY feat. LOVEFOXXX" : Cutouts and creepy fingers
DE DE MOUSE - "my favorite swing" : Just another day in Final Fantasy Land
HIFANA - "Matsuri / HAMABEAM" : Demon festival

“Kami-sama no Iu Toori” was so close to taking my pick for winner with its Mondrian-esque treatment of apartment listings, but in the end it only took best song because “Shinu Made DANCE” just killed me. This video is comprised of candid shots of an Indian dance party, complete with saris, the occasional turban, and bad dancing. It perfectly conveys the “dance till you die” feeling of the song. I’ll be surprised if either it or “Kami-sama no Iu Toori” doesn’t take the win. “WTF?” in this category is “Spoiled Boy” which has some interesting elements, but isn’t in the same class, artistically, as the other nominees. 

Conceptual Video

Utada Hikaru - "Goodbye Happiness" : Hikki makes a “U-Tube” video
Going Under Ground - "LONG WAY TO GO" : The band, before they were cool
Chatmonchy - "Koko Dake no Hanashi" : Secret lives of Chatmonchy
TOKYO No. 1 SOUL SET feat.Sucha Rada Parr - "STARDUST” : Tiny race track
Dohatsuten - "Manatsu no Kirigirisu" : Singing school yearbook

“LONG WAY TO GO” deserves the win in this category - it’s old videos of the band taken as they made their way to major, and is so poignant and simple that I was surprised it hadn’t been done before. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Hikki will win, despite that her video is cute but lackluster in comparison. (Being a super star and going on hiatus changes people’s perceptions about what’s a well-executed concept, I guess.) Chatmonchy has the best song, and “STARDUST” easily wins the “WTF?” for having a concept that’s even less well-executed than that in “Goodbye Happiness.” 

Art Direction Video

Abe Fuyumi - "Sora ni Mau" : Love story in sand art
andymori -"CITY LIGHTS" : Paper cutouts take a walk
JASMINE - "Jealous" : Samurai, sakura, and haute couture
DOES - "Bakuchi Dancer" : Dancers and endless loops
BRAHMAN / EGO-WRAPPIN’ - "WE ARE HERE" : Earthquake machines

I’m pretty confident that “WE ARE HERE” will be getting the win for this category, and I’m okay with that: the art, though weird, works into the randomness of the song and is fun to watch. If it doesn’t get the win, though, “Sora ni Mau” will. You already know my thoughts on this video, so I won’t rehash, except to say that it would be robbing four other videos to do it. It does have the best song of the group, though. No “WTF?” in this category; I wasn’t in love with any of these videos, but they’re all worthy of the nomination. 

Shooting Video

Acidman - "ALMA" : Satellite dishes in the dessert
Dragon Ash - "TIME OF YOUR LIFE" : Undoings in slow motion
monobright - "Ame ni Utaeba": Dancers in a projection world
YUKI - "Futari no Story" : On love and narcolepsy
RADWIMPS - "Manifesto” : Musical political rally

Why couldn’t “Ame ni Utaeba”  have been in Art Direction or Conceptual? This is such a gorgeous video it’s a shame that the camerawork doesn’t make it a good choice for “shooting” video. It’ll probably win anyway, though - and it gets my vote for best song. Personally, I’d give the win to “Manifesto,” which uses incredibly subtle camerawork to underline the emotion of the video. (Also, as you’ll see if you watch it, it’s really the only one that should qualify as a “shooting” video at all.) YUKI takes the “WTF?”: not a lot of outstanding camerawork that I saw, and the plot is pretty odd to boot. 

New Artist Video

Arukara - "Catchy wo Kagaku Suru" : Sci-cadelic
[Champagne] - "city" : AKA “camera-trick city”
Shinsei Kamatte Chan - "Rock'n'roll ha Nari Yamanai" : Rock legends of the past
Sekai no Owari - "Fantasy" : The Sekai no Owari Saturday Morning Show
Fear, And Loathing in Las Vegas - "Love at First Sight" : Dancing and moshing

It was a tough choice, but in the end I had to give my vote to “Rock’n’roll ha Nari Yamanai”  - using old videos of live rock performances to express the determination of the band to never stop rocking is smart and simple. If it doesn’t win, it’ll have to be “Cathcy wo Kagaku Suru,” which is colorful and artistic and crazy. My favorite song was “Love at First Sight” - a crazy combination of dance, rock, and death metal that I never realized I wanted - but it also takes the “WTF?” for have a considerably less awesome video than the others in this category. 

Group Video

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION - "Magic Disk" : Ajikan’s Secret CD World
Ikimono-gakari - "Arigatou" : Ikimono-gakari gives an tear-jerking performance
BUMP OF CHICKEN - "Motorcycle" : PV side-scroller
RIP SLYME - "Mata Au Hi Made 2010 Toda-ryuu" : A trip through the Rip Slyme Museum
Remioromen - "Tatsunda Joe" : Boxing and puppeteers

This category is the worst because it’s the best: I sat for literally half an hour, completely unable to decide which video should win, or even get the “best song” distinction. There’s no “WTF?” - all these videos are incredibly good. In the end I picked “Magic Disk” for my choice of winner as well as best song, but it only just edged out the others for both choices, and I couldn’t tell you why. I chose “Motorcycle” for probable actual winner because it’s the most avante-gard... and because I had to pick somebody. In the end, though, it’s anyone’s game in this category. Whoever wins it, deserves it. 

Hip Hop Video

ANARCHY, RINO LATINA II, Kan & MACHO - “24 BARS TO KILL” : East Hemisphere Hip Hop
AK-69 - “PUBLIC ENEMY” : AK-69 is a bank robber
DABO - "Deppa Shinkou" : Hip Hop The Musical
TETRAD THE GANG OF FOUR - "LAILA" : Smoke and zombies
RHYMESTER - "Last Verse" : Technological apocalypse

As good as the Group nominees are, that’s how bad the Hip Hop nominees are. “24 BARS TO KILL” can be the only winner - it was the only one that was creative, well-executed, and impactful. The four artists take you all over Tokyo to show you what it means to be a Japanese rapper, going from Asakusa to Shinjuku to Yokohama. Still, as good as the video was, “PUBLIC ENEMY” still takes the best song. “LAILA” gets the biggest “WTF?” for the ugliest piece of shit video I think I’ve ever seen anywhere. I will never understand how it was nominated. 

Reggae Video

CHEHON - "CHALLENGER" : Chehon get their geometry on
FIRE BALL - “Dreamer” : The real dreamers are the athletes
MIGHTY JAM ROCK - "NO WOMAN, NO LIFE feat. BIG BEAR" : Mighty Jam Rock get in touch with their inner child
MICKY RICH - "SWEET CRUISING feat. AKANE" : Cutouts on a repetitive drive
RYO the SKYWALKER - “Taiyou ni Naritai Yo” : Families paint the an earth mural

I’m sure that “Taiyou ni Naritai Yo” win the real award as easily as it won my props. The video is a warm-fuzzy-fest, with families painting a mural for Ryo and celebrating loving one another. Aww! “NO WOMAN, NO LIFE” was almost as good with kid versions of the group shyly persuing kid versions of their girls.The best song was “SWEET CRUISING,” and it’s too bad it had such a repetitive PV because it looked like it could have been good. “Dreamer” gets the “WTF?”, half because of its assertion that the only dreamers are athletes, and half because it was nominated despite being largely a live PV.