Spike Jonze’s 10 best music videos, before he was an Oscar winner

Spike Jonze poses in the press room with the award for the best original screenplay of the year for “Her” during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Way back in 1994 — two decades before his sci-fi-rom-com “Her” would snare an Oscar for best original screenplay — Spike Jonze was busy defining what new music should look like.

The young director’s highly inventive music videos were fun, cool, hilarious, ubiquitous and massively influential — and his work with the Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, the Breeders and Weezer set the tone and feel for years of MTV to come. I remember hairball teenagers actually taking up golf after Jonze’s video for Dinosaur Jr.’s “Feel the Pain” landed on “120 Minutes.” And it only got bigger. In 1999, Jonze might have invented flash mobs with his video for Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You.”

Need a quick primer? Here are Jonze’s 10 best music videos:

1. The Pharcyde, “Drop” (1996)
?emit lla fo oediv cisum tselooc eht siht sI.

2. Wax, “Califonia” (1995)
Music video as haiku.

3. Fatboy Slim, “Weapon of Choice” (2000)
It’s a top-three Jonze video. Is it a top-three Christopher Walken role?

4. Bjork, “It’s Oh So Quiet” (1995)
Why can’t “Glee” be more like this?

5. Beastie Boys, “Sabotage” (1994)
Hip-hop legends truly having a blast.

6. Kanye West and Jay-Z, “Otis” (2011)
Hip-hop legends truly having a blast.

7. Weezer, “Sweater Song” (1995)
Jonze also directed Weezer’s “Happy Days” mash-up clip for “Buddy Holly,” but that one didn’t have a slow-motion dog stampede.

8. The Breeders, “Cannonball” (1993)
In 1993, this is what rock-and-roll sounded like and looked like.

9. Velocity Girl, “I Can’t Stop Smiling” (1994)
All ironic portrait sessions at Sears date back to this video from Washington’s own Velocity Girl.

10. MC 900 Foot Jesus, “If I Only Had a Brain” (1994)
Perhaps the best example of how Jonze could make a lousy song seem really cool.

Film critic Ann Hornaday: The Oscars go according to plan

TV critic Hank Stuever: Happily wasting too much time at Ellen’s easy-does-it Oscars show

Full recap: Oscars 2014

Photos: Academy Awards 2014

Photos: The best moments from the Oscars

Full list: Winners and of nominees 

Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about the bliss of summer songs, the woe of festival fatigue and a guide on how to KonMari your record collection.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read Lifestyle



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Emily Yahr · March 3, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.