Club Fonograma's Best Music Videos of 2012

“So mundanely tropical & perfect,” commented fellow Fonograma contributor Adrian Mata Anaya as he lobbied to include Chico Unicornio’s “Barceloneta” into this list. It may not have the most intricate storyline (or a story at all), but rarely does a music video harmonize this well with its song with such minimal resources. Spaniard director Paulo Pinto followed the Peruvian experimentalist (wearing awesome orange wayfarers) through the sand and winds of Barceloneta, crafting a truly appetizing travelogue. You can pause at any frame and convert the still into a handsome postcard. Now, whether he looks like Jack White or Julian Casablancas it’s up to you to decide. - CARLOS REYES

Directed by Guillermo Llamas Altamarino, this pretty clip finds Chilean songwriter/producer Andrés Landon as a piñata-human under the Melancólico tag at a shop window. He’s selected by a girl, who is later revealed to be piñata-headed, just like her friends, who beat the sweetness out of Landon at a backyard birthday party, literally extracting candies and tearing his body apart. It's depressing and amusing at the same time. The conclusion, with the singer's body parts strewn on the ground, is somehow reminiscent of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll,” but with some real depth attached to its development. - ENRIQUE COYOTZI

“La Fuerza 
If like much of the Fonograma staff, you also happen to think Pony Bravo’s Un Gramo de Fe has the best album cover in recent memory, then the chances you’ll enjoy Kokoshca’s clip for “La Fuerza” are certain. Directors Iker Insausti and Jeffrey Frigula helmed a clip that cloaks religious cynicism and pukes on the sanity of human dimension. The clip’s narrative linearity grasps its subjects with a divine intellect, finding a main purpose in that morbid “force” that drives agnosticism. The song itself is thrilling – it’s fatalist but bruised in humor, hard-hitting but greedy for hugs. How this is enlisted in the twee-colonized catalog of Elefant Records is beyond reason. - CARLOS REYES

"The calcium of our skeletons is the same calcium from the stars." Patricio Guzmán's Nostalgia de la Luz is easily, the most endearing Latin American documentary of the last ten years. When watching Camila Moreno’s latest music video, “Incendié” (feat. vocals from Andrea Echeverri), it’s hard not to make connections to the Guzmán masterpiece (others could point to Avatar and easily get away with it). Director Sebastián Platz crafted a “hand-made” animated clip (financed via Crowfunding) that’s a feast to the eyes, even if it’s little too fast-paced for contemplation. Sequences like the putrescence of a once-beating heart, or Camila’s return to the womb are especially powerful. Yes it’s derivative and at times scrapbook-y, but there’s no deying this is a gorgeous slice of magical and folk realism. - CARLOS REYES

Unlike many of you, I’m nowhere near getting tired of CANADA’s celluloid approach. Beyond the familiar aesthetic motifs (the horizontal panning, abrupt close-ups, character bondage, etc.), there’s a physicality to their videos that’s really hard-hitting. Their latest knockout, “Alférez Provisional,” is like a recipe for disaster that turns into a gemstone because of its shared unsentimental recital with the song. As always, the band is outspoken and play the sport taking multiple kicks and punches (Ariadna especially, looking stunningly beautiful with the new haircut). Like most of the CANADA catalog, this clip doesn’t shy away from objectification–but rather than being gratuitous, they’ve managed to use folk magic as a narrative tool and as visual ammunition. - CARLOS REYES

“Ojo por 
The leading cut from Klaus & Kinki's third full-length album, Herreros y Fatigas, is a continuation of K&K’s lenience with popcraft. Clip director Chema Garcia Ibarra understands the pristine hubris by which the band holds on to from record to record. In "Ojo Por Diente," unconditional love (the kind that outstrips physical warfare) plays well alongside a story of a bride and groom whose marriage will inevitably come to define who they are as individuals. The future seems quite tragic for the couple, but as long as their sky keeps raining confetti they'll make the best of it. Next stop for the couple: The Wayfarers Chapel. - CARLOS REYES

There’s so much going on inside Alexico’s mind–uncertainty, ghosts, and insecurities–and that can be disturbing but, in a certain morbid way, enjoyable. “Arañas,” first taste of the bizarre crafter’s upcoming EP, is a song seeking new meaning, a bright trail channeled through holy yet deplorable renaissance, and an ultra-vigorous teaser that encounters the Monterrey native in a new metamorphosis of glowing landscapes blackened by pessimistic life analysis (“Crees tener muchos amigos, pero son trolls comiendo rivo”). Besides those wasted, carrilleros junkie buddies, Alexico pours an unstable observation of a creator's crisis where distrust to the work achieved is evident, even painful (“Tu sentido de estética está perdido/Báñate en gasolina y cerillos”). This anxiety has overflowed in the agitated "Arañas," where he enters Cut Copy territory while maintaining a particular gloomy aesthetic. The video, directed by Cargo Collective’s Joshua Cox, was originally recorded for a take from Alexico's last release. The shots found in this celestial sci-fi clip, where Alexico goes for an Aladdin Sane cover look, position him as an angelic ascending figure, evoking rebirth and clicking with this newly found form of freedom. - ENRIQUE COYOTZI

“Putos Señora 
As the ongoing stream of intriguing releases by bands from northern Spain doesn’t seem to stop, Discotéca Océano’s own minimal (in every possible way) punk duo SraSrSra dropped the first video for their upcoming LP Puchao. While most Spanish mediums have been describing it as a spoof-like homage to cine quinqui (a subgenre of crime film that emerged in Spain in the late '70s and '80s), those living on the eastern side of the Atlantic, and born after 1985, might think more of a sort of Captain Ahab doing their own Starsky & Hutch remake. Compressing a baiting series of shenanigans in their less-than-two-minute clip (funniest ones have to be the laser-firing woman and the lone subtitled frame), the song and its video start to reveal themselves not only as the visceral experience one would expect from garage or punk rock, but rather as something far more intriguing and uncommon: conflating the genre’s bare musical structures and stripped-down instrumentations into plain visual and lyrical absurdity. - PIERRE LESTRUHAUT

It wasn’t too long ago that we realized, after failing to properly get behind Mujercitas Terror's great 2011 sophomore release, Excavaciones, just how much this was a band somber-yet-savvy enough for a strong underground cult following, but that still had plenty of mystique to successfully cruise into pop audiences. Already over a decade old and coming off a successful Mexican tour, the porteño trio made use of it to release a split 7” with gorey industrial virtuosos Mueran Humanos and team up with video director Txema Novelo for a purple-hued take on their upbeat post-punk number “Actriz.” Evoking Novelo’s previous clips’ improvisational style and loose framing, the video has something of João Pedro Rodrigues’ To Die Like a Man’s red-filtered woodland tableau scene, but with its characters indistinguishably appearing as either unprotected drifters (“Ya nadie cuidará de mí, tampoco de ti”), or maybe just esoteric paganists (“No mires hacia abajo, ahí van delicados tus chicos lastimados"). - PIERRE LESTRUHAUT

“Peso (NSFW)
“Peso,” the first single from Los Embajadores’ debut album, Faisanes, has gotten a sensual video treatment by notorious director Rosario González. Properly described by fellow writer Giovanni Guillén as “a song that confronts the weight of the world with serious restraint, then progresses into a celestial time-lapse,” this wonderful effort still resounds even more so after every listen. Resembling Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, the clip encounters singer Danaé Morales finalizing a probably long and exhausting journey with a visit to the porn cinema. It turns out melancholic and dramatic. Followed by a mysterious guy (band member Cristóbal Gajardo aka Voz de Hombre) from the mall through the city’s streets until getting to the movies, the denouement of this visual accomplishment is overwhelming. After witnessing Morales’ serene crying exalted by the screen projection's light, we can’t help to doubt and question if the character's wishes (whatever they are) will be fulfilled, if this is actually a happy ending. - ENRIQUE COYOTZI

Moody black and white performance art vibe. Female dancers in lingerie, swim caps and goth makeup. Plenty of crotch shots. As a modern dance enthusiast and feminist, I can't help but cringe just a little. Yet as a music fan and YouTube addict, I keep hitting replay. Argentine director Nacho Masllorens walks a fine line between cliché and genius with his video for Chancha Via Circuito's eerie, trance-like "Amelia," but ultimately comes out winning thanks to his serious editing skills and obvious appreciation of the music. The super-sexy dancers in Leticia Mazur's site-specific piece "Madame" (performed live in 2011 in Buenos Aires to Chancha's track) may as well be robots, their blatant sensuality contrasting with their machine-like movements and utter lack of emotion. The effect is absolutely hypnotic as the collective movements morph into a kaleidoscope of lacy thighs and jiggling cleavage, increasing in intensity and abstraction with the ominous percussion and high echoing cries of the track. I could bore you with interpretations of agency, femininity, and synchronized swimming here, but you wouldn't want that. Better to just hit that replay button. - CLAIRE FRISBIE

White Ninja’s second visual piece, following the weird-as-fuck/can’t turn away video for “El Alfa,” is another monster of a clip. This time we hear “PCU” soundtracking a mockumentary (at least I hope) that takes us into the home life of an artist. An artist that dresses like the dude, collects mirrors, and makes electronic music that goes unappreciated in his own country. The footage is both depressing and hilarious. Director Patricio Hinojosa pokes fun at the current culture where everyone is an artist, and yet most of us are just as basic as the next dut. We see this point further illustrated by the artist’s bouts of ennui, ennui that eventually lead him to playing with guns, stealing a car, then getting kidnapped himself. Absurd? Yes. But we wouldn’t expect any other kind of clip from White Ninja. P.S. I fully anticipate moderno to enter into the mipster lexicon very soon. - GIOVANNI GUILLEN

“Como puedes 
vivir contigo 
Continuing the cycle of the passionately awe-inspiring Rebeldes, Chilean pop genius Alex Anwandter keeps taking giant steps and sets the ideal template for this upcoming summer with the official release of colossal second single, “Cómo puedes vivir contigo mismo?” Its accompanying video is a faithful tribute to Jennie Livingston’s legendary documentary about ball culture in New York during the '80s, Paris Is Burning. With a present day bar in Santiago de Chile as the setting, the second visual installment from production collective 5AM, gracefully pays homage to this transcendent work, both in style and spirit (including a mini heart-throbbing testimony that could’ve been extracted from the film itself). A fervent defender of gay rights, Anwandter reintroduces a valuable document of the LGBT community and cinema with the excellent production we’ve come to expect from him. - ENRIQUE COYOTZI

Lolo Gasparini is on our shortlist for the coolest person in our circuit. We’re captivated by the songwriting, the body-orchestrated moves, and that killer bone structure. Directors Maria Zanetti and Laura Manson have provided Isla de los Estados with the eerie lighting and camera tricks to put the visual narrative to “Gozo.” The theatricality of the clip blossoms in its own romantic dialogue–this is an ode to illusionism as a prime performance art. It starts with a heart-beating spotlight and ends with Lolo’s silhouette shading into the dark. The use of space here is stunning, particularly because of its pristine alignment with the track’s strings and synths (by Kelley Pollar). Between “Balanceo” and “Gozo,” Isla de los Estados is bound to internationalize sooner or later, in the meantime, join the cult. - CARLOS REYES

CANADA understands the potential power of any shot they frame. It's easy to critique the imprint's over-stylization (from the random flickery shots, to the seemingly gratuitous need for objectification), but you can't deny they've achieved a signature in the global audiovisual paradigm. Last year the production house expanded its services becoming a record label to some pretty exciting newcomers, among them, the sensational Pegasvs. Prior to the album release, the band kept a minimalistic aesthetic approach, but with the vigilance of transgressive visionaries at CANADA, they’ve stretched their crescendos to gleaming visual hues. When we called Sergio and Luciana a pair of Renaissance artists, these images are close to what we had in mind. “Brillar” (a melody with flying wings) evokes a sci-fi saga where knights hold the guard but relinquish to a woman’s beauty. As audacious as it is ambitious, this clip has a spectral poise from bone to skin–a colossal awakening achieved through an immaculate valiance. - CARLOS REYES