by Dan Jackson and Christine Werthman
You’d think it would be easy to hold someone’s attention for three measly minutes, but today’s music video makers have their work cut out for them. With so many bright, shiny, meme-worthy things popping up online every second, it’s rare that we sit through an entire video without tabbing away at least once. But there were some videos that baited us into swallowing them hook, line—and drunken squirrel. Read on to see CMJ’s top 10 videos of 2012.

10. Real Estate – “Easy”

Best Show On WFMU host Tom Scharpling has quietly become the most consistent music video director out there, putting out poignant and hilarious videos for Aimee Mann, Nude Beach, Titus Andronicus and more. But with the playful, irreverent video for Real Estate’s “Easy,” he really outdid himself. This clever clip about an overly aggressive “street team” harkens back to a time when funny music videos were actually, you know, funny. -DJ

09. Odd Future – “Oldie”

It was a weird year for Odd Future: They released a big, kinda dumb video, aired a television show on Adult Swim, dropped some solid (and sorta slept-on) music, helped put out a pretty good Trash Talk album, and, oh yeah, Earl Sweatshirt came back. But nothing captured the goofy, youthful energy of the group quite like the video for its 10-minute album closer, “Oldie.” The Lance Bangs-directed clip is about as simple as they come, yet its easygoing charm shined through. For a group that often seems to be trying too hard, “Oldie” felt like a leisurely victory lap and a possible hint of what’s to come. -DJ

08. Perfume Genius – “Hood”

Michael Hadreas makes really sad songs. But his video for “Hood,” which opens with Hadreas being cradled in the arms of beefy porn star Arpad Miklos, is a surprisingly amusing video. Though not everyone was in on the joke: The album’s 16-second ad promo, which featured shots from the video, was pulled off of YouTube for not being “family safe.” Michael Stipe got involved, YouTube looked homophobic, and while the ad stayed away, the video still remains and probably got more hits than it ever would have thanks to that stupid controversy. -CW

07. Killer Mike – “Big Beast”

Killer Mike making a big, action-filled, ’70s exploitation-movie-style video for his all-star R.A.P. Music single “Big Beast” feels a little obvious, sure, but sometimes the obvious choice is the best choice, and this is definitely one of those situations. Car chases, buckets of gore, strippers with corpse paint, Bun B’s impeccably trimmed beard—what’s not to love? -DJ

06. Grimes – “Oblivion”

Claire Boucher doesn’t strike me as a sports enthusiast (though she does like shooting guns). And this theory is supported by her video for “Oblivion.” You’re not supposed to show up to a football game, or a motorbike rally, and sing to yourself. People will probably think you’re a freak. But that’s exactly what Boucher does in this clip, as she wanders around stadiums looking like a lost, pink-haired cyberpunk who stumbled onto the set of Friday Night Lights. -CW

Next page: CMJ’s Top Five Videos For 2012

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