MVA Madness ELITE 8

Who said the madness can't last until May? Your votes have narrowed down our contenders into an elite selection of video artists: Michael Jackson and Beyoncé in the orange bracket, David Bowie and Prince in the green, Lady Gaga and Janelle Monáe in yellow, and finally Radiohead and Bjork in blue. All of these artists make great videos that help promote and express their music, and represent many musical genres and eras. Let's take a look at the journey each took to get to this moment, and make the hard decisions to select only one for each quadrant. 

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UPDATE: These polls have been closed! Scroll down to see who made it to the Final 4, and check back soon to vote!

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The only 1st and 2nd seed left in the entire competition come from the orange bracket and for just a minute, my predictions are looking pretty good. But that is going to change very soon. Beyoncé had her easiest win in the competition so far over Missy Elliott, which was a surprise to me since Missy has been one of the defining artists of the modern hip hop music video. Another surprise for me was just how close Michael was to losing his last match against his sister, Janet - he narrowly made it into the quadrant finals with one single vote! Although both of these brilliant artists are in this bracket because of their choreography, we would not be doing them justice if we did not also recognize that they are masters of concept and narrative, while also being some of the greatest performers of all time. In many ways, I see Beyoncé as continuing what Michael started; she continues to expand the medium to greater heights by weaving story and commentary through music, lyric, and visual - something that no one can claim to do without having first been inspired by the King of Pop himself. 

So here we are. Will you vote for the king that started it all, or the Queen who continues to expand the kingdom beyond what anyone ever imagined? Let's watch a few more videos before we make a decision...

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What an amazing match-up. Although neither of these artists had much competition in the first round, since then they have knocked out huge video makers, like The Beastie Boys and P!nk - both of whom I thought would make it this far! These two legends have defined so much of pop culture and actively carved out space for all of us who don't feel like we fit whatever normative society tries to force on us. Prince and David Bowie will always be two icons for the artistic community and the queer community, without ever labeling themselves directly on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They are also two artists who experimented with music video narrative, refusing to stick with individual videos lacking context. Prince was known for pairing his music with film, or tying it directly to current events, always situating his art in a larger story. Because of this, his music videos gave us a sense of continuity. Sometimes we would feel a loyalty to his character because we felt that we knew him through Purple Rain, or his own performance persona. Similarly, Bowie regularly tied multiple videos together through a single character or idea, just as his albums can be grouped into different Bowie eras. Both of these stars are intimately connected with their visual aesthetic, and especially in their gender presentation and exploration, Bowie and Prince have created videos that are just as iconic as their culture-establishing music. Let's watch a few before we make this impossible call, shall we?

And assuming you're still weighing the evidence, a few more brilliant Bowie vids for you: Blue Jean, Lazarus, Ashes to Ashes, Underground, and I'm Afraid of Americans.

In case you haven't had your fill of great Prince videos, here are a few links: Diamonds and Pearls, Raspberry Beret, Kiss, Partyman, and When Doves Cry.

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This is certainly an interesting one, with Lady Gaga having an edge in terms of her consistency and the sheer volume of iconic videos she's put out over the span of her career so far, but Janelle has the edge of being front and center of this current cultural moment, having just released her "emotion picture" under the same name has her album, Dirty Computer, while also coming out as queer/pansexual in this week's Rolling Stones interview. Both of these video stars are well on their way to legendary status, and have time and time again used visuals to enhance our experience of the music, while also prodding us to ask deeper questions of the connections between image and lyric. They also have presented us with an interesting balance of persona and real person; Janelle Monáe has regularly hid herself behind a fictional afrofuturistic world, but with her most recent releases has let us in to see more of her personal life without giving up on the theatrical sci-fi brand that has served her so well. Lady Gaga has hid behind a multitude of antics that often served as metaphorical commentary for society's obsession with fame or consumerism, but recently has opened the doors to share more of herself with her fans through the documentary "Five Foot Two". Lady Gaga managed to take out top-seeded Rihanna last round, and Janelle Monáe managed to take out OK Go, who were an unmistakable favourite to win the whole thing! I think I know how I'm going to vote, but anything could happen by the time I scroll to the bottom. To make it even more difficult, here are some videos to watch:

And of course there are plenty of other Lady Gaga videos to inform your choice: Judas, Applause, Joanne, Telephone (with Beyoncé), and Bad Romance.

You want some more? Okay, here are a few more links: Many Moons, Cold War, Electric Lady, Pynk, and Yoga.

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And now for our final choice of the Elite 8. In one corner we have Radiohead, thought by some to be the greatest living rock band in existence. In this competition so far, Radiohead has managed to beat out Kanye West and M.I.A., both favourites to win this bracket. Their videos are often understated and beautiful, built on a singular concept and seen through with great attention and devotion. They are not often flashy or even high budget, but draw the viewer in while pairing visuals to music that has an almost hypnotic effect. In the other corner, we have the Icelandic anomaly, Bjork, who has made every kind of music video you can imagine (but probably not in the way you imagined it). She has regularly brought her creative eccentricity to her art, making videos that feel as fresh and fascinating as her music, enough that you chose her over the foundational music video artist, Peter Gabriel. Only one can represent the blue quadrant, and the only thing left to do is vote... after watching some music videos!

Other Radiohead videos you might want to consider include Just, Paranoid Android, Go To Sleep, Karma Police, and Fake Plastic Trees.

 

Bjork has some other videos worth consideration too, including Triumph of a Heart, The Gate, Hunter, Wanderlust, Mutual Core, and All Is Full of Love

So many brilliant videos by so many brilliant artists in the world, but who would you like to see win MVA Madness? The choice is up to you - vote early, share your favourite videos to gather even more support for your MVAMadness choice, and don't forget to come back for the Final 4!