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Surreal Music Video
There are a few basic routes you can take when making a music video. You can show the band performing the song, or tell a story (which may or may not relate to the song itself)... or you can take the artistic path and just throw a bunch of weird stuff on the screen in time to the music.

These videos either have no story at all or random Mind Screwy stories. Many Animated Music Videos fall into this category. Usually the imagery will be intercut with or somehow involve the band performing, but sometimes they go all-out and dispense with the band shots as well.


Examples:

  • Madonna: "Like a Prayer", where she kisses a saint, the video it's about racism in a surreal/artistic form. "Express Yourself", which is influenced by German expressionist director Fritz Lang. "Cherish", which she appears with mermaids on a beach. "Vogue", which shows an art deco collection and a Hollywood's Golden Era-esque photography; the dance is influenced by the underground dance of the same name. "Bedtime Story" which is a surrealism video, a live-action version of surrealistic paintings, it's a dream-esque scene video. "The Power of Goodbye", which shows a post-apocalyptic world. "Nothing Really Matters", influenced by traditional Japanese fashion.
  • The undisputed king of music video surrealism is Michel Gondry. Some examples:
    • Foo Fighters, "Everlong". Takes place partially in dreams, but not All Just a Dream as such. It involves giant phones, band members discarding false skins to reveal their true identities, nunchucks made literally from two pieces of firewood hastily chained together, and Dave Grohl (dressed as Sid Vicious) gaining a massive right hand with which to administer bitch slaps of death.
    • Chemical Brothers, "Let Forever Be." Life is tough, especially when you keep splitting into parallel selves who perform Busby Berkeley Numbers.
    • Also by them, "Star Guitar", is very surreal, but that doesn't stop it from being the coolest thing ever.
    • Not that surreal when you notice that everything is going in the beat of the music.
  • The undisputed king of horrifying music video surrealism is Chris Cunningham.
    • His most famous video is probably the one for Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin. The video features a number of children terrorising an old lady walking her dog. Each child has the face of Richard D. James.
    • He also directed another Aphex Twin clip, "Windowlicker". It features a bunch of scantily clad women all dancing rather provocatively. The squick comes in, however, when you see that - again - they all have Aphex Twin's face!
    • Another video is "All Is Full of Love" by Björk. The video is pretty simple, and features two robots kissing. The robots both have Bjork's face. It's as hot as it sounds.
    • He also directed the video for "Frozen" by Madonna, which features her dancing in a desert and turning into ravens. It's probably his least-scary video.
    • Perhaps his best video is the one for Come On My Selector by Squarepusher. Every sound in the song is synchronised to the video. The video itself is about a Japanese girl who escapes an asylum by swapping her dog's brain into one of the guards trying to chase her. It really must be seen to be believed.
    • Chris Cunningham is also the mad genius behind Rubber Johnny, a video featuring the song "Gwarek2" by Aphex Twin (very disturbing in its own right), and a horrifically deformed child - played by Cunningham himself - convulsing and contorting impossibly in a wheelchair in time to "Afx237 v.7" by Aphex Twin.
    • He also directed the video for The Horrors' song, "Sheena is a Parasite". It involves a great deal of strobe lights (which caused the video to be banned from MTV) and as the band plays, Samantha Morton's guts spew out all over the screen.
  • And the undisputed queen of disturbing music video surrealism is undoubtedly Floria Sigismondi. Some videos worth mentioning are:
    • Marilyn Manson, "The Beautiful People". It's very creepy and surreal.
    • Incubus, "Megalomaniac". It alternates between collage-like images of the band playing in a WW2 setting, Hitler with airplane wings and ballerina shoes, a George Bush lookalike that is eventually revealed to have an eagle head and a protesting crowd. Oh, and people with fish-heads. And a family pouring oil on a fake baby.
    • The White Stripes, "Blue Orchid". Features a model (Karen Elson, who would later become Jack White's wife - they met at this video shoot) with incredibly long heels, a horse, a creepy Jack White, and Meg White eating dishes (literally).
  • Electric Six are known for this. The only thing weirder than whatever "Gay Bar" [NSFW] is is... whatever "Formula 409" is.
  • As if the fact that the singer is in his 90's isn't surreal enough, The Zimmers "Firestarter" video might just constitute the most disturbing video ever.
  • Jamiroquai has an unrepentant penchant for the odd; not to mention most memorable videos of the nineties with both "Virtual Insanity" and "Feels Just Like it Should", which is not only surreal, but strangely intriguing, with both for its "The Mask" character and that Jay Kay plays all of the characters (even the chick).
  • The Residents provide the Ur Example, having produced their own, completely bizarre promotional clips since as early as 1974.
  • Marilyn Manson's 'Sweet Dreams'. It can't really be described... just watch it.
  • Most of Björk's numerous videos exhibit fascinating surrealism. The aforementioned Gondry is responsible for seven of them.
  • New Order, "True Faith", which featured a cast of dancers dressed like Oompa Loompas, needles, snails, and a dude with one leg and a TV monitor attached over his face (setting up the footage of the band playing).
    • You forgot about the effeminate male in a punching bag signing the lyrics.
    • While most people consider New Order to be a bunch of arty musicians who hide behind surreal images and don't do interviews/let their faces be shown in their videos, in truth the band isn't shy about appearing in their videos, just shy about giving interviews. They appear in the open in many of their music videos, notably "Perfect Kiss", which is a normal Performance Video.
  • Talk Talk, "It's My Life." Mostly footage of animals. The band's singer is seen hanging out around the zoo in some shots, but doesn't lip-sync. The record label didn't get it and forced the band to make an alternate version, with an intentionally cheesy performance overlayed over the animal footage. In spite of this, it is largely considered a breakthrough video as it was one if not the first video to not be an out and out performance video.
    • The video in question came out in 1985. There were many, many, MANY "non-out-and-out-peformance" videos that came out before then. It's My Life isn't even the first non-out-and-out-peformance TALK TALK video!
  • Matchbox Twenty, "Real World." There's a camel in a bowling alley, and an ice-cream truck selling raw meat, and... uh... other stuff.
    • The same band's "Unwell" is apparently about a schizophrenic, and it shows.
  • Stone Temple Pilots, "Interstate Love Song." A clown escapes from a silent film, after being dumped by his girlfriend and flees across the scenery while his nose grows longer, due to his lying nature.
  • The New Pornographers' "Myriad Harbor" follows a man with a giant head of hair that grows without control, eventually growing other heads that all start singing in unison.
  • Barenaked Ladies, "One Week." Straightforward performance video in front of a royal court, until the band gets kicked out and it turns into a car chase ending with an Evel Knievel-style motorcyclist.
  • Pearl Jam's "Do The Evolution" was an Animated Music Video (directed by none other than Todd Macfarlane) that devolved quickly into apocalyptic imagery and people with skull faces.
  • Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" is like a whistlestop tour of early 20th Century Art, in the style of Terry Gilliam.
  • ¡Forward, Russia!'s "Nineteen" is a slow motion film of kids throwing waterbombs full of purple paint at each other.
  • Most videos for songs from the We Are Scientists album Crap Attack are like this - there's three videos of the band standing perfectly still in public places, one that is a news report resubtitled, one that's a bunch of random people dancing out of time to the music, etc.
    • ALL of We Are Scientists' videos for that matter. Especially those for the singles from their Brian Thrust Mastery album. Their bassist turns into a werewolf and wants a photo taken in Impatience, he dates a dog in After Hours and they wrangle Pomeranians in Chick Lit.
  • Practically every Beck video besides "Where It's At". Especially "Loser" and "E-Pro."
    • And "Jackass".
      • "Where It's At" had a pretty surreal video; while it wasn't incomprehensible, it's that it's hard to understand what's going on, as the video various switches to random scenes and situtations.
    • "Gameboy/Homeboy (Que Onda Guero 8-Bit Remix)". Given that it was made by the same people that brought us The Problem Solverz, it's not really that surprising.
  • The Cure. Any music video, and I really mean any video. Pick one. Highlights include the second version of Close To Me, in which the bandmates go under the sea and essentially do battle with a dazzling variety of technicolour marine life, and The 13th, involving guys in wedding dresses having a fight with Robert Smith looking on. The latter gets even more surreal when you take into account the fact that the song is basically a typical sex-driven Cure song. Squick central.
  • To some extent, Muse's "Knights of Cydonia". While technically it tells a story, it's a very bizarre one that seems to be entirely designed to appeal to the Rule of Cool.
    • Their video for "Muscle Museum" is made of people in an American suburb crying.
    • "Supermassive Black Hole"
      • Not even the band itself knows what the hell "Supermassive Black Hole"'s video is about, according to the making-of documentary. But it sure looked cool, so they went along with it.
    • "Uprising" features the band playing in the back of a moving truck while a scale model city blows up around them, and giant demonic teddy bears rise up from the ground.
  • MGMT's "Time To Pretend".
    • Hell, ANYTHING by MGMT. The video for "Kids" shows all kinds of hideous monsters terrorizing an infant (among other things), eventually turning into an even more surreal animated sequence. The one that makes the most sense, the video for "Electric Feel" is still quite trippy and vaguely incomprehensible (like, what the hell is the stuff that's pouring out of the Moon? And what on Earth is that one-toothed... creature?).
    • The "Electric Feel" video is fairly comprehensible up until the puppets and space motorcycles show up.
    • "Flash Delirium" starts out fairly surreal, and then descends deep into the pits of Lovecraftian what the fuck-iness, never to emerge.
  • Tears For Fears had quite a few of these, with "Sowing the Seeds of Love" and "Head over Heels" perhaps the most notable.
  • Ace of Base's "Beautiful Life". Justified in that the entire thing is a dream sequence.
  • Michael Jackson's "Black or White" starts as a fairly typical salute to The Power of Rock with Macaulay Culkin blasting dad George Wendt out of the house, but then he lands on an African plain, where Michael is dancing with tribesmen. From there it's a multiculturalism celebration, which is the point of the song, but then it breaks away for several minutes to Michael between dancing alone on a city street set (they were On a Soundstage All Along) smashing car windows and grabbing his crotch a lot (plus, he's morphing from a panther and back again). Finally we learn the whole thing is a clip being watched by Bart Simpson. The controversy over the crotch-grabbing got the clip discussed by Siskel and Ebert, and they admitted that element didn't bother them so much as the fact that they had no idea what was going on.
  • The video for Wax's "California" is a single-shot slow motion take of a man on fire running down a busy street in California. Spike Jonze, the director of the video, later parlayed his fame directing music videos into making a very surreal movie.
  • Every Talking Heads video. Take for instance "Once In A Lifetime". The entire video is David Byrne doing a very unusual dance (inspired by marionettes and African rituals, and to a lesser extent epilepsy sufferers), with the rest of the band missing.
  • The Future Sound of London's "We Have Explosive". I do not want to explain it.
  • The video for Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box".
  • The video for "Watery Hands" by Superchunk parodies this trope: The concept is that the band think they're making a basic performance video in an empty room, but the directors (played by David Cross and Janeane Garafalo) surreptitiously fill it with gratuitous non sequitur green screen effects, such as super-imposing the band onto a pie or pasting the singer's head onto the body of a dog.
  • David Crowder Band's video Forever And Ever Etc is an Animated Music Video that tells a story about a battle between the band and a group of angry squirrels, all done in an animesque style. It's weird enough as it is, but even weirder when you remember the group is a Christian band and the song is a fairly generic praise and worship song. (Think "modern church music".)
  • The Smashing Pumpkins' Georges Méliès-influenced clip for "Tonight, Tonight" features a couple in early 1900's dress using a blimp to journey into space. After they use umbrellas to parachute down to the Moon, they are captured by aliens. It just gets weirder from there.
  • Tool does this as a general rule. The best example is arguably "Parabola".
    • To elaborate, in the video for "Prison Sex" a black figure molests a smaller, paraplegic, white figure in a room made of cupboards, but in the end the white figure turns out to be in a cupboard that is closed by the black figure. Their video "Ænema" features an obese business man who sees a crack in an empty gray room that sprays water so he brings a bundle which he opens to reveal an alien-figure. The alien figure proceeds to develop a hose like organ that fills the room it is in full of water. Then the business man ends up taking the alien-figure and puts him in a box full of water and kicks it around. "Vicarious" is also pretty strange.
  • "Love etc." by the Pet Shop Boys definitely fits the throwing weird stuff at the screen.
  • Soundgarden, "Black Hole Sun".
  • Crowded House has Private Universe and Four Seasons in One Day.
  • Animal Collective, "Water Curses". I don't know, you figure it out.
  • Interpol, "The Heinrich Maneuver". The video begins in the middle of the story line, on a closeup of the main subject's face. From here, the main character goes forward in the story, while the background characters go backwards in motion (you see looks of fright frozen on their faces at the beginning, which is explained later in the video as it is revealed the main character had stepped in the path of a bus and has most likely been killed). Oh, and it's all in super slow motion of what we're led to believe is about 20 seconds of action slowed down to the length of the song.
  • Radiohead seem to especially love this trope, as seen with their videos for "Karma Police", "Knives Out", "There There" and "Just", among many others.
  • Santigold, "L.E.S. Artistes". It's an homage to The Holy Mountain, which is pretty much all you need to know about in terms of surreality.
  • Florence + the Machine , the original video for "Dog Days Are Over". Florence wakes up in a forest wearing a tuxedo and then get's chased by creepy clowns who then dress her as a clown.
  • Massive Attack has put out a couple: "Karmacoma" is a string of weird, inexplicable scenes in a hotel, some of which are homages to The Shining. "Teardrop" would be a straightforward Performance Video if the song weren't being "performed" by a lip-syncing CGI fetus.
  • Miley Cyrus song "Start All Over" music video is just one long shot with random junk all over the place.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with her video for "We Can't Stop".
    • Not as bad as other examples, but "Wrecking Ball" involves her crying at the camera alongside shots of her riding a wrecking ball naked and licking(!!!) a sledgehammer.
  • Crazy Loop has two crazy videos. One is for the song "Mm-ma-ma," the story of a pizza guy delivering a pizza to a fashion shoot. After being insulted, he dresses up in some spare clothes lying around and completely impresses the crowd. The other video, "Shut Up" makes a little bit of sense at the start, but then dwells into the singer changing from a doll to a doll-like person... as well as making several dolls come to life with duct tape covering their mouths. To add to the madness, this is all happening in a kid's slumber party that was originally no fun.
  • The video for The Birthday Massacre's Blue. We start out with Chibi (the lead singer) alone in a nursery wearing bunny ears, and tearing the arms off dolls to use as crude crayons in order to draw a path through a drawn maze under the rug she's on. Then we switch to a claymation world of dolls wandering around in a maze. Cut to a couple close ups of the other band members looking ominous (and floating), and then Chibi reaches through a hole in the floor full of black... stuff... into the claymation world, grabs a rope connected to one of the dolls and starts trying to pull it through the hole (which is much too small), until its head comes off. We then switch back to the real world, and see that Chibi's severed head is lying on the floor, several feet from her body. We're as confused as you are.
    • And then there's the video for Looking Glass, which starts out by showing the band dancing around with their instruments, then shifts to a classroom where a bunch of masked schoolgirls with numbers on their foreheads are being lectured by a masked teacher. One girl, Six, leaves the room, and goes to her locker, where she draws a heart around a picture of the teacher. Then she goes into an empty classroom, removes her mask and proceeds to put her hand through the checkerboard projection. She then wakes up in the same room with the band, Chibi gives her an apple, and they escorts her back to class, where all the girls have turned into life-sized dolls and the teacher is sticking nails into the back of doll Thirteen's head, causing her to cry blood. The final shot shows the apple melting on the teacher's desk.
  • Just about all of DragonForce's videos are this to some degree. Example.
  • Tori Amos' "Caught a Lite Sneeze" manages to be more surreal than any of Bjork's music videos combined! It has to be seen to believed.
    • Also, "A Sorta Fairytale", which is a rather twisted love story. Tori Amos is a leg that falls in love with an arm (Adrien Brody), and they eventually transform into full human beings.
    • The black and white version of "Cornflake Girl" wasn't released in the US because it was too surreal.
    • Same deal for "Glory of the 80s" which is up there with "No Scrubs" by TLC for having absolutely nothing to do with the song.
  • Grizzly Bear's Knife and Two Weeks.
  • Lemon Demon's song, Word Dissasociation features this to go along with its Word Salad Lyrics, with the words written on scraps of paper which are lying around in completely random places, such as a watermelon, a chandelier, stuck to a piece of tape, inside a toaster and...well, just watch the video.
    • Possibly the ultimate example of this trope is Neil Cicierega's masterpiece BRODYQUEST. Adrien Brody takes a walk across the world... and space... and through the sun... and to the centre of the universe? Which he then proceeds to assimilate or... something.
  • The music video for Megadeth's Train of Consequences as seen here Over all it looks like the director got done watching Jacob's Ladder before he did the video.
  • Too Much Joy's "Making Fun Of Bums", which among other things features ridiculous jumpsuits, a member plugging his guitar into another member's mouth and electrocuting him, another member standing in front of a propped up mattress with a sign reading "I am dreaming", someone dressed as a painter walking into frame for no reason, and lengthy bookends of the band just standing around in rain gear at a fishing pier. The band disliked how it came out, but couldn't afford to scrap the video and start over, so they just added snarky subtitles (such as "Maybe you should close your eyes and just listen to the song" or "Help, I'm trapped in a bad special effect").
  • "Push It" by Garbage. Assassins dressed as nuns and a guy with a lightbulb for a head are just two examples.
  • The clip for "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer is basically one bizarre thing after the other. There's one part of the video that's far less surreal than the rest of it if you know what the song's about. The song is about the wartime boxer Joe Louis and his most famous rivals Primo "The Ambling Alp" Carnera and Max Schmelling, but you'd never get that from the mostly vague lyrics or the seemingly out-of-place footage of the mirror-face boxers.
  • Short Stack, Ladies and Gentlemen. Involves a hospital, the band, some sexy nurses, some fucked-up x-ray scenes, and secret doorways.
  • Panic! at the Disco's Nine in the Afternoon has the guys waking in color-coded bedrooms and that's around the time things stop to make any sort of sense.
    • Word of God says that it's All Just a Dream; every time one of them wakes up, he has a dream about performing the song, then it goes to the next, then the next, then the next. Which just means that they have some pretty fucked up dreams.
  • Neon Horse Cuckoo Consists of large man who may or may not actually be the lead singer in heavy make up singing, A guy in a paper crown hat reading newspapers, comic books, and having nightmares, bad special effects monsters, blindfolded kids playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with knives, said kids dancing with make up guy, and make up guy dressed as Santa dropping a lizard down a chimney, which becomes a dragon.
  • The Replacements, "Bastards of Young". A mostly still shot of a stereo system playing the song at the wrong speed. At one point a guy walks in and smokes a cigarette on the couch. Later, he kicks the speaker in and leaves. The end.
  • Just about anything from The Eighties. Animotion's "Obssession" is a good example.
    • So is Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer".
    • Blancmange's "Lose Your Love". The singers randomly tearing apart furniture... and what the hell is going on with his legs at the 1:45 mark?
    • Billy Joel was one of the first to go surreal with his videos; 1982's "Pressure" has people falling into water - sideways - a young boy getting sucked into a television set, water gushing out of a school desk and Billy himself writhing in anger at a disembodied movie screen.
  • Lady Gaga. Anything and everything by Lady Gaga. To be more precise, starting from Paparazzi.
  • This Stop Motion video for Finn Riggins' Wake (Keep This Town Alive).
  • Several videos directed by Mark Romanek qualify, but especially his work with Trent Reznor.
  • The Avalanches' "Frontier Psychiatrist". Appropriate, given that it's a surreal song.
  • Of Montreal LOVES this trope. Gronlandic Edit is an outstanding example. What in the hell is going on? I have no idea. No one has any idea. Most of their videos are like this.
  • They Might Be Giants gives us Birdhouse In Your Soul. The song itself is surreal enough (supposedly, it's about a nightlight), so it's quite an accomplishment that the video managed to be even weirder. For extra fun, the fan-made literal video version sums it up pretty well.
    • Don't forget "Don't Let's Start". Four words: Dancing Mel Torme heads.
    • "Ana Ng" looks like a cross between a David Lynch film and the title sequence for an educational kids' show.
  • "No New Kinda Story" by Starflyer 59. If you aren't familiar with The Seventh Seal, it will make no sense whatsoever. If you are familiar with The Seventh Seal... you'll still be wondering what's up with those horse-head guysnote  and the random shots of a hammer smashing things.
  • California Gurls by Katy Perry definitely qualifies. A peppy ode to California seems pretty straightforward until Snoop Dogg stars playing some twisted version of Candyland. A gummi bear flipping off the artist seals the deal.
  • OK Go has a lot of these. Their catalog is about half surreal videos, half amazing choreography (like their treadmills video for "Here it Goes Again"). Surreal ones include Do What You Want, in which everything is wallpaper, End Love's bizarre stop motion, and the appropriately-titled WTF?, which makes use of delayed image. Also, every one of their videos is shot in one take. Every single one. (Except for the ones before "A Million Ways", which are itself still this trope)
  • Nogu Svelo's Haru Mamburu. Combined with gibberishy, yet oddly catchy lyrics.
  • "The Inside of You" by The Maine has a monochrome boy recives a kaleidoscope from his (hinted at being dead) grampa, and when he looks at his boring party guests through it he sees surreal full color versions of them in costumes, and sees a whole party of circus performers in his backyard.
  • The video for Sean Lennon's cover of "Would I Be The One", which is part of an already surreal video collection called Friendly Fire, features animated versions of Sean and his friends traveling to a distant planet on a carnival ride and being captured by aliens. However, the high levels of Mind Screw were inevitable given that it's an homage to Fantastic Planet.
    • His video for his earlier single "Home", which features Sean walking bent backwards, running "underwater" with goldfishes swimming around... Just watch it.
  • The video for Disturbed's "Asylum" borders on this. Schizophrenic and Undercrank-heavy camera editing give the insane delusions within a deranged and erratic quality similar to psychosis. The brutality of the asylum's doctors and staff add a sadistic touch.
  • Appropriately enough given their bizarre music and lyrics, The Flaming Lips have some surreal videos, such as this one for the Yeah Yeah Yeah song, featuring a dictator setting starving sumo wrestlers on a man covered with burgers, amongst other oddities...
  • Fall Out Boy's videos are almost all surreal. A few examples include
    • "Sugar, We're Goin Down," about a girl who befriends a boy with antlers (according to some this is a metaphor for the boy's homosexuality);
    • "Thnks fr th Mmrs," in whioch the band is replaced by monkeys at a video shoot; and most notably
    • "America's Suitehearts," which depicts the band members in a cartoon universe and according to Pete Wentz was based on Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
  • Nu Shooz' "I Can't Wait". As the artists themselves put it: "this video still has people wondering why a dog is in sunglasses."
  • RATATAT with their song, Shempi. It's a nose-dive into the Uncanny Valley after having suffered serious head-trauma.
  • IAMX and Imogen Heap collaborated and created a song called 'My Secret Friend'. The video has Chris dressed as a girl, Imogen dressed as a guy, and some really fucked up scenery. It's the little details that make it so crazy.
  • Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At" is a fun song that's great to dance to. It also has a profoundly disturbing music video with monkeys with the band's face in some kind of insane medical testing facility.
  • The Used has "The Bird And The Worm", which apparently has the singer having to deal with a clone of himself with black hair, and his couch trying to eat him. The ending is Grade A Uncanny Valley, with the singer looking through his room's peephole to see his clone spiderwalking backwards. The creepy chuckle at the end makes it worse.
  • David Bowie: A Trope Codifier. If the Bowie video you're watching is post-1979 and not a Concept Video, there's a good chance it's this. Examples include "Fashion", "Loving the Alien", "Miracle Goodnight", "Hallo Spaceboy", and "Little Wonder".
    • "Ashes To Ashes", made in 1980, was probably his first to go surreal, though it straddles this trope and Concept Video if one interprets it as the hallucinations of Major Tom (the song is a sequel to "Space Oddity" that suggests that he is actually a drug addict trying to sober up). Bowie's dressed as a clown walking along a beach, then there's four others in strange costumes walking in front of a bulldozer, then Bowie's in a padded cell, then he's hanging from a wall in a cave somewhere with tubes sticking out of him...
  • The video for Low's song "Breaker" was filmed in someone's kitchen, from a single angle, in real-time. The two supporting band members clap to the rhythm of the song while the lead singer, who is wearing a military jacket, eats an entire birthday cake within the duration of the song. Your guess is as good as mine.
  • The real Ur Example is "Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles. Climbing a tree, pouring paint on a piano...
  • Adele - Rolling in the Deep. Adele sitting in an unfinished room, water glasses vibrating to the music, dishes being smashed against a projector screen, a ninja sword-dancing in chalk dust, and pyrotechnic sprinklers lighting a paper cityscape on fire.
  • This is indeed part of iamamiwhoami's schtick as an artistic unit.
  • Fireflies by Owl City.
  • Ever feel like Japanese media was becoming too normal for you? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's "PONPONPON" is here to fix that.
    • And if that wasn't enough, we also have Tsukema Tsukeru from the same artist.
  • The strange colors and designs that appear in Windows Media Player.
  • A lot of The White Stripes' videos, particularly in their indie period.
  • Full, vocalist of Guniw Tools directed one for every single song in their discography.
  • The music video for Suzanne Vega's "Tired of Sleeping" is rather absurd, with no discernible meaning.
  • Chad Vangaalen composed, recorded, and created the animated video for "Molten Light" — a quiet little ballad of murder, mutilation, cannibalism, and monstrous supernatural justice — whose folk-style acoustic melody is a chilling contrast to the high octane nightmare fuel of the lyrics and visuals.
  • "(Sub)urban Train" by DJ Tiesto. Tiesto walks through town, the townspeople are glowing with a strange electrical aura, then they all start levitating. At the end, he walks into an art studio where a woman is painting the same scene.
  • Metallica's video for "Until It Sleeps" is full of imagery taken from the surreal paintings of 16th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.
  • Hold It Against Me by Britney Spears is called this.
  • Any Genki Rockets video.
  • Faith No More has some pretty weird videos, especially "Epic".
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Can't Stop".
  • Carnival of Rust
  • Aerosmith has "Pink" and "Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)". "Livin' On The Edge" is mostly a Concept Video but it also has some surreal imagery as part of the footage of the band performing.
  • Jessie J has "Price Tag" and "Nobody's Perfect".
  • Autechre's "Gantz Graf"(actually inspired by a drug trip) and "Second Bad Vilbel", as well as most Fan Vids set to their songs.
  • Melvins' "Bar X The Rocking M" involves imagery associated with the Day Of The Dead mixed in with actors dressed as nuns, angels, devils, skeletons, and pigs. Meanwhile, "The Talking Horse" has a mindscrew of a plot that seems to spoof conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and reptiloids, then throws in lip-syncing scenery for good measure. Even when they do relatively straightforward Performance Videos there always seem to be a few cuts to surrealist imagery.
  • Many Primus videos.
  • Dir En Grey's "Obscure" is pure NSFW nightmare fuel surrealism (Spoiler text is there FOR YOUR SAFETY, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED:) foetuses growing on and being plucked from trees, foetus-shaped dildos being used to rape women till they bleed from the mouth, body horror involving tentacle-beings walking through walls and sawing through women strapped to tables, and the band vocalist Kyo vomiting with every word he utters. How everything relates to everything else, God only knows. Other notable and equally Mind Screw-y videos of theirs are "Agitated Screams of Maggots" and "Different Sense".
  • Kerli's Walking on Air and Zero Gravity; be warned, potential Nightmare Fuel (and you thought Lady Gaga was freaky).
  • Dead Letter Circus' video for "Big" falls squarely into this. If another troper can explain what's going on, by all means, because this one sure can't.
  • Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." There's Pete Burns alternating between a kimono and an eye patch and then sprouting four extra golden arms, a disco ball popping up, and guys in purple tunics twirling banners in the air. And that's the whole video.
  • Ayla - Ayla Part 2.
  • Erasure - Always. Andy Bell descends on a Wuxia-themed snowscape, defrosts a frozen princess, changes the season to spring with a magic snowglobe, does Wire Fu gymnastics, levitation and flower arranging, etc. Likewise, "Chains of Love" has Andy and Vince wire levitating around a room full of hanging chains and alternating between normal and camp/drag outfits, while the love interest attempts to get unchained.
  • aha's "Take On Me" involves a woman being pulled into a comic book world by the animated Morten Harkett, then he breaks into the real world at the end. The video for A1's cover is even better, moving the setting to TRON-style cyberspace, as well as having shoutouts to The Matrix.
  • Two Against One by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi. In it, a hunter witnesses the psychedelic murders of his family members by the ghost of a deer he killed.
  • Belong by Washed Out. Xanadu aerobics workout disco dance contest in space sums it up.
  • "Heartbeats by The Knife starts with kids skateboarding down a hill, then switches to animated birds flying over a monochrome landscape, superimposes that on top of the initial footage, then finally shows a locomotive driving over more monochrome terrain and emitting rainbow-colored polyhedrons in place of smoke.
  • At some point Knorkator started making music videos, which usually tend to be even weirder than the lyrics themselves. The most surreal would probably be Weg nach unten which seems to be about a person escaping from the world by digging a tunnel deep into the earth, away from everything. While digging a tunnel does appear in one part of the video, it has no other connections to the lyrics, and is really, really weird. note  It also happens to be the most artistic of their videos.
  • "When the Night Falls" by Chromeo has Solange Knowles and every other woman the band encounters getting instantly preggo via The Power of Rock, followed by Dave getting the M Preg treatment just before he awakens from the nightmare.
  • In Kid Cudi's "Day 'N Nite (Crookers remix)" video, Cudi's character, while working the graveyard shift at a drug store, envisions the customers as stripperific erotic dancers.
  • Extrawelt's Raum in Raum. A Deliberately Monochrome video of a guy and a girl running around an old factory, turning switches and dials, and making kaleidoscope patterns with fabric, among other random things. The final shot has the girl Bound and Gagged.
  • "Spasmolytic" by Skinny Puppy.
  • This video for Ladytron's "Destroy Everything You Touch". It appears to be about frost giants that have been fused to mountains and a lady with a blizzard hidden in her dress.
  • Armin van Buuren's Blue Fear is a Mind Screw overall, but the main Surreal Horror attraction begins when a giant floating mummy head emerges from a Hellraiser-esque box and chases an Asian-looking girl around a hedge maze.
  • The Break Up's My Machine intercuts between standard performance footage, the two lead band members, who are wearing cellophane wrap outfits and Uncanny Valley Makeup, hooked up to a tangle of wires and coming to life Frankenstein-style, milk splashing on on the singer's heads forwarding and rewinding, the male lead doing the robot dance while plugging a circuit board into a computer, and the camera zooming along the wires and tubes, concluding with the singers disconnecting the machine (hence the lyrics).
  • Most (if not all) of Project Pitchfork's videos are this, as well as being Nightmare Fuel. Such as Timekiller, Renascence, and Lament
  • The Bloodhound Gang's "The Bad Touch"
  • Cabin Crew's "Star to Fall" consists mainly of scantily clad flight stewardesses performing a Busby Berkeley Number.
  • The majority of demoscene productions are this set to electronic dance music.
  • Many Alice in Chains videos, including "We Die Young", "Angry Chair", "I Stay Away", "Grind", and "Lesson Learned".
  • Ego Likeness's Treacherous Thing video has Donna Lynch going completely nuts, randomly cuts to close ups of her face while she is coughing up blood and red stoneswith red ''tears'' down her face, while Steven Archer does nothing bit sit very still with a blank face. It's kind of awesome.
  • The video for David Lynch's "Good Day Today", which is surprisingly not directed by Lynch himself, but has a lot of his signature style. One particularly creepy scene has a boy's father sitting in the dark watching television; when the father leans forward it's revealed he has empty eye sockets, and then the mother takes his eyes out of a frying pan and offers them up as a meal. However, once it's revealed that a large portion of the video was just a highly symbolic daydream of the viewpoint character, the surreal imagery starts to make sense - it's just about a boy feeling neglected by his family.
  • TOKiMONSTA's video for "The Force" (feat. Kool Keith). Which can only be described as the experience of a gangsta Jedi Knight on ecstasy, going on a seizure.
  • Suede's "Stay Together", which features the lead singer gagged at the end, among other things that have nothing to do with the song whatsoever. The band has denounced it as nothing more than "empty symbolism."
  • Alpine offers a sexy example with "Hands" which has a house full of girls doing a bunch of strange things, culminating in all of them making out with their hands.
  • "Keep A Lid On Things" by Crash Test Dummies involves a miniature Brad Roberts piloting a Mobile-Suit Human version of himself, which mimes the lyrics and lumbers down the street in a very Uncanny Valley sort of way. Eventually, his mobile suit human gets low on power and he has to fly down to the ground with a jet-pack in order to retrieve some batteries... At which point we see powered-down versions of the rest of the band lying on the street: Apparently he was remotely controlling everyone else too.
  • Bloc Party's "Ratchet", where they managed to take a montage of their past videos and turn it into this.
  • The Pet Shop Boys' Go West.
  • In Inna's Wow video, she gets knocked unconscious at a beach party and dreams of being a stripperific Snow White erotically dancing with the Seven Dwarves, then after "falling dead" from consuming the poisoned apple, she becomes a similarly oversexualized Dorothy Gale on the Yellow Brick Road. Cut to her as sexy Alice in Wonderland performing some more erotic movements in a tiny house and at the Mad Hatter's tea party, where the characters from the previous stories join in for the final dance.
  • CHVRCHES's "Gun".
  • Ed Tullett's very, very unique video for "Oxblood". An artistic expression of loss and sadness, a Post Modernism take on drug use, an advocacy for gay porn... You're guess on its symbolism is as good as mine.
  • David Guetta & Sia's "She Wolf (Falling to Pieces)".
  • Many Pavement videos are low-bud and nonsensical. For example, the video for "Gold Soundz" doesn't feature any performance or seem to have much of a story; it's little more than the band messing around in Santa costumes. Even "Cut Your Hair," which has a loose story (the band going to a barber shop) is full of surreal imagery, such as one of the members sneezing out a kitten, another getting his haircut in a gorilla suit, etc.
  • Moby's "Shot in the Back of the Head", produced by David Lynch.
  • Arctic Monkeys' "Do I Wanna Know?" video starts off with a minimalist shot of a sound wave, synchronized in time with Alex Turner's vocals, and then gets more and more incomprehensible by each chorus, featuring chicks placing down tires, tons of Fanservicey women, a man driving on a giant eagle, and more weirdness.
  • "Oh Yeah" by Yello.
  • Another band that has hellaciously trippy sound and videos is DyE.
    • Probably the best example of their work is the aptly named "Fantasy" (NSFW). To be honest, I don't know what the video has to do with the lyrics, but this teenage getaway turned nightmare fuel is a must watch.
  • The original video for Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home", which had Ozzy and his band miming over a Conveyor Belt Video-style collage. Some of the imagery at least obliquely had to do with the general idea of "coming home" - airplanes, the Statue Of Liberty, and the New York City skyline for example. More of it was arbitrary and surreal, like Ozzy carrying a pig or miming the lyrics towards a raven perched on his shoulder, visual Shout Outs to René Magritte, and gratuitous use of fire. A Performance Video for the same song was also made, specifically because Ozzy didn't think this approach suited the material.
  • ASTR's Operate. A haunting montage of surreal clips accompanying an already weird R&B song is one way to describe it.
  • The video for Childish Gambino's "3005" just has him singing the lyrics while on a Ferris wheel next to a living teddy bear that gets more and more mutilated as the video goes on. Even the official lyric video (which is usually just the lyrics printed over an album cover or an image related to the song) is presented as Gambino in one of those online "chats" with "sexy girls".
    • "Sweatpants": Bino enters an endless recursion of time, with more people being replaced by himself each time he enters the diner. Yeah, I don't get it either.
  • The music video for Sakanaction's "Rookie", where the singer Ichirō Yamaguchi repeatedly has a nightmare of falling (which might or might not also be a Dream Within a Dream), wakes up suddenly, walks around the city confused passing always in the same exact spot and keeps finding a fallen woman lying dead on the pavement.
  • Islandrocks' "Back to the 80's".

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