Alongside their celebration of the top music videos of 2006, many bloggers -- including Creative Review and Antville -- have chosen to shank Tony Kaye's celebrity-filled promo for Johnny Cash's God's Gonna Cut You Down, branding it as the 'Worst Music Video of 2006'.
As a piece of art, the video is awful. It's beautifully shot, with celebrities from Kanye West and Chris Martin to Johnny Depp and Kate Moss captured in grainy, close-up black-&-white. But the overload of famous faces saps any power the video might have had -- especially when tabloid fodder such as Moss have little connection to Cash -- and when Bono turns up you know we've strayed too far into mawkish, overly-worthy territory.
But this is hardly the point. This is a music promo -- designed to get the viewer to go out and buy a Johnny Cash CD or download the song and/or album from iTunes -- not a piece of art. Like it or not, music videos are primarily commercials -- and if it turns out to be art too, then you've just stuck lucky. Too many people judge music videos purely as short films -- as the former has much more mainstream acceptability than the latter -- and this robs videos like God's Gonna Cut You Down of their usefulness.
If one pop fan notices this video because of an artist, actor or model they admire being in it and goes on to discover more of Johnny Cash's music, the video has served it's purpose -- in the same way that Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt turned me onto his work (giving you some indication of my musical tastes at the time). And few artists are as worthy of such pushing as Cash.
[As a side note, here's my Top Five Music Videos of 2006.]