Watch 36 Beastie Boys Videos Now Remastered in HD

The Beast­ie Boys are still the only group to have their music videos receive a Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion release, hav­ing deliv­ered a steady stream of hilar­i­ous and fun pro­mo spots since “She’s on It” in 1985. As the doc­u­men­tary Beast­ie Boys Sto­ry recent­ly dropped on AppleTV, the remain­ing B‑Boys and their record label remas­tered 36 of their videos, now re-uploaded to YouTube in HD. And now’s as good a time as any to restock and rethink their impact on the art form of music video.

The first videos are sil­ly, car­toon­ish slap­stick, with a frat­boy sense of humor that played bet­ter then than now, espe­cial­ly with sev­er­al ref­er­ences to faux-aphrode­si­ac Span­ish Fly. But the sped up action and cos­tume changes placed them in a lin­eage usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with British acts like The Bea­t­les and Mad­ness.

The Beast­ies always poked fun at them­selves, which oth­er Amer­i­can acts rarely did, espe­cial­ly in the very macho worlds of hip-hop and met­al. Even in their final videos they were slap­ping on wigs and fake mus­tach­es.

But if the Beast­ie Boys real­ly had one main lega­cy it was the use of the fish-eye lens. Used first in the “Hold It Now Hit It” video (an afternoon’s film­ing inter­cut with shots from their Dionysian first world tour), it would return for 1989’s “Shake Your Rump”, where the group have learned exact­ly how to work its dis­tort­ing pow­ers (MCA’s fin­gers feel like they’re going to reach through the screen). This style reach­es its apex in “So What’cha Want” where the dis­tor­tion is matched with a slowed motion (the band mim­ing to a sped up ver­sion, then the video slowed to the cor­rect speed). The music’s THC-laced grind is matched with decayed visu­als. Rap videos ever since have used the imme­di­a­cy of the direct-to-cam­era per­for­mance, and direc­tors like Hype Williams made a career of turn­ing a fish­eye lens onto per­form­ers like Bus­ta Rhymes and Mis­sy Elliot, with even more sur­re­al results.

But the Beast­ie Boys real­ly flour­ished when they teamed up with direc­tor Spike Jonze, who direct­ed the Beast­ie Boys Sto­ry and would direct six of their videos. A ris­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er and direc­tor con­nect­ed with the skate­board­ing scene, his first col­lab­o­ra­tion with the group was 1992’s “Time for Liv­ing,” a punk rock non-sin­gle from Check Your Head. But things real­ly took off with “Sab­o­tage,” one of the band’s best videos, a par­o­dy of 1970s cop shows. Watch­ing the Beast­ies and their friends play dress-up, run ram­pant through the streets of Los Ange­les, jump across rooftops, and toss a dum­my off a bridge is like the pla­ton­ic ide­al of a home movie made with your best friends. Absolute­ly sil­ly and hilar­i­ous, but life-affirm­ing at the same time, a dis­til­la­tion of what made the band great.

You prob­a­bly have your own favorites too, as there’s so many: the Godzil­la trib­ute of “Inter­galac­tic,” the par­o­dy of Dia­bo­lik for “Body Movin’ “, the psy­che­del­ic paint explo­sion of “Shadrach,” the homage to Pink Floyd Live at Pom­peii with “Grat­i­tude”, the celebri­ty love­fest of “Make Some Noise”, and the years-before-their-time ‘70s dis­co-and-poly­ester indul­gence of “Hey Ladies” where Jean Cocteau and Dolemite share a coke­spoon-ful of influ­ences.

The playlist also fea­tures a num­ber of non-album tracks done for the hell of it, some real rar­i­ties even for the fan. Good God y’all.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Every Sam­ple on the Beast­ie Boys’ Acclaimed Album, Paul’s Boutique–and Dis­cov­er Where They Came From

The Beast­ie Boys Release a New Free­wheel­ing Mem­oir, and a Star-Stud­ded 13-Hour Audio­book Fea­tur­ing Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costel­lo, Bette Midler, John Stew­art & Dozens More

Look How Young They Are!: The Beast­ie Boys Per­form­ing Live Their Very First Hit, “Cooky Puss” (1983)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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