July 20, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Mute Math, ”Typical
The Concept Barely contained chaos on a soundstage: In this current MTV staple, the New Orleans band gets splattered in paint, destroys instruments, roughhouses, and engages in various Silly String and Post-it note shenanigans. Wow Factor Pretty high, if only for the fact that frontman Paul Meany sings like a backward pro in close-up. Plus, he plays keytar. B+

Coldplay, ”The Scientist”
The Concept The chorus to this ’02 ballad, ”Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be this hard/I’m going back to the start,” is a clue. Singer Chris Martin works his way, in reverse, to a heartbreaking accident. Wow Factor It transcends ”Oh, look, the Coldplay dude is walking funny!” to become something sad and indelible. A

The Pharcyde, ”Drop”
The Concept Back in ’96, Spike Jonze was still just a skater kid who directed music videos. Here he takes the now-splintered hip-hop crew through their backward paces on city streets. Wow Factor The phonetic lip-synching is pretty impressive; some of their tongue-twisty lyrics are hard to say forward. Also, we think we spy a Beastie Boy. A-

Cibo Matto, ”Sugar Water”
The Concept Michel Gondry, another video maker-turned-film auteur, runs a split screen with the Japanese duo, whose urban lives intersect and then reverse in this ’96 clip. Wow Factor It looks like it cost eight bucks, but became a college-rock classic for good reason: Like the band, it’s quirky, cool, and kind of nonsensical. A-

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