Three terrific new videos by just-barely-under-the-radar artists center around men doing what men do best: being boys. Approaching the similar subject matter from three distinct points of view, from the simply fun and nostalgic, to the tragic-comic-pathetic, to the reflective and hopeful, they’re all individually great in their own right. But taken together, it seems that Philadelphia alt-hip-hop duo Chiddy Bang, indie blues duo The Black Keys, and slam poet Sage Francis have inadvertently created a coming of age suite that John Hughes would have loved.

Already an international Top 10 hit, Chiddy Bang‘s debut single “The Opposite of Adults” (built around a sample of MGMT’s “Kids”) celebrates the carefree life of a kid – basketball, skateboarding, ogling girls at the playground – with rapper Chiddy (Chidera Anamege) promising (with apologies to Mommy) never to grow up. The video attaches cardboard cut-out looking adult faces to live action adolescent bodies as the duo relives all the various awesomenesses of their childhoods. Such as opening a box of cereal to find the prize (A Chiddy Bang 7″? Swwwweeet!).

Chiddy Bang “The Opposite of Adults”

The song may not be explicitly about childhood, but the video to the Black Keys‘s latest single, the Danger Mouse produced “Tighten Up” from their latest album Brothers, has to be one of the greatest videos about a lust triangle among the monkey bars. Singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney sit on a park bench watching as their sons (who, we learn in a hilarious exchange of dialogue before the song starts, may not be the best of pals anyway) compete for the attentions of an elementary school hottie. But their efforts to be the responsible, intervening grown-ups go horribly, horribly wrong.

The Black Keys “Tighten Up”

“It was the best of times. It was the end of times.” In this incredible new video from his latest album Li(f)e, Sage Francis sits among an array of chairs suggestive of a school classroom – only with a wooden coffin where the teacher’s desk might be. Taking a look inside, Francis finds a trove of snapshots and artifacts, and reflects variously on religion, media, and technology before drifting back to memories of his adolescence. His first crush. Discovering his passion for words. Discovering hip-hop. Contemplating suicide, and contemplating the things he wants from life. Contemplating the apocalyptic paranoia that is being a teenager, and contemplating the wisdom he’ll pass down to his children’s children if he’s lucky enough to live long enough to meet them.

As the classroom chairs around him fill up, he’s both teacher and student in what Prince once called “this thing called life”. His verses are loaded with richly specific details – like the love note written in code and wrapped up in ten layers of Scotch tape, but deposited in the wrong locker – and poignantly self-deprecating punchlines. The video has a familial intimacy to it that culminates in a sweet little moment between Sage Francis and the kid who plays the young Sage Francis. It’s the kind of song and video that makes me want to write a deeply personal thank you note to the artist. (Thank you, Sage Francis.)

Sage Francis “The Best of Times”