Quite possibly one of our favourite end of year lists to do… it’s the music videos one, grab some popcorn, get comfy and get a load of these!
15. The Killers – The Man
The Killers’ return was marked by ‘The Man’; the first and best track from this year’s Wonderful Wonderful. Shot on location in Las Vegas and directed by Tim Mattia, it features lead singer Brandon Flowers swaggering around a trailer park pumping iron, eating meat, showing off guns (of various kinds), before hitting the casinos where his luck finally runs out. It is cool, cinematically stunning and very camp; filled with cowboy hats and close up pouts. But although the album didn’t live up to the hype, this track marked a triumphant return for Flowers and the Killers as they performed a surprise set at Glastonbury and embarked on a huge world tour. Plus, guitar groups have to embrace a certain element of parody in order to survive (especially when the lead singers start entering their late 30s) and ‘The Man’ does this. It is a fantastic, funky track with an irresistible bass, inescapable lyrics and when you see it in the context of the music video, or during one of the band’s incredible live performances, you can’t help but smile. You know that these guys can still rock. Arthur Charlesworth
14. Alvvays – Dream Tonite
This simple video for ‘Dreams Tonite’, one of the many wonderful tracks from this year’s Antisocialites, recaptures the idyllic, beautiful past that only exists in the memories of others. Without needing to be clever, follow a story or get a point across, the video is a stylish, colourful visual treat that complements the dreamy song perfectly. Tobias Pugh
13. Haim – Want You Back
Don’t you always find a one shot video super impressive? We do. Here Haim have managed to take a simple concept and make it brilliant. Walking down the empty street with a shimmy or two of the shoulder along the way, before bursting into a joyous choreographed dance for the last chorus. You’ll never walk down an empty street the same again after watching this, we promise. Samantha Daly
12. SOPHIE – It’s Okay To Cry
Now using the pronouns ‘she/her’, SOPHIE makes a huge comeback from her last release, ‘Product’, in 2015. For her latest video ‘It’s Okay To Cry’, we see the androgynous artist in the flesh for the first time, and what a sight it is. Bearing prominent, masculine cheekbones, her image is nothing short of striking as she dances expressively with gender fluid motion, only making the visuals more arresting and ambiguous.
The video is a beautifully simple piece of minimalism complimenting the ascending dynamics of the track seamlessly, leading up to an impressive climax in which the intially soothing backdrops erupt into a thunderstorm hammering down on the topless soon-to-be icon. A track and video designed to send listeners into a state of organic euphoria and raptures, it possesses the ability to influence and inspire a generation of confused millenials. Rahul Bhogal
11. Marika Hackman – Boyfriend
The first taste of Marika Hackman’s sophomore release, I’m not your Man, ‘Boyfriend’ and its accompanying music video showed that the singer had embarked on a bold new musical direction. Dropping the acoustic sound of debut, We Slept at Last, Hackman enlisted the help of Mercury nominees The Big Moon and went electric with a track that’s got a drive and directness which came to epitomise the album; which is certainly one of the best of the year. The video, which shows a band of men pretending to play the track, when in fact it is being played by Hackman and co. upstairs, is light-hearted but has power and pertinence when combined with the lyrics. It is a song about men taking credit for and imposing themselves on, things which they have no right to.
The video suggests song writing, but the lyrics tell of a male disregard for female, queer relationships. As Hackman says; “’Boyfriend’ is payback for all those times I’ve been interrupted mid-snog by some seedy wanker asking to join in.” AC
10. Marilyn Manson – SAY10
When a new Marilyn Manson video is released, the world jumps at the first chance it gets to watch it. This time was no different. ‘SAY10’ stars Manson and Johnny Depp as biblical brothers Abel and Cain respectively, the sons of Adam and Eve. Inspired by films such as ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Evil Dead’, the two sit on their respective black and white thrones whilst surrounded by naked women covered in satanic symbols, proceeding to end the possession of a Bible by the women recreating ‘Raising The Flag on Iwo Jima’. What appears to be an unbelievably creepy, sexualised video, is actually some of Manson’s deepest, most relevant work, portraying punk energies against the likes of MTV with its horrific shock rock visuals.
On the video, Manson says: “After the balloons have all shriveled up and are swallowed in the puddles of puke and idealism, don’t look to me for sympathy. I am here to be all that I am accused of not being. And to be blamed for what you made Me. The shots you will hear are from a mouth disguised as a gun. Don’t call this art. This is a hard c*ck in a room full of vampires and the music, man. The music is My foul blood on your faces.” RB
9. Neena – The Game
‘The Game’ is Neena’s own subjective image of the modern age of social media and ‘fake news’, that serves to confront her youthful contemporaries “who find themselves in an extremely consumerist and polarized society.” In what could easily be an episode of Black Mirror, the video is set in a carnivalesque, dystopian world with a renaissance, steampunk vibe. The story follows a bizarre troupe of residents who, as Neena reveals, “celebrate the 30th anniversary of the construction of the Great Wall that was created to protect them from the dangers outside.” A haunting piece of cinema that’s sure to make an impression. James Makin
8. Oneohtrix Point Never feat. Iggy Pop – The Pure and the Damned
The Safdie brothers’ latest film ‘Good Time’ starring Robert Pattinson, features an anxious, fretful score from remarkable electronic artist Oneohtrix Point Never. To make the soundtrack even more captivating, the experimental musician presents a sublime parting gift in the form of a collaboration with The Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop. However, it doesn’t end there. The Safdie Brothers also directed the accompanying video, starring Benny Safdie, Pattinson and Pop.
The ominous ballad begins with a CGI Iggy Pop eerily dancing whilst singing in his overtly artistic manner, proceeding to enter a cabin in the woods as Robert Pattinson stares down a wolf whilst weilding a sword. ‘The Pure And The Damned’ oozes mystery and tension, and yet relaxes the soul in a most chilling way. An enigmatic masterpiece with true ‘Raw Power’. RB
7. Brockhampton – Gold
California Boy Band Brockhampton boast a whole lot of talent. As well as being a collective hub for rappers, producers, singers, designers and artists, the group self-produce their own genius music videos. ‘Gold’, one of the first videos released from their (soon to be) three albums this year, is one of their best. From their dancing in the street, Matt’s cardboard robot costume and the club in their house to their general brotherly-ness, the video is filled with so many reasons you’d want to be in the band it’s painful.
‘Gold’ appears to be connected to their other self-directed, written and produced videos, telling a story possibly to be revealed in their upcoming movie… TP
6. PVRIS – Anyone Else
In typical PVRIS style, the video for ‘Anyone Else’ is shot in black and white, which adds to the disturbing supernatural vibes that are eminent throughout. Set in a Victorian hotel, the video sees Lynn, Alex and Brian enter into different rooms, each with a covered painting. The video conjures feelings of self-reflection, and invokes questions about what it means to create art-work when, as described by Lynn, “in a way, we are always stripping away parts of ourselves to make the things we present to you… This song was written for someone else, another little piece pulled off, but it ultimately turned into something written to and for myself in the end.” Perhaps it is this concept and feeling that is most poignantly represented in the video’s disturbing imagery. JM
5. Bjork – The Gate
Imagery is an integral part of Björk’s music, and videos are a place for her metaphors come to life. Vulnicura, her last album, was full of heartbreak and pain, Utopia is the antithesis; her recovery. Darkness is replace by light, airy flutes and birdsong, and the chest wound that featured on the cover art is now a gate, a doorway to her heart to love again.
The video begins with her playing the flute to an audience of strange floating creatures, before moving on to her sharing light from her heart with a more humanoid, but still alien creature, furthering proof that she is not of this Earth. TP
4. St Vincent – Los Ageless
Taking the lives of L.A Socialites and challenging the perception of them, Annie Clark (St Vincent) does some yoga, gets some plastic surgery amongst other amusing things. The video also came with news of her new album MASSEDUCTION and was directed by Willo Perron (past collaboration with Kanye West). SD
3. Lorde – Green Light
This long awaited comeback was all quite possibly a bit overwhelming with just how great ‘Green Light’ was. But then, the video… well, that was something else. In an interview with Pitchfork (one of a whole series around the Lorde comeback that we highly recommend you read), the video director Grant Singer discusses the story behind the video and everything just becomes that bit more special. Lorde described the ‘Green Light’ concept: “This is that drunk girl at the party dancing around crying about her ex-boyfriend who everyone thinks is a mess.” SD
2. Kendrick Lamar – Humble
The music video for ‘Humble’ is far from it. Directed by Dave Myers and The Little Homies, the first minute sees Lamar dressed as the Pope and then Jesus in a bold, black recreation of da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’. But these aren’t just bland boasts; a sense of greed, gluttony and gross excess pervade the track as the Compton rapper questions authenticity and humility. There’s even space for Lamar’s (debatable) feminist streak as he denounces Photoshop and demands: “Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor.” It is a video full of fantastic cinematic set pieces: the golf on the rusted-out Chevy in the L.A. river, the fish eye lens as he rides his bike through Compton, but despite a bombardment of images and a simple “sit down and be humble” hook, Lamar’s meaning remains an enigma.
Every lyric about earning his fortune is counterbalanced with one about the evils that wealth brings, his own identity is just as obfuscated; he plays both the one, true God and one of a homogenous group of black men virtually at the same time. Therefore, the ‘Humble’ video serves up simultaneously all the contradictions of Lamar’s life, while maintaining his mystery. It is also the perfect prelude to his fourth studio album Damn, an LP so filled mystery, it is apparently meant to be played in reverse. AC
1. Charli XCX – Boys
Charli XCX has never been one to shy away from causing a bit of a stir, mixing up her sound and image with every new album/EP cycle. ‘Boys’ was the first single to be released since the sugar-club sound of Charli’s all-female featuring mixtape Number 1 Angel, and further refined the vein of her new sound. Accompanied by viral ready visuals, the video – conceived and directed by XCX herself – was crammed full of the music industry’s biggest heartthrobs, including everyone from Joe Jonas (eating pancakes), Diplo (rolling with puppies), Stormzy (eating cereal) and Brendon Urie (á la American Beauty).
The concept for the video was deeper than the various eye candy, XCX stating in a BBC Radio1 interview that her intention was to “flip the male gaze” that women are pejoratively subject to onscreen, with the boys “doing all the sexy things that girls usually do in music videos”. As a result, you can’t help but notice how suggestive and/or silly such actions are, though in this instance it definitely resulted in an entertaining video. Kayleigh Watson