Look, no one is going to argue that Beyoncé’s Lemonade and its accompanying videos aren’t incredible and award-worthy. That is just fact. It’ll probably be taught to aspiring film students for years to come. “Formation” was nominated for a Grammy (…and of course lost to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”) and it’s widely accepted as perhaps one of the best releases this year. Other artists weren’t so lucky or so widely received. For that reason, we’re going to be listing everything but Queen Bae and Tay’s work to see who else stacks up here at year end.
1. “Lazarus” by David Bowie
David Bowie’s Blackstar was a staggering final listen and if one single had to be picked off the record to stand in as his swan song it would be “Lazarus.” The song’s equally stunning music video was a symbolic journey, steeped in all the obscure film references that we’d come to expect from the Starman. Whether or not there’s anything to the rumors that 2017 holds more releases from the Bowie vault, this release will still be as strong, meaningful, and perhaps as final as it was meant to be.
2. “Happy” by Mitski
Although her video for “Your Best American Girl” is kickass and matches the bravado of Mitski‘s 2016 album Puberty 2, the more underrated, perhaps better video was for her second single off the album, “Happy.” This killer music video has everything from period drama to jaw dropping plot twists (trigger warning: there will be blood.) Hats off to costume designer Cocoa Rigal and Honey Comb Vintage for dressing the scene and for director Maegan Houang for this wonderful scare.
3. “God is Gangsta” by Kendrick Lamar
Riding high on the success of his 2015 record To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar released a Kanye-caliber short film entitled “God is Gangsta.” Since the video came out at the tail end of 2015, it was missed on many end-of-the-year lists. That’s why it’s getting grandfathered in here. The madness and majesty deserves more recognition than that. It’s a seven minute tour de force that got overshadowed by Lamar’s Grammy performance and the sheer hype from the album despite having some of its songs (“u” and “For Sale”) intricately interwoven.
4. “Upside Down & Inside Out” by OK Go
Ok Go has never disappointed with their videos. From when they first caught our attentions with their treadmill antics in “Here It Goes Again” to their more recent music motorway in “Needing/Getting,” the band is constantly raising the bar and keeping us happily amused. Usually, their videos have less to do with the content of their songs and more to do with how much creativity Ok Go can shove into a three minute video. For “Upside Down & Inside Out” off of their recent album Hungry Ghosts, the band took advantage of zero gravity and parabolic arcs to give their video a truly weightless quality.
5. “Genghis Khan” by Miike Snow
If Daniel Craig doesn’t want to be James Bond, it seems Swedish indie group Miike Snow will step-in in his stead. Sort of. The three cleverly twist the super spy vs super villain narrative in this thriller turned dance number. It shows that the band has definitely left the Jean Noel storyline about space abductions and plastic surgery. Although if they want to continue down the “Genghis Khan” route and do a similar progression of videos surrounding “Bond,” his family and his arch nemesis, we’d happily watch.
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