Here is our list of the 10 best music videos of 2015:
10. Childish Gambino — “Sober”
Choreographed by Ian Eastwood, Childish Gambino’s single from the Kauai EP tackles and subverts the oft-depicted ‘guy approaches girl’ scenario in a music video that comically comments on both itself and other videos of its ilk. The video features Donald Glover, accompanied by his traditional mix of geekiness and swag as he attempts to woo a fellow diner. By playing with the separation of music from video, “Sober” also calls into question the potential one-sidedness a music video narrative can convey, and powerfully posits more of an outsider, ‘third person’ perspective for observation.
9. David Bowie — “Blackstar”
David Bowie could have taken it easy. With a massive back catalogue of hits and the wealth that comes with it, he could have spent the rest of his career releasing down-the-middle dad rock and nobody would have faulted him for it; however, the video for “Blackstar” serves as a reminder that Bowie is only content when he’s acting completely fucking bonkers. Heavily influenced by the occult, the video goes on a kaleidoscopic tour of astronauts, ritual, and Bowie’s terrifyingly creepy smile. It manages to draw sly parallels to his previous material while further cementing his place as the godfather of the avant-garde.
8. Sia — “Elastic Heart”
One of the most divisive music videos to be released this year, Sia’s “Elastic Heart” is a stunning and thought-provoking experience that brings new meaning to the concept of ‘art.’ It is an emotional comparison of youth against age, complete with intricate choreography between Shia LaBeouf and child dance-star, Maddie Ziegler. The video artfully explores the lyrical themes spread throughout Sia’s latest album, This Is Acting, which explores toxic relationships and vices muddled by infectious pop beats. The highly-conceptual video ultimately captures the essence of growing up and the limits it has on one’s imagination and, thus, freedom.
7. Hayley Kiyoko — “Girls Like Girls”
Set in a depressing suburban home somewhere in the U.S.A., the video revolves around the tumultuous beginning of a romance between two best friends amidst the hot and wasted summer days where doing nothing is doing everything. Cinematically stunning, the video captures the exciting nuances that only come with being in the state of a possibly reciprocated love: The intriguing glances, the twinkling in the eyes, the knowing smiles. But it’s not all sweet. To put it shortly: This music video is a masterpiece and deserves its own feature length film. Going through all the steps of an epic poem, the video ends with an emotive finish proving that love always wins.
6. Justin Bieber — “Life Is Worth Living”
Bieber pulled a Beyoncé when he simultaneously released 12 music videos to accompany 12 of the 13 songs from his new album, Purpose, but only a few of these videos feature Bieber himself. The majority, like “Life is Worth Living,” are impeccably choreographed dance pieces. The video features the contemporary dancer Emma Portner in a minimalist pas de deux. Portner’s painfully, achingly beautiful expression of finding hope in love gives depth to Bieber’s relatively simple love song. The video is an excellent example of interdisciplinary collaboration in art; the song and the dance combined make for a stellar video.
5. Tame Impala — “The Less I Know the Better”
Sex, basketball, and gorilla suits collide in another stunning offering from Spanish director collective, Canada. Viewers might remember the group from their other bonkers music videos such as El Guincho’s “Bombay” and Phoenix’s “Trying to Be Cool.” At any rate, “The Less I Know The Better” is arguably their most ambitious effort yet. They use every trick in the music video book here, mixing computer and hand-drawn animation with live action choreography to dazzling effect. It’s a perfect mixture of side-splitting ridiculousness and visual magic. You’ll never be able to look at your high school mascot the same way again.
4. Rihanna — “Bitch Better Have My Money”
This seven-minute thriller has Bad Girl RiRi and her posse torturing an accountant’s wife for money. It’s a shocking contrast to the stripped down, black and white “FourFiveSeconds,” ending with a blood-soaked Rihanna lighting up in a suitcase full of cash. It’s deliberately shocking and disturbing, introducing the fully-fleshed 'no fucks given' Rihanna that audiences only got a taste of with the videos for “Disturbia” and “S&M.” Maybe not an obvious contender for best music video, the flawless production and uniquely creepy yet sexy content makes it a piece that has earned its place in music video history.
3. FKA twigs — “M3LL155X”
Mysterious and mesmerizing, “M3LL155X” takes a big step away from the music video genre and into performance art. The 16-minute video transforms four songs from twigs’ EP of the same name into a saga of womanhood, and twigs isn’t shy in her visual interpretation of these subjects. The powerful and ethereal clarity of twigs’ voice beautifully accompanies images of female autonomy, including pregnancy, birth, sex, and voguing. In her video, as in her music, twigs blends R&B with considerably more experimental choreography into a thought-provoking and visceral experience unlike anything else produced this year.
2. Drake — “Hotline Bling”
It’s no use describing Drake’s “Hotline Bling” because everyone has seen it, or at least seen a clip of it in a parody meme. Featuring dad-level dance moves, Drake’s idea of a sex hotline center, and multiple beautiful women posing on neon dance floors, producer Doctor X perfectly crafted “Hotline Bling” into the viral video of the year. This music video utilized neon minimalism to bring Drake’s grey turtleneck sweater and jazz hands to the forefront, making horribly uncomfortable dancing cool again. The vibrancy of the set and the awkward relatability of Drake’s dance moves would affirm the video a place in one-hit history.
1. Kendrick Lamar — “Alright”
How do you make a music video for “Alright”? More than just a standout track on the best record of the year, “Alright” has become a rallying cry. During a turbulent 2015 you were almost more likely to here “we gon’ be alright!” at a protest than at a concert. With this in mind, perhaps it’s only natural that Colin Tilley’s video had to match the colossal scope of this giant of a song. Clocking in at almost 7:00 minutes, the video is a requiem and celebration rolled into one. At the centre of it all is Kendrick, who flies through Oakland in glorious high definition. Despite its unflinching depiction of police violence, the video for “Alright” is relentlessly optimistic, an optimism that not even bullets or ignorant Fox newscasters can stop. In a 2015 wracked by tragedy and injustice, maybe it’s just what the doctor ordered.
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