What are the most stunning music videos of the past five years?
June 23, 2015 6:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm making a playlist for a friend and I'd like your suggestions.

Obviously, it'd be great if the music didn't suck, but I'm really looking for impressive, recent videos (cinematography, storytelling, etc.) I'd love quirky suggestions as well as blockbusters - really curious about the current state of what feels to me like a vanishing art form. I've seen this question but it's four years old, so.

posted by pretentious illiterate to Society & Culture (50 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Basically every Janelle Monae video is pure eye (and ear) candy, but if you want a good, and by good I mean incredible, place to start then check out the video for Tightrope, which features both of Outkast for the cherry on top.

It would also be wrong not to mention her video for Q.U.E.E.N. featuring Erykah Badu which is again a feast for both eyes and ears.
posted by greenish at 6:40 AM on June 23, 2015 [10 favorites]

Oh also, and then I'll let someone else get a word in, I was mesmerised by this video for Flexxin by Dutch Uncles, which is just the guy dancing but wow, he can totally move.
posted by greenish at 6:42 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy the Vimeo Music Videos channel...
posted by underthehat at 6:49 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: LOVE that Dutch Uncles video, and underthehat, while I definitely appreciate the rec for a source, the playlist is for somebody who does have some knowledge of music videos so basically I'm trying to come off as more impressive than I am by tapping the good taste and brilliance of the hivemind for recs. I realize in retrospect that I shouldn't have called music videos a vanishing artform; they've vanished off my radar since they disappeared from MTV, (I'm old) but that doesn't mean they're not still around.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:08 AM on June 23, 2015

A somewhat recent standout that comes to my mind is:
Breezeblocks by alt-J (very cinematic and visually interesting)

And if you are willing to travel a little further back in time, I also enjoy this one:
L.E.S. Artistes by Santigold (sort of like a performance art video; contains violent imagery)

And both songs are great to boot. ;)
posted by Halo in reverse at 7:18 AM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Eric Wareheim from Tim & Eric fame has directed a few really solid ones in the last few years, none so affecting as We Are Water by Health. It's... intense.

I also really like the video for Out Alee by Hundred Waters.
posted by saladin at 7:21 AM on June 23, 2015

"Til Death" by Snow Tha Product gives me goosebumps. Very dark and creepy, very pretty. Does what it says on the tin, really.

As hesitant I am to talk about how much I adore them around MeFites, I really do think Twiztid has been (no pun intended) absolutely killing it in the music video game. cw for varying amounts of horror/gore in all of these mini-movies: "Boogieman," "The Deep End," "HA HA HA HA HA HA!," "Sickman" (with special guests Kane Hodder and Sid Haig). I'm going to go ahead and venture that you'll probably find their music legitimately unlistenable, but their videos are wonderful little labors of love.

But "Final Boss" by Doomtree is my favorite music video of the past... ever? Beautiful, weird, gross, funny, unsettling, cinematic, and the song is a total beast. NB it's kind of shockingly violent, not necessarily something you would expect from a Midwestern indie rap group, but if you have any love at all for horror movies, you'll probably dig it.
posted by divined by radio at 7:24 AM on June 23, 2015

Dangerous by Big Data.
Foo Fighters' Something from Nothing (cinematically gorgeous)
Surely you've seen Lonely Boy by The Black Keys?

(btw, love the username!)

posted by getawaysticks at 7:28 AM on June 23, 2015

MIA - Born Free
posted by Beardman at 7:31 AM on June 23, 2015

You want some Spoek Mathambo - who I recommend musically as well, of course.

His cover of 'Control' is really amazing and totally makes the song have more meaning than the original. (Not that I don't like the original.) It's not a high budget video, but it beats a lot of more expensive stuff all hollow, IMO. I actually find it kind of an upsetting video, but not because of gore or anything.

Let Them Talk is pretty weird and amazing too - you need to watch to the end.

I suppose everyone has seen Ima Read by this point. Again, not high budget, but very effective and eerie.

I have not actually watched "Tear the House Up" (also Zebra Katz) but a little glimpse looks amazing.

Most of the most exciting videos I've seen in the past couple of years have been queer hip hop/dance/etc. Many are not big-budget but do some very subtle and interesting things with costume, color, masks, etc.

I am reluctant to google "She Likes To Party by Lesbians On Ecstacy" at work, but I remember thinking the video was pretty entertaining.
posted by Frowner at 7:33 AM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Fairly mainstream, but either of the Sia videos featuring the young dancer are pretty amazing (they've had their own threads on the blue). I'm partial to the one with Shia the Beef.
Also, probably of a different caliber, but MeFi perennial favorite Vienna Teng's video for Level Up was nice.
posted by jferg at 7:38 AM on June 23, 2015

Also, St. Vincent - "Digital Witness"
posted by Seeking Direction at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Fever Ray, "If I Had a Heart." Chilling, haunting, beautiful. Not to be watched at night alone.
posted by mittens at 7:49 AM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Kelela - A Message
posted by neushoorn at 7:50 AM on June 23, 2015

The video for FFS's "Johnny Delusional" is a simple visual idea but I still have no idea how they pulled it off exactly.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2015

And of course, astronaut Chris Hadfield's cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" is still one of the most affecting "this is where humanity is now" kinds of things I've seen in years.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:53 AM on June 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

oração is a lovely vid from a banda mais bonita da cidade, the most beautiful band in the city and is within your timescale.

Foo Fighters were mentioned, but not Pretender which for me is a step up visually.

Ane Brun's Do you remember is lovely to look at and listen to, and Rebekka Karijord's Use my body while it's still young is just stunning. Course, it all depends on what you think of as beautiful.

From a storytelling point of view, Kodaline's All I want comes in two parts and is a little unusual and of course the video to Hozier's Take me to church tells a tale of it's own.

Because everyone else is also throwing in an "yeah but" I am also going to do a teenylink to the video (but actually advert) for José Gonzales Heartbeats. Cos it's gorgeous!
posted by Iteki at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2015

Other Lives, "For 12". Watch in HD and immerse yourself in the music. (That whole album is a gem, btw.)
posted by Dragonness at 8:07 AM on June 23, 2015

Not everyone's cup of tea but Turn Down for What by Daniels (and starring one of them, see their page for more vids they've done) is intensely weird.
posted by jessamyn at 8:16 AM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]

Dan Deacon - True Thrush

(On preview, I see oflinkey beat me to posting a Dan Deacon vid, although this one is very stylistically different from When I was Done Dying. They're both awesome videos for very different reasons.)
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 9:04 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also really dig the video for Today's Supernatural by Animal Collective.
posted by saladin at 9:36 AM on June 23, 2015

Any of Royal Blood's current videos are a mite disturbing.
posted by Thistledown at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2015

World Order's videos. Its hard to pick just one, they're all great. I'd start with this one though. Then watch this.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:31 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If heavy music is okay, look at the videos that Phil Mucci has directed:


Beware that High on Fire's Fertile Green is super NSFW and mega 420.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2015

Kanye West - Mercy
posted by falconred at 11:37 AM on June 23, 2015

Owl City - Umbrella Beach
posted by Lycaste at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2015

I love Geographer's weird/beautiful video for "I'm Ready" http://geographermusic.com/news/248693
posted by mmf at 2:47 PM on June 23, 2015

Oceanship's "Hotblack" comes to mind.

Also, I once made a post about it and got pilloried for it being soporific, but I think "State Hospital" by Frightened Rabbit is a masterpiece of short-form storytelling.
posted by jbickers at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2015

120 megabytes is a weekly 30 minute collection of interesting and experimental music videos.
posted by pmcp at 5:40 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

gesaffelstein - pursuit
posted by subtle-t at 7:05 PM on June 23, 2015

I love this thread.

Some of these are not especially recent, but my personal experience with music videos is that I'm constantly behind the curve, and I'll find something that totally kicks ass - and then I'll notice that it's from 2005. Oh well. Anyhow - the videos below tend to either tell a story or be stylistically 'interesting' (or both):

Monarchy - Disintegration ft. Dita Von Teese - slightly NSFW.

Amon Tobin - Esthers

The Decemberists - Calamity Song - a game of Eschaton from DFW's Infinite Jest.

Cinnamon Chasers - Luv Deluxe

Die Antwoord - Ugly Boy

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Opening Sequence

Khameleon808 / The Glitch Mob - The Apple Tree - not new but definitely worth a look if you haven't seen it.

Khameleon808 / The Prodigy / The Glitch Mob - Still Breathing - gets a bit NSFW at spots.

David Lynch - The Big Dream (Moby reversion featuring Mindy Jones) - Creepy.

Matthew Wilcock - Brittle Metal Press

Orgy - Stitches

Grandaddy - Jed's Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)

Guyz Nite - Die Hard - low-brow but just fun.

Hans Zimmer - Inception Soundtrack Concert Premiere

Muse - Knights of Cydonia

Dirty Vegas - Days Go By

The Chemical Brothers - The Salmon Dance - This was a big favorite at SIGGRAPH several years ago. Contains a few umm 'drug references'.

Seether - Fake It

Europe - The Final Countdown - Animated remix

Rob Cantor - Shia LaBeouf Live

Panic! At The Disco - I Write Sins Not Tragedies
posted by doctor tough love at 7:33 PM on June 23, 2015

One more I just remembered: Vance Joy, "Riptide".

I saw this one for the first time while waiting in line for a roller coaster at a theme park, which I'll admit freaked me out a little. While the video is technically all-ages appropriate, visually it looks like a Wes Anderson/David Lynch/Luis Bunuel coproduction, with all the mundane-creepy visuals that sort of thing entails.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:54 PM on June 23, 2015

Perfume Genius's "Hood" is a sucker punch to my emotions, so swift and simple and deadly.

It's rendered especially poignant by this comment:

YouTube banned the 16 second promo of this video in 2012 for not being "family safe." You won't see any naughty bits in the video or even kissing. You will see two males mostly standing together.

The artist is Mike Hadreas, who records under the moniker Perfume Genius. His costar in the video is Arpad Miklos, born Péter Kozma in Hungary, an adult movie actor who regrettably committed suicide in 2013.

The song is called "Hood," from Hadreas's 2012 album Put Your Back N 2 It. It's about how if somebody knew everything about you, they'd leave you. In the video Hadreas does not face or fully acknowledge Miklos until the make up is on, the illusion in place, his true face obscured.

It's an interesting and subtle message, delivered without poor taste or pornography. You can now find the full video on YouTube. What you cannot find are reports of families feeling unsafe because of it.

If you like the music, Perfume Genius has dropped two albums, and a third, Too Bright, will be released next month.

by Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N 2 It (2012)

You would never call me baby
If you knew me truly
Oh, but I waited so long for your love
I am scared baby that I can't keep it up for long

Oh, I wish I grew up the second I first held you in my arms
Underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like a bomb

You would never call me baby
If you knew me truly
Oh, but I waited so long for your love
I will fight baby not to do wrong

posted by Devika at 10:51 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Run Boy Run By Wood Kid
Carmen By Strome, the animation is great
posted by boilermonster at 11:39 PM on June 23, 2015

Twin Flames - Klaxons. Really quite freaky but excellent at the same time (great song too).
posted by h00py at 4:27 AM on June 24, 2015

Three videos that are quirky and brilliant in very different ways:
Her Morning Elegance, which makes gentle and charming use of stop motion animation; and
Bad Mother****er which is a basically an amazing short action movie; and
A Thing For Me, which is... Man, I don't even know how to sum it up.
posted by yankeefog at 6:20 AM on June 24, 2015

Oh, I forgot Dougal Wilson's video of What's A Girl To Do. In fact, after you watch that video, you can click around on that page and watch Dougal Wilson's other videos. He's great.

Also, check out Wilderness Downtown, which is an interactive music video set on the street where you (yes, you) grew up.
posted by yankeefog at 6:31 AM on June 24, 2015

OK, I just ruined my entire day by rewatching this at my desk, but yep, it's just as poignant and beautiful as I remembered: "Moving On" by James.

posted by divined by radio at 7:13 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bonobo: "Cirrus"
Run the Jewels: "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)"
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: "PONPONPON"

And a little outside your time frame but great at parties ...
The BPA: Toe Jam
posted by Mothlight at 7:30 AM on June 24, 2015

I am still completely obsessed with Kanye West's Power video, 5 years after its release.
posted by town of cats at 9:32 PM on June 25, 2015

Love this question. Personal favorites:

No Rest for the Wicked - Lykke Li

Gucci Gucci - Kreayshawn

Habits (Stay High) - Tove Lo

Yonkers - Tyler the Creator

Shake it Out - Florence + the Machine

Never Catch Me - Flying Lotus

Black Skinhead - Kanye West

Pretty much any video by FKA Twigs, particularly Two Weeks and Glass & Patron
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2015

Oh totally, FKA Twigs is a great call. I'd also nominate Water Me.
posted by saladin at 5:00 PM on June 27, 2015

Au Revoir Mon Amour by Dominique A
posted by klausness at 3:48 PM on June 28, 2015

I think some of the Pentatonix videos are 'stunning', and would go with their Daft Punk remix as one I get glued to when it's on.
posted by Metro Gnome at 8:45 PM on June 28, 2015

Rihanna's got a new one out...and I was kind of stunned.
posted by cashman at 2:48 PM on July 3, 2015

I love the aesthetic in Hands by Alpine.
posted by shimmerbug at 5:06 AM on July 15, 2015

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