What are the definitive music videos of the last 10-ish years?
August 13, 2018 9:56 PM   Subscribe

I feel like the music video had a high point in the '90s and then I stopped paying attention. Please recommend me 2 or 3 videos from the last while that are must-see, be it for artistry, originality, infamy, whatever. Context would be appreciated. I have seen This Is America.
posted by cult_url_bias to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
 
The entirety of Beyonce's Lemonade.
posted by divabat at 9:57 PM on August 13 [33 favorites]




Came in to say Lemonade. Also - any of Missy Elliott’s videos, which are insanely well produced and iconic.
posted by mdonley at 10:10 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]








Anything by Janelle Monae.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:29 PM on August 13 [16 favorites]


(content warning for yonkers above - the whole video is a man eating a bug, vomiting then hanging himself from a noose)

Baby Driver is one long awesome music video, the Run the Jewels song from it has the best bits
posted by JonB at 10:39 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Yes to Beyonce's Lemonade. It was (still is) huge. It's a "visual album" - the music video is as important as the music.

Formation made people go, "Oh shit, Beyonce????" And it also spawned this SNL parody of some white people's reactions...

Also seconding all of Janelle Monae's videos, maybe start with Queen? But Pynk is also really great, and Make Me Feel might make you feel things.

Another very different one one:

Sia - Chandelier. A child dancing in a depressing, abandoned apartment sounds boring and cliche, but turns out not to be.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:00 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


DJ Shadow ft. Run the Jewels - Nobody Speak made an impression.
posted by Lorin at 11:45 PM on August 13 [8 favorites]




The last while is so long, especially if it begins when the nineties ended!
posted by Going To Maine at 11:56 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Also, I’m not sure it was iconic to anybody but I surely enjoyed the video for “When I Was Done Dying”
posted by Going To Maine at 12:01 AM on August 14


Ten years means Lady Gaga’s clip for “Bad Romance” makes the cut. I remember hearing it in public and seeing little girls make claws at each other like in the first part of the video.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:29 AM on August 14 [20 favorites]


Stormzy's freestyle video for Shut up.
posted by tavegyl at 1:08 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Miike Snow's videos are usually out there but Genghis Khan is sublime.
posted by fullerine at 1:10 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


I've always paid deliberate attention to ever music video Paul Thomas Anderson makes, but the two that I've gone back to most often are Fiona Apple's Hot Knife and Paper Bag.

They're not flashy, but they're such tight, tight pieces of film. I guess, like most PTA work in general.
posted by rokusan at 1:12 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


There is an event in London called BUG, hosted by Adam Buxton. (If you know who he is that helps but it doesn't matter for the context of this answer).

So, BUG is a show where they would curate and play music videos in a big movie theater (at the British Film Institute). There wasn't really a specific theme, but the focus was on the music video (art direction, director, style, production value) more so than the song itself. Or at least it elevated the music video so that the song became more than just the song.

They just celebrated 10 years of doing this (they show several a year) and here is their archive. Each of them also have program notes as a PDF, which I recommend as they give some interesting snippets about their selections.

It's... a lot. But you can just dip into any one of them randomly and I promise you will find at least one or more gems from an artist you haven't heard of, or a really interesting filming technique, or a powerful story through the medium of music video. The selection is eclectic, varied, and vast. They have featured everyone from Grimes, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Flight of the Concords, Peter Gabriel, Oh Land, Sia, Dizzee Rascal.... everyone. But based on my experience of attending more than a dozen of these shows, I'd say I enjoyed 90% of the selections. The music video is alive and well!
posted by like_neon at 2:18 AM on August 14 [11 favorites]


Speaking of PTA, he directed the beautiful and enigmatic video for Radiohead's haunting 2016 track Daydreaming

The music videos that stand out most in my mind:

Lady Gaga - Telephone, in which Gaga gets bailed out of the slammer by her best friend Beyoncé and goes on a hyperkinetic road trip/cooking show that ends in a mass poisoning. (It's way more fun than it sounds.)

LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem is a great slice of absurdist fun. Our Heroes wake to discover that their killer ear worm has transformed the public, Thriller-style, into a mob of breakdancing zombies.

Adele - Rolling in the Deep for its unsettling, dreamlike imagery of swordfighters and pulsating shot glasses.

Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball, for its intense close-ups and the iconic wrecking ball imagery

More recently, I rather liked Gorillaz animated/live-action mash-up Humility (ft. Jack Black!)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:56 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


My favorite Lady Gaga video is Judas which spawned a ton of articles analyzing its imagery from biblical and art history perspectives.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:48 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Here's an FPP about FKA Twigs's longform video for the M3LL155X EP.
The link in the post is still good. The video is still great.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:49 AM on August 14


I wouldn't call myself a fan of Macklemore, but I find the video for Downtown scratches an itch I didn't know I had.
posted by candyland at 5:30 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Downtown, Macklemore
Countdown, Beyonce
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:30 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Kinda surprised no one's mentioned Childish Gambino's This is America yet. Sort of feel like it's the definitive video of 2018.

The Carters' APES**T is also incredible.
posted by General Malaise at 5:50 AM on August 14 [7 favorites]


Because the OP said they already saw it :)

I second Apesh**t though!
posted by like_neon at 6:15 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


On the off chance you may have missed I'm On a Boat, it's a great comedy music video.

Pharrell's Happy made everyone want to dance and be like "How is that guy not OLDER?"

Turn Down for What by DJ Snake and Lil Jon is a complex story of... sleepwalking you won't be able to get out of your head.
posted by jessamyn at 6:27 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Happy also has a 24 hour long video, which largely looks like each of the people he got clips of for the regular-length video getting their own full-length dance, and then some.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on August 14


Some fantastic recommendations here already. Here's a few more that I'd recommend:

Bjork: Pagan Poetry (NSFW though!)
Radiohead: Pyramid Song
Radiohead: There, There
Health: We are Water
Hundred Waters: Firelight
Hundred Waters: Cavity
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Maps
Feist: 1234
posted by saladin at 6:47 AM on August 14


Monae, high notes:

Ok, so we start with Many Moons (unfortunately the HD version is showing with worse quality for me). This serves as an introduction to the world and the metaphor she'd continue build up to Dirty Computer (which quite possibly is in a similar but different dystopia). This is further developed in Tightrope and Q.U.E.E.N.. Tightrope visually develops the theme of criticism as crazy-making. Q.U.E.E.N. is all about revolt against arbitrary standards of behavior in terms of acceptable race, gender, and sexuality. And then, this year we have Dirty Computer which is a 50-minute "fuck you" to the current political cycle that somehow manages to sustain prophetic anger and hope through the entire linked video sequence. There are other videos worth watching.

I think Gorillaz is worth looking at just conceptually. Stylo and Feel Good, Inc. are my favorites.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:48 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Flobots - Handlebars
Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice
Weezer - Pork and Beans
posted by candyland at 7:34 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]






Muse, "Knights of Cydonia" Epic.
posted by SinAesthetic at 8:41 AM on August 14


Dancing in the Graveyards by Delta Rae is one of very few videos I've watched more than once.

Also, anything by Janelle Monae.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:50 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'd forgotten entirely about the Pagan Poetry video. That's amazing.
posted by uberchet at 9:25 AM on August 14


I think FKA Twigs’ Two Weeks is amazing.

Just a reminder that the OP specified music videos from the last 10 years.
posted by greermahoney at 9:43 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Stromae - Papaoutai (and others, but that video, man).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:57 AM on August 14 [6 favorites]


Definitive is tough to define, but the music video as a genre is probably more vibrant than ever. MTV then has nothing on Youtube now. Apart from those already mentioned, these are ones that I find very clever and visually appealing/impressive:

Major Lazer - Light it Up (Method Design) Doing some amazing things with motion capture and dancers.
Bloc Party - Ratchet (Cyriak) One of the less-disturbing Cyriak pieces.
Fever The Ghost - Source (Felix Colgrave) Ditto for Colgrave
Bonobo - No Reason (Oscar Hudson) Be sure to watch the making-of as well
Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums feat. Assassin - Mutant Brain (Spike Jonze) Technically a Perfume commercial, but it's basically a sequel to Weapon of Choice.
Lorn - Acid Rain (Pavel Brenner, Julian Flores, Sherif Alabede)

These are probably influencing the next generation of directors right now:
Kazoo Kid - Mike Diva
Bustin - Neil Cicierega
posted by subocoyne at 12:29 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Beastie Boys - Make Some Noise is a bit cheating because its charm is really its references to (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party).

Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball was important more for commercial than aesthetic reasons because it (and her nudity in it) drove her single back up the charts 9 weeks after it had been released. The Billboard Hot 100 had only started incorporating YouTube views earlier that year.
posted by vunder at 1:52 PM on August 14


I wouldn't call it "definitive" but N.E.R.D. and Rihanna's Lemon is a recent example with really good dancing (and a really good song).
posted by scose at 2:38 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Perfume Genius' videos are gorgeous.
posted by ITheCosmos at 3:05 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Two from The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist and Frankie Sinatra
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:37 PM on August 14


Hurt by Johnny Cash. Generally seen as a great music video and one of the best covers of all time.

The Fox (What Does it Say?) by Ylvis. One of those meme-y songs of the season but a good humor song and nice video
posted by skynxnex at 5:17 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


M.I.A. - Born Free (Graphic violence; this video was removed from YouTube)
Justice - Stress
Gesaffelstein - Pursuit (My favorite of these by far)
Tierra Whack - Whack World (15 min, a bunch of different 1-minute songs/videos)
Kanye West - Welcome to Heartbreak (No, the video is not glitching)
posted by reductiondesign at 7:11 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Jay-Z - The Story of O.J.
The video is a cartoon in the style of the 1930's with all of the racist caricature that implies, but the visual transitions are amazing.
posted by five toed sloth at 10:01 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I really like two recent Beck videos: "Colors" (slime video, capturing that whole slime zeitgeist thing) and "Up All Night" (bold hero girl magical realism, even if it turns out later to secretly be some kind of Scientologist commentary on substance use).

Even more excellent videos: Kenzo World: The New Fragrance and Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice." See also: Apple's HomePod commercial, which is both music video and commercial.
posted by limeonaire at 2:54 PM on August 15


I also really like a couple Justin Timberlake videos and have watched them over and over: "Mirrors" (makes me cry) and "Can't Stop the Feeling" (makes me happy). Also good: Gotye and Kimbra's "Somebody That I Used to Know."
posted by limeonaire at 2:59 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


I don't know if this is a "definitive" video, but I thought of it the other day and it came to mind again: Cage the Elephant's "Cigarette Daydreams" wrecks me for some reason, just like "Mirrors" above.
posted by limeonaire at 4:43 PM on August 16


Die Antwoord: Fatty Boom Boom
posted by freya_lamb at 4:25 AM on August 17 [2 favorites]






Outkast's "Hey Ya" kept me watching MTV for the brief time I had cable.
posted by not_on_display at 9:40 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


Returning to say you might like this compilation of "nostalgic" music from the early 2010s. It packs the catchiest ~10 seconds of 100+ pop hits into less than 26 minutes, with artist/title and footage from the music video included. Some of the videos are pretty generic "singing in random locations," but it's a great overview of the era, and if you see anything distinctive it's easy to track down the source video.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:51 AM on August 19


Chet Faker - Gold is directed by Hiro Murai, of This is America/Atlanta fame.

While not technically a music video, the Kyle Hanagami choreography video of Shape of You is quite wonderful and popularized an entire new YT genre.
posted by gwint at 1:37 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


these two touch me to the core
the blaze-"territory"
hooray for the rift raff-"pa'lante"
posted by finally at 2:04 PM on August 20


In terms of infamy, some of the most talked about were:

Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke (questionably rapey lyrics + naked ladies)

Born Free - M.I.A. (depicts the systematic genocide of all red heads. Got banned from YouTube for a while, but it's back up).

Famous - Kanye West (naked famous people, plus Kanye West taking the credit for making Taylor Switft ("that bitch") famous)

Anaconda - Nicki Minaj (not sure why this was shocking because I think its just wonderful, but you know, butts.)

For artistry, some of my favorites that haven't been mentioned are:

Dark Horse - Katy Perry
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - Taylor Swift
212 - Azealia Banks
Sorry - Justin Bieber
Sadness Is a Blessing - Lykke Li
Fade - Kanye West
Runaway - Kanye West
Bad Girls - M.I.A.
Habits (Stay High) - Tove Lo
Shake it out - Florence + the Machine
Gucci Gucci - Kreayshawn
National Anthem - Lana Del Ray
Yonkers - Tyler, the Creator
New Rules - Dua Lipa
Los Ageless - St. Vincent (all of hers are great, really)
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 10:48 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Kesha - Praying

context: "Though Sony finally cut ties with Dr. Luke, whom Kesha worked closely with and has been embroiled in a legal battle with for years over claims of his habitual abuse, “Praying” was released by Luke’s own imprint, Kemosabe, due to contractual obligations. Despite these circumstances, “Praying” marks a significant new start for Kesha. The singer bravely took on her abuser, saw #FreeKesha transformed into a rallying cry, and now has decided that she will move forward victoriously, even if the court has not exactly deemed it so." (and on MeFi previously)
posted by juliplease at 6:19 PM on September 4


* Sigur Ros - Glósóli. Introduced my neighbor to this the year it came out. They couldn't, at that point, find Iceland on a map. Within three months, they'd sold up and moved there. Never came back, never saw them again. This video has a peculiarly strong hold on some people.

* Twenty one pilots - Stressed Out. "Wake up..."

* Woodkid - Run Boy Run (vimeo). Resurfaces whenever used over a TV program, the football world cup of some four years ago being a prime example when the BBC made a montage that was arguably the highlight of the tournament.

* The City Limits (vimeo). 'Time' by Hans Zimmer from the film Inception, laid over a timelapse of ... mostly ... cities. Big screen in a dark room, sound up, you will want to travel.

* Out Of A Forest (vimeo). A part-animation, part- ... something else, featuring 'Slow Show' by The National.
posted by Wordshore at 6:28 PM on September 4


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