We’ve seen plenty of them, but which ones were truly the best music videos of 2017? Here’s a look at my top 5 and why I picked each one!
It’s crazy to think that MTV once stood for “Music Television,” considering I can’t remember the last time I saw a music video on their network. Music videos feel like they have become a dying art, seeing as the only real use for new music videos as of late has been for promotional purposes rather than artistic. However, while it is easy to say the shift in the way we are seeing music video production is a sign of its ultimate downfall, it is important to remember that there are still real works of art out there being made every day. Whether it is artists from here in the U.S., or even global musicians, here is an in depth look at my picks for the 5 best music videos of 2017 and what made them such cinematic masterpieces.
5. "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi
“Despacito” had to make the list for the sheer impact this music video has had on not only the music industry, but the world. Clocking in at over 4.4 billion views, this music video is currently the most viewed video on YouTube. That’s roughly ⅔ of the population of the Earth, just to put the popularity of this music video into perspective. Offering a unique insight into the cultural world of Puerto Rico, Director Carlos Perez’s iconic music video has helped spread a wider understanding of not only Puerto Rican culture, but has brought us as human beings closer together on a global scale. It is hard to resist the urge to get up and dance when viewing this music video.
4. "The Gate" by Bjork
Bjork is back baby! The music video for her song “The Gate” was released on September 20, 2017, months before the full release of her new album Utopia, and is probably her best video yet! In this music video, we not only get to see Bjork herself, looking stunning as ever, but we as the audience are provided with a glimpse into Bjork’s mind, her own personal utopia. Strung together with psychedelic visuals and the help of Director Andrew Thomas Huang, Bjork’s music videos continue to break the boundaries of not only what we consider a music video, but what we consider art. If you still have a place in your heart for our favorite 90s Queen, definitely give this video a look!
3. "Lift" by Radiohead
Radiohead has been a part of the underground scene since the mid-1980s, so to see them still cranking out hits is truly incredible. Interestingly enough, this song was actually recorded in 1997 for their third album, OK Computer. However it was never released until this year, when they included it on the re-release of said album. Oscar Hudson, director of the “Lift” music video, spoke about how this piece came together. His intentions of making this music video a true short film, rather than a bunch of random visuals to accompany the music are so potent throughout the clear progression of the story we see unfold. I have always been interested in the ways that our lives become intertwined in meaningless places such as gas stations or elevators, and the way this music video delves into that theme is really unlike any other. If you are a Radiohead fan, or just a film fan in general, definitely give this music video a watch and see what meanings you draw from it.
2. "Slip Away" by Perfume Genius
Via The FADER
Perfume Genius is simply that, a genius. I have been in love with his music ever since I first heard “Queen” in the background of a Mr. Robot episode. Released on March 21st, 2017, his music video for hit song “Slip Away” brought a new level of artistry to the music video craft. With its soft focus and warm glow, the way in which this film is shot looks like a 70s dream. The cinematography reminded me quite a bit of the 2016 film, The Love Witch. The color script of this music video alone is absolutely stunning, and the pacing of the film follows that of the song so masterfully. Be sure to check this video out and give all who worked on it, like Director of Photography Logan Triplett, credit where credit is due.
1. "HUMBLE." by Kendrick Lamar
I feel as though I could talk about the true artistry that goes into everything Kendrick makes for hours. However before I start, I just want to put a little “you need to be over 18 years old to watch this video” disclaimer out there. “HUMBLE.” being his most popular song off of his latest album, reaching 395 million views on YouTube, it is hard not to love every second of visual beauty this music video offers. The color palette used in this music video is so highly contrasted, just like Kendrick himself.
The power that radiates through the screen from the cinematography alone will make you want to watch this video on loop. From the use of a GoPro 360 camera to create the “tiny planet” shots, to the dual screen visuals and switching perspective shots, Directors Dave Meyers & the little homies (Kendrick and Dave Free, the President of Lamar’s label company) were able to use these visuals not only because they looked incredible, but because they added to the overall meaning of this piece.
Whether you are a fan of his risqué content or not, it is hard to argue that what Kendrick produces is anything but pure art. His work continues to inspire African American communities in the US today. On that same track, I noticed that two shots in this music video directly parallel shots from Jenkin’s 2016 film, Moonlight. Now maybe I am just reading into Kendrick’s inspiration from other African American artists too much, but you can look at these stills below and decide for yourself.
Lamar’s music video for another song of his, “ELEMENT.,” is deeply embedded with references to African American artists and stunning visual themes as well. This video does a great job analyzing that music video, and is worth a watch if you enjoyed the “HUMBLE.” music video.
Honorable Mention: "Boys" by Charli XCX
From Mac DeMarco to Brendon Urie, Charli XCX’s music video for “Boys” has pretty much every male celebrity you can think of. Hey, I even saw Joe Jonas! With its sheer levels of ridiculousness, it’s clear how much fun every person involved in this music video had while producing it. If you want a good laugh, definitely give it a watch.
Honorable Mention: "New Rules" by Dua Lipa
I am personally not a fan of this song; however, clocking in over 780 million views on YouTube, I have to give Dua Lipa some love. This music video has already been parodied so many times, so you know just how iconic it has become. Plus, I always have to give some love to any successful solo female artists out there!
It was insanely hard to narrow down, but those are my picks for top music videos from 2017. I am so happy to see filmmakers and artists alike taking the craft of music videos more seriously, and I can’t wait to see what other cinematic masterpieces we get in 2018. Be sure to share this with friends and let us know in the comments below which music videos of 2017 were your favorites!
**Featured image via Redbubble