We hand-pick the visuals that captivated us this year...
As the year draws to a close, we look back on some of the music videos which have made their mark this year. From the cameo-filled ‘thank u, next’ by Ariana Grande to the boundary-breaking ‘Mother’s Daughter’ by Miley Cyrus, here’s our top picks…
"Cellophane" by FKA twigs
Whether it’s vogueing, pole dancing or Wushu martial arts, there’s nothing that FKA twigs can’t do. Over the course of her short career thus far, she’s already established herself as a pretty impressive polymath, perfectly navigating her way through the realms of art, music and fashion.
This year she dropped her era-defining second album, MAGDALENE, an emotive masterpiece about “every lover she’s ever had”. The first single was the hypnotic “Cellophane”, which was assisted by an equally as mesmerising music video. Directed by Andrew Thomas Huang who is best known for his work with Bjork, the video has collected a Grammy nomination and three MTV VMA noms. With pole work, mud baths and sci-fi style beasts, the video for Cellophane successfully transports you to the twigs dimension, where women rule and sexuality is championed.
“EARFQUAKE” by Tyler, The Creator
Donning a Warholian wig and appearing on a parody TV show hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross, the video for “EARFQUAKE” is just as bizarre as it sounds. Throughout the video, we see an awkward performance on a soundstage with nothing but a silver crushed-velvet backdrop, but then things take an unexpected turn when the set goes up in flames, and we watch the OFWGKTA frontman slowly burn, only for him to reappear on-screen as a firefighter. Whew! It really does sound even more ridiculous written out…
"Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
Yee-haw! Need we say more?
"thank u, next" by Ariana Grande
So it might seem like an obvious inclusion but a Kris Jenner Kameo (sic) can’t go unnoticed, right? When the video for “thank u, next” dropped, it was pretty much a #BreakTheInternet moment. It received some 829,000 viewers during its live stream, making it the most-watched launch event in the history of YouTube. Since then it’s acquired more than 400m viewers…
But what was the winning formula for Grande? Mean Girls, The Bend and Snap and a little bit of 13 Going on 30 magic. As well as some guest appearances from Troye Sivan, Jennifer Coolidge and Jonathan Bennett – whose hair definitely looks sexy pushed back. The video was a true ode to teen movies of the Noughties, parodying all your fave flicks. A perfect end of decade choice.
"Unemployed" by Tierra Whack
Last year, Tierra Whack found herself atop every Music Video of the Year list – her groundbreaking visual album ‘Whack World’ was a cinematic masterpiece, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the realm of visual albums.
To be honest, it seemed almost unstoppable; the kind of visuals that come along once in a blue moon and are rarely rivalled… but then she went and dropped the video for “Unemployed”. Comedic and trippy, it’ll mean you never look at french fries the same way again.
“you should see me in a crown” by Billie Eilish
Created in collaboration with highly regarded Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the official video for “you should see me in a crown” is Billie’s ode to manga as she’s morphed into her very own cartoon character. It’s even equipped with her own signature style of basketball shorts and an oversized tee.
And then there’s also the alternative vertical version of the video, which seems to be the perfect fit for an IG story (we assume Billie was in need of #content). Heads up – if you’ve got arachnophobia, it’s probably not one for you!
“Here Comes The Cowboy” by Mac Demarco
Behind his cheeky gap-toothed smile and doofus persona, it seems there’s a very sinister man – and the video for “Here Comes The Cowboy” proves it. Teaming up with Canadian animator Cole Kush, Mac Demarco’s visuals for his title track are like something you might experience in your wildest nightmares. Warning: don’t watch while high.
“Tabula Rasa” by Bjork
Undeniably a major influence for the likes of FKA twigs, Bjork’s visual output is essentially unrivalled. Her eye for the unusual is just one of many factors as to how she’s stood the test of time, enjoying a career spanning over 30 years.
For “Tabula Rasa”, she teamed up with visual artist Tobias Gremmler, who said: “When creating the video, I was deeply inspired by the music and lyrics of [the track]. The visual transformation of Bjork into faun-like flowers and mountainous landscapes embodies the utopian concept of harmonious coexistence between nature and human-based on empathy”. Ah, so that’s what it’s about! Gotcha!
“Violence” by Grimes
Our favourite eco-nymph is gearing up to release her next album, the sublimely titled “Miss Anthropocene”, a record which she describes as an attempt to “make climate change fun!” The second single from the album was “Violence”, which was directed by Grimes herself. The video opens with the Canadian musician reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu, before performing a warfare-inspired dance routine alongside a group of female warriors.
“Mother’s Daughter” by Miley Cyrus
There was a point in her career when the words “controversial” and “Miley Cyrus” were synonymous. Her video for new track “Mother’s Daughter’ saw her once again making the headlines – for all the right reasons. Featuring nudity, disability and a plethora of body shapes and sizes, “Mother’s Daughter” is one of the most inclusive videos of the year, with Miley using her platform to push forward her ideas about “socio-sensitive” issues. She’s here to spotlight the marginalised, and if she wants to do that with a blunt in hand, so be it!
30 December 2019