Music videos are always interesting to watch. They might be exactly what you imagined the visuals to be while humming the lyrics. Or they can hit you with a sudden dose of reality, or occasionally even paranoia. With increasing advancements in technology and camera equipment, artists are outdoing one another with their creative visuals. The result is we have music videos with as much content as a Christopher Nolan movie, going whoosh over the head. There are many songs that hit us differently and impact us emotionally with the heart-wrecking videos that come along with it. You see more creativity these days in a music video with jump cuts, time loops, sci-fi plots, surprise endings, and romance than in a movie.
Let us take a look at some of the best music videos from the last decade that fared even better than the songs themselves.
Note: The following is not a list of bad music but rather a must-watch list of the most breathtaking videos you will ever encounter in your lifetime.
Up and Up – Coldplay (2016)
What better than a Coldplay song to start off? To be honest, I did not love the song as much as the other songs by the band. But when I saw the video, I exclaimed loudly with wonder at the satisfying shots.
Up and Up conjures the surreal out of the real, the extraordinary out of the ordinary. The captivating visuals of the video were put together by two Israeli directors Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia. And it comes as no surprise that the music video received nominations for the Grammy Award for Best Music Video. Chris Martin himself said this about the video, “I think it’s one of the best videos people have made. Even if you take the music away, that’s my point.” And we agree. The video is more outstanding than the music.
Standing in the Middle of the Field – Cut Copy (2017)
This song from the Australian band Cut Copy might be something you haven’t heard of before. But the artists did excellent work with the visuals. An experimental video showing a bird’s eye view of different stages of a couple’s relationship in one non-stop, uncut, continuous upward shot. The result is a strange but stunning visual effect making us wonder if it was a dream after all. The video was shot by tying a camera to a rope and lifting it upwards in a zoom-out motion giving us the impression of an omniscient gaze into a couple’s memories and experiences. The endless loop of interior scenes and outdoor visuals, along with an African beat-like rhythm, has an almost hypnotic effect. So even if you might not like the song, you’re going to be mesmerized by the visuals.
Oh Baby – LCD Soundsystem (2018)
Get prepared to watch a six-minute long short sci-fi film! This song from American rock band LCD Soundsystems was released in 2018. The music video was directed by Rian Johnson, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Now you know why this romantic song turned out to have a sci-fi plot. The plot involves a lovely elderly couple who are both scientists who are on the verge of discovering the art of teleporting in real-time. They create their own DIY teleporter in the garage. And then…Watch to know what happens. No spoilers revealed. While the song is meaningful and fresh, the video surpasses the musical goodness of this track. I wish there were a sequel to it just to know what happens after the end.
Genghis Khan – Miike Snow (2016)
Now we all know who Genghis Khan is, right? Well, this song gives a whole new angle to the tyrant known in history. A production from the Swedish band Miike Snow, the idea behind the song and the video was conceptualized to bring out the human trait of jealousy in a relationship. The brilliant and visually satisfying music video depicts a Genghis Khan with a prosthetic nose. The song beautifully captures how we can all see Genghis Khans in our relationships, but the video takes it one step further. The video directed by Ninian Doff received multiple awards and nominations for the convincing portrayal and choreography. In short, the song and the video is the love story of a villain. Who said evil people are incapable of love?
Makeba – JAIN (2016)
Makeba is one of the best videos on this list, with a very engrossing cinematography. This song from French singer JAIN was released in 2016 and contains visual and lyrical references to Africa. The song celebrates Africa’s beauty and glory, beautifully brought out through the clever visuals that include a lot of black-white aesthetics in panoramic locations. The video is a must-watch, and the creativity of the video will make you fall in love with the artist who is seen even painting a zebra in the video. You won’t even find this much creativity in an art gallery as you would in Makeba. It is only natural then that the music video was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae (2013)
The title is an acronym for ‘Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated and Negroid’ and is a song released by American singer Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu. The video covers a range of themes from sexuality, stereotypes, empowerment and religion, and it was termed as one of the best music videos of 2013. The six-minute video for the song was directed by Alan Ferguson and portrays ‘Afrofuturism‘ featuring Monae in the future who has been frozen and is displayed as a rebel who time-travelled. The video has a strong interplay of black and white colours; in fact, most of the time, they are the only colours in the video. The video was greatly praised for its uniqueness and was received with greater acclaim than the song itself.
Formation – Beyonce (2016)
From the great talent that brought us All the Single Ladies, Halo and many others, here comes another masterpiece. But I’m talking about the music video rather than the song. While the song was powerful by itself, the video was much more appreciated than the song. The music video released in 2016, directed by Melina Matsoukas, is different from other videos of Beyoncé because of its portrayal of African Americans. The song received numerous nominations at the Grammy’s and won the award for the Best Music Video. One look at the list of accolades received by the song reveals that the video achieved more praise than the song. And seeing the video, it seems like we couldn’t agree more.
Run Boy Run – Woodkid (2013)
A song from Yoann Lemoine, known in the music world as Woodkid. The track was released in 2012 as part of his album ‘The Golden Age’. The song has ominous beats interspersed with equally thrilling visuals, the kind you would hear as the background score in a coming-of-age movie. Therefore the music fails to amaze, but the visuals do that for us instead. The visuals only involve a boy courageously running alone, but the Visual FX make it so convincing and heroic that we get the same feeling after seeing a Narnia movie or a Lord of the Rings sequel. And the story goes that it was nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the Grammy’s.
1800-273-8255 – Logic feat Alessia Cara and Khalid (2017)
Grab some tissues before you see this one! The video is an emotionally overwhelming story of a young boy that adds more depth to the powerful lyrics. This video garnered the attention of millions after its release and went on to receive a Grammy nomination for the Best Music Video of the year. The icing to the cake is that the video features some of our favourite actors like Don Cheadle (War Machine from Avengers), Nolan Gould (Luke from Modern Family), Coy Stewart and Luiz Gusman.
Weapon of Choice – Fatboy Slim (2001)
This song’s video is the product of a remarkable encounter between director Spike Jonze and the famous actor Christopher Walken. It’s not every day we get to see Christopher Walken dancing around in a hotel lobby. This video from the English musician Fatboy Slim won multiple awards, including the Grammy Award and the MTV awards for the Best Music Video.
Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift (2017)
A Joseph Kahn creation combined with Taylor Swift’s enchanting screen presence. The song is not T-Swift’s best, but the same cannot be said about the video. The visuals are hauntingly magical, and it is one of the best comeback videos in the history of Pop music, receiving 43.2 million views within twenty-four hours of its release.
Moving On – James (2014)
Who knew you could do so much with yarn? The entire song features yarn, people made of yarn, objects of yarn, and that’s just the beauty of the song too. I got so caught up in watching the yarn figures’ story that I forgot that I was listening to a song. Spoiler: the baby made out of yarn is just too adorable.
Adore You – Harry Styles (2020)
Another video that received a Grammy Award nomination and the most recent video on this list. You get so caught up in the bond between Styles and the fish that you forget that it is only a song. I hope the song wins.
Runaway Train – Soul Asylum (2010)
This video is noted for featuring photos of missing children and teenagers. It is said that some of the children were found after the release of the video. The song went on to receive a nomination for a Grammy for the Best Music Video.
Tell us your favourite music videos that blew you away in the comment section below!