2017 was one giant shit show of a year. We still have an orange chode for a President, Nazis had a comeback, Combat Jack just passed away, and net neutrality was repealed. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the all the crappy things that this year gave us. But if there’s any plus side to shitty times, it’s that the best art is usually produced in response to them. Music still continued to help us quell our anxieties and fears in 2017, and produced some amazing breakout artists and hits. While we didn’t get another groundbreaking visual album from Beyonce, which would have easily been number 1-10 on this list, we still had some incredible music videos from some seasoned vets and newcomers that set the bar high for 2018. These are the best music videos of 2017:
Not only was Magnolia easily one of the best songs of the year, but the music video was just as good and truly captured the essence of the song. This can’t be said of every top song this year (because let’s be honest, the “XO Tour Llif3” video was massive hot mess letdown). Carti’s tape was definitely in my top played of the year. The visuals are as spazzy as the beat made by Pi’erre Bourne. Carti and his AWGE friends get playful with Pi’erre’s extremely catchy drop in the video countless times—“Yo Pi’erre you wanna come out here?!”—which was a great fan service.
The editing is fantastic, and cuts between Carti and his friends on the block, at the barbershop, gang banging, in the club, and doing a whole lot of NYC-centric shenanigans. The video could have not been more perfect for the song. But perhaps the best part of the video? The comments. Yes. It’s filled with different variations of what the song makes people want to do. Some favorites: “This song makes me wanna read the entire Terms & Conditions and then decline.” “This makes me go to a barber and say I don’t want a haircut.” “This makes me want to steal money out of my own wallet.” Our thoughts exactly.
Camila Cabello was a breakout star this year. After parting ways with Fifth Harmony and focusing on her solo career, she ended up winning a Young Thug feature on possibly one of the biggest records of the year, and became the face of Guess. She had a great year. The music video could practically be classified as a short film. It starts off as a hilarious telenovela starring a bodacious Camila herself, being watched by a nerdy Camila at home with her Abuela, who is played by a male actor in an obvious wig and get up. She acts out all the roles perfectly, nailing both sexy and nerdy within the same take. Nerdy Camila goes to the movies to yet again gush over the perfect lives of movie stars, and then ends the video with her serendipitously meeting a cute guy right outside the movie theater. We barely see Young Thug in the video, but that’s okay because Camila steals the show. The story line is not only adorable, but the message is actually sweet: follow your dreams and write your own story. I’m looking forward to seeing more of what Camila has in store for 2018.
Most creative video of the year goes to Young Thug. And he’s in the video for a grand total of 5 seconds (maybe less). Director Ryan Staake took his misfortune and turned it into one of the most original videos I’ve ever seen. What was soon to be a $100,000 shoot down the drain, Staake decided to turn the story of the making of the video into the video itself. The literalness of the video makes it charming and hilarious. The editing is genius and the little bit of shots he did get to direct are actually visually stunning. Hats off for turning a bad situation into arguably the best music video of the year.
N.E.R.D. are back! But they’ve handed over the spotlight to a young promising talent, Mette Towley. A part of the Baes, Pharrell’s touring dance crew, she completely steals the show in this video. The opening sequence of the video is chilling and immediately grabs your attention: Rihanna lovingly shaving off Mette’s gorgeous mane, which seems to give her this new found feminine dancing energy that dominates the video. Only rocking a cropped white tank and blue jeans that occasionally come off to reveal some camo Bape underwear, Towley effortlessly glides through the Del Amo Swap Meet in Compton under hues of purple of light. Choreographed by the incredible JaQuel Knight, the video instantly became a dance challenge. #LemonChallenge videos started popping up everywhere, and Pharrell even posted instructional videos of each dance move on hist social media. Count on Pharrell to always deliver an infectious, danceable hit. Not to mention, Rihanna rapping!
Yes there are two Kendrick videos on this list. Honestly four videos could have been on here, it was hard to remove “Element” and “DNA”, but in the interest of giving other people some shine, I picked his two strongest visuals: “Humble” and “Loyalty”. Kendrick knew what he was doing with the visual storytelling of his latest album, and nearly every moment of the video can be turned into a still that you could frame and hang up in your room, or a GIF to express an entire range of emotions. Not only are certain visuals outstanding, but the camera play challenges the way you think of traditional music videos. Kendrick has yet to let us down both sonically and visually, and he truly blessed us with the best visuals of his career to date.
As I mentioned before, we still have an orange chode as president, and if there was one theme that he brought out in 2017, it was the prevalence of racism. And no one responded to our murky political climate better than Jay-Z with this video and song. The lyrics are somber and speak to being a black man in America in 2017. Hov and director Mark Romanek perfectly reflect these somber lyrics with depictions of racist cartoons that were prevalent in the early 1940s. You can’t take your eyes off the screen the entire video and it perfectly reflects the emotion of the song. Respect to Jay-Z for nailing his visuals on 4:44, Beyonce would be proud.
At only 22, Dua Lipa has already solidified herself as a global superstar. This video screams girl power through and through, and is a refreshing visual and message from a world of pop stars that are usually trying to break the internet by stripping down to nothing. The lyrics talk about setting new rules to avoid going back to your prototypical fuckboy ex boyfriend, and the video couldn’t reflect this ethos better. It shows the progression of a somber Dua being encouraged by her besties to stick to her guns, and eventually the tables turn showing a stronger than ever Dua giving the same advice to one of her besties. The dance sequences are refreshing and cute, and the art-deco color scheme pops not only through the set design, but the wardrobe as well. At one point Dua and her girls are walking on water, screaming analogies of what a strong woman can achieve when she puts her mind to it. More obviously, the number of different races, colors, body types, and types of beauty in the video are extremely refreshing too. The video is equally as addicting as the song!
Fat boys! Skinny boys! Gay boys! Straight boys! Boys with puppies! Boys brushing their teeth! Also, Carl Barat? Shoutout to all my Libertines fans for that reference. If we’re going to talk about representation and challenging the definitions of masculinity, this video nails it. You see boys playing with puppies, washing dishes, eating pancakes and pillow fighting. Not only does the video star famous artists, but it also throws in YouTubers and K-Pop singers. Charli doesn’t fail to include anyones fantasy male crush. Thankfully, none of them turned out to be sexual predators, so this video is still maintains its cuteness and charm. It’s probably the most fun video of 2017, and the song is a hit too. Nice job, Charli.
Try not to watch this video without going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Electronic male duo The Blaze are known for their incredible visuals that feel more like short films than music videos. The video follows a young man returning home to his family in Algiers, being greeted with intense hugs, kisses, tears, and laughs. It then follows him and his friends as he assimilates back into his community, and all the emotions you go through once you are reunited with your closest family and friends. Certain hyper-masculine movements from the protagonist of the video line up perfectly with different notes in the song, but it’s not done in not-so-obvious way, which makes the storyline seem even more believable and authentic. I challenge you not to feel moved, and be moved by this video.
One word: Rihanna. Was she created in a lab? How does she look so perfect all the time? Does Kendrick realize how lucky he is to hold her hand as she hangs off a building like that? As he melts into the concrete with her? Also, how can she rap better than pretty much every Soundcloud rapper out there right now? This video lives out every fantasy of a thuggish-ruggish modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Watching Rihanna instigate a fight and then giggle as Kendrick gets a proper beating is one of the best visuals of 2017. It redefines “loyalty” in love through an intense and violent relationship. The final scene of the two lovers getting their car crashed into as they do donuts has a sick twist as they both end up laughing off the pain. It’s like Suicide Squad meets Bonnie Clyde, and I’m here for it.