Our Listmas celebrations continue as we dive in to some of the best music videos of the past twelve months. Much like our album covers list, it’s an opportunity to show some appreciation for all the hard work that goes into making the accompanying visuals that help turn music releases into a real feast for the senses. Whether a pitch perfect pairing for a specific song, or a work of art in its own right that transcends the music, these are our picks for the best videos of the year.
10. Bear’s Den – Blue Hours
The colour palette is just gorgeous, all the soft pastel hues you’d find in the last traces of a fading sunset. The blend of bright pop art style with the pointillist static effect is certainly unique. Reminds me of a more vibrant version of ‘Return of the Obra Dinn‘.
9. Florence + The Machine – Free
Having someone act as a living embodiment of your anxiety, as some callous taskmaster dictating your day, is a great concept in itself. Then add on about a 1000 bonus points for having them played by Bill Nighy. Including a tribute to the brave people of Ukraine at the end is also a touching addition.
8. Gabrielle Aplin – Call Me
A deeply charming video that really builds on the themes of that song itself. All about regret and wishing you’d been more adventurous, outgoing and supportive of those around you, the video interprets that as walking away (mostly) unscathed from an accident and finding a joyous new lease on life for the rest of the night.
7. The 1975 – Oh Caroline
There’s a lot about The 1975 that rubs me up the wrong way, but it seems every album cycle they release a video that gets past my defences. The nostalgia for a love long gone is inescapably endearing, the choreography is superb, and the aged up make-up effects are eerily convincing.
6. Adele – I Drink Wine
Can confirm, she does indeed drink wine; does exactly what it says on the tin. Living her best life floating gently downstream in a sequin dress surrounded by synchronised swimmers and hunky fishermen. I like the exaggerated impressionist glamour of this highly detailed riverside set, and love the final zoom out at the end which shows how it was all brought to life.
5. Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero
Brings a few fun little skits together under one roof, any one of which could have been the basis for the whole video on its own. From fleeing “ghosts” and hanging out with her chaotic, self-destructive alter-ego, to struggling as a giant at a dinner party and being privy to her own clusterfuck of a funeral. The quirky and self-deprecating humour really lands on this one.
4. Gang of Youths – In The Wake Of Your Leave
Near seamless long takes, with staging and choreography that evokes old-school musicals and pays homage to classic Hollywood, this video is just teeming with euphoric theatricality and perfectly captures the uplifting energy of the track. Also, if anyone in the world is charismatic enough to make mimes cool, it’s Dave Le’aupepe.
3. Sigrid – Bad Life (ft. Bring Me The Horizon)
Love the staging on this one: the details on the two sides of the ramshackle dividing wall, the sunken car and floating floorboards etc. What really sells it though is the weather effects. The rolling fog and gentle waves are one thing, but the distant flashes of lightning illuminating the clouds and the dramatic final downpour drenching the scene are astonishingly well done.
2. Black Country, New Road – Concorde
Is it just me, or is that prosthetic alien head more detailed and expressive than it has any damn right to be? It’s the kind of quality practical effect I’d expect to see in a Guillermo Del Toro film. Really elevates the whole sci-fi B movie vibe of the video, which tells the tale of a crashed alien pilot who’s been captured, ill treated, and sentenced to death by humanity.
1. Porcupine Tree – Herd Culling
Seeing this one on the big screen at their live show was a revelation. The standard of animation is at such a high level for a music video. Some of the gorgeous landscapes especially look almost real. But it’s that final first-person chase sequence, with a ferocious hell hound at every turn, that sealed the deal for me. Most horror games would kill to have a set piece even half as thrilling! It’s the kind of video that goes above and beyond and sticks with you, even to the point of making the song itself better.