Music videos overall got more political in 2018, although different artists found unique ways to show the world around the song and them, got a deeper look into the meaning behind it, to show the aesthetics or to offer a moving short film. This year, artists like Vince Staples and The 1975 made bold political and social statements; Kilo Kish and A$AP Rocky showed us some of the artistically strongest visuals; newcomers like Rosalía and Hurray for the Riff Raff showed us the beautiful worlds, that they come from.
10. Kilo Kish – Void
Directed by Elliott Sellers & Kilo Kish
Elliot Sellers almost made this list with the music video for My Life by ZHU and Tame Impala, another very interesting one and, well, more romantic than this one. A good year for him, but here the Kilo Kish co-direction is felt; it is a strong statement of a fight with ourselves, as we often do it without even noticing it. As one long exquisite longshot, Kilo Kish finds herself fighting with a twin in a bloody life or death fight. The hits are felt deeply as camera moves and echoes with them, some screams are heard making the skin tremble; in slow motion she falls through a window into the grass in what seems a beautiful home on the hills.The next song starts as the twin evolves, we are left with an vivid closing shot. Here, in this fight with ourselves, when put in front of our eyes, it might seem like a brutal short film; like a take out of the upcoming Tarantino film.
9. Lana Del Rey – Venice Bitch
Directed by Lana Del Rey
The dreamiest record of the year has the dreamiest visuals. As a dreamlike recollection of Lana’s life – it is fast-forward car rides, beach scenes, with vintage camera filter, which filmed Lana with her friends, running from the police, laughing, smiling – all making us nostalgic, with some wistfulness; in a peaceful pace showing both sadness and happiness. The electric guitars and the almost 10 minute car ride is what makes it what it is. “Back in the garden / We’re getting high now, because we’re older / Crimson and clover, honey..”
8. Vince Staples – FUN!
Directed by Caimatic
Vince offers us a deeper look of his hometown of Long Beach; the genius of this is in the form – shown from a white boy perspective as looking from Google Earth on his bedroom laptop. It shows Long Beach as it is and the important: local kids running down the block, jumping rope, gentrification (process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste) and police brutality.
7. Welcome Home – Apple / ‘Til It’s Over by Anderson .PAAK
Directed by Spike Jonze
What actually is a brilliant advertisement for Apple’s HomePod, can also be interpreted as a musical video for Anderson .PAAK’s ‘Til It’s Over. The video starring FKA twigs shows how big corporations can approach their products and advertisements; the technology behind the video’s making is almost uncrackable, FKA twigs showing how talented she is and Home Pod is in the wishlist.
6. The Carters – APESHIT
Directed by Ricky Saiz
The surprise album from Beyonce and Jay-Z, the surprise single and its visuals is an ode to self-made excellence. “Bought him a jet / Shut Down Colette / Phillippe Patek” – Beyonce references in her verses: the $40 million private jet she bought for her husband for Father’s day 2012, the famous Paris retailer Colette, that closed in December 2017 and the millions worth renowned Swiss watch pieces by Patek Phillippe. She is showing off with a smile on her face. She is in the Louvre museum, empty, an unusual look for many, standing just inches away from the Mona Lisa as saying “We are here, we are happy and thankful”. But she is not as shallow as that; with an glorious cinematography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, with intermissions, with dancers, with art masterpieces they are discussing blackness and its relationship to Western colonialism; the symbolical meaning of the artworks shown is a great study for a boring Saturday night. Here on twitter, in a series of tweets it all is being discussed.
5. The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
Directed by Dirty Hit Lighting, conceptual design by Tobias Rylander
The 1975 in their lead single – a social anthem are not afraid of telling the truth and showing it too: “Selling melanin and then suffocate the black men / “Thank you Kanye, very cool” / A beach of drowning three-year-olds” the lead singer Matthew Healy screams as we can see only his silhouette with bright neon colours, that are connecting each frame of the video; not the best aspects of modern society are shown in pieces put together; bold texts are quoting the song, overall as if saying “it’s not alright, we have problems people, here they are”. The 1975 has stopped writing love ballads and have moved to changing the world. “The poetry is in the streets, Modernity has failed us”. Iphone’s turn off sign shown as last.
4. A$AP ROCKY – Gunz N Butter ft. Juicy J
Directed by James Mackel
Rocky had an amazing run this year with the new album TESTING out, couple singles and videos, and still being one of the best dressed rappers. This stands out visually, continuing the TESTING conceptual and visual themes, here adding so much more with an Oscar worthy cinematography. The separate shots doesn’t seem to be connected much at first but the themes, that Rocky is dealing on the new album are connected through it all. Here “Guns & Butter” cigarettes add, gunshots, and a message from the producer Hector Delgado & underground performance by Rocky himself adds, making this a cocktail of many ingredients but with a clear outcome. The visuals without speaking, without linear narrative speak perfectly for the song itself.
3. James Blake – If The Car Besides You Moves Ahead
Directed by Alexander Brown
One of the times when the title of the song also describes the video, only it is so much more – slow & dynamic, changing angles, neon green, that go perfectly together with the song. Watch and feel.
“As much as it feels as though you’re dead, You’re not going backwards”
2. Hurray for The Riff Raff – Pa’lante
Directed by Kristian Mercado Figueroa aka Kris Merc
Almost 9 minute short film about love, life & Puerto Rico. The injustice and perseverance in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria & the estimated 4645 left dead from it; the emotional peak of this list, as well at her 2017’s album The Navigator. Colonized, and hypnotized, be something / Sterilized, dehumanized, be something. In 2018, National Public Radio ranked this as the #14 greatest song by 21st Century Women or nonbinary artist, and it’s true. After first five verses, an interlude drawn from Pedro Pietri’s poem ‘Puerto Rican Obituary,’ first read in 1969, the same year the Young Lords of New York City adopted pa’lante (Spanish affirmation that means “onwards, forwards) as their motto, Segarra’s ‘be something’ resolves into that familiar phrase pointing forward. The heartbreaking realism of Puertorriquenos struggles is clear on the screen, turning into a moving portrayal of an imperfect family life. We follow a single Puerto Rican mother, her ex-partner, and their young children. To all who had to survive, I say, ¡Pa’lante! – accenting the song’s theme that “no matter how bad everything goes, you can always move forward.” This is cinematic protest art—an expansion of what a music video can be.
A call to keep moving with unwavering memory because we must, ‘Pa’lante’ is Hurray For the Riff Raff’s strongest anthem of resistance to date.
1. ROSALÍA – MALAMENTE (Cap.1: Augurio)
Directed by CANADA
The 24 year old Spanish singer Rosalía is my biggest discovery this year – starting with one of the best albums this year El Mal Querer, amazing singles and striking videos, Rosalía blew up in 2018. Last year she earned a Latin Grammy nomination for her 2017 debut album Los Angeles, although it is nothing like MALAMENTE (meaning “Badly”) – a mix of flamenco, pop, and hip-hop with its defining hand claps in El Guincho production. The catalan singer has made a modern visual masterpiece.With its captivating choreography by Charm La Donna, new and old Spanish traditions, that come together in a square aspect ratio mashup, making it the best visuals of 2018.