We reviewed last year's best music video and we're doing it once more.
From a party to end all parties to pigeons just living their best lives to a return to my childhood dumping tokens into slots just so I can play Street Fighter II in some sweat-stenched arcade, here are some of the best music videos of 2019.
DJ Shadow, "Rocket Fuel" feat. De La Soul
Any music video that has DJ Shadow, resurrects a long-standing conspiracy theory and a brawl on the 'moon' is okay in my book. Also, how surprising is this is a Russian production?
Jasmine Sokko, "Tired"
Jasmine Sokko (looking like an alternate costume for Mortal Kombat's Mileena) dances and sing in a mansion. It's eye-catching and catchy, all while we're faced with the question: what happens when you have white people being shipped in and forced to adopt Asian cultures. What happens when you have 'reverse colonialism'?
Hobo Johnson, “Typical Story”
It's the sort of party that even an introvert would attend. Maybe. Coupled with lens flare, eclectic characters and a wind blower, the end result is a fun video that's even more fun thanks to Hobo Johnson and gang's unbridled enthusiasm.
Rich Brian, "Kids"
Since his viral days since "Dat $tick", Rich Brian aka Brian Imanuel, has shown such progression in his musicality. This second single from his sophomore album, The Sailor, has Rich Brian bringing it back to his neighbourhood in Jakarta. It's an honest portrayal of his roots and the youth in Indonesia, one that's free from the over-blinged, champaign-pouring "fuck-bitches-get-money" cliché in hip-hop.
Billie Eillish, "Bury a Friend"
It's all about what goes bump in the night. Sitting in as the 'monster under the bed', Eillish is manhandled, and stabbed. This is a music video that conjures up a tinge of cosmic horror (the best kind of existential fear): where do you go when you fall asleep?
Tyler the Creator, "EARFQUAKE"
The video has Tracee Ellis Ross as a nervous host and Tyler, the Creator's decked out in a periwinkle suit, Prince Valiant wig and swagging it on stage like Elvis; it's just scratching the surface of this music video but "EARFQUAKE" is a chapter in Igor that's focused on relationships and break-ups.
Beneath the ridiculousness of the visuals, Tyler, the Creator sings the refrain, "Don't leave, it's my fault" as he gets engulfed in a fire that he has started.
This earworm about self-love and -empowerment works gloriously with the '80s infomercial and late-night talk show kitsch. Would it have been better if Lizzo was playing the flute as well? Who knows. We can only dream.
Idles, "Never Fight a Man with a Perm"
Joy as an Act of Resistance was released to acclaim last year. And, still riding on the high with its Best Breakthrough Act from this year's Brit Awards and Kerrang Awards, respectively, the Bristol-based quartet puts out this animated gem that brings us back to the Golden Age of Arcade Gaming.
Parodying Street Fighter II, "Never Fight a Man with a Perm" sees frontman, Joe Talbot, engage in pixelated violence; the illustration courtesy of Russell Taysom, a frequent collaborator with Mojoko.
Brittany Howard, "Stay High"
Brittany Howard, in her solo endeavour away from her band, Alabama Shakes, is in her element. Her solo debut is Jaime, a personal, powerful and tender offering that exalts Howard's songwriting.
Her first single, "Stay High" is the sort of song that, at the end of a long day at work, is needed to play you off from the office and back to your castle. From the tinkling of the xylophone to the soar of Howard's vocals, "Stay High" is like walking in the sun after a downpour; the weight rolling off a hunched shoulders, heavy steps turn into a marshmallowed traipse.
They might be rats with wings but with Islandeer's dreamy pop vibes, these pigeons show us, corporate nine-to-five drones how to chill.
Battles, "Fort Greene Park"
A Battles music video is never simple: visuals are in step with the tempo; camera movements swing along with the rhythm. It's the kind of music that is supposed to get you out of your seats and just… move.
The idea for "Fort Greene Park" is perfect for the band's harmonics, syncopated beats and glitched-out chord progressions. In the video, one moment you're gliding along to Ian Williams' tapping riffs and the next you're pushing off with your feet in time to John Stanier's drumming and cymbal crash.
The band, once a quartet, is now reduced to a duo. We hope they'll keep moving.
Sturgill Simpson, "Sing Along"
Sturgill Simpson is a country singer but he sure as hell doesn't behave like one. Take his latest project, Sound & Fury. Deciding that it wasn't 'weird enough', Simpson got five of Japan's best anime artists/directors to animate the entire album (this visual album is out on Netflix).
It's a daring outing for Simpson and it showcases the musician's refusal to fit in an industry label.
The Lonely Island, "Uniform On"
Meant as a homage to Beyoncé's visual album, Lemonade, The Lonely Island made a visual album about the exploits of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. What's amazing about this is that this project was kept relatively quiet and was only announced one day before its Netflix's release.
Subhas & Dnl, "Runaway"
Forget about the controversy involving one ambitious Mediacorp artist in playing all four races, the obliviousness of the ad agency behind it, the response music video by Indian-Singaporean siblings and the finger wag from a Minister of Law—this music video is an example of 'reading between the lines'. Or, in this case, just 'reading the lines'.
Filmed in black-and-white, shots of slices of Singapore living, this is a music video about loving a country that, at times, doesn't reciprocate in kind.
Best Music Video of 2018
Ariana Grande, “thank u, next”
While it's like traipsing through film choices of my adolescence, the music video also displays Ms Grande's maturity as she sees each relationship as a helpful lesson in life. The music video may possess the pastiche of teen comedies but it's also a heartbreak and a display of empowerment.
John Mayer, "New Light"
John Mayer's guitar face is meme-worthy. But that's a close second to this music video.
Former frontman of Caracal, KC Meals, had presence on stage. But the new additions (frontwoman Rachel Lu and bassist Trent Davis) proved that the band still had some of its riotous life left. The "Manicenigmatic" music video is a formal introduction to a new Caracal. One that is still able to tear down the roof.
The music video is a catchy choreography of joy. And it's all thanks to the three 'Bs'—Beck, Brie and Busby Berkeley.
The Carters, "Apeshit"
Mix high art with trap music, and you get a mesmerising tour through the Holy of Holies in the art world: the Louvre. With live dancers next to work by dead artists, this is one night at the museum that showcased hip-hop royalties in their element.
Janelle Monáe, "Make Me Feel"
Jack White, "Corporation"
A detective confronts a group of suspects. Who killed Jack White? Is he really dead? What does it all mean? We still don't know but yet it doesn't stop us from viewing it over and over again.
Anderson .Paak, "(Til It's Over)"
Is this an Apple smartspeaker ad? A music video for Anderson .Paak's "(Til It's Over)"? Its categorisation is nebulous but when you discovered that director Spike Jonze's opted for practical effects over CGI, that hardly seems to matter.
Drake, "God's Plan"
While the Bible advocates charity to be done in secret ("thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly"), wouldn't it be far interesting to film the process for a music video? Just ask Drake.
It might be a simple song about loneliness but the surreal music video—rife with symbols and meaning—also shows that sometimes the best time you can have with someone is with yourself.
LCD Soundsystem, "oh baby"
We're thankful that LCD Soundsystem is still around. (You were missed during your four-year hiatus!) If not, we wouldn't have this gem directed by Rian Johnson and starring Sissy Spacek and David Strathairn. In six minutes, we see the triumph of teleportation before a random senseless tragedy strikes. Then, as the story reaches its conclusion, James Murphy's words, "There’s always a side door / into the dark", have a more poignant and profound meaning to it.
Charlie Lim, "Welcome Home"
Another musician who doesn't mind poking fun at himself. Though, given his ascent in the industry, if Charlie Lim wants to dance, let him dance, bro.
Dave Grohl, "Play"
Made for the purpose of advocating Without sheet notes (and his inability with the piano), Dave Grohl put together a 23-minute video of himself playing all seven instruments, each of them in one… long… take. Grohl may be a rock veteran but when it comes to music, he is still that 'kid in a candy store'.
Childish Gambino, "This is America"
Visceral in its showing, "This is America" is a horrible car crash that demands your attention. By the end of it, we'll be lauding the direction and toe-tapping to the tune but we're left with this takeaway: Man, America is royally fucked.