Music has learned to evolve and adapt to the plethora of technological advancements throughout the years and this includes music videos. Having to stand out from the millions of YouTube uploads every day, artists are being pushed to produce more innovative videos and our list of this year’s top music videos are evident of such. From interactive to GIF-worthy viral clips, here are 2013’s best music videos.
20. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Despair”
The first band ever to rock atop New York City’s Empire State Building, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ music video for Mosquito cut “Despair” uses this rare opportunity to capture the picturesque cityscape as the sparkling backdrop to this euphoric ode to friendship.
19. Disclosure - "White Noise ft. AlunaGeorge"
Shot in a number of dilapidated buildings in Detroit, UK duo Disclosure’s music video for “White Noise” pays homage to the birthplace of techno music. By using the grim setting, the song’s light dance tick, as interpreted by a man dancing around the city, injects happiness into a place that once was buzzing with a world-famous musical energy.
18. Beach House - “Wishes”
Eric Wareheim, of Tim and Eric fame, directs this bizarrely wonderful clip for “Wishes,” a cut from Beach House’s 2012 album, Bloom. Actor Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) plays a football coach who gracefully sings the wistful words of singer Victoria Legrand to a roaring crowd. It is both the best display of public karaoke in a video this year as well as the strangest halftime show ever.
17. Ciara – “Body Party”
Ciara’s return to music this year may not have garnered as much attention as her pop and R&B contemporaries, but her sizzling music video for “Body Party” certainly caught our attention. This flirtatious video starring her real-life boyfriend Future just proves that Ciara has what it takes to overthrow R&B’s other power couple, Beyoncé and Jay Z.
16. James Blake – “Overgrown”
Nabil Elderkin is known for his theatrical works for everyone from Kanye to Antony and he does it again with this stunningly surreal music video for James Blake’s “Overgrown”. Elderkin spins a haunting fairytale-like fantasy starring Blake as he treks through the forest, a visually astonishing affair that mesmerizes.
15. Janelle Monáe Feat. Erykah Badu - "Q.U.E.E.N"
Janelle Monae takes her signature tailored black-and-white style to a stylized new level in her music video for The Electric Lady lead single, “Q.U.E.E.N.” which uses striking lines to create an almost psychedelic visual effect.
14. David Bowie – “The Stars Are Out Tonight”
David Bowie made a surprise comeback this year with his new album, The Next Day. One of the best parts of this return came in the form of his music video for single, “The Stars Are Out Tonight”. Featuring Tilda Swinton as Bowie’s wife, the video confronts fame as their lives get swallowed up by a celebrity couple played by Saskia De Brauw and Andrej Pejic.
13. Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band – “Bad Dancer”
Bad dancers rejoice as Yoko Ono has given us a new anthem to awkwardly dance to. Featuring a slew of appearances from The Beastie Boys to Reggie Watts, Ono’s shimmering video is incredibly fun and begs for repeat views and shameless dance-alongs.
12. Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors”
A touching ode to the love story of his grandparents, Justin Timberlake’s eight-minute opus “Mirrors” is a genuine tale of love and loss. Shot using a fractured mirror effect, the video concludes with Timberlake dancing in a house of mirrors, highlighting the heart that lied beneath the “suit and tie” charisma of The 20/20 Experience.
11. Solange - “Lovers In The Parking Lot”
Solange Knowles puts on an illuminated one-woman performance in her video for “Lovers in the Parking Lot,” off of her critically acclaimed 2012 EP, True. Co-directed by the artist herself, Knowles captivates the viewer with her hypnotic choreography, similar to Robyn’s 2011 clip for “Call Your Girlfriend,” but taking place in a closed Houston mini-mall. The concept is simple, but the panache of the execution is what sells the final product.
10. Miley Cyrus – “We Can't Stop”
“We can’t stop, we won’t stop,” rallies Miley Cyrus on her Bangerz lead single, and the music video is just as frivolous. A visual representation of the phrase “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), Cyrus embraces her wild youth to express herself through her reinvented style (revealing one-pieces, skin-tight ensembles) and actions (lots and lots of twerking).
9. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife” (Live At The YouTube Music Awards)
Although the official music video for Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife” is just as compelling and more cinematically composed, we almost prefer the off-the-cuff live music video directed by Spike Jonze at the YouTube Music Awards. Featuring actress Greta Gerwig’s emotive choreography, similar to her role in this year’s hit indie flick "Frances Ha", Gerwig’s performance is just as magnetizing as the other two videos that were released for this track (the official music video and a lyric video, which dubs the song over the 1959 film, Black Orpheus).
8. Haim - “The Wire”
One of the year’s biggest newcomers, Haim, also released one of the best music videos of the year with “The Wire”. A light-hearted video that champions post-breakup female independence, the three Haim sisters are each seen breaking it off with their respective boyfriends (one of them notably being The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone) and leaving them behind to wallow in their tears. But, as they stick it to the boys, “I know, I know, I know that you’re gonna be okay anyway.”
7. Mumford and Sons - “Hopeless Wanderer”
Humour may not be our first association with British folk-rockers Mumford and Sons, but their music video for “Hopeless Wanderer” convinced us that there are some funny bones underneath all that banjo. Starring actors Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Ed Helms and Jason Bateman as the four members of the band, the guys play up all of the stereotypes they band’s been slapped with such as their stylish attire (suspenders, vests, ties), countryside settings and cartoonishly emotional delivery. Even people who hate Mumford and Sons love this video.
6. Ylvis - “What Does the Fox Say?”
Meet this year’s version of “Gangnam Style”: Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis’ insanely catchy “What Does the Fox Say?” Comedians Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker created this fake music video with the intention of mocking it on their Norwegian talk show, "Tonight With Ylvis", but somehow caught like wildfire around the web becoming one of the year’s biggest YouTube hits. The video has since gained Ylvis worldwide notoriety, a collaboration with late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon and his house band The Roots and even their very own children’s book.
5. Bob Dylan – “Like A Rolling Stone”
Forty-eight years after the release of Bob Dylan’s classic song “Like A Rolling Stone,” a music video has finally been created. An interactive clip that allows the viewer to surf through 16 different TV channels. Director Vania Heymann claims that to use the television medium to “look back right at us […] You’ll always miss something because you can’t watch everything at the same time.” Each channel also features a variety of TV personalities lip-syncing to the song including Drew Carey of "The Price is Right" and the stars of "Pawn Stars". Full interactive video <a href="http://video.bobdylan.com/desktop.html" target="_blank">here</a>
4. Miley Cyrus - “Wrecking Ball”
The second of two videos on this list from Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball” was just as polarizing and controversial, if not more. But hey, that was Miley’s entire year. Shot and directed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson, the video takes the song title to a literal interpretation showing Cyrus naked atop of an actual wrecking ball. The clip, though revealing and overtly sexual, is also powerful and emotional; a stunning visual that compliments one of the year’s best power ballads.
3. Beyoncé - All Of The Videos From Beyoncé’s Visual Album
Fourteen songs and 17 videos may sound like an overload, but Beyoncé’s fifth album (pegged as a “visual album”) was meant to be digested as a complete piece of work; an entire album as opposed to a single and a mini-film of sorts instead of a singular music video. And it all works tremendously well together, from the beauty pageant imagery that carries through from opening track “Pretty Hurts” to “Drunk in Love”, bonus video, “Grown Woman” to the Coney Island carnival of colours paraded around in “XO.” “I see music, it’s more than just what I hear,” she explains in a video feature. And now we do, too.
2. Pharrell - “Happy”
Although Pharrell was busy being the most ubiquitous artist in music this year -- showing up on chart-topping hits by Daft Punk and Robin Thicke -- the superstar producer did manage to release a hit single of his own, “Happy” from the "Despicable Me 2" soundtrack. Testing our attention spans with the first ever 24-hour music video (viewers can now watch sections and scroll to certain times of the day), “Happy” is a joyous celebration on the streets of Los Angeles that reveals a number of dancing cameos including Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator, Kelly Osbourne, Jamie Foxx and "Despicable Me" star Steve Carrell.
1. Drake - “Started From The Bottom”
October’s Very Own turns his humble beginnings, as well as his hometown of Toronto, into a meme-worthy comedic performance that has arguably become Drake’s most popular music video yet. The rapper’s self-aggrandizing anthem is matched by an even more ridiculous sense of humour as he dances in the isles of a Shoppers Drug Mart, struts down a snowy street alongside an expensive car and ultimately flies off in a private jet to a mansion party -- all fodder for many of 2013's GIFs.
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