The 25 Best Music Videos of 2013

The 25 Best Music Videos of 2013


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For a medium that’s supposed to have become irrelevant years ago, the music video was surprisingly central to the way we thought about music in 2013—for better and for worse. This was the year that clips for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” spawned 1,000 think pieces, the year that we ran around our cities trying to find a place to watch Kanye West project his face onto the side of a building. It was the year that artists from Arcade Fire to Bob Dylan continued to push the boundaries of what a music video can be, and it ended with the surprise, Internet-breaking release of Beyoncé’s self-titled “visual album,” which included a whopping 17 videos. If it’s all not quite enough to declare a new golden age, it’s certainly cause to be eager for what lies ahead. Chase Woodruff

Editor’s Note: Watch the full playlist at The House Next Door.


Kronos Quartet with Bryce Dessner, “Tour Eiffel”

The average road trip, like this collaboration between Kronos Quartet and the National’s Bryce Dessner, is an exercise in endurance. Here, though, a man’s journey across an epic stretch of American highway, its duration noticeably felt via a series of fast-motion montages, is a test of spiritual resolve. By the time his car reaches its destination and the purpose of the man’s trip becomes clear, your heart may break as he peers across the Grand Canyon, its immensity matching the agony in his soul. Ed Gonzalez


Dillon Francis featuring T.E.E.D., “Without You”

Mister Whitmore and Devon Gibbs’s clip for Dillon Francis’s breakup anthem “Without You” is a disorienting, cleverly edited evocation of the tortured thought processes that afflict us all when enduring heartbreak and loss. Woodruff


The Killers, “Shot at the Night”

The simple, sweetly romantic video for the Killers’ collaboration with M83’s Anthony Gonzalez is a modern Cinderella story starring Bella Heathcote as a daydreaming casino maid who meets cute with a dapper young tourist played by Max Minghella after almost running him over at a traffic light. No glass slippers here—just one brief shot at a different life. Sal Cinquemani


Tyler, the Creator, “IFHY

If the first concept that pops into your head at the refrain, “I fucking hate you,” isn’t a loose recreation of Henrik Ibsen by way of Duracell’s ’90s ads featuring the Puttermans and set inside a life-size Barbie Dream House, well, not everyone can be as good at being troubled as Tyler, the Creator. Eric Henderson


Iggy Azalea, “Work”

Leaving the trainers, tricycle, and swing set of her youth behind (literally, behind her, in flames, conjuring both Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and George Michael’s “Freedom”), Australian model-turned-rapper Iggy Azalea struts her way into adulthood in the video for her aptly titled debut single “Work” Cinquemani


Arcade Fire, “Afterlife”

In a year that saw Arcade Fire drift dangerously close to overexposure, perhaps it’s fitting that the band’s finest moment didn’t feature Win Butler and company on screen at all. Emily Kai Bock’s video for Reflektor highlight “Afterlife” is a master class in the narrative form, broadening and deepening its source material in an arresting meditation on love and death. Woodruff


A$AP Rocky featuring Skrillex & Birdy Nam Nam, “Wild for the Night”

Veteran hip-hop director Chris Robinson flew the A$AP Mob and Sonny Moore to the slums of the Dominican Republic for a subversive twist on the extravagant block-party rap videos that dominated the late ’90s. And for comic relief: Skrillex trying desperately not to look out of place, and failing. Woodruff


Jon Hopkins, “Open Eye Signal”

Few dance tracks did more with less in 2013 than Jon Hopkins’s tense, slow-burning “Open Eye Signal,” and the same can be said of Aoife McArdle’s video. Full of long, gorgeous tracking shots and moments that float between the mundane and the surreal, our skateboarding hero’s journey feels at once intensely personal and inconceivably grand. Woodruff


Solange, “Lovers in the Parking Lot”

The bright, neon glow of shoelaces, Christmas lights, and flashing lights is just one type of mood indicator in Solange’s “Lovers in the Parking Lot,” which doesn’t just affectionately convey the joy of letting loose to your favorite jam in front of your bedroom mirror, but throughout every store of an entire shopping mall you’ve got all to yourself. Kyle Fowle


Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”

If the surreal images in “We Can’t Stop” were simply a tribute to youthful hedonism, it would be among 2013’s most pupil-dilating eye candy, but deconstructed down to its macabre symbols—edible skulls, blow-up dolls, taxidermia—it’s one of the trippiest, scariest videos of the year. Cinquemani