The 25 Best Music Videos of 2017

20

Moon Duo, “Cold Fear”

It’s fitting that the first thing one sees in the video for “Cold Fear” by Portland-based psychonauts Moon Duo is a disembodied, dilated eyeball. Directed by animator Micah Buzan, it’s a hell of a trip, grazing on the history of psychedelic art from Rick Griffin to Adult Swim—where, incidentally, the video saw its original television premiere. By the end of Buzan’s torrent of bizarre, grotesque imagery, your eyes will probably be dilated too—with or without chemical aid. Zachary Hoskins

19

Lana Del Rey, “Love”

A devotional project that sees Lana Del Rey projecting her romantic nostalgia for youth onto future civilizations. Here, young love transcends all, breaking through the barriers of space and time. In this time when it feels as if Earth is spiraling toward oblivion, the video’s lusty earnestness feels transcendent. In the future, it’s the act of being lovestruck that will rise from every other planet’s primordial soup like so much cigarette smoke, keeping the hope of humanity alive. We’ll be all right as long as the kids are. Gonzalez

18

OK Go, “Obsession”

Demonstrating the meticulous attention to detail and singular focus befitting a song called “Obsession,” OK Go utilizes a precisely arranged wall of 567 printers and some nimble stop-motion practical effects—including suspending themselves in the air with wires—which serves as a refreshing change of pace from the glut of 21st-century CGI. This barrage of dizzying, technicolor visuals required an incredible amount of paper, but OK Go makes sure to let us know that every scrap was recycled, with proceeds going to Greenpeace, not that that’s much consolation to the poor sap tasked with sweeping it all up. Josh Goller

17

St. Vincent, “New York”

As she mourns not only the end of a relationship, but her own fading romanticism of New York City, a clear-plastic-umbrella-toting Annie Clark doesn’t resort to dreary, rain-drenched shots of the Big Apple, instead operating entirely within a vibrant, surreal world of her own making. Colors seem to pop through the screen throughout the video, thanks to the effective use of color-blocking, such as Clark, dressed in orange, sitting on a teal-hued steel girder jutting from a sky-blue wall. Clark also plays with textures, donning a pink velvet bikini, nudging a swan away from picking at the shimmering silver sequins on her dress, pulling red orchids from a vase full of neon-green soda, and lurking behind a burning head of lettuce. You know, the usual stuff you expect to find in a sorrowful piano ballad about lost love. Goller

16

Young Thug, “Wyclef Jean”

Even if it all had gone as planned, “Wyclef Jean” would have been a hilarious deconstruction of rap clichés. But the whole point is that it didn’t go as planned: Rapper Young Thug, the video’s star and conceptualist, blew off the shoot, leaving his “co-director” Ryan Staake to scramble to pick up the pieces. The result is a meta-narrative in which Staake, via intertitles and inventive editing, attempts to “explain how this video fell apart.” Yet the real brilliance of “Wyclef Jean” is the way Thug’s absence defines the video. We hear a recording of his voice explaining the concept, and we’re told that he appeared on set, then refused to leave his car and eventually drove away. The only time we see Young Thug on camera is in a few seconds of separately shot footage, most of which he spends eating Cheetos rather than rapping. Staake’s narration comes across as piqued, painting the rapper as an irresponsible diva, but in the end Young Thug comes out looking more like a mastermind provocateur. Either way, “Wyclef Jean” is as punk as John Lydon refusing to lip synch on American Bandstand. Hoskins

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