The 25 Best Music Videos of 2017

15

Kamasi Washington, “Truth”

Kamasi tackles Keats to find out if, indeed, “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” And though it takes him his customary quarter-hour to find out, the whole world stands to benefit. Gorgeousness in all its forms and imperfections is given center stage in what the closing title card accurately promises represented the “harmony of difference.” Taking introspective to the next level, this music video equivalent of slow cinema at one point interrupts its unifying, perfectly Instagram-style portraits of persistent humanity to hold on a static shot of a warehouse coatroom. The camera slowly zooms in while Kamasi tears into a life-affirming tenor sax solo, suggesting what Michael Snow could’ve done in the 1960s had John Coltrane felt like tackling a music video. Henderson

14

Kendrick Lamar, “Humble”

Director Dave Meyers lays the production value on thick in Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”; this is exactly the type of video that gets nominations (and wins) in virtually every technical VMA category. Here’s Lamar cruising with a 360-degree camera. Here’s Lamar with his head on fire. Here’s Lamar handing over some Grey Poupon shit. But even though the world’s biggest rapper is shown, as he would be expected to, literally printing his own money, he’s not visibly happy about it; instead he uses it as ammo in a financial firearm. Throughout he decries Photoshop and subverts iconography, reducing his voice to just another in the crowd of potential messiahs who haven’t been given the chance to strike it lucky. Henderson

13

St. Vincent, “Los Ageless”

Annie Clark portrays Tinseltown as a vivid dystopia in “Los Ageless,” lampooning the superficiality of the showbiz capital as she endures a cosmetic procedure that pulls at flaps of excess facial skin, à la Brazil, or standing, Barbie-like, next to a shredder that destroys the word “No.” A woman’s legs stretch out through a TV screen and writhe before a quivering Clark; she swallows otherworldly, undulating organisms; the lime-green slime of a foot bath appears to gain sentience and climb her leg—all striking images that take to outlandish extremes the very real absurdity of adherence to oppressive beauty standards. Goller

12

Grimes featuring Janelle Monáe, “Venus Fly”

Adorned in some sequences in regalia that appears paradoxically both indigenous and extraterrestrial, while dressed as a steampunk-meets-Soul-Train getup in others, Janelle Monáe joins Grimes, who feverishly hammers away on drums, dons black angel wings, and bathes in crude oil in this slow-motion-heavy video for “Venus Fly.” Both directed and edited by Grimes, the video subverts fairy-tale princess tropes with the two artists cast as fierce warriors who shatter mirrors, devour apples, stomp roses, rip apart pearl necklaces, and wield flaming swords. Goller

11

Tyler, the Creator, “Who Dat Boy”

Flower Boy may have been Tyler, the Creator’s “mature” album, but his self-directed music video for “Who Dat Boy” is proof that he still hasn’t lost his demented touch. Over the song’s horror-movie beat, Tyler disfigures himself in a mad-science experiment gone wrong, gets guest A$AP Rocky to “fix” him by replacing his face with white rapper Action Bronson’s, and hits the road. But as arresting as those visuals are, the cherry on top is the non-sequitur closing sequence, in which four multi-exposed Tylers show up to croon “911” like a one-man New Edition. The whole thing crackles with manic energy. Hoskins

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