Trendspotting is a tricky enterprise. Styles, gimmicks, and pop formulas quickly come and go; it’s more about finding patterns. One theme that emerged over and over this year was the music video that offered a behind-the-scenes, sometimes meta, look at image-making. Beyond the clips that made our list, like Cashmere Cat’s “Wedding Bells” and Odesza’s “Say My Name,” which cleverly underlined the function of the single as an album trailer and examined the line between fiction and reality, respectively, runners up Philip Segway’s “Coming Up for Air” and Hawk House’s “Chill Pill (Experiment 2)” provided literal glimpses into how moving images are shaped, while OK Go’s “I Won’t Let You Down” and Clipping’s “Work Work” made it impossible to ignore the technical agility with which they were created. The practical ins and out of cinema, however, weren’t the only topics deconstructed by artists and video directors this year: DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What” explored the unexplained impetus behind the urge to move, Vic Mensa’s “Down on My Luck” dissected the consequences of impulse, and material girl Brooke Candy’s “Opulence” spotlighted the obscenity of excess. And while we’d be remiss not to mention 2014’s other “big” trend (on proud display in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” Mastodon’s “The Motherload,” Arca’s “Thievery,” Kylie Minogue’s “Sexercise,” and of course, Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s “Booty”), there just wasn’t room for all that donk on our list.
See the full list with complete commentary here and watch (most of) the videos below: