Best Music Videos of 2019
I initially created this category to highlight the few music videos released each year that I felt resonated with me personally or made me think about or engage with a song differently or used some kind of experimental film or animation technique. Unfortunately this year I can’t easily say that any videos I saw made me feel any of the above things, which is a real shame. That said, the videos I’ve ranked below are still the best I saw, and they are still quite good. If you can think of other, better videos for other readers or myself to watch, please leave a link in the comments.
10. Bibio – “Old Graffiti”
An interesting, appropriate, and effective exercise in ’70s nostalgia that deepens the world of Bibio’s music but accomplishes little else.
9. Holly Herdon – “Eternal”
A skillful exposition of Herdon’s electro-acoustic technique and aesthetic. She is undoubtedly at the current forefront of experimental electronic music, and the video acts to visually support that status.
8. High Tides – “Paradise Daze”
A computerized adventure into the (typically sampledelic) world of ’80s and ’90s VHS tapes, made to be graphically genuine and consistent with the nostalgia to which High Tides consistently pays homage (notice I do not say ironizes, which may be true of Chillwave / Vaporwave’s aesthetic palette, but is certainly not true of High Tides’ unvarying sincerity.)
7. Malibu Ken – “Corn Maze”
The video for the lead track on Aesop Rock and TOBACCO’s slightly humorous, slightly political, and entirely rancid collaborative project, Malibu Ken, acts as both a childish joke and something much more, which is appropriately true of the album itself as well. Its mixed animation / live-action playfulness is also of note.
6. The Chemical Brothers – “Got To Keep On”
Michel Gondry videos (especially his Chem Bros collabs) never fail to impress technically, and “Got To Keep On” is much the same: an excellent blend of good choreography and even better editing.
5. Alex G – “In My Arms”
Of the several videos made for Alex G’s newest album House of Sugar, this one for “In My Arms” probably best represents the themes and setting of the record itself, and for that reason it resounds with lyrics that go beyond those sung here and perhaps also provides a backdrop for the album as a whole—an important task to accomplish to properly convey House of Sugar‘s very real stories and very real location. It doesn’t hurt that this is one of the best songs on the record.
4. Thom Yorke – “Last I Heard (…He Was Circling The Drain)”
As someone who generally prefers electronic music, I have always been very partial to Yorke’s solo work because of the clear influence of Post-Garage and later Bass Music on his albums. Those genres often use sparse sounds and minimal beats to signify the loneliness of Post-Modernity, but with Anima Yorke transcends that simplicity, often writing songs that begin plaintively but later build into sweeping masterpieces. This has the artistic effect of extending the loneliness of an individual to that of an entire city, or dare I say, society. This video captures exactly that feeling, with its pencil-animated, German-expressionist shading. A beautiful video, if a bit lacking in terms of content.
3. Plaid – “Dancers”
Although a bit tactlessly straightforward, “Dancers” is a beautiful, wordless dance video that clearly and effectively communicates its political message of environmental awareness.
Flying Lotus – “Black Balloons Reprise”
Most Flylo music videos, like his albums, have a tendency to transport the viewer into a dreamscape or otherwise unworldly setting. “Black Balloons Reprise” may be the most compelling of these videos, bringing the viewer into a nightmarish but realistic LA, the crux of the video’s appeal lying in its uncanny realism.
1. American Football – “Silhouettes”
Although “Silhouettes” may not be the best song on the new American Football album, its video captures many of the album’s central themes, specifically the antagonism between love and traumatized masculinity and how this antagonism shatters domestic stability. The video does not get into what I believe is the album’s most interesting theme (the inheritance of trauma), but of course one video need not cover so much ground. Regardless, here stands a testament to American Football’s return to form: a band who got belatedly popular some twenty years ago for exploring themes of love’s impossibility has returned in adulthood to find love similarly impossible.
By Isak McCune