The Best Music Videos of 2016 [Article Review]

Recently Pitchfork released an article to sum up the top 25 music videos to come out of 2016. An interesting and diverse list, it has given me the incentive to view some of these videos and review them for myself. Bear in mind that I do not have any background knowledge of many of these songs or artists – I am purely basing my opinion off the music video.

Without further ado, here is my list of stand -out music videos to come from 2016, birthed from the original Pitchfork article.

PUP Sleep in the Heat [#24]
WHY I LIKED IT – STORYLINE, EMOTION, REALITY
This video made me feel things. The music video tells a tale about a young boys unbreakable bond with his pet dog, and the devastation that follows when they are parted. Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) takes the role of the lead singer of the band, along with other child actors filling the spots of the other band members and friends who create a support network for the boy and his dog. I really enjoyed the depiction of childhood pets and how devoted people and pets can become to each other. It showed grief and longing in such a raw way and I really found it sweet that pictures of the band’s former pets were also embedded in the music video. Also, I absolutely loved the cinematography AND the editing, I feel like they both complimented each other really well.

MITSKI Your American Girl [#23]
WHY I LIKED IT – MEANING, ORIGINALITY, ARTHOUSE
If I had of filmed my reaction to this music video, I feel as though my facial expressions would be on par with the strangeness of this clip. The artist sits in front of her American lover and watches as the man rejects her and becomes accompanied by an American woman.  There is a development where the initial exposure to the man and woman’s relationship hurts Mitski to when she is no longer offended by their relationship and sees her individuality as something to love and take pride of *cue make out session with own hand*. As the music video develops, so does the physical contact between the two American lovers and between Mitski and her hand, and Mitski and her guitar. The meaning of the clip goes further than making out with your hand and excess saliva, but goes on to show the struggles of cultural diversity.

JAPANESE BREAKFAST Everybody Wants To Love You [#16]
WHY I LIKED IT – CULTURE, MESSAGE
This one pushed boundaries! The lead singer of the band, Japanese Breakfast wears a handbook which is a dress of Korean cultural heritage. I stole this piece of information off Pitchfork but the dress itself was the wedding dress of the artists mother, and this gave me a whole new perspective. Being a wedding dress, the music video screams romantic betrayal, loss of a lover and individuality. The juxtaposition between a beautiful, culture rich gown with somewhat sinful behaviours – smoking in a dirty bar, drinking out of a can wrapped in a brown paper bag, generally causing havoc – is really effective in driving out the message of breaking free from the norm, experimenting new behaviours and rebellion.

RADIOHEAD Burn The Witch [#15]
WHY I LIKED IT – ORIGINALITY, POLITICAL STATEMENT, SYMBOLISM
Definitely original, this clip is a stop-motion animation with clay characters depicting a somewhat perfect town. There appears to be the town mayor guiding a reporter through the town and as things happen that are immoral or bizarre (satanic rituals, nooses, dead animals), the mayor shrugs it off and tries to convinces the reporter that it is normal and that it will be fine. It doesn’t end fine after the visitor has his suspicions.  The video has a political agenda, the town being a metaphor for government and politics, the strange happenings being unruly plans and schemes and the reporter being the general public and of course, the media. I found it to be a very interesting depiction and although I am not a politic-savvy person I was able to grasp the concept.

KENDRICK LAMAR God Is Gangsta [#12]
WHY I LIKED IT – ARTHOUSE, SYMBOLISM
This music video covers not only one, but two songs!! Kendrick Lamar’s “U” and “For Sale” are mashed together to create a hypnotic, dark and moody piece to show sin and seduction. The colour palette in these clips are incredible, the colour red being a dominant choice. It is amazing how the same colour can portray different things – the first song choice red is haze and red is sin, red is the colour of anger and isolation, it is evil. In the second song red is romance, lust and seduction. There is nudity, but there are also images of Lamar drowning, which again could have different connotations. I enjoyed the arthouse elements of this music video.

JAMIE XX Gosh [#8]
WHY I LIKED IT – ARTHOUSE, COMPOSITION, CINEMATOGRAPHY
The visuals in this piece are astounding, and it is even more astounding that there weren’t any special effects used. It goes without saying that the video is heavily choreographed and cinematography centred – slow panning movements and shallow depth of field to capture the vast space and landscape and the isolation of the main character. There are a couple of stand out shots in this clip that I believe are worthy of a mention. The first is a one-shot take that begins inside a car, moving slowly through to show three other people before exiting the car and the car moving. The second is a choreographed shot where the main character is standing in the middle of a large group of people that look exactly the same and are moving around the character in sync – this is taken from a high wide angle and I think it is absolutely incredible to watch.

SOLANGE Cranes in the Sky & Don’t Touch My Hair [#5]
WHY I LIKED IT – CINEMATOGRAPHY, COMPOSITION
If you’ve ever seen a fashion film, these could definitely fall under that category. These clips are montages of beautifully composited shots – some where Solange is alone and others where she is accompanied by other people. The choreography is kept to a minimum with the location and the fashions being definite highlights. One of my favourite shots in “Cranes in the Sky” is one where Solange is adorning a white two piece, laying on white tiles. The potted palm trees serves as a border and add a pop of colour to the shot. With not much of a storyline, both of these music clips are definitely pleasing to the eye and add the simplicity and pace that the songs require.

RADIOHEAD Daydreaming [#4]
WHY I LIKED IT – STORYLINE, SYMBOLISM
This is a rather bizarre music clip in the sense that it could have so many different meanings. The doors are the most obvious symbol in this clip, whether it would be opening doors to new life, new opportunities, or exiting through them to leave the past behind. I personally interpreted this video to be a reflection of the artists desire for escape and to be at peace alone. As he desperately makes his way through different doors, different rooms and desperate landscapes, he looks concerned or worried. That is until the end, where he goes through his final entry and lays down, finally at peace.

OTHER WORTHY CLIPS: Kanye West – Fade, Anohni – Drone Bomb Me, Beyonce – Sorry, David Bowie – Lazarus, Grimes – Kill V. Maim

There we have it – the most stand out videos from Pitchfork’s list of the Best Music Videos of 2016. Make sure to check out the article for yourself and pick your favourites!!

-Jord

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