If you ask me, 2018 was the year that the “music video” was cemented as an art form within its own right. With artists (especially in the hip hop genre) displaying a near obligation to release visuals with any album, it seems as though many are coming to the consensus that a music video is, in fact, more than the sum of its parts. With that in mind, the following rankings consider not just the quality of the song and the film respectively, but how the two interact to create something entirely new and refreshing. Enjoy!
10. "Come Over" — The Internet
The Internet give off a vibe that can often make us wonder if, in reality, they live in a big house together like some kind of funk-centric brady bunch. Well, the music video for "Come Over," a cut off their well-received album Hive Mind, brings this fantasy to life as we navigate the respective color-coded romantic endeavors of the band’s five larger-than-life members all under one roof. The final result is fun as hell, a masterclass in minimalism and in style. It’s hard to tell exactly who has the dopest fit, but Syd and Steve Lacy stand out as unique and fresh as ever. What’s more, both of them bring the industry some much-needed depictions of same sex relationships without that being at all the focus of the video.
9. "Mereba" — Black Truck
At a relatively meager 75,000 views on Youtube, this music video is by far the most under-the-radar of our best of 2018 list. Why it hasn’t received more attention, I can’t quite figure out. Notably, the video is shot by James Laxton, cinematographer for Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk. The result is dark and mysterious, capturing a simply beautiful dusky tropical aesthetic that holds "Mereba"’s silky voice on a pedestal where we can all see her for the creative genius she really is. The video will put you in a trance. Time stands still and the audience is plunged into a world of stormy skies, palm trees, and haunted faces.
8. "Sincerity Is Scary" — The 1975
The 1975 seem to be ever-teetering on that precarious line of corny-ness. Thankfully, though, the video for "Sincerity Is Scary" comes across really well, even while incorporating some pretty cheesy tropes. With a musical-theatre-style composition, it would be hard to pull of what this video seeks to and have it come across sincerely, but Matt Healy, with his sheepish exuberance, nails it. Isn’t he just the cutest! In all seriousness, the video is an absolute pleasure to watch, from the mesmerising synchronized choreography to some really freaky makeup. The whole thing is just uplifting, a much needed breath of fresh air these days.
7. "Sicko Mode" — Travis Scott feat. Drake
Travis Scott and Drake take us to a world so strange and vivid that it’s really not even worth trying to put in into words. One of the year’s hottest tracks could only be justified by a video of equivalent star-studded grandeur. The final result does anything but disappoint, with some of the most impressively surreal editing of 2018. If you needed any more convincing besides slick flows, anti-gravity, and some pretty crazy costumes, heed these five words: Travis Scott on a horse.
6. "Praise The Lord (Da Shine)" — A$AP Rocky feat. Skepta
Rocky’s Testing album was one of the best of the year with a futuristic, alternative acid rap feel that really can’t be found anywhere else. Affirming his reputation as the king of aesthetic, he dropped a storm of killer videos for five of the project’s best tracks, but while all of them are seriously impressive cinematic experiences, the standout must be "Praise The Lord." Skepta’s understated flow mixes with Rocky’s finesse as we cut between raw images of London and Harlem (their respective sets)- a cocktail of sound and imagery that will be sure to intoxicate you. Call it a twist on the tale of two cities. Let’s be real, A$AP Rocky deserves his credit. Any one of of his music videos this year could have probably made the list, but if you watch just one make it "Praise The Lord."
5. "MALAMENTE"- ROSALÍA
The song is a feat of hybridity in and of itself, blending the sounds of hip hop, pop, and the flamenco of Rosalia’s native Spain. In kind, the video patches together a number of different scenes as motorcycles meet bullfighting and timeless Spanish choreography meets the coolest of cool streetwear, even mixing in some poignant religious imagery. The Catalan singer commands your attention still in the frenzy of it all.
4. "Whack World" — Tierra Whack
Calling this a “vibe” would be an egregious understatement. Tierra Whack’s “Visual And Auditory Project," as she puts it, runs through fifteen one-minute songs displaying some really impressive artistry (her freshman album). Living up to its name, the film is wacky. But it’s more than that, with some expertly composed frames, a bit a humor with a heavy dose of deep. Doing what can only be described as unapologetically her own thing, Whack nailed her debut.
3. "FUN!" — Vince Staples
Vince Staples’ short and sharp video for "FUN!" turned out massively underrated (at least as far as streams go). By giving the audience a tour of the notoriously risky north side of Long Beach, CA through the lens of Google Earth, Staples hits us with a seriously clever metaphor that suits the track perfectly. A lot of hip hop fans want to ogle and indulge in the sometimes harsh reality of black life in America, but only behind a computer screen. In fact, in a pretty meta twist at the end, the one scrolling through scenes of Staples’ hood- from candlelight vigil to street fight- turns out to be a little white kid whose mother is calling him for dinner. At just over two minutes, it’s more than worth your time.
2. "APES**T" — The Carters
I don’t know if you heard, but The Carters rented out the Louvre. Or maybe the Louvre just let them have it for a night because, well, it’s The Carters. Anyways, this music video is exactly what it needed to be: an incredible but somehow effortless statement of black excellence. Rewriting eurocentric history at the center of the European art world? Badass. The choreography, with Beyonce front and center, is breathtaking. So too are the costumes, the cinematography, the bars… it’s all simply magnificent. Best of all, though, is that look of iron love between the two: a love apparently sealed with dolla bills, baby.
1. "This is America" — Childish Gambino
"This is America" deserves the top spot, if for no other reason than the simple fact that it had quite literally everybody (even my own grandmother) talking about it. Donald Glover as Childish Gambino reminds us just how versatile his talents are in this masterpiece, a verified expert in both film and music at this point. In a year full of artistic commentary on the black experience in the context of culture, police brutality, and violence, Gambino brings poignant nuance to the surface in the interplay of the startling imagery and the dynamic music, arguably leaving us with more questions than answers—but damn it if we don’t want to watch it just one more time! The video is a feat of directing (basically one long tracking shot), with a hell of a lot going on (including some pretty graphic violence), but what really sets it apart is the fact that it encapsulates a pretty strange 2018: chaotic and hard to watch at times (all the time?) but... weirdly beautiful.
"Kevin’s Heart" — J. Cole
"PYNK" — Janelle Monae
"King’s Dead" — Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, and James Blake
"After the Storm" — Kali Uchis feat. Tyler the Creator
"Nice for What" — Drake
"See you Again" — Tyler the Creator