The 30 Best Music Videos of 2019

Counting down the best clips not shown on MTV

Video still from “Just The Way” by that dog.

Among the 30 varied selections below, you’ll find several TV show parodies, a homemade cartoon mash-up,  a sad childhood reminisce, a body-reshaping horror, a fake newscast about racism, a 20-min mini-film about gang violence and its aftermath, a 15-minute avant-dance, a stirring subway duet, a postmodern ‘behind the scenes’ montage with celebs, a fake sitcom pilot and an innovative multi-angle, multi-show collage. Who says videos are dead?

 

VIDEO: Biggie Babylon “Pulled Up Fresh”

Biggie Babylon

“Pulled Up Fresh”

(directed by Yellow Nguyen) 

Looping a few words from The Fresh Prince TV show theme song to transform it into a reboot with Babylon’s Middle East family.

Brendan Carey

“Lizzo vs. the Aristocats” 

Call me mushy but I’m nostalgic for mash-ups, especially when they involve Lizzo and cartoon cats.

VIDEO: Chemical Brothers “MAH”

Chemical Brothers

“MAH”

(directed by Marcus Lyall) 

None of their videos matches the rave-power of their recent live shows but this clip comes close. And yes, on stage, the giant masked guy in the video shot light rays at all of us in the crowd.

 

VIDEO: Neneh Cherry “Natural Skin Deep”

Neneh Cherry

“Natural Skin Deep”

(directed by Crack Stevens)

After Four Tet’s steel drum hook made this song irresistible, a video was a long time coming but worth the wait.  Filmed in Beirut and impressively making use of an all female production crew, Cherry’s posse rocks burkas, as is the style there. 

 

VIDEO: Fat White Family “Tastes Good With Money”

Fat White Family

“Tastes Good With Money”

(directed by Róisín Murphy)

A Monty Python parody/homage of their “Salad Days” skit where an old-time lawn party turns into a bloodbath. Face it- cartoon violence is still funny.  Just ask Tarantino. 

 

VIDEO: FKA Twigs “Cellophane”

FKA Twigs

“Cellophane” 

(directed by Andrew Thomas Huang)   

Even if you’re not a fan, it’s just freakin’ priggish not to acknowledge that she’s a force of nature. I mean, who else could make a pole dance seem empowering? The wonderful CGI fantasia doesn’t hurt either.

 

VIDEO: Kim Gordon “Earthquake”

Kim Gordon

“Earthquake”

(directed by Loretta Fahrenholz)

A car-mounted cell phone wanders around Los Angeles, tagging people electronically, commodified and dehumanized them and bringing up privacy issues, even with their faces blanked out. That’s what you call provocative art.

 

VIDEO: Flying Lotus “Fire is Coming feat. David Lynch”

Flying Lotus

“Fire Is Coming feat. David Lynch”

(directed by Steven Ellison & David Firth)

You’d expect nightmarish scenarios from Lynch, but this video actually comes from Lotus himself.  Not up to the dizzying depths of Kuso (called ‘the most vile body horror film ever’) but the post-apocalyptic scene of a wolf-family drama overtaken by Lynch’s creepy narration is bizarre enough as is.

 

VIDEO: Richie Hawtin “CLOSED COMBINED (GLASGOW, LONDON, TOKYO – LIVE)”

Richie Hawtin

“CLOSE COMBINED (GLASGOW, LONDON, TOKYO – LIVE)” 

Clocking in at over an hour, it might be considered a concert film except it’s actually three concerts at once simultaneously, showing us multi-angle views of the shows with all of the music synched together.  They recommend viewing it full screen for a good reason- it’s a great immersive experience, showing us not just the stage view but also how Hawtin is creating the music. 

 

VIDEO: Hot Chip “Hungry Child”

Hot Chip

“Hungry Child” 

(directed by Saman Kesh)

A real postmodern move. The video is ‘about’ the song but only as it’s an annoying ear-worm that obsesses a couple (featuring Silicon Valley‘s Martin Starr) who can’t get the song that’s driving them crazy out of their head (“I hate house music!”).

 

VIDEO: Kano “Trouble”

Kano

“Trouble”

(directed by Aneil Karia)

A 17 minute short film that goes from a media obsessed family disconnected from each other to joy ride to street violence to funeral to memorial service that goes from mournful to joyous and evolves into an extended a rap battle.  It could stand to have a third act but an impressive narrative nevertheless.

 

VIDEO: Leikeli47 “Tic Boom”

Leikeli47

“Tic Boom”

(directed by Edgar Estevez)

Originally tied into Grown-ish episode in a brilliant display of viral marketing, the minimal background sets the spy-themed dancers in stronger relief as such, showing echos of both Michael and Janet Jackson. 

 

 

VIDEO: Jenny Lewis “Red Bull and Hennessy”

Jenny Lewis

“Red Bull and Hennessy”

(directed & edited by Eric Notarnicola)

A behind-the-scenes video serving as the song’s video, with cameos from friends like Jason Schwartzman, Jeff Goldblum, Beck, St. Vincent, Mac DeMarco,  David Arquette and more. Sure, it seems almost too hip for its own good but Lewis and the director are smart enough to make it goofy enough to be a lovable thing to watch.

 

VIDEO: Anna Meredith “Paramour”

Anna Meredith

“Paramour”

Directed by Ewan Jones Morris

A five minute mini-train ride from the vantage point of the front car as it glides past instruments, musicians, gadgets, plants and more.  You might think it’s an impressive piece of CGI work but it’s actually 1200 pieces of LEGO track that went into making the video come alive.  An impressive set-up and you can bet that OK GO wish they did it first.

 

Anna Merlan

“These two buskers…” 

Deep in the bowels of Williamsburg, a violinist on one side of a subway platform duets with a cellist on the other side, doing Brahms’ “Double Concerto for Violin and Cello.”  It’s not even 40 seconds long but it’s so lovely to watch that you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the basis of a movie about a forlorn love story.

 

VIDEO: Missy Elliott “Throw It Back”

Missy Elliott

“Throw It Back”

(directed by Dave Meyers and Hype Williams)

You could just as well argue that her incredibly medley at the VMA’s was her finest hour but this recent video was also an important reminder of what a video pioneer she is.  From the “Hall of Missy” art gallery to the pink-ed out world (on Missy Ave of course) to the power dancing to the singing graffiti jacket to the over-blinged teeth to the whole cast going bald to the jump rope braids (and that’s just the first 2 minutes), she shows why she’s a master of the form

 

VIDEO: Mitski “A Pearl”

Mitski

“A Pearl”

(directed by Saad Moosajee and Art Camp)

A gorgeous animated video that seems like a stylish foreign film before turning into a horrifying escape before descending into a luscious dusk sky and flying through a B&W city and layers of a debris-filled sky, leading to an ocean swim which circles back to the beginning, the visuals are as much of a roller coaster ride as the song itself.

 

VIDEO: Bob Mould “Berlin”

Bob Mould

“Berlin”

(directed by Philipp Virus)

Not a ‘music video’ per se but a German tour through Mould’s new home, it’s a generous peak into the modern life of this punk/indie legend.  “After three years (there), I still feel like I’m scratching at the surface of it all.”

 

VIDEO: Oh Sees “Gholü”

Oh Sees

“Gholü”

(animated and Directed by Leo Nicholson)

A body horror stop-motion animation in the mold of Japanese horror like “Tetsuo” and Takashi Miike. For most, it’s dark, sick and scary but if early NiN videos or these other film-makers already inoculated you, it’s good sick fun.

 

Open Mike Eagle & Sammus

“Racism 2.0” 

(directed by Lance Bangs)

The workplace madness of his Danny Brown collaboration (“Unfiltered“) is also worth seeing, but this fake newscast shows off this comedian’s acting chops even most masterfully.  And its message about the ‘new racism’ is relevant enough to pay attention to.

 

VIDEO: Pup “See You At Your Funeral”

Pup

“See You at Your Funeral” 

(directed by Joe Stakun)

Hopefully you remember ’60’s sitcom the Munsters, which this video parodies nicely, but even if you don’t, you can appreciate all the Halloween/horror send-ups here otherwise, including cannibalism, flaming pentagram, bed of nails and a face peel that takes off the whole face, plus fake commercials, station ID’s and such.

 

VIDEO: Ridge Productions “Sheck Wes Didn’t Like Our Music Video, So We Made This”

Ridge Productions

“Sheck Wes Didn’t Like Our Music Video, So We Made This” 

Hopefully, you also remember Young Thug’s conceptually brilliant “Wyclef Jean” video crafted by Ryan Staake (rapper doesn’t show up for video shoot so director improves otherwise) but here, the video was shot with the rapper though the rapper didn’t pay up because he didn’t like the end result.  So instead, the creative team did a Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on the video, picking apart and joshing about the rapper’s tough guy image here. Come to think of it, there’s shades of another rap video which also dissected the whole process (and rap videos in general)- De La Soul’s “Ego Trippin’ (Part Two).”

 

VIDEO: slowthai “Toaster”

slowthai

“Toaster”

(directors: THE REST)

A tour of the Brit rapper’s childhood home,   The song is played in background with slowthai occ. chiming in but what stands out is the sad, nostalgic mood he has as he wanders around his former life.  It turns out to be the realest, glummest version of Cribs you might ever see.

 

VIDEO: Stormzy “Crown”

Stormzy

“Crown”

(directed by Charlie Sarsfield)

Done in an empty church with live instrumentation (including a choir standing above him), this video has an appropriate sacred feel, giving a great song even more gravity and weight- it’s like he knows he’s at the top of his game but still has to look behind him.

 

VIDEO: that dog. “Just The Way”

that dog.

“Just The Way”

(directed by Casey Storm)

Proving once again that this was the year of sitcom-parody videos. This time, Three’s Company gets redone, and as a bonus, we get Maya Rudolph & Jack Black as ‘The Gropers,’ with one of them getting accidentally knifed to death and the other celebrating with a cocktail.

 

VIDEO: Tinariwen “Kel Tinawen”

Tinariwen

“Kel Tinawen” 

(directed by Celidja Pornon)

As befits a group from a nomadic North African tribe, we’re led through a fascinating travelogue of road trips, shows, sessions, distant locales, beautiful desolate landscapes and a friendly game of backgammon.

 

VIDEO: Titus Andronicous “STACKS”

Patrick Stickles

“STACKS”

(directed by Ray Concepcion)

36 minutes is what you call a ‘long form video’ but leave it to lit-major/band-leader Patrick Strickles (who wrote the script) to craft a fake sitcom pilot into a ‘day in his life’ which includes rehearsals with his craps-playing, peer-pressure-drinking band mates, an uncomfortable interview with an ‘influencer’ (aka a former band-mate), a freestyle session with his bartender (aka his cousin), a chewing-out from his label and an offer from ‘Dylan’ to tour with him.   Good enough to make you wish that he does another episode.

 

VIDEO: William Tyler “Fail Safe”

William Tyler

“Fail Safe”

(directed by Elise Tyler)

Filmed mostly in a small Bakersfield bar, the truckers and line-dancing we see aren’t hokey at all- they’re as evocative as his music.

 

VIDEO: Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch “The Two Paths”

Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch

“The Two Paths”

(directed by Jules Guerin)

Like the Lotus video above, the famous film-maker involved ain’t actually the director of the video.  The delicate drone/feedback instrumental is visualized as psychedelic dessert and ghost town auras, adding to and complimenting the music like a good video should.

 

VIDEO: Thom Yorke “Anima”

Thom Yorke

“Anima”

(directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)

PTA moves from his period dramas and intense, fraught relationship movies to a quarter-hour imaging of the Radiohead frontman napping and then dancing with his fellow bus passengers, escaping into some stylistic quarry and then fighting off another platoon of leaping dancers for a lunchbox before joining their ranks for some gravity-defying moves to weather a debris storm and waking up on a curb to find a partner to roam the desolate streets with, only to find himself still asleep on the bus.  Quite an intriguing journey.

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Jason Gross

Jason Gross is the editor/founder of Perfect Sound Forever , one of the first and longest-running online music magazines. He also does freelance writing for Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Time Out, AP, New York, MTV, Oxford American, Billboard, MOJO, The Wire, Blurt among others.  Reissues and collections that he's produced included Delta 5, Essential Logic, Kleenex/Liliput, DNA, Oh OK and OHM –The Early Gurus of Electronic Music. He lives in New York with his girlfiend and their 30 plush cats.

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