It’s almost 2020. Don’t worry – we’re just as shocked as you are. In the blink of an eye, we’ve enjoyed (or is it “survived?”) the decade of Silly Bandz, dabbing, harlem shaking, fidget spinners, hipsters and Honey Boo Boo. And thank goodness we also got to see a LOT of really amazing music videos.
Since we’re all about giving you strategic insights about what drives the music industry, it would only be appropriate for us to interject right here this astonishing fact: YouTube–where these music videos are primarily played–accounts for more song streams than on any other streaming service, Spotify and Apple Music included.
OK, with that dazzling stat out of the way, back to those amazing music videos, and particularly, our staff’s effort to curate a list of the most iconic music videos of the decade gone by.
In no particular order, here’s our best shot:
“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” Tame Impala (2012)
Tame Impala’s music video for “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” features evolving stop-motion clay images, and it’s beautifully trippy. It was directed by Joe Pelling and Becky Sloan, who also created the “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” web series.
“This is America,” Childish Gambino (2018)
Arguably one of the most attention-grabbing music videos of the last 10 years, the “This is America” video from Childish Gambino sparked a ton of discussion about the issue of gun violence in the U.S. It went on to win three MTV Video Music Awards, a BET hip-hop award, and the Grammy Award for Best Music Video. [Directed by Hiro Murai]
“Chandelier,” Sia (2014)
Up next, the “Chandelier” music video took Sia to a new chapter of her career, pairing the song with an interpretive dance routine by the extremely talented Maddie Ziegler. It’s raked in over 2.1 billion views on YouTube, and won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography and the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Music Video. [Directed by Sia and Daniel Askill]
“Telephone (feat. Beyoncé),” Lady Gaga (2010)
Made as the sequel to her video for “Paparazzi,” Gaga teamed up with Beyoncé for “Telephone.” Gracing us with one of the strangest, yet fiercest music videos in pop history, Gaga went on to be nominated for three 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. The video ends with the text, “To be continued…” Fingers crossed we’ll get the next chapter on the year of its 10th anniversary. [Directed by Jonas Åkerlund]
“HUMBLE.,” Kendrick Lamar (2017)
Kendrick Lamar’s music video for “HUMBLE.” gave the world some stunningly-shot visuals of him dressed as the pope, lying on a table shooting cash from a cannon, and sitting at the center of a recreation of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
It won six 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year. Matt Miller of Esquire stated, “In recent years, Kendrick Lamar has revived the music video as a powerful form of social commentary.” [Directed by Dave Meyers]
“Work from Home (feat. Ty Dolla $ign),” Fifth Harmony (2016)
Fifth Harmony’s “Work from Home” video marked the biggest point in the group’s career. Taking place at a construction site, the girls combined crisp choreography with plenty of steamy shots of construction guys. It won Best Collaboration at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, and has over 2.2 billion views since its release. Rumor has it, the house is still under construction. [Directed by Director X]
“Gangnam Style,” PSY (2012)
The music video that started one of the biggest dance crazes of the century, PSY’s “Gangnam Style” stole the record for the world’s most-viewed video at the time. It won Best Video at MTV’s Europe Music Awards, Best Video at Mnet’s Asian Music Awards, and Favorite Music Video at the People’s Choice Awards. It now has 3.4 billion views on YouTube. [Directed by Cho Soo-hyun]
“Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign),” Jason Derulo (2017)
We’ve got bright colors, talented backup dancers, AND Nicki Minaj. Since it release in 2017, Jason Derulo’s “Swalla” music video has raked in over 1.3 billion views. These flashy visuals pair perfectly with the ultimate crowd-pleaser of a song. [Directed by Gil Green, who we interviewed for Episode 9 of our Play the Music Podcast!]
“FORMATION,” Beyonce (2016)
The music video for Beyonce’s “FORMATION” took viewers through a flashback of black history in the United States. It was the first glimpse into her album, “LEMONADE,” and doubled as an important way to turn attention toward social issues. It won three BET Awards, six MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year, and the Grammy Award for Best Music Video. [Directed by Melina Matsoukas]
“Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor Swift (2017)
As the lead single to Taylor Swift’s 2017 album, “reputation,” the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video premiered on August 27, 2017 at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. It broke the record for most-watched video within 24 hours, with 43 million views on YouTube in its first day, now at over 1 billion. The crisp visuals mixed with T-Swift’s new persona had fans flipping.
“The One Moment,” OK Go (2016)
OK Go’s video for “The One Moment” features quite the colorful slow-motion sequence. Preparation was said to have taken seven weeks, timing everything down to the millisecond. It won six awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. [Directed by Damian Kulash]
“Bad Girls,” M.I.A. (2012)
M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” video shows Middle-Eastern women in the driver’s seat of cars, racing and spinning donuts across the desert plains. At the time of its release, portraying women driving cars was prohibited in Saudi Arabia, and the video was praised for confronting the issue in support of equal rights. The video went on to win Best Direction, and Best Cinematography at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. [Directed by Romain Gavras]
While music videos are an art form to accompany a song, they also count toward streams as well, and can play an important role in a song’s success, as well as the artist’s overall success (and possibly your success on the FanLabel leaderboards).
Keep a listening ear out for these songs in our Quick Pick contests in the FanLabel app.