When I spend time with my closest friends, there is one currency which outvalues all others: music videos.
Let’s get one thing clear: I’m not talking about the VH1 Hit List.
As someone with experience combining music with visuals, I can tell you: there are infinite stories to be told within the span of a single song.
Here are my absolute favorites, gathered over the past decade.
Baila Conmigo by Selena Gomez (feat. Rauw Alejandro)
Brazilian director Nogari is behind this rich, subtle film. When I watch his work it feels like I’m drinking from some celluloid fountain of youth. The spirit of youth is present in every shot.
This was shot in a small fishing town in Brazil. My favorite shots include: the shipwreck opener, the POV shot on the bow of the fishing boat, and what I can only describe as the “dancing motorbike” shot. You’ll know it when you see it.
My Life by Zhu & Tame Impala (starring Willow Smith)
I had to watch this one five times before I started to understand what it was about.
What is it about? Love, innocence, and youth.
This piece is shot like a student film. It isn’t a visual masterpiece. The magic is in the storytelling – and the way the director uses eye-contact and a break of the fourth wall to pull us in.
Hard Rain by Lykke Li
“Whole relationship within one song” music videos are overdone. There’s a lot of directoral low-hanging fruit in this trope.
This 2018 film from Finnish director Anton Tammi sets a new bar.
My favorite scene is the “breathing” moment on opposite sides of glass.
There is more emotion communicated in the one-take ending shot than the entirety of any of the other videos on this list.
ME! by Taylor Swift (feat. Brendon Urie)
This music video is an example of just how much can be done with an unlimited budget.
I don’t know if I believe the interviews with with T.Shizzle where she basically implies every idea was hers. Whoever came up with this feast of color is like the Pollock of production. Brendon Urie is so seasoned and professional, and his voice feels like an old friend after the years since “Panic! At The Disco”.
You Should Be Sad by Halsey
There are songs which perfectly describe a feeling.
This video is “a woman scorned”.
The choreography matched with the phenominally-aggressive light-painting in each scene elevates this film from sexploitation to art. Also, holy crap what a beautiful horse!
Aloha Ke Akua by Nahko Bear
A film too beautiful to comment on.
What on earth can I say to honor this piece?
Just watch. It’s True.
Cross Me by Ed Sheeran (feat. Chance The Rapper & PnB Rock)
Taking a left-turn from the narrative essay of the Nahko Bear video, our next selection reminds me of “showcase” pieces I’ve seen at SIGGRAPH, the worldwide digital graphics conference.
To suggest there’s any storyline here would be a stretch. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you a braggy presentation of the finest motion-tracking animation 2019 had to offer.
I have plenty more to share, but great works are best enjoyed with time to digest.
If you have some to share with me, I would love it if you would email them to me.