New bands like The 1975 and FKA Twigs released solid LPs and EPs alongside progressive music videos that not only told stories but captured the entire band's aesthetics. The likes of TRL and VH1's Top 20 Countdown might be all but afterthoughts, but we're still living for music videos. Hey, sometimes a video even makes a song likable (we're looking at you "Work B*tch"). And, sometimes making videos live, in front of a global audience happens, too. Sure, 2013 might not've been the year for music videos, but it was certainly an important one. That said, we've rounded up 25 of the year's best for you to imbibe yourself on. It's like MTV if MTV still, you know, played music.
Solange, "Lovers In The Parking Lot"
There isn't anything not to love about this video. It's pure joy and unabashed freedom of expression. Plus, Solange gives us major hair envy here — hot damn!
FKA Twigs, "Water Me"
Slated to become one of 2014's darlings, FKA Twigs' video for "Water Me" is a haunting minimalistic ode to unrequited love. Who knew a video could be so fragile in its strength?
JT's put out a couple of fabulous videos this year, but there's something so carefree about "Take Back The Night." Don't get us wrong here, David Fincher's "Suit & Tie" is beautiful and "Mirrors" brings on the feels, but "Take Back The Night" is free of lofty symbols and deep meaning. It's a New York love story between the man and the music the city inspires, and that's the best part.
You know you're in for a treat when a video comes with a previewing warning. M.I.A.'s aural attack translates to a viciously bold music video that'll send you for a trip like you've never experienced.
Janelle Monáe, "Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu"
There hasn't been a black-and-white mod video this good since Regina Spektor's "Fidelity." Monáe kills it here on all fronts: dance, style, and acting. "Am I weird to dance alone late at night?" No, Janelle, we're going the same right alongside ya.
Atoms For Peace, "Ingenue"
Thom Yorke does some interpretive dance. That's all.
Disclosure, "You & Me (feat. Eliza Doolittle)"
Disclosure's audio oeuvre might've been the darling of the industry this year, but their videos aren't to be missed. "You & Me" gets right to the heart of the song and shamelessly translates it to visual form. It instills a sense of reckless rebellion you wish you could act on.
Chance the Rapper, "Everybody's Something"
Yep, 2014 will be the year of acid rap, and Chance the Rapper will be at the helm. His video for "Everybody's Something" bridges the gap between weird-tech and simple storytelling to make a complex visual that's hypnotic without being pretentious. Consider the aesthetic for 2014 set in celluloid stone.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Sacrilege"
Any chance to watch Lily Cole exist on screen is one we jump at. Her character as the, uh, token promiscuous girl gets right down to heart of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' lead single off its latest LP.
Kanye West, "New Slaves"
Though this "performance" was never an official video like "Bound 2" or "Black Skinhead," it marked the beginning of the Yeezus era. "Marked" is, perhaps, the wrong word here. Yeezus essentially stampeded its way into our lives after this, and its influence is still being felt.
HAIM, "The Wire"
Anyone who says girl groups are blasé at this point in pop-culture history needs to see this video. These girls rock — plain 'n' simple.
The 1975, "Sex"
The 1975 put out one of the best albums this year. It oddly broke from its black-and-white aesthetic for its first single. Regardless, the story of drugs, hookups, and infidelity captures the darker side of the antics the Mileys and Rihannas of 2013 made pop culture.
Here's another band we'll be seeing a lot of since its 2013 debut. CHVRCHES' visual for "Gun" gets at the strange resurgence of psychedelic-meets-Internet-graphics look that has touched everyone from Miley to M.I.A. CHVRCHES' video bridges the gap between the outrageous and the brilliant. Prepare for a trip.
There's no way we could not include Lorde on this list. "Royals" skyrocketed the 17-year-old singer to the top of the charts. The video is fabulous in its yearning for all the things she sings about, but honest in the reality that it'll probably never really happen.
Pharrell made a 24-hour long video. We repeat: Pharrell made a day-long video.
Who can argue against a young love story set to the tune of youthful sexuality? No one.
Lady Gaga, "Applause"
Think what you want about ARTPOP, "Applause" ushered in the return of the wacky but approachable Gaga we lost during the Born This Way era. It's a visual feast that's lofty, but still relatable. Plus, it's good to see her dancing again. That whole broken hip ordeal had us worried for a hot minute.
AlunaGeorge, "Attracting Flies"
AlunaGeorge's reinterpretation of Disney classics is a daring move, and one of 2013's most underrated moments in music.
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
Here's another video we could not not include. Cyrus' debauchery of her ex-Disney persona was the twerk heard around the world. We knew she was a changed girl, but man, we weren't expecting this. Hate it or love it, Cyrus' reign began on that fateful day in June and she's showing no signs of, uh, stopping.
Rihanna, "Stay feat. Mikky Ekko"
The feelings this video made us feel were a mixed bag, but seeing a stripped down Rihanna was (and still is) refreshing.
James Blake, "Overgrown"
Lest we forget that there were other moments in music than pop goodies, Blake's video for "Overgrown" will remind you. It's a quiet four minutes, but it's one of the more realized videos of the year; one where the music and video fit together perfectly. A sonic story perfectly told through video — now that's a rarity.
Cat Power, "Manhattan"
Let's be real: Any excuse to fangirl over New York City is a good excuse, and Chan Marshall (with her bleached dome) gets it.
Zedd, "Clarity feat. Foxes"
Despite the whole EDM headache many of us felt this year, Zedd deserves credit for being a pioneer in bridging the gap between pop and house music. His videos are always surprisingly artistic and well-crafted. Its stories might be a little off-putting or unrealized, but "Clarity" nailed it.
Panic! At The Disco," Girls/Girls/Boys"
Surprise! Panic! At The Disco is still around and it's still putting out some solid jams. It's ditched the whole ostentatious steam punk vibe and molded something new — something, er, sexual. We were caught off guard when this video dropped, but man, did this MySpace band of yesteryear do D'Angelo's "Untitled" justice.
Beyoncé, "Mine feat. Drake"
Honestly, trying to figure out which of Beyoncé's 17 new videos to include here was a battle. Choosing one felt like saying all the other's weren't as good. But, Pierre Debusschere's visual for Bey's "Mine" seamlessly blends her and Drake's aesthetics. It's haunting without being off-putting; beautiful, and artistically, the most realized of BEYONCÉ.