The colossal comeback run of the music video art form returned in 2016 with plenty of fascinating new little films, capturing the essence and possibilities of the art form in the age of YouTube and mobile video streaming. It’s kind of hard for us to define the best music videos of 2016 and we surely missed a plenty of essential and creative ones below. But in the end this list is supposed to give a glimpse into the variety of the music videos of 2016; these are the ones that got stuck in our head, that left the firmest impression and definitely recieved a ‘thumbs up’ on YouTube from our side.
01. Beyoncé – ‘Formation’
Enough said about this one, plenty of symbolism for all of us to interpret. And the proof that iconic and influential music videos are still possible in the year 2016.
02. Jamie XX – ‘Gosh’
We can only assume how much money was spend bringing this bleak dystopian dance choreography to live. In the end, legendary director Romain Gavras deserves every cent for making us say ‘Oh my gosh’ more than once while watching this one.
03. Massive Attack – ‘The Spoils’ (feat. Hope Sandoval)
It starts with Cate Blanchett, it ends with nothing but dust. And in-between the hypnotic maelstrom lets us forget time and space around us.
04. Bonobo – ‘Kerala’
Gemma Arterton is running away from unknown danger and director Bison makes it look even more intense by clever loop-based cutting that just makes you continue to watch.
05. Francis And The Lights – ‘Friends’ (feat. Kanye West & Bon Iver)
Aside from being a really great pop tune the greatest achievement of this clip will forever be the fact that it made BON IVER‘s Justin Vernon learn and perform a dance routine without looking too much out of place. Even KANYE needs to smile here.
06. The Avalanches – ‘Frankie Sinatra’
When you return after a 15-year long break you better do it in style. The stakes were high, especially after THE AVALANCHES‘ previous videos but we can all agree that their madness is still pretty much on point… and even bigger this time.
07. Mykki Blanco – ‘High School Never Ends’
The setting alone deserves your attention. Director Matt Lambert produced a 2016 update of the good-old ‘Romeo & Juliet’ story, this time with a queer note as the conflict between a black family and a skinhead one in a small German village escalates. What a video!
08. Solange – ‘Cranes In the Sky’
Every shot feels like a perfectly staged picture in this video SOLANGE directed together with Alan Ferguson. A discreet and stylish video that perfectly captures the soulful spirit of the song as well.
09. Classixx feat. T-Pain – ‘Whatever I Want’
The fact that you recreate an iconic video by THE SMITHS shot-by-shot itself is already quite funny. But if you cast auto tune madman T-PAIN as replacement for MORRISSEY it gets even funnier. That’s how a light-hearted but honest hommage should look like.
10. Holy Fuck – ‘Tom Tom’
The harsh reality of Romania meets a surreal dream world, driven by anxiety, escapism and a lot of desperation that takes hold of the protagonist in this intense and dark-twisted ride.
11. El Perro Del Mar – ‘In The Woods’
Although the track dates back to 2006 and was featured on the deluxe edition of the self-titled EL PERRO DEL MAR debut, the accompanying clip only arrived this year. The story of a young Amish gentleman who decides to break out of his daily routine is as timeless as it is universal, right?
12. Coldplay – ‘Up&Up’
The world of 2016 was way too often a dark and depressing one and same goes for the career of COLDPLAY in the recent years. You tend to easily forget that the world can be a spectacular place, full of wonders and magic … and that Chris Martin can still write and perform really good songs from time to time. This optimistic collage is the audiovisual proof for both of these things.