2015 has been a great year for popular music! We saw a lot of amazing artists come back and new talents making their way to the top. It’s that time of the year again where we decide what were the best pop moments in 2015. Let’s start out with the most beautiful, moving, exciting and even controversial visuals! These are 2015’s 20 best music videos!
20. Marina and the Diamonds – I’m A Ruin
Marina and the Diamonds came back swinging with her third album called FROOT with the gorgeous single ‘I’m A Ruin’. The track received a simple but equally gorgeous video treatment with Marina’s expressive dancing in a breathtaking landscape, directed by Markus Lundqvist. A little bit of Kate Bush and Madonna’s ‘Frozen’; Marina sure knows where to get her influences!
19. Zara Larsson & MNEK – Never Forget You
Zara Larsson and MNEK travelled to the stunning landscapes of Iceland together with director Richard Paris Wilson to find the right visual for their heartfelt electronic pop song. Beautiful shots of the Swedish and British pop stars are intertwined with a story about a young girl who starts a life long friendship with a beast. Very cute to watch and it fits perfectly with the message of the song!
18. Jess Glynne – Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
2015 was a big year for Jess Glynne and ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’ was one of her UK number 1’s. The track with the uplifting vibe was filmed as a moving story about the loss of a person who means the world to you and chasing your dreams, even after they’re gone. Call me cheesy or sentimental, but the visuals get to me every single time!
17. Maroon 5 – Sugar
Music videos do not get anymore feel good than this one! The guys of Maroon 5 and director David Dobkin came up with the idea to travel around Los Angeles to perform their song ‘Sugar’ at as many weddings as possible. While there were a lot of discussions going on online, questioning the authenticity of the video, the views kept rolling in. Although it would have been great if every happy reaction in the video was 100% honest, it is a lovely video anyway!
16. Justin Bieber – I’ll Show You
What a year it has been for Justin Bieber. After times of negative press coverage he came back swinging and completely opened up in the personal song ‘I’ll Show You’, taken from the new album Purpose. This video was filmed with director Rory Kramer in Iceland as well and shows Justin visiting the most beautiful sights of the country. The editing on the pace of music is outstanding and the whole thing is a pleasure for the eyes.
15. Years & Years – King
British electronic pop band Years & Years has been one of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2015. Their single ‘King’ was a big moment and the accompanying video did its job greatly. We see singer Olly being tossed around by a group of dancers dressed in white in an empty apartment. Is it really happening or is our Olly going mad? Great routine either way!
14. Halsey – New Americana
Upcoming pop star Halsey wrote a song about her generation called ‘New Americana’, the single which launched her debut album Badlands. The dark but appropriate video shows Halsey in her own community where she is the leader of a group like minded young people. The police aggressively interferes, but Halsey and her boys and girls fight back! Powerful video that reminds of the style of The Hunger Games and Divergent movies.
13. Say Lou Lou – Nothing But A Heartbeat
The music of Swedish-Australian sisters Say Lou Lou is often described as dream pop and they took this quite literally in their shortfilm for single ‘Nothing But a Heartbeat’. The concept of ‘Lucid Dreaming’, where the dreamer knows he is dreaming, is acted out in a convincing way with stunning landscapes as a background. Director Joanna Nordahl did a great job capturing the girls in some stylish nightmares!
12. Lucy Rose – Our Eyes
British singer-songwriter Lucy Rose followed a fresh path on her second album Work It Out. First single ‘Our Eyes’ was accompanied by an eye catching video in which she wears edible outfits while she is chased by dogs, horses and seagulls. It was basically a big middle finger to all the people who wanted to make her ‘look cool’, she explained in an interview with A Bit of Pop Music, and don’t we all love that kind of stubbornness?!
11. Lana Del Rey – High By The Beach
Lana Del Rey was the queen of music videos for a while with stunning visuals for songs like ‘Born To Die’, ‘National Anthem’ and ‘Ride’. With her second album the videos became more low key, but for ‘High By The Beach‘, the lead single of album Honeymoon, she came back swinging. In the brilliantly absurd clip we see her being stalked by a helicopter in a deserted beach house. But Lana ain’t having that shit and pulls a machine gun out of her guitar case. Well, I guess you know how it ends…
10. Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
When you’re Taylor Swift, you have a lot of friends. Famous friends who love to star in your music video. Swift brought together her whole girl squad to film a video in which she is betrayed by another girl (probably about her problems with Katy Perry) and prepares for revanche with help of the likes of Ellie Goulding, Cara Delevingne, Lena Dunham and Selena Gomez. Joseph Kahn directed the highly entertaining video with over the top action and a lot of angry faces. Never mess with Taylor, ladies and gents.
09. Rihanna – Bitch Better Have My Money
Rihanna might have won the title of most controversial video of the year. In a shortfilm for the single ‘Bitch Better Have My Money‘, she shows why people call her ‘bad gal RiRi’. She abducts the wife of her accountant and hangs her upside down from the ceiling, topless. There is quite some graphic violence in this video and not surprisingly, it ends with the suggestion of murder. Not something for the youth of today to look up to, but definitely daring and very well shot. Rihanna is a bit too convincing as ruthless criminal, it almost gets a little scary…
08. Adele – Hello
This was without a doubt the pop comeback of the year! Adele premiered the video for single ‘Hello’ and it was all the internet was talking about for days. The video, directed by Xavier Dolan, portrays Adele returning to an abandoned house where she calls her ex boyfriend (of course with the much talked about flip phone) and we see flashbacks to the good times and the fights they had. It is all shot in a beautiful sepia filter and the scenes where she sings like her life depends on it while the leaves are falling around her, is already iconic.
07. The Weeknd – The Hills / Can’t Feel My Face / Tell Your Friends
Canadian R&B artist The Weeknd turned into a huge star in the past year and he recorded some big music videos to support this. The singles ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and album track ‘Tell Your Friends’, all released on Beauty Behind The Madness, have related visuals which tell a story about life and death, becoming a star, selling out and maybe even a deal with the devil. It’s all very metaphoric and dark and that works well with his brand of catchy, progressive R&B.
06. AURORA – Running With The Wolves
Emerging Norwegian pop star AURORA impressed this year with the stunning electro pop single ‘Running With The Wolves‘. The video shows how the 19-years-old singer-songwriter tries to untie herself from the city to run into the wild. She explained in an interview with A Bit of Pop Music that the track is about reuniting with nature and it couldn’t have been depicted visually any better than in this video. AURORA’s quirky image and movements are hypnotizing and it is a matter of time before the whole world will watch her.
05. Kerri Watt – Long Way Home
This is probably the video in this list that went most unnoticed with the public. Kerri Watt is an upcoming singer-songwriter from Schotland who released the heartbreakingly beautiful ballad ‘Long Way Home’ with an even more devastating video. We see how Kerri finds out her boyfriend is in love with another man. It’s a tale about the complexities of coming out, falling in love with someone of the same gender, dealing with violence and revenge. It’s like a short version of Brokeback Mountain set in Schotland and directed by Michael-Kaine. This deserves way more views!
04. Disclosure feat. Lorde – Magnets
Never have the wild dance moves of Lorde looked more ominous than in the video for ‘Magnets’, her collaboration with Disclosure. The young singer from New Zealand switches from a white to a heavy black outfit halfway through as she is caught up in a love triangle and one thing becomes clear: the guy must die. As she pointed out on social media, the video is not only about a cheater, but also about domestic violence. No wonder she first seems to drown him in a swimming pool, but actually sets him on fire in a pool of gasoline. Dark, but oh so stylish!
03. Drake – Hotline Bling
Drake is the sure fire winner of the award for the most iconic dance moves of the year. His video for ‘Hotline Bling’ became a huge hit online with endless parodies. The simple video features Drake dancing in an unconventional way. Some call it weird, some find it cool, but let’s all admit we couldn’t stop watching! A lesson in how a fairly simple music video can still gather lots of attention!
02. Florence + the Machine – What Kind of Man
Florence + the Machine made a glorious return with third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful and first single ‘What Kind of Man’ was just as triumphant. The passionate rock song about being torn in love made even more impact with that all destroying powerful video which was the first part of the Odyssey series. The dialogues are deep, the routine is intense and this was the best use of the car crash metaphor I have seen in a long while. I still get goosebumps every time I watch this!
01. Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood (Wild, Fools, Talk Me Down)
This year’s best music video (or actually videos) is by Troye Sivan. The young Australian artist made an impressive three part music video about a complicated same sex relationship. We see how Troye and his youth friend grow up, fall in love and then have to part ways due to family circumstances. Especially the last part (‘Talk Me Down’) is devastating to watch, but it is so important that this kind of message is being told. We couldn’t have asked for a better portrayal than Sivan’s collaboration with director Tim Mattia, which also fits perfectly with the themes of the songs. It’s honest, believable and most of all touches the soul.