The end of the year is very near, which means it is about time to look back at the highlights of 2019! These are the best pop music videos this year had to offer!
20. James Blake & Rosalía – Barefoot In The Park
James Blake and Rosalía delivered one of the most beautiful duets of the year and they did not hold back in the video department either. Diana Kunst and Mau Morgo directed the visuals which show the aftermath of a car crash while we see the stars of the video pass by each other in the same cars without crashing. I will leave the interpretation of the events in the video to you, but it is moving and subtle either way.
19. Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens – Gone
When Charli XCX teams up with Christine and the Queens, you know a massive bop is on the way. Who knew however that the video would serve us bondage on a car and more sexual tension than all three of the Fifty Shades movies delivered? Of course we all love our pop videos to climax with fire, fireworks and some pouring rain. Charli and Christine certainly did not disappoint.
18. Shura – religion (u can lay your hands on me)
Shura’s shimmering synth pop is often about longing and feeling in love and this is beautifully portrayed in the Chloe Wallace directed music video for ‘Religion (u can lay your hands on me)’. We see Shura herself as the head of a nunnery in which two nuns fall in love. It is well acted out, the choreography scenes in the empty pool are excellent and the whole thing just gives you a warm feeling thanks to the romance and beautiful locations.
17. Sam Smith – How Do You Sleep?
This is how you do an artistic reinvention! Sam Smith’s music video for ‘How Do You Sleep?’, directed by Grant Singer, showed a whole different side of the pop star. Smith and a troop of shirtless dancers are really feeling themselves in a slick and sexy choreography. Who knew Sam could swing their hips like that!? The video is steamy, perfectly paced and a brave move. We applaud!
16. Halsey – Clementine
Sometimes a music video hits you with its sheer simplicity and that is exactly what happened with Halsey’s ‘Clementine’, directed by Dani Vitale and Anton Tammi. The pop star performs a modern dance with her brother Sevian in an aquarium. There is a serenity you do not see often in music videos anymore and their performance is sweet and touching. Sometimes less is indeed more!
15. BANKS – Gimme
For a sexy and confident banger like ‘Gimme’, one needs a music video that radiates that same vibe and that is what BANKS does in this video, directed by Matty Peacock, and then some! The choreography with the colored laser light is gorgeous and so is the rest. BANKS is captivating from start to finish and proves that a beautiful and fitting setting with great choreography sometimes works better than an elaborate story line.
14. Jonas Brothers – Sucker
Why bother hiring models for a music video shoot when you and your two brothers all have gorgeous wives? That is what Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas must have thought when they were planning their comeback with the insanely catchy ‘Sucker’. The Anthony Mandler directed visuals are equally glamorous and hilarious. You can tell Priyanka Chopra, Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas had heaps of fun on set and the result is a colourful and playful video that perfectly matches the vibe of the tune.
13. Beyoncé – Spirit / Bigger
When you have the star power of Beyoncé, you don’t need much to make a memorable music video, but she still went all out with locations, outfits and choreography for her soundtrack of The Lion King. Of course there is some footage of the movie itself to be seen to, while Beyoncé’s scenes take place in African landscapes too. Every frame is a little artwork!
12. Billie Eilish – Bury A Friend
It was no surprise anymore that Billie Eilish has a thing for dark lyrics and slightly creepy visuals, but she took this whole thing to the next level in the music video for ‘Bury a Friend’, directed by Michael Chaves. She lies under a bed possessed, roams around a deserted apartment and is then being taken by hands with latex gloves and injected in her back and shoulders with something. The horror vibe matches the suspenseful and unusual production of the tune.
11. Camila Cabello – Liar
In the Dave Myers directed video for ‘Liar’, Camila Cabello keeps having a dream in which she is on a disastrous date with a vain man who only treats her like his trophy wife. While she falls in love with the waiter, she is not yet honest about it and keeps dying in increasingly bizarre ways, before she finally finds herself waking up in her own bed. It is a well directed shortfilm in which Cabello shows off her comedic talent!
10. Lizzo – Juice
Lizzo is one of the main queens of 2019 and not in the last place because of the video for ‘Juice’ that put her right in the center of attention. Those visuals of her working out on TV 80s style are nothing short of iconic. She sells every single scene with heaps of personality and the cheekiness of it all perfectly fits the playful attitude of the track. This video was the start of world domination for Lizzo.
09. Taylor Swift – You Need To Calm Down
Whether you think Taylor Swift was genuinely supporting the lgbtqi+ community or queer bating for her own gain, the ‘You Need To Calm Down’ video (which she directed with Drew Kirsch) is a colorful explosion of fabulous celebrities. The different stages of the song’s message are portrayed clearly in the video too, while the Queer Eye and RuPaul’s Drag Race casts make enjoyable cameos. In the finale, Swift reunites with fellow pop star Katy Perry, with whom she had a feud. Their scene dressed up as a burger and fries tops this video off perfectly.
08. Tove Lo – Glad He’s Gone
When you are Tove Lo’s friend and you have boy trouble, she will not hang up the phone on you before she consoled you. Whether she is on a date herself, walking across the world, stopping a robbery, killing someone, spending time in jail or escaping the prison. That is what we learn from the brilliant, high paced music video for ‘Glad He’s Gone’ she shot with directors Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia. Tove plays the part equally committed and and her usual nonchalant persona. So, so good!
07. Zedd & Katy Perry – 365
In the video for their collaboration ‘365’ directed by Warren Fu, Zedd plays a human test subject who has to live together with a robot, played by Perry. For Perry it is an opportunity to put her need to have comedy in every single music video, to actual good use. Her role as slightly creepy, obsessive and then heartbroken robot suits her like a glove and the storytelling is cohesive enough to keep the attention. A Black Mirror like mini movie!
06. Normani – Motivation
The fact that ‘Motivation’ did not become a bigger hit than it was with the absolute star power of Normani in the music video, is still one of the main pop injustices of the year. The visuals, directed by Dave Meyers and Daniel Russell, show off that she is an incredible dancer who manages to keep all eyes on her, whether it is her crawling around in the rain or owning the basketball court. This video makes us want to go back to the early noughties when fierce choreography videos like this were the norm.
05. Harry Styles – Adore You
Directed by Dave Meyers and narrated by Spanish pop star Rosalía, ‘Adore You’ tells the story of ‘the boy’ (played by mr. Styles of course) who lives on the fictional island of Eroda, where everyone in the fisherman’s village only frowns. He is born with a bright smile that blinds everyone, so he has to learn how to not smile. He becomes quite the loner until he surprisingly finds a friend in a… fish! You would not expect it, but the interaction between Styles and his new buddy is actually adorable to watch. Without giving away any of the clue, the story rounds up nicely towards the end and Styles is the star of every scene. He might have turned down the role of Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid, but he still got his own little fairy tale here!
04. Lana Del Rey – Doin’ Time
What is better than Lana Del Rey? A giant version of Lana Del Rey! In the Rich Lee directed music video for Sublime cover ‘Doin’ Time’ a massive Lana Del Rey walks the streets of Los Angeles (well, actually she easily steps over a highway). Halfway through it all turns out to be a movie in a drive-in which blonde Lana is watching with her boyfriend who then cheats on her with another woman. Then, giant Lana turns out to be real after all and steps out of drive-in screen for revenge. Genius!
03. Melanie Martinez – K-12
It took Melanie Martinez about four years to release the follow up to her debut album, but it all made sense when she unvealed a full movie to support it. The K-12 movie lasts about 90 minutes and features all the songs of the album. The movie tells the story of the lyrics while Martinez plays the main part of a high school girl who discovers she and her friends have powers the other kids don’t. I’m not going to give away too much, but if you enjoy her tunes it is worth every minute. Let’s also appreciate the fact she made a whole movie while not exactly having Beyoncé’s budget.
02. Madonna – God Control
It should not be a surprise to anyone that Madonna loves to spark a controversy every now and again, but with the video for ‘God Control’ she did so with a clear mission. In protest to the gun laws in America, she shows a scene that resembles the shooting in the night club Pulse in Orlando in 2016. It is graphic and moving, but makes the message more powerful. Madonna is very clear about her intentions here and she and her director Jonas Åkerlund could not have executed this video anymore convincingly.
01. FKA twigs – Cellophane
If you ever wondered what a pole dance routine turning into a feverish nightmare looks like, ‘Cellophane’ by FKA twigs has all the answers. Her performance in the video, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, is absolutely stunning. Everything about that pole dancing routine is mesmerizing and so are the visuals she is transported to and then tumbles into as the video progresses. This is pop art at its finest and makes my spine tingle every single time I watch it.