2020 was not an easy year for a lot of things, including creating music videos. With lockdown and social distancing restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, artists and their teams often had to change plans and think of new ideas with recording music videos. We still were treated to some awesome pieces of art which were sometimes filmed before the pandemic, but sometimes also in the midst of it. These are the 20 best pop videos of 2020 according to A Bit of Pop Music!
20. Miley Cyrus – Midnight Sky
Miley Cyrus showed off how you can make an engaging video in Covid times. She is completely alone from start to finish but keeps all eyes on her with stunning sets and outfits. Every single frame is on point with the shots of her bathing in gum balls as a highlight. She directed this video herself and she sure knows what she is doing behind the camera.
19. Troye Sivan & Kacey Musgraves – Easy
Troye Sivan released some of his best (and this year’s best) singles on his EP In A Dream, of which ‘Easy’ was one. He recorded a new version of the song as a duet with Kacey Musgraves and produced by Mark Ronson. Sivan and Musgraves recorded a video in which they stay in a motel and visit a bar with a crowd line dancing. Every scene is a mood and the whole thing is beautifully shot.
18. Ava Max – Who’s Laughing Now
Ava Max likes to go all out when it comes to her music videos and that is exactly what she did for ‘Who’s Laughing Now’. We see the American pop star sporting a handful of different wigs, outfits and personalities throughout, almost reminiscent of some of Britney Spears’s best music videos. Max portrays the different characters who have been cheated on, fired or even put in a psychiatric hospital with a similar sassiness. The way the girl in the hospital breaks free through music is a cute message to wrap it all up.
17. Jessie Ware – Spotlight
Jessie Ware pleased us with a sophisticated disco and house record and did not let us down with the visuals either. She traveled to Belgrade in Serbia to film the music video to ‘Spotlight’, directed by Jovan Todorovic, on the Blue Train, once owned by Yugoslavian leader Tito. Ware moves slowly through the train while she is surrounded by mysterious looking passengers who are sitting completely still and at other times burst into choreography. In the final scenes, Ware joins in on the fun and it all looks elegant and seamlessly fits the vibe of the song.
16. Dua Lipa – Break My Heart
Dua Lipa stepped up the game to the visual side of her pop stardom majorly with the release of her sophomore album Future Nostalgia. The music video to ‘Break My Heart’, directed by Henry Scholfield, was one of the highlights in the album campaign. The bright neon colors of her outfits and the sets pop in every frame and the transition between the different scenes is so inventive.
15. Ariana Grande – Positions
On ‘Positions’, the lead single of the album with the same name, Ariana Grande shows her partner how versatile she is as a lover. The music video, directed by Dave Meyers, showcases the message with Ari in the role of president of the United States, while also being active in the kitchen to cook a good meal. Grande shines in every single scene and the timing of this music video couldn’t have been better a couple of weeks before the election.
14. Chung Ha – Stay Tonight
These days we don’t get to enjoy performance music videos with elaborate choreography as much as we did in the noughties anymore, but Korean pop star Chung Ha was here to save the year. Her music video for ‘Stay Tonight’ is a thrilling ride of stunning looks and fierce moves. The editing is on point throughout and especially pleasing during the drop in the middle-eight. Chung Ha has star quality in bucket loads and it is impossible to take your eyes off her.
13. The Pussycat Dolls – React
The Pussycat Dolls made a comeback after more than ten years with the single ‘React’ and although it might not have become the commercial success they hoped for, the music video, directed by Bradley & Pablo, was not to blame. The ladies all put their sexiest foot forward and performed some jaw dropping choreography. Especially the final part in the water is iconic. It made me want to fill up my living room with water and grab a chair during lockdown. I’m sure the people living on the floor under me appreciate the fact that I didn’t.
12. Sam Smith – To Die For
Although Sam Smith was planning to name their album after the single ‘To Die For’, they changed plans when the pandemic hit and the single only became a bonus track on the album Love Goes. Still, the release gave us one of the best music videos of the year! ‘To Die For’, directed by Grant Singer (with whom Smith made the fabulous video for ‘How Do You Sleep’ which made last year’s list), poignantly portrays the feelings of loneliness and sadness through the face of Smith on a mannequin in a shop window. This story about love and loss breaks my heart a bit every time I see it.
11. Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar
Harry Styles dropped the brilliant video for his single ‘Adore You’ at the end of last year (making the top 5 of this list then), but ‘Watermelon Sugar’ became the biggest hit of his second record Fine Line this year. This was partly thanks to the music video, directed by Bradley & Pablo and dedicated to touching in the midst of the pandemic. The joyful, colorful visuals of Styles playing around with watermelons and models made us all slightly envious of him and long for the days in which we could all go to the beach without having to think about keeping distance. At least we lived through Harry for a bit!
10. Christine and the Queens – La Vita Nuova
Christine and the Queens dropped the EP La Vita Nuova at the start of the year and treated her fans to a short movie which features the tracks of the record. Watching ‘La Vita Nuova’ is like getting a 13 minute long insight into the mind, dreams and fantasies of Héloïse Létissier (the act’s real name). The video has a ongoing storyline, choreography, some interesting performance art and an intriguing climax. An ambitious project that she totally nailed.
09. Dua Lipa – Physical
Everyone who said that Dua Lipa didn’t have the presence or moves to convincingly sell a dance video, should eat their words after she dropped the video to ‘Physical’. Directed by Canada, we see Lipa surrounded by a large ensemble of dancers all dressed in the same neon color, which changes every scene. Lipa shows off her star power, the choreography is infectious and the little touches of animation finish off this uplifting piece of pop.
08. Rina Sawayama – XS
Rina Sawayama takes on capitalism and consumer culture on the single ‘XS’ taken from her debut album Sawayama which was released this year. The music video brilliantly supports the message of the song with Sawayama selling her own brand of liquid on a shopping channel in a hilarious robot like manner. The build up of the video is on point, with the events getting weirder and weirder. A song mixing noughties R&B with metal, deserves no less than a brilliantly weird video.
07. Taylor Swift – cardigan / willow
Taylor Swift really did her best to make our year in lockdown a bit more bearable by releasing two new albums. The albums folklore and evermore had matching lead singles ‘cardigan’ and ‘willow’ with matching music videos which Swift directed herself. Both consist of exquisite imagery as the singer crawls through her piano from dreamland to dreamland in ‘cardigan’ and follows a string towards her lover in ‘willow’. A simple storyline, but a perfect execution with dreamy and wonderful visuals.
06. The Weeknd – Too Late
The Weeknd has never been one to shy away from a bit of disturbing footage in his music videos and he took that to a whole new level for ‘Too Late’, directed by Cliqua. In the first scene, two ladies who just had plastic surgery done, find the head of the Canadian singer (decapitated in his video for ‘In Your Eyes’) on the road and decide to take it to their villa. After enjoying some time in the swimming pool with it, they order a male stripper whom they decapitate to attach the Weeknd’s head to the body to do unspeakable things with. I warned you it’s disturbing! But also so damn good!
05. Taylor Swift – The Man
After Taylor Swift dropped two new albums in the past few months, you would almost forget that she already released the video to ‘The Man’, a single from her 2019 album Lover, earlier in the year. In the visuals, Swift dresses up as a man to do all the things she sings about in the lyrics. The self-directed video shows the inequalities she is singing about and especially the last scene in which Swift, in the role of director, tells ‘the man’ to be more sexy and likable is poignant. Smart social commentary!
04. Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion – WAP
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion easily released the most talked about music video (and song) of the year. Two of the biggest rappers of the moment collaborated on a sexually very explicit song and didn’t hold back in the music video, directed by Colin Tilley, either. We see Cardi and Megan rapping the song from a mansion, performing some nsfw choreography, while Kylie Jenner, Normani and Rosalía also appear. An iconic pop culture moment people will be talking about in years to come.
03. FKA twigs – Sad Day
After releasing the absolute best music video of last year with the absolutely stunning ‘Cellophane’, FKA twigs thoroughly deserved another top 3 spot in 2020 with the visuals for ‘Sad Day’. No pole dancing this time, but sword fighting. The over seven minutes long video, directed by Hiro Murai, doesn’t even feature the song in its totality, but the way bits and pieces of it are used in the depiction of the fight between the artist and a male sword fighter is clever. The visuals are outstanding and the climax of the fight is simply stunning to watch. Twigs did it again!
02. The Weeknd – In Your Eyes
The Weeknd ruled 2020 with his single ‘Blinding Lights’ which he released at the end of 2019 (with a music video at the start of the year that deserves an honorable mention), but his best music video was for ‘In Your Eyes’. In the visuals, directed by Anton Tammi, The Weeknd murders the male companion of a woman (played by Zaina Miuccia) he then chases into a club with a knife. She manages to get hold of an ax and decapitates him and then continues dancing while holding on to the head. And nobody on the dancefloor did even bat an eye at this sight! The video has an eighties slasher vibe and it is perfectly creepy, weird and chilling.
01. Lady Gaga – 911
Lady Gaga treated us to some great pop moments with her latest album Chromatica. It also brought us a music video that is up there with her very best. I’m not talking about ‘Rain On Me’ with Ariana Grande (although it deserves an honorable mention), but ‘911’ (directed by Tarsem Singh), which deserved the buzz of a lead single. In the video we find Lady Gaga in a desert after which she is brought to a community where a lot of inexplicable things are happening. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and so is Gaga’s performance. In a final twist, it is shown that what we have watched, was the dreamscape Gaga experienced while being unconscious after a car accident and all the characters in the dream world had something to do with the situation around the accident. Simply brilliant!