The best pop videos of 2013

Best Videos pop 2013

The fifteen best videos in pop in 2013

In the next few days I will publish some end-of-year lists to show you what my favourites were in pop music this year. I will start with the best 15 pop music videos that were released in 2013. There were quite some great videos to see the light of day this year, here is my pick:

15. Antti Tuisku – Rakkaus On.
Finnish pop star Antti Tuisku made a comeback this year with the single ‘Rakkaus On.’. The video for the song features Tuisku in various gorgeous landscapes with beautiful colours that symbolize the four elements. The parts where he is partly buried in sand are gorgeous and Antti standing on a mountain with his clothes flowing in the wind is a tad dramatic, but pretty great to look at. Visually, this is one of the most beautiful videos I have seen this year.

14. Chlöe Howl – Paper Heart
Chlöe Howl is a newcomer in the British music scene, but she will probably be one of the biggest new acts next year. The video for her single ‘Paper Heart’ has a simple concept, but is very effectively executed. We follow Chlöe when she gives a show in a park to break up with her boyfriend. The video plays nicely with the words of the song and this could definitely be called an epic way to break up with some douche bag. Well done Chlöe, we’ll hear more from you next year!

13. Gabrielle Aplin – Salvation

2013 was a big year for Gabrielle Aplin, as she released her successful debut album. She released ‘Salvation’ as the last single this year, with a gorgeous and fitting video, directed by Zaiba Jabbar. The story of needing someone to get through a tough period in life is perfectly depicted in the choreographed video. The movements, setting and atmosphere of the video all complement the song and Gabrielle herself looks stunning throughout the whole thing.

12. Jenni Vartiainen – Junat Ja Naiset
2013 has been a good year when it comes to videos by Finnish pop stars. Just like Antti Tuisku, Jenni Vartiainen made a gorgeous music video in breathtaking landscapes. In comparison to Tuisku, Vartiainen’s ‘Junat Ja Naiset’ is depicted way darker and more mysterious. The video is intriguing with all its metaphors and dark costumes. Almost every shot is beautiful and leaves you wanting to see the video again and again.

11. Diana Vickers – Cinderella
Sometimes, all a good music video needs is a cute love story. Diana Vickers must have known this when she filmed the video for her single ‘Cinderella’. The video is basically a modern take on the fairytale in which Vickers escapes from a party with a cute looking guy she just met. The two steal some drinks and end up in a pool. Nothing complicated, but just a beautifully depicted little love story of a cute and gorgeous couple.

10. Tom Odell – Another Love
This beautiful song by Tom Odell has two different videos which are both worthy of a place in this top 15. The first one was released in November 2012 and features Tom Odell in a room stoically singing the song to the camera while his girlfriend is putting op a fight with him. This was quite a hypnotic and impressive visual. In the second one, we see Odell spreading pictures of a missing girl through the city while he does not recognize her when he meets her. It is a beautiful story that goes well with the touching song. Two great videos for one song, impressive stuff!

09. Lily Allen – Hard Out Here
This, ladies and gentlemen, was the big comeback of the enfant terrible in pop music, Lily Allen. She came back in style with a funny and cheeky video that caused some controversy. The video criticized Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ with some satire, including the line ‘Lily Allen has a baggy pussy’. The video, directed by Christopher Sweeney, in which the judgement on women in the music industry is criticized, sparked some controversy, because people thought Allen was objectifying black women. To all those people, Allen can only say: ‘If you can’t detect the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood’.

08. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
This was the year of the comeback of Justin Timberlake as well. He released some music after quite some years of focusing on his acting career. ‘Mirrors’ was his most successful single and by far his best video. The video, directed by Floria Sigismondi, depicts the love of two people throughout their lives. We see different phases of getting to know each other, a first pregnancy and the death of one of them. It is al beautifully acted and shot and in the finale, we see a beautiful scene with Timberlake surrounded by mirrors. This video was definitely the best part of his comeback.

07. Veronica Maggio – Sergels Torg
Veronica Maggio is one of Sweden’s most popular artists and she made one of the most touching and heartbreaking videos of the year for her gorgeous single ‘Sergels Torg’. The video, directed by Mans Nyman, is shot in sunny territory, which contrasts with the feelings the song and video are about. Maggio, preparing for a party on her own in an apartment with a swimming pool, is beautiful to watch and her frustration and loneliness are intense in the climax of the song. We literally see her fall apart and this never looked so beautiful before.

06. Britney Spears – Work Bitch!
And then there was a not so impressive new single by Britney Spears. The video, directed by Ben Mor, however, was quite spectacular, when compared to her visual output in recent years. She showed us some attitude and the settings in the desert, at the pool with the sharks and some of the dance scenes were all very pleasant to look at. Britney looks better than she did in years and the whole vibe of the video comes across like she had a lot of fun at the shoot. Shame about the song, but that video was pretty great!

05. Katy Perry – Unconditionally

Actually, the same goes for Katy Perry. ‘Unconditionally’ might be her weakest single so far, but that video, directed by Brent Bonacorso, is just undeniably beautiful. Perry looks gorgeous, the sets are breathtaking and the slow motion/fast forwarding editing is completely in line with the melody and beat of the song. Great dancing scenes, beautiful owls and that car crash scene, all completely gorgeous. The ‘Roar’ video was fun, but this is absolutely impressive. One of her best videos so far!

04. Anouk – Birds
Anouk, the Dutch pride at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, not only did a great performance at the show, but recorded a beautiful video for her song ‘Birds’ as well. She worked together with director Dana Nechushtan and gave the song a whole new meaning. The music video kind of feels like a short film and breathes a similar atmosphere to Black Swan. Anouk herself only plays a small part as ballet teacher. The story about suicide is not what most people had in mind with the song at first and therefore gives the song a new dimension. That is quite something to achieve with a video!

03. Beyoncé – Pretty Hurts
One of the hardest tasks in making this top 15, was choosing just one Beyoncé video from her visual album. Quite a lot of videos on this album would be good enough for this list, but I wanted to pick only one per artist. The most meaningful and impressive video on BEYONCÉ was for ‘Pretty Hurts’, directed by Melina Matsoukas. We see Beyoncé participating in a beauty pageant and the peek behind the curtain shows she is not that happy with her life. The scene halfway through where the host asks her what her aspiration in life is, which seems like an eye-opener for her, is beautifully depicted. It tells the story of the song perfectly and this is definitely one of the best videos in her career.

02. Hozier – Take Me To Church
This is the video that surprised me the most out of all the things I have seen in 2013. I was absolutely moved and impressed by it. The video, directed by Brendan Canty, shines a whole new light on the meaning of the song and it is definitely a very powerful message of love and acceptance. It is obvious that this video is saying something about the new laws in Russia that make it harder for LGBT people to live their own life and easier for hateful people to discriminate them. It is a brave step for new Irish artist Hozier to record such a video and song and I will definitely look forward to new material next year!

01. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
Most of all, 2013 was the year of Miley Cyrus. Hit after hit, controversy after controversy. Her video for the single ‘Wrecking Ball’, directed by Terry Richardson, truly delivered some iconic visuals of her naked, swinging on a wrecking ball. These images will still be remembered in a few years time in pop culture. The video is daring, but Miley at the same time acts out the vulnerability that is described in the lyrics of the song. I am not a huge fan of the hammer licking, but other than that, everything in the video perfectly complements the song. Not only did this video have a lot of impact, it is executed very well and deserves it to be crowned as best video of the year!

Last but not least, some honourable mentions: Lana Del Rey’s stunning short film Tropico, did not qualify as a music video, Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, Beyoncé’s ‘Mine’ and ‘Haunted’ and Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop’ did not make it, because other videos by the same artist did and Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’ just missed out in 16th place.

Single Review: Britney Spears – Perfume

Britney Spears Britney Jean album cover

Britney Spears and Sia team up for new single ‘Perfume’

Britney Spears came back with new music earlier this year. She released the single ‘Work Bitch!’ in September. Both the song and its chart run were quite disappointing and now Britney and her team decided to shake things up a little for the second single, ‘Perfume’. ‘Perfume’ is a ballad, co-written by Sia and it is quite different from most singles Britney released in recent years. It is a good thing to hear her sing properly again, but is the song good enough to get her back on top of the charts?

Britney Spears is not the only one to work with singer and songwriter Sia at the moment. Sia previously worked with Rihanna (‘Diamonds’) and David Guetta (‘Titanium’ and ‘She Wolf’), but also wrote tracks on the new albums of Céline Dion, Katy Perry, Birdy and Jessie J. Considering that ‘Work Bitch!’ lacked a good chorus or even a melody, it was a smart move from Britney and her team to choose a Sia song as next single. She has proven in the past that she can write beautiful and melodic ballads.

‘Perfume’ might not be one of the best things Sia has ever written, but it still is a step in the right direction in Britney’s career. Her vocals actually sound pretty good, especially in the verses. It does not sound like she is putting on a voice or struggling to reach the notes. She seems to sound natural, which is great. Not only does her voice sound better in the verses, these parts of the song come across stronger than the chorus anyway. Not that the chorus is bad, but it could have been somewhat more powerful and catchy. The part that sticks in your head after a few listens, is the post-chorus where Britney sings she is about to ‘mark her territory’ with her perfume and hopes the ex-girlfriend will smell it. The melody is strong here and definitely lifts the song to a higher level.

Lyrically, the song deals with Britney suspecting her boyfriend to still have feelings for his ex. The story comes across very well in the lyrics, which are cleverly written. It is a good thing to hear Britney on a somewhat more personal and emotional track, after the mess that was ‘Work Bitch!’. I am not sure if this song will bring her a huge hit, but it is definitely a step forward from the previous single.

Britney Spears will release her new record Britney Jean on the 3rd of December.


Single Recensie: Britney Spears – Perfume

Britney Spears krijgt hulp van Sia op nieuwe single

Britney Spears kwam eerder dit jaar terug met nieuwe muziek. De zangeres bracht in september de nieuwe single ‘Work Bitch!’ uit. Zowel de song zelf als de prestaties in de hitlijsten, waren behoorlijk tegenvallend. Britney en haar team hebben hun strategie dan ook behoorlijk aangepast voor de release van ‘Perfume’, de tweede single. ‘Perfume’ is een ballad die mede is geschreven door Sia en het klinkt behoorlijk anders dan de meeste singles die we in recente jaren van Britney hebben gehoord. Het is positief dat we haar weer eens echt horen zingen, maar is het lied goed genoeg om haar weer aan top van de hitlijsten te krijgen?

Britney Spears is niet de enige artieste die recent samenwerkte met zangeres en songwriter Sia. Zo schreef ze al voor Rihanna (‘Diamonds’), was ze te horen op tracks van David Guetta (‘Titanium’ en ‘She Wolf’), en werkte ze mee aan liedjes voor de nieuwe albums van Céline Dion, Katy Perry, Birdy en Jessie J. Aangezien ‘Work Bitch!’ een goed refrein en een sterke melodie miste, is het een slimme stap van Britney en haar team om een Sia liedje als tweede single te kiezen. Zij heeft namelijk al bewezen dat ze mooie, melodische ballades kan schrijven.

‘Perfume’ is misschien niet één van de sterkste tracks die Sia ooit heeft neergepend, maar het is wel een stap in de goede richting in de carrière van Britney. Haar stem klinkt weer eens behoorlijk goed, vooral in de coupletten. Het klinkt niet alsof ze een stemmetje opzet of moeite heeft om de noten te halen. Haar stem klinkt juist natuurlijk, wat fijn is om te horen. Niet alleen haar stem is beter in de coupletten, dit zijn sowieso de sterkere gedeeltes van het lied. Niet dat het refrein slecht is, maar dit had zeker wat krachtiger en pakkender gekund. De passage die wel goed blijft hangen is het stukje na het refrein, waar Britney zingt dat ze haar ‘territorium afbakent’ met parfum. De melodie is hier juist heel sterk en brengt het lied naar een hoger niveau.

Qua tekst gaat ‘Perfume’ over het vermoeden dat je geliefde nog steeds gevoelens heeft voor zijn of haar ex. Dit verhaal wordt zeer goed verwoord in het lied, dat knap geschreven is. Het is mooi dat Britney zich weer eens op een wat persoonlijkere en meer emotionele song durft te laten horen, na het rommeltje wat ze ons met ‘Work Bitch!’ voorschotelde. Het is de vraag of ‘Perfume’ een grote hit gaat worden voor de zangeres, maar het is zeker een stap in de goede richting.

Britney Spears brengt op 3 december haar nieuwe album Britney Jean uit.

Video Review: Britney Spears – Work Bitch!


A stunning Britney makes ‘bitches’ work for her

“Go call the police! Go call the governor!” Britney Spears is back with a new video for ‘Work Bitch!’. Britney used to be known for her iconic music videos full of impressive choreographies, but since her breakdown in 2007, she did not reach that high level again. Songs like ‘Womanizer’, ‘If U Seek Amy’, ‘Criminal’ and ‘Circus’ all had nice enough videos, but the spark Britney was known for, was absent. Did she bring it back in ‘Work Bitch!’?

Partly, I’d say. First of all, I would have to admit, this is the best Britney has looked ever since 2003. The styling and makeup is completely on point, but moreover, she looks healthy and totally in shape. With this killer body, Britney looks like she is in the promotion of the 2003 album In The Zone again. Also important, the fire in her eyes is back. Almost all videos from the Blackout album on, missed passion from the side of Miss Spears, but this seems back in most scenes of ‘Work Bitch!’.

Then there is the dancing. Britney faced a lot of criticism on her decreased dancing skills ever since her infamous VMA performance of ‘Gimme More’ in 2007. She never seemed to have her mojo back when it comes to that part of her performances. In ‘Work Bitch!’ we finally see her do some choreographies full of energy. We do not get to see very long shots of the dancing, but what we see looks good and convincing. It would be exaggerated to state that she dances as good as in 2003, but it definitely is an improvement on everything she did in the Blackout, Circus and Femme Fatale eras.

Director Ben Mor also deserves credit for the work on this video. Most of the sets are extremely well chosen and this leads to some incredible shots. For example, Britney standing on a small stage in the middle of a pool, surrounded by circling sharks, is a stunning visual. The scene were Spears is standing on an upside down pyramid, holding her dancers on a leash looks great as well. There is an SM light theme throughout the music video and I have to admit the scenes where Britney uses a whip, work pretty well. Last but not least, the dance scenes in de desert and inside are all shot nicely. Also, the use of a music player in the mouth of a woman deserves mentioning for being the least subtle, in your face, but most original product placement in a music video.

The only sad thing about this video, is actually the disappointing song that is played in the background. ‘Work Bitch!’ could be considered as Britney’s worst lead single. It lacks a tune and a clear chorus, as it actually goes nowhere. Still, the video restores some faith in Britney Spears as a pop star. She shows, visually she still has it in her. Let’s hope we can say the same sonically, when hearing the next single.


Britney Spears als oogverblindende slavendrijfster in nieuwe video

“Go call the police! Go call the governor!” Britney Spears is terug met een video voor haar nieuwe single ‘Work Bitch!’. Britney stond altijd bekend om haar sterke videoclips met indrukwekkende choreografieën, maar dit niveau wist ze niet meer te bereiken sinds haar welbekende dip in 2007. Liedjes als ‘Womanizer’, ‘If U Seek Amy’, ‘Criminal’ en ‘Circus’ hadden allemaal aardige videoclips, maar de ‘spark’ die ze altijd had, leek te missen. Brengt ze dit terug in de video voor ‘Work Bitch!’?

Gedeeltelijk zou ik zeggen. Allereerst moet gezegd worden dat Britney er sinds 2003 al niet meer zo goed heeft uitgezien. De styling en make-up zien er perfect uit en bovenal laat ze een lichaam zien dat compleet in vorm lijkt. Hierdoor lijkt Britney er haast hetzelfde uit te zien als in de tijd dat ze haar album In The Zone aan het promoten was. Dit lijkt ook te komen door het feit dat het vuur in haar ogen terug is. Al haar video’s vanaf Blackout, misten passie van de kant van Britney, maar dit lijkt in de meeste scènes van ‘Work Bitch!’ terug te zijn.

Ook wat betreft het dansen valt er wat vooruitgang te zien. Britney kreeg sinds haar memorabele optreden van ‘Gimme More’ bij de VMA’s in 2007 veel kritiek op haar mindere danskwaliteiten. Dit onderdeel van haar optredens leek ze nergens echt meer onder de knie te krijgen. In ‘Work Bitch!’ zien we haar eindelijk weer eens vol energie een choreografie afwerken. Er zijn geen lange shots van het dansen te zien, maar de beelden die wel in de video zijn verwerkt zien er goed en overtuigend uit. Het zou overdreven zijn om te beweren dat ze weer net zo goed danst als rond 2003, maar het is zeker een verbetering ten opzichte van alle dansscènes die ze deed tijdens Blackout, Circus en Femme Fatale.

Regisseur Ben Mor verdient ook waardering voor zijn werk aan de video. De meeste sets zijn uitstekend gekozen en dit levert een aantal schitterende plaatjes op. De scène waarin Britney op een klein podium in een zwembad staat, omringd door rondcirkelende haaien, ziet er prachtig uit. Ook de passage waarbij ze op een omgekeerde piramide staat, met haar dansers aan een lijn, levert mooie beelden op. Er is een SM light thema verwerkt door de video heen en de scènes waarin Britney een zweep ter handen neemt, zien er strak uit. Daarnaast zijn de dans scènes, in de woestijn en binnen, goed in beeld gebracht. Het gebruiken van een muziekspeler in de mond van een vrouw is tegelijkertijd de minst subtiele en meest bizarre vorm van product placement.

Het enige grote nadeel van deze video, is de tegenvallende song die op de achtergrond te horen is. ‘Work Bitch!’ is eigenlijk de zwakste leadsingle die Britney ooit uitbracht. Het mist een melodie en het refrein is niet echt te onderscheiden, wat er voor zorgt dat er amper een opbouw in de song plaatsvindt. Toch brengt de video weer wat hoop voor de toekomst van Britney als popster. Ze laat zien dat ze het visueel nog steeds weet neer te zetten, maar laten we hopen dat het op de volgende single ook weer te horen is.