There was a point a few years ago when music videos seemed to be under threat. Budgets kept dropping and they no long appeared to be the vibrant artistic vehicle for bands that they once were. All that feels patently ridiculous when looking at the promos output of 2016, however, where the video has seemed more vibrant and relevant than ever (even if budgets remain pretty darn low).
Narrowing a list down to just ten choices was a task in itself, in a year where we saw big names and newcomers alike produce incredible films to accompany their music. But we’ve wrestled the beast and here’s our picks for 2016. Argue it out on Twitter and Facebook, people.
As it is always hard to measure a video with a larger budget behind it against one from a scrappy newcomer, we’ve avoided ranking our ten favourites, and instead give them to you here in order of release date. Let us begin:
The Chemical Brothers feat. Beck: Wide Open; directors: Dom & Nic, production company: Outsider
The year began well, with this piece of post-production and dance mastery from directors Dom & Nic.
Naive New Beaters: Heal Tomorrow; director: Romain Chassaing, production company: Solab
2016 finally brought some great, creative use of 360 technology in music videos, especially in this amusing film for the Naive New Beaters, which uses a simple trick to guide viewers around the action.
Beyoncé: Formation; director: Melina Matsoukas, production company: Prettybird
Beyoncé’s hour-long HBO film Lemonade was arguably the biggest moment in music film this year, but it was the overtly political video for Formation that started off the furore around the singer in February, sparking think pieces across the media.
Radiohead: Daydreaming; director: Paul Thomas Anderson, production companies: Ghoulardi Film Company, m ss ng p eces
The arrival of Radiohead’s new album A Moon Shaped Pool was marked with typical creative flair, from the dramatic deletion of the band’s website and social media channels to a selection of great videos. Top of the list is this restless, poignant film for Daydreaming from filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson.
The Avalanches: Frankie Sinatra; director: Fleur & Manu; production company: Division
The return of The Avalanches this year has prompted a flurry of great videos, but our favourite is this trippy piece of work from Fleur & Manu, to accompany the release of single Frankie Sinatra.
Jamie XX: Gosh; director: Romain Gavras, production company: Iconoclast
Gosh is the word for Romain Gavras’ startling epic for Jamie XX, which blew audiences away this summer and picked up the best video of the year gong at this year’s UK MVAs.
Frank Ocean: Nikes; director: Tyrone Lebon; production company: DoBeDo Productions
Filmmaker and photographer Tyrone Lebon is behind this astounding video for Frank Ocean, the first to come out of Ocean’s Blonde album.
DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels: Nobody Speak; director: Sam Pilling, production companies: Pulse Films and Radioacktive Film
Politicians get scrappy in Sam Pilling’s ace video for DJ Shadow and Run The Jewels.
Stylo G x Jacob Plant: Bike Engine; director: Keith Schofield, production company: Caviar, commissioner: John Hassay
Director Keith Schofield’s video is a wry and brilliant comment on the state of music videos, and online commenting, today. Plus it’s very, very funny.
Bonobo, Kerala; director: Bison, production company: FRIEND
This glitchy, uncomfortable film, which stars Gemma Arterton, features some incredible editing as well as other clever visual flourishes by director Bison. It certainly requires repeat viewing to spot them all, and what band doesn’t want that in a video?
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