There are a lot of pretty incredible music videos out there. Rather than making a top 10 or a best 5 I’ve decided to put all the ones that make the cut in one list. These are the best music videos of all time. Some of them have mind blowing motion graphics, amazing animation and impressive effects; and some of them are lively, fun and full of dancing, choreography and costuming. Something about each one I found incredible, for a variety of different reasons. They aren’t in order, and I’ve written up little descriptions and listed genres so you don’t accidentally stumble into a hardcore song or mistakenly see a bum. Enjoy!
Best Retro Inspired Modern Motion Graphics: Soulman
First up we’ve got the French R&B singer Ben L’Oncle Soul with “Soulman.” This video amazes me every time I see it. It’s incredible. Ben sings and dances himself through the 20th century, imitating the various styles as he goes (complete with typography and motion graphics). It was written and directed by Nassim Maoui and Christophe Mentz, and designed by Stephane Lamalle.
Most Badass: Treat Me Like Your Mother
Not much explaining needed here. The music has a heavy rock ‘n roll grooviness that only The Dead Weather seem to be able to do and Jack White’s badass from head to foot. Right from his wavy long black hair and leather jacked down to his black skinny jeans and leather shoes. Ok, yeah, that’s my uniform too, but even were it not, I’d still think it was a badass music video. You’ve got to be pretty damn tough to survive that many bullets, right? And Alison Mosshart is a total babe. I’ve recently been told that “total babe” isn’t a cool thing to say. When did that go out of style? Probably at about the same time as my black girl jeans.
Most Beautifully Epic: Tonight, Tonight (VMA Winner 1996)
Second up are the rock band The Smashing Pumpkins with “Tonight, Tonight.” This video is a more obvious choice—it’s no secret that the Smashing Pumpkins are one of my all time favourite bands. It also won best video of 1996 (VMA). And since the video is old (it came out when I was eight) it makes for a nice break from all the CG.
Best Animated Video: El Manana
The Gorillaz are my top animated music video pick with “El Manana”. The Gorillaz are an interesting band/music project. Musician Damon Albarn (the lead singer from Blur) and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett (the illustrator of Tank Girl) teamed up to make a fictional band made up of four cartoon characters. All of their videos are great. I recommend checking ’em all out if you like this one. “Stylo” even has Bruce Willis in it.
Best Use of Typography: DVNO
Justice is a French electronic music duo. Looks like the French do it best when it comes to motion graphics—and I say this not because I’m half French, but rather because it’s true. I’m not a big fan of this song, but once the video ramps up past the first couple seconds, damn does the animated typography really get good.
Best Remixed Music Video: Alice
This song was made by remixing the video and audio from Alice In Wonderland. Pogo, formerly known as Nick Bertke, is known for doing strange things like this. It’s really quite trippy. Wikipedia tells me that’s because “the lack of coherent lyrics in his work motivates puzzled listeners to suggest words that fit the nonsensical sounds that typify his music.”
Best Use of Choreography: Islands
This is a pop/new wave song by The XX. I’m not sure if I love it or hate it, but I do find it interesting—sort of. The choreography is great and I love the idea of it. Must have been a nightmare to film, and it can be a little tedious to watch as the same thing seems to be happening over and over. It isn’t though, so by the end of it I wasn’t as pissed off about it as I thought I would be.
Best Use of Choreography (Runner Up): Let ‘Em In
I’ve decided to bring in a runner up, because the choreography below really is quite something. This is Bert Parks singing Paul McCartney’s “Let ‘Em In” for the 1976 Miss America Pageant. Best of all, it isn’t a joke. They’re all dead serious. If you don’t believe me, look at his facial expression.
Trippy, Latin & Cinematic: The Widow
I’m a big fan of the experimental rock band The Mars Volta. They’ve got a bunch of really great music videos. This one, for “the Widow” is without a doubt my favourite. They’ve managed to create a bizarre universe that’s both sinister and intriguing. I get goose bumps every time I watch this.
Trippy, Latin & … You Decide (NSFW): Bombay
El Guincho, the pop/rap/club band from Barcelona is responsible for this.. masterpiece. It is though. It is a masterpiece. After the little introduction about this video being about a quest for truth—BAM, in pops a whole bunch of nude people going on wild adventures to the beat of happy dance music. We’ve got nudity, nature, music, mountains, guns, guys, girls, dancing, doctors, boobs, bikes, breasts, skulls, crystal balls and topless men. What a music video. Makes me want to go on a quest for truth.
Best Rock ‘n Roll Music Video: Dear Miss Lonely Hearts
Thin Lizzy. There’s something about that lead singer that just always makes me smile, even when he’s singing about being lonely, depressed and heartbroken. They’re an Irish rock ‘n roll band from the 70’s. Well, back then this was “hard rock”, but that’s just because they haven’t seen the next video in the list. But why is THIS music video on the list? There are camera spins, devilish grins and synchronized rock-outs. Who wouldn’t love this?
All In One Take (Hard / Loud / Abrasive / Amazing): David De La Hoz
This is a video by the Christian metalcore band The Chariot, one of Jared’s favourites. I’m not a big fan of their music, but damn does it ever seem like they put on a good show. What makes this music video is incredible is that it’s done all in one take. A guy marches around with a video camera and records a really bizarre sequence of events. All the music is done live in this single take. Why is the song called David De La Hoz? Well. He’s a fan that won a contest, so they named a song after him. Release the balloons!
Most Tattoos In a Music Video: It Never Ends
Ollie Sykes wins this for his band (the British hardcore band Bring Me The Horizon) by being so light that he floats. He’s tiny but his voice packs a punch—and he’s got the same hairdo as Jared (because Jared took his picture to the barber). I don’t disapprove. I used to have that haircut too. It’s a good one. There’s some questionable use of CG in the video, what with the van, but that aside I’d say she’s top notch. The guys chasing the van represent the troubles that plague the band, and it looks like they’ve finally got the best of Ollie. He isn’t going to make it…
The Best Use of Blood: You’ve Seen the Butcher
This is the Sacremento rock band The Deftones’ brand new music video. There’s some sort of library/church massacre going on. The blood comes in in the second half, which makes things much more interesting, but even before then they’ve got a really driving and powerful feel going, which suits the music to a t. I like how the singer wears glasses for about 2 seconds, just long enough for him to wipe the smeared blood off.
The Creepiest of Tragedies: Gallows
Can anyone help me with this next one? Do the man and his two wives die and live on happily in heaven? Is that what happens? This video is creepy. Really creepy. Jared thinks Cocorosie (the singers) are big fans of The Ring, and I can see why: they’ve got long dark wet hair covering their faces, they’re old fashioned, creepy, and murderous. They take it to the next level though, with the bleeding eyes.
Most Lively, Fun & Full of Energy: Born & Raised
We’ve got a wickedly fun video performed by Alexisonfire up next to brighten the mood. This is another semi-typical rock video, but it’s lively and upbeat and exactly what it should be. Dallas Green is all shaven, and that’s a bit of a downer, but everyone else looks great.
The Classiest Music Video: The Pursuit of Happiness
Some music videos make me wish I had been born a soulman. Kid Cudi’s is one of those. The colours. The class. The leather. The wine. I’m rarely a hip-hopper but this video’s great, and Hell I really wish I was at that party. Drake would probably steal my date, I know—girls seem to love that damn guy—but it might be worth it. Why did he name himself drake though? It means either a male duck or a small wingless dragon. Where’s the fun in either?
The People’s Choice: Bad Romance
I guess I’m a little undecided about whether this is a list of my all-time favourite music videos, or of the best music videos out there. This video is overall the VMA winner of 2010 for best music video. Is it the absolute best number one top music video of 2010 in my opinion? Well… It’s pretty cool, I guess. Lady Gaga’s certainly got a style all her own. Seems like she’s the pop princess of the year. I decided “Bad Romance” was going to be on the list when I found myself unable to turn it off. I didn’t watch it twice, but I couldn’t stop it either. It’s an interesting music video, and the chorus is kind of catchy too. I’ll give her that. And the end is pretty neat.
The Sweetest Singer: Katy Perry
Jared teases me for liking this stuff, but yeah, I really do like this video. I swear. I would argue what man wouldn’t? But I’d still get made fun of. I figure if Katy Perry’s good enough for Russell Brand then she’s good enough for me. Here’s “California Gurls.”
Best Ambient Music Video: Let Yourself Feel
This one’s a little slow. “Ljósið” by Ólafur Arnalds is what it’s called if you’d like to buy it. It’s a little wisp of multicoloured smoke dancing along a background with a gradient on it. Pretty simple to do with a smoke clip in After Effects, but also quite beautiful and relaxing. One of those “I could do that” things. But I mean, I didn’t, so he wins. On that note, onto the next video.
“Yeah, You Could Have Made It—But You Didn’t”: I Can Be A Frog
This one’s by the Flaming Lips, an American group of moody ambient rockers that found a really intriguing girl to use in their music video. Looks like they’ve got a camera set up and a girl dancing around in her underwear (or bathing suit?). Then throw some simple yellow illustrations on top and that’s that. For some reason though, paired with those haunting back-up vocals, the video seems like so much more. I find it really fascinating, a little bit creepy, and ever so slightly alluring.
Band Consistency: Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse is another American indie rock band. All of their videos are great. I love their music, too. The first one, for “Whale Song” is a bit annoying at first, but the motion graphics and animation are out of this world. And the song gets better later on. The second one, “The Ocean Breathes Salty” is one of my favourites. Luckily, like all of their videos, it’s great. No fancy graphics this time, but the video is interesting and the filmography and concept are great.
Best Use of Slow Motion: Power
I can never decide whether I like Kanye West or not. I mean, he just got his bottom teeth replaced with diamond studded fakes. Is that really cool or really retarded? Who knows. This short video for “Power” is incredible though. The whole thing is done in extreme slow motion. It’s magical and epic and he, once again, does something different here: the video is only a minute and a half long. I like how he cuts it short before you can get sick of it. A stylistic choice like this would get tiresome if it were a full length video.
Crazy Animation: Ten by Ten
This animation really is crazy. I’m NOT crazy about how they animated the protagonist. I’m not crazy about the song either. Wow is the animation ever cool though. It’s another one of those videos that I just couldn’t turn off. I probably won’t ever watch it again though… unless I’m trying to get inspired for some exciting motion work. Not my cup of tea otherwise.
Best Use of Water: In Division
Underoath is still around?! Who knew. And Spencer has dreads now. Gah. The music has changed, too. I prefer the older stuff. I hate it when people say that, but this time I’m the one saying it, and I stand behind it. Don’t worry though, we’ve got the old Dallas up next with his new band, Maylene. This video, by rotating the underwater camera around and using slow motion, has really captured something magical.
Most Southern / Hottest Drummer: Step Up (I’m On It)
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster are a gritty southern rock band. Great band, and they’ve got a bit of a back story. So Dallas Taylor, the old singer from Underoath, thought his band would never make it, quit to start a family and oooff, Underoath took off, leaving him behind with nothing but a family. Luckily, Dallas is back, and this time his band is even better. This video is dirty and southern and gritty and perfect for the band and the song. Not every video needs crazy CG and complicated plot lines. Sometimes a good beard or a bald head is all it takes to rock out.
This One is Really Quite Strange: Twin Flames by Klaxons
Best Retro Roller-Dancing: Kim & Jessie
M83 is one of the most inspirational artists I’ve seen perform, and his music videos do him justice, in a strange kind of way. The song is upbeat and fun and the video gives it a nostalgic sort of feel. The lyrical bit about some guy lurking in the shadows paired with visuals of the young girls is a little creepy, but overall it’s a pretty fun video, and a good one to finish the list with.
Queens of the Stone Age – Go With the Flow (from Marien Matijcio)
The Go! Team – Here It Goes Again (from Kate)
Land of Talk – It’s Okay (from Clemens Philippe L)
Ratatat – Drugs (from Payam Rajabi)
FM Belfast – Underwear (Payam Rajabi again)
Foals – Miami
Nightwish – Islander (from John Fawkes)
Dimmu Borgir – Gateways (from Jared Polowick)
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition (from Dave)
The Temper Trap – Love Lost (also from Dave… at 3:00 it starts getting great)
Die Antwoord – Enter The Ninja (from Louis Racine for “best hair”)
HEALTH – We Are Water (from Robbie for blood and pain)
Know any other wicked music videos that I missed? Let me know in the comments and if they make the cut I’ll add ’em to the list.