Be honest. When you are alone and wasting time on the internet, do you watch music videos? I’m going to go ahead and assume the answer is rarely, because the web has become a cesspool of short attention spanned GIF-starved people like me and you. It is quite hard to shoot a video that both grabs our attention and is compelling from start to finish, all in the confines of a predetermined amount of time. But when done right, a good music video becomes the nostalgic mental picture companion to our favorite songs and artists. The emotional impact that this association can cause is at times perfect, and for me, these were the seven most memorable music videos of 2014.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – “Simple and Sure”
Speaking of GIF-starved people, what better way to hook you for three-and-a-half minutes than with a video entirely made of GIF’s? Not kidding, it’s actually all GIF’s, and it’s mega fun. It’s a hilarious window into the minutia of a fancy dinner party, and is in an essence a wonderful tribute to the classic film, The Exterminating Angel. What really makes this MV awesome to me is that it is a subtle commentary on the way we experience information on the internet. We’re addicted to the simplicity of Buzzfeed and Reddit, but in the end we are trapped by our own illusion of connectivity.
Sia – “Chandelier”
Is there an end of year list like this one without this video? It’s mesmerizing, and the dance speaks for itself. It reminds me a lot of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” MV, but there are two huge differences that make “Chandelier” monumental. Instead of a warehouse and one large open space, Maddie Ziegler dances within the cramped confines of an apartment. And oh yeah, she’s 11.
Vic Mensa – “Down on My Luck”
Representation of women aside, no MV in 2014 kept me glued to my seat more than “Down on My Luck.” Learning from our mistakes as quickly as Vic Mensa in his night out or William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow would be pretty sweet.
Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”
When I first saw this video, I scoffed and dismissed it as generic and boring. But then I checked myself and I watched it a few more times, realizing how absolutely brilliant it was with each viewing. Full Disclosure: the following thoughts are largely my sisters and I am paraphrasing her: Taylor Swift cannot be photographed or seen with anyone who identifies as the opposite gender without being scrutinized and she is consistently criticized to be boy crazy and a serial monogamist. Like all women in the music industry, singing about her emotions is considered stupid, while male artists like Ed Shereen or Drake are seen as sensitive and mature. Taylor Swift takes her boy-obsessive image by the horns and basically takes a huge dump on the media by using it to her full advantage (it’s the second single off her wildly popular album 1989, and the video recently surpassed 300 million views on YouTube). She’s a nightmare dressed as a daydream, folks, and if you dare make fun of her, she doesn’t give a shit. Taylor Swift does what she wants and, whether you like it or not, you’re just along for the ride.
Action Bronson – “Easy Rider”
“DON”T LET ME DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Action Bronson yells while firing an M4 into the sky. He’s not going to die without his guitar, Gorrammit, and the adventure he has is the type of experience a soldier suffering from PTSD might have. Cathartic on the one hand, self-destructive on the other, highly personal and rife with emotion in both. However you choose to interpret it, his story ends bathed in the notes of his Les Paul and riding a Harley into the sunset. Truly sublime.
Sylvan Esso – “Coffee”
This video has the highest probability of boring you out of all 7 on this list, but it’s on here because it is pure, incandescent nostalgia. Nailing everything from the atmosphere to the demographic, this video reminds me more than anything I’ve seen since graduating in May 2013 of Oberlin. It is basically an Oberlin Party. All the memories and associations that come with that I now feel in a torrid avalanche whenever I hear this song.
Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” (Featuring Kendrick Lamar)
Death is universal, but it is experienced differently. How can a community suffocating from systemic oppression and violence handle it? When death should be decades down the road, how can they deal with it constantly breathing down their neck? When all the seemingly futile attempts to achieve change go nowhere and just end in more shattered lives, what is the appropriate response? I can only guess, but the tragic beauty of dancing towards the inevitable is nothing less than the year’s most poignant music video.