2016 In Review

The 50 Best Music Videos Of 2016

40. Phantogram – “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” (Dir. Grant Singer)

In the video for the best song Phantogram have ever recorded, Grant Singer essentially distilled an entire season of American Horror Story into one burst of glamorously morbid narrative-free imagery. This was the right decision. That CGI tidal wave is so beautiful.

39. Bruno Mars – “24K Magic” (Dir. Bruno Mars & Cameron Duddy)

This isn’t as fresh and iconic as its obvious predecessor, Mars and Duddy’s “Uptown Funk!” video. It can’t be; it didn’t come first, and it’s more concerned with being a butt-centric rap video. It’s still a whole hell of a lot of fun, though.

38. Skylar Spence – “I Can’t Be Your Superman” (Dir. Maegan Houang)

This starts as a gritty and riveting crime story, and it ends up as a surreal pop-music fantasia. I wish more things played out on that sort of arc.

37. The Weeknd – “Starboy” (Feat. Daft Punk) (Dir. Grant Singer)

The whole Michael Mann glowing-dashboard-light aesthetic is great in any circumstance, and it’s not like it gets any less great when you add theatrical self-murder and glowing pink cross-swords to the equation.

36. Massive Attack – “Come Near Me” (Feat. Ghostpoet) (Dir. Ed Morris)

An almost unbearably tense piece of filmmaking, and even when Massive Attack’s decades-old masterpiece “Unfinished Sympathy” suddenly shows up like a ray of sunlight, you know the brightness it brings isn’t going to linger.

35. Rihanna – “Work” (Feat. Drake) (Dir. Director X & Tim Erem)

A goofy, silly, expertly crafted celebration of sex and dance and chemistry and charisma, from two people who, at least for the seven and a half minutes that these two videos take up, seem to really love being sexy and famous.

34. Clams Casino – “All Nite” (Feat. Vince Staples) (Dir. Ryan Staake)

The “how the fuck did they do that?” reaction is rare in the CGI era, but this hypnotic, riveting, impressive video brings it back.

33. Miike Snow – “Genghis Khan” (Dir. Ninian Doff)

I don’t know if this is necessarily the subtext at the heart of every James Bond movie, but you could make the argument. And anyway, it’s a blast to see it transformed into Broadway-musical euphoria.

32. Shura – “What’s It Gonna Be?” (Dir. Chloe Wallace)

A classically romantic high-school movie narrative, updated for an era when gender is on its way out and told with utmost sincerity.

31. Charli XCX – “Vroom Vroom” (Dir. Bradley & Pablo)

At this point, I don’t know whether Charli XCX’s videos are straight-up pop videos or whether they’re commentaries on pop videos. I don’t think she knows either. And, to her credit, I don’t think she cares.