20. Massive Attack – “Take It There” (Feat. Tricky) (Dir. Hiro Murai)
John Hawkes played Sol Star in Deadwood and Teardrop in Winter’s Bone and a shambling drunk wandering through town with a group of zombie dream-dancers in this Massive Attack video. He gets all the good roles.
19. Japanese Breakfast – “Everybody Wants To Love You” (Dir. Adam Kolodny & Michelle Zauner)
When Japanese Breakfast frontwoman Michelle Zauner got married, her mother wore that amazing dress to her wedding. It must’ve made an impression there. It sure as hell did in this video.
18. High On Fire – “The Black Plot” (NSFW-ish) (Dir. Skinner & Hey Beautiful Jerk)
I like to imagine that this one went through about 50 different drafts, and that it was always sent back, its creators told to make it “more metal” — all so that this, the final version, would represent the most metal shit that human eyes had ever seen.
17. OK Go – “Upside Down And Inside Out” (Dir. Damian Kulash & Trish Sie)
The members of OK Go and their collaborators were willing to go through zero-gravity free-fall to make this goofy video, so the least I could do is put it on this list.
16. Slayer – “Pride In Prejudice” (NSFW) (Dir. BJ McDonnell)
Last year, Slayer and horror-movie director McDonnell made a cartoonishly gory, fun-as-hell video set entirely during a prison riot. This year, they made a trilogy out of that video. With this, the final chapter, they ended things by filling in the blanks of the one-eyed mass-murderer hero’s backstory and by having Danny Trejo stab a neo-Nazi gang leader in front of his family during Christmas dinner.
15. Grimes – “Kill V. Maim” (Dir. Grimes & Mac Boucher)
This was a glorious blast of neon-goth absurdity even before the gold vampire fangs and black angels’ wings showed up, and long before it restaged the blood-rave from Blade at a hardcore show. I don’t exactly know what Grimes is doing here, but she does.
14. Kanye West – “Fade” (Dir. Eli Linnetz)
Dance becomes sex becomes power becomes surrealism, and a crass promotional stunt becomes a cultural moment. And Teyana Taylor becomes a superhero.
13. Mitski – “Happy” (Dir. Maegan Houang)
Rapturously photographed Douglas Sirk-style period melodrama takes a turn and becomes something awesomely nightmarish. This is just masterful wordless storytelling, and it would be that even without a (great) song attached.
12. The Avalanches – “Because I’m Me” (Dir. Greg Brunkalla)
Using a boringly average location as a setting for something sudden and joyous and absurd and emotional to happen: This is the point of music videos, yes? It’s why we’re all here.
11. Radiohead – “Daydreaming” (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
There’s a joke in the new season of Gilmore Girls about how the Thirtysomething Gang — the crew of directionless youngish folks who can’t seem to get out of their parents’ houses — are all obsessed with Paul Thomas Anderson. I laughed, hard, but there’s something there. They’re probably all obsessed with Radiohead, too.