There’s no denying that 2016 was quite a year, especially in the world of music. Yet, ever since the dawn of MTV and “video killing the radio star,” music videos have been an experimental zone of innovative and originality for a slew of artists to best illustrate their beliefs and make a statement on our climate today. This year, music videos again proved to be an incredible medium that this generation can truly relish in, with hundreds of artists splashing their talents in various forms.
While the music-video event of the year belonged to Beyoncé for her HBO special, Lemonade, there were a long list of incredibly artistic music videos that delivered profound visual pieces of art to help make 2016 a blockbuster year for the music video. From David Bowie’s haunting last rites to Rihanna “working” it for all to see, our writers share their top five picks.
Beyoncé, “Lemonade” (HBO)
Jessica Fritz: The best music video this year was Beyoncé’s entire Lemonade visual album. The HBO special was beautifully shot. My favorite aspect of it is it showed less Sasha Fierce, and more Beyoncé. She was her true, authentic self in both the album and the visual art we all fell in love with. The special gave even more meaning to her album by the same name. She took her pain and heartache, and morphed into something beautiful. She was served lemons, but…
Elizabeth The: It’s a testament to Beyoncé’s influence that she can drop a surprise music video on the internet and then a day later, you find yourself grooving along to her new single when she steals the show during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. The video starting with a statement on racism with Beyoncé on top of a police car floating on a flooded street (in reference to Hurricane Katrina) and is filled with a series of unforgettable imagery — Queen Bey looking like royalty, her African-American back-up dancers looking fly, and her daughter Blue Ivy looking adorable as always. With all that representation, “Formation” is 2016’s undisputed feminist anthem for black female empowerment and slayage. Come on, ladies, now let’s get in formation.
Andrew Rogers: Hard to top what Beyoncé did this year and it all began with this song, which made an appearance at the Super Bowl 50 Half Time Show. However, the video is where the song truly comes to life. Besides just being a straight showcase in rhythm and style, Beyoncé infuses it with political commentary that is more relevant than ever and signature to what makes her music transcend the art form.
David Bowie, “Lazarus”
Nicole Drum: This video was just so weird, so wonderfully and amazingly weird. It is also incredibly hopeful, images of a man clearly running out of time and ill, but with the hint of resurrection — especially in the title of the song. In a sense this is also the most accurate video of 2016 in addition to being my favorite. Bowie died just three days after its release, departing this world but resurrecting his spirit through his final video and album.
Marianas Trench, “Who Do You Love”
Alex Keobke: When it comes to picking out my favorite music video, I love the story behind it perhaps even more than the song itself. Marianas Trench put together a video for their single “Who Do You Love” that instead of spending money on fancy effects put it to good use by spending that money on things and the people that they love. Among their nice guy gestures was giving tons of toys to the local animal shelter and sponsoring a kennel for a year, which means tons of cute puppies! Trench also reached out to the battered women’s shelter in Vancouver, as well as the Ronald McDonald House, which helps house sick children and their family. They can definitely get pretty loud with their music at times, but it’s hard to argue with the heart and good intentions of the band.
Rihanna, “Work” feat. Drake
Meg Quinn: I’m not a big music video fan. Well, that’s not entirely true anymore, I used to not be a big music video fan, but this year I’ve actually watched and “gotten” more of them — it might be because it was such an incredible year for music. But anyways, for SURE, my favorite music video this year was the double video that Rihanna and Drake did for “Work.” First, it was a double video. With two entirely different setups. Amazing! Second, I love the song. Third, I love Rihanna. Fourth, I love Drake. Fifth, I love Rihanna and Drake collaborations. The treatments — especially the second one — were so simple that they really showcased Rihanna and Drake’s chemistry and strength as performers and artists.
The Lumineers, “Sleep on the Floor”
Tania Hussain: Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you were seriously awake? That’s what this music video shows and it’s one of my favorites of this year because of that reason. Treading a Sliding Doors sort of storyline, “Sleep on the Floor” explores being in love and wondering what it would be like to take a risk. I think we’ve all been through that, living in a small town and thinking about just seizing the day and making our life a little more brighter because we loved a little harder. While the video might seem like a tourism ad for western states and it does a beautiful job at that, it’s a very sweet glimpse of what might have been and follows a young woman who gets an idea of what life would be like if she just picked up with the boy she loved. It’s very captivating and honest, and that’s what makes it so great for me. It’s seriously a beautiful video.