ENTERTAINMENT
19/12/2017 10:22 GMT | Updated 05/02/2018 17:52 GMT

2017's Best Music Videos: Who Had Us Talking This Year?

Including homegrown talent and some of our international faves.

As the music industry and critics continue to focus their attention on the future of pop in the age of streaming, there’s an increasing conversation about whether or not music videos have any relevance in today’s world.

Fortunately, after Beyoncé surprised us all with the release of her second visual album ‘Lemonade’ last year, 2017 has seen a number of artists up the ante, delivering striking and poignant music videos that have stuck in our mind and sparked conversation over the last 12 months.

With plenty to choose from, here are the 17 music videos that most caught our attention this year...

17. Paloma Faith - ‘Crybaby’

(Directed by Thomas James)

Vevo

Delving deeper into the song’s themes of encouraging the expression of emotion, Paloma Faith’s ‘Crybaby’ video casts the singer at an army camp for children, where young people are urged to suppress their feelings in favour of a regimented and numb way of life.

Serving as the first part of a series of short films to accompany her latest album, ‘The Architect’, ‘Crybaby’ packs a real punch, and helped get Paloma’s most issue-led musical collection off to a flying start with her first No.1 album.

Watch the full video here.

16. Nadine Coyle - ‘Go To Work’

(Directed by Sophia Ray)

Vevo

Allowing her to show off her sense of humour in a way several of her Girls Aloud bandmates may have struggled with (mentioning no names, of course), Nadine takes her song’s business-minded lyrics and runs with them in the office-themed ‘Go To Work’ video.

Taking inspiration from 80s films like ‘Working Girl’, Nadine struts around an office showing everyone who’s boss, before the video reaches its climax in an office bash that we’d definitely be phoning in sick for the morning after…

Admittedly it’s not the most thought-provoking or inspiring offering of 2017, but we like to see a pop star having a bit of fun, and proving you don’t need to spend millions upon millions to make a memorable video.

Watch the video in full here.

15. Lorde - ‘Green Light’

(Directed by Grant Singer)

Vevo

We were big fans of Lorde’s debut album, ‘Pure Heroine’, but it was all a bit… serious, wasn’t it?

The video for ‘Green Light’ did what every lead music video from a sophomore collection should do, and that’s present us with an artist we already know pretty well, and put them somewhere unfamiliar.

The video is actually pretty simple, but by showing off a side of Lorde more in keeping with her 20 (yes, 20!), years - from hanging out of a car window in neon pink to dancing in the street with her headphones in - this clip was so refreshing every time we watch it we immediately need to play it again.

Watch the video in full here.

14. DJ Khaled, feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller - ‘Wild Thoughts’

(Directed by Colin Tilley)

Vevo

One word: Rihanna. Moving on.

Watch the video in full here.

13. Kendrick Lamar - ‘DNA’

(Directed by Nabil Elderkin)

Vevo

Kendrick Lamar is one of only two artists to appear on our countdown more than once (spoiler alert!), and it’s not difficult to see why, because in terms of visuals in 2017, none of his peers could really touch him.

This video sees Kendrick being grilled in an interrogation room by actor Don Cheadle, before the music kicks in and the two find themselves in a frenetic and confrontational lip sync to ‘DNA.’.

Watch the video in full here.

12. Lana Del Rey, feat. The Weeknd - ‘Lust For Life’

(Directed by Clark Jackson)

Vevo

The merging of old and new Hollywood has been a theme throughout Lana Del Rey’s music career, with the two coming together perfectly in the ‘Lust For Life’ video.

Opening with a 60s girl group-esque studio performance, things take a sudden surreal twist when Lana quite literally “climbs up the ‘H’ of the Hollywood sign” for a romantic tryst with The Weeknd.

The VHS flickers bring home the nostalgia, the two stars look great opposite one another and the final shot of Lana and The Weeknd lying together is quite simply blissful.

Watch the video in full here.

11. Cardi B - ‘Bodak Yellow’

(Directed by Pitch Perfect)

Vevo

Amazing fashion, luscious visuals and a verrrrrrry high budget, ‘Bodak Yellow’ has it all, but the true star of the show is Cardi herself.

Whether she’s managing to keep her cool while riding a camel, hanging out with a leopard in full PVC garb (as one does on a Tuesday afternoon) or just rapping away in an empty room, Cardi exudes star power throughout, proving why she’s become one of 2017’s most talked-about rising stars.

Watch the full video here.

10. Little Mix, feat. Stormzy - ‘Power’

(Directed by Hannah Lux Davis)

Vevo

For a group whose members rarely get a chance to shine as individuals, the hyper-colourful music video for this female empowerment anthem puts each Little Mix star under the spotlight in a hyper-colourful situation relating to their personalities and special interests.

And for a video that includes appearances from Stormzy in a female-led barbershop, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ alumna Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, Willam Belli and Courtney Act and even the girls’ mums at the forefront of a bustling demonstration, it really says a lot about Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s boots that they’re the real stars of the show. Seriously… a sartorial triumph.

Watch the video in full here.

9. Jay-Z - ‘The Story Of O.J.’

(Directed by Mark Romanek & Jay-Z)

Tidal

Using racial stereotypes once prominent in cartoons to highlight the issue of lingering racism in America (and, of course, the wider world), ‘The Story Of O.J.’ was the first visual offering from Jay-Z’s latest musical collection, ‘4.44’.

As he raps lines about black oppression which continues to exist in society, animated visuals show chilling racist archetypes including references to Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ and the ‘Little Black Sambo’ cartoons popularised in the early 20th century.

Watch the full video here.

8. Dua Lipa - ‘New Rules’

(Directed by Henry Scholfield)

Vevo

While we’re not denying ‘New Rules’ is a catchy enough song, it’s not an unfair critique to say that it’s the accompanying video that brought it to a lot of people’s attention.

The video highlights a message of female solidarity by portraying a night in for Dua and her friends, showcasing fun choreography and arresting visuals, while still allowing those titular “rules” to ring out.

Watch the full video here.

7. Taylor Swift - ‘Look What You Made Me Do’

(Directed by Joseph Kahn)

Vevo

A video so cram-packed with hidden messages and easter eggs it’s practically crying out for you to clear a Friday evening just to sit in and pick it apart.

Making light of the “snake” reputation she acquired during her infamous feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ is Taylor’s most ambitious video to date, with not a single frame wasted from the get-go.

The clip culminates in a scene as close to self-awareness as Taylor Swift is ever likely to get, in which a line-up of “old Taylors” are pitted against (“that’s unlike you, Taylor”) her more recent incarnations.

Watch the video in full here.

6. Brendan MacLean - ‘House Of Air’

(Directed by Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston)

Vimeo

2017 was a year when London Pride’s message was “love happens here” and various gay characters in film and television continued to be celebrated by audiences for their aspirational monogamous relationships.

Nothing wrong with any of that, of course, but with Brendan MacLean’s ‘House Of Air’ video, it felt really refreshing to see that queer art can still be subversive, provocative and… yeah, a little bit gross, to be honest.

Truly putting the ‘N’ in ‘NSFW’, YouTube eventually pulled the video due to its graphic sexual content, but only once it had reached more than half a million views.

Definitely not to everyone’s tastes, the ‘House Of Air’ video references the hankie code, fisting and (spoiler alert!) literally ends in a close-up of someone having a poo - all the while giving us something to dance along to.

Watch the video in full here... but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

5. Charli XCX - ‘Boys’

(Directed by Charli XCX and Sarah McColgan)

Vevo

With her directorial debut, Charli XCX managed to make a smart and irreverent point about the objectification of women in decades’ worth of music videos.

As if that wasn’t enough, she also gave us some of our absolute faves in adorable situations to fawn over. Stormzy eating cereal? Riz Ahmed cuddling a teddy? KHALID PLAYING WITH PUPPIES? Check, check and double-check. Charli, we thank you.

Watch the full video here.

4. Stormzy - ‘Big For Your Boots’

(Directed by Daps) 

Vevo

For the vast majority of people, ‘Big For Your Boots’ will have been their introduction to Stormzy, and what a first impression it will have been.

Celebrating the journey that got him to where he is today, the ‘Big For Your Boots’ video basically serves as Stormzy’s love letter to London, with scenes of himself hanging out in a pub with a group of mates or sitting in a kebab shop with girlfriend Maya Jama given the same importance as more elaborate shots, including hanging out of a car’s roof with the city skyline in the background.

This video was a huge triumph for Stormzy, kicking off what would go on to be an amazing year for the grime star.

Watch the video in full here.

3. St Vincent - ‘Los Ageless’

(Directed by Willo Perron)

Vevo

With the visual for ‘New York’ setting the tone for her new direction perfectly, ‘Los Ageless’ saw St Vincent take things one step further, lampooning our society’s obsession with youth by portraying scantily-clad women recovering from cosmetic surgery in full bandages.

Equal parts cartoonish and unsettling, the ‘Los Ageless’ video effortlessly switches from childish images of women doing familiar tasks in colourful settings to more alarming scenes, such as chowing down on some dubious-looking delicacies and St Vincent having her face stretched by unidentifiable medics (with false nails on their latex gloves, naturally).

Watch the video in full here.

2. Kesha - ‘Praying’

(Directed by Jonas Åkerlund)

Vevo

Given everything she’d been through so publicly in the time leading up to her most recent album, ‘Rainbow’, we were intrigued as to how Kesha would navigate her comeback to the music scene. Would the former party girl of pop reinvent herself as a purveyor of more meaningful songwriting, or would it be business as usual?

Well, as anyone who heard her album will attest, she successfully managed to pull off both.

The ‘Praying’ video was the perfect reintroduction of Kesha, simultaneously bombarding us with colourful and eye-catching imagery while still putting across more meaningful themes. A welcome return for one of pop’s most unique and intriguing figures.

Watch the video in full here.

1. Kendrick Lamar - ‘HUMBLE.’

(Directed by Dave Meyers and The Little Homies)

Vevo

What else could have claimed the top spot, really? Literally every shot of this video brings something new, whether it’s Kendrick dressed as the actual Pope, recreating the Last Supper, rapping away unfazed while snipers take aim at him or generally going about his business with flames on top of his head.

‘HUMBLE.’ was showered with awards at this year’s VMAs, including the coveted Video Of The Year’, and it’s also up for Best Music Video at this year’s Grammys. If the academy have any sense, they’ll be chucking an award Kendrick’s way come January...

If you’ve not seen Kendrick’s ‘HUMBLE.’ video, do yourself a favour and check it out below:

Photo gallery11 Most Controversial Music Videos See Gallery