ENTERTAINMENT
28/12/2018 07:00 GMT | Updated 28/12/2018 10:07 GMT

Best Music Videos Of 2018: 20 Times Artists Made An Impact And Had Us Talking This Year

These are the videos that sparked conversation in the last 12 months.

It’s been a big year for music videos, whether that be ambitious epics telling stories on a cinematic scale, politically-charged efforts using the artform to comment on important social issues or just lovely-looking four-minute clips that give us something nice to stare at.

You’ll find all three of those on our list of 20 music videos that we loved in the last 12 months...

20. Jennifer Lopez - ‘Dinero’, feat. Cardi B and DJ Khalid

Directed by Joseph Kahn

Vevo

Make no mistake, Jennifer Lopez is very much still that diva, as she asserts in the ‘Dinero’ music video. Teaming up with Cardi B, the clip sees J-Lo playing up to her reputation as loving all things lavish and expensive, all with a knowing wink. In the space of three minutes, she’s seen frying steaks in glamorous lingerie, toasting marshmallows on a stack of flaming money and, oh yeah, walking an ostrich around a mansion garden.

Jen received the coveted Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2018 VMAs, and while we’ll admit she wouldn’t have been our top pick, videos like ‘Dinero’ prove she’s still very much a deserving recipient.

Watch the video in full here.

19. Troye Sivan - ‘Bloom’

Directed by Bardia Zeinalif

Vevo

Resembling a cross between early 90s Madonna and Lady Gaga in her ‘Applause’ video in a high-fashion photo shoot, Troye Sivan served looks in the ‘Bloom’ video, from the tip of his wet-look peroxide curls right down to the hem of his patent leather skirt.

Playing up to the LGBT+ themes of the song (and its accompanying album), Troye cranks up the androgyny to 11 in this video, in what is the most unmistakably queer statement of his career so far. Plus, don’t those flowers look lovely, too?

Watch the video in full here.  

18. The 1975 - ‘Sincerity Is Scary’

Directed by Warren Fu

Vevo

Proving once again that you can’t underestimate The 1975, or predict what they’re going to do next, frontman Matty Healy delivers actual choreography in the ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ video. The actual clip is simple enough, featuring Matty walking along a street where he meets a businessman, a gospel choir and, eventually, a somber child clown who cries in makeshift rain provided by the singer with a watering can.

At once both completely pretentious and utterly silly, which is actually a perfect description of the band themselves.

Watch the video in full here.

17. Little Mix - ‘Strip’, feat. Sharaya J

Directed by Rankin and Little Mix

Vevo

When they returned to the music scene with their ‘LM5’ album, Little Mix clearly had a fresh new attitude and more confidence than ever before. While they’ve always been all about empowering and encouraging the young women in their fanbase to pursue their dreams, on ‘LM5’ they spoke more candidly and honestly than ever before about the specific issues that were important to them, and this was never more apparent than in the ‘Strip’ music video.

The song itself is an ode to self-love and body positivity, which is reflected in its accompanying video, which sees them rounding up a diverse cast of women to celebrate their differences and, in its most memorable scene, owning their supposed “flaws” in a nude photo-shoot.

Watch the video in full here.

16. Bruno Mars - ‘Finesse’, feat. Cardi B

Directed by Bruno Mars and Florent Dechard

Vevo

Nostalgia for the 1990s reached new levels in 2018, with Charli XCX and Troye Sivan’s throwback tune ‘1999’ and Anne-Marie’s similarly-themed ‘2002’ (which was actually chock-full of 90s references, despite what the title might suggest). Even Busted got in on the act, channelling Backstreet Boys, Nirvana and ITV’s golden days of Saturday night in their ‘Nineties’ music video.

Our favourite effort was from Bruno Mars and Cardi B, though, and while their song had us pining for the glory days of 90s R&B, the accompanying video paid homage to ‘In Living Color’, complete with baseball caps, spray-paint and some expert shoulder-shimmying from Bruno.

Watch the video in full here. 

15. Rosalía - ‘MALAMENTE’

Directed by Nicolás Méndez

YouTube

Every now and then, a new artist comes along who puts something out that you can’t help but pay attention to, and that’s exactly what Rosalía was able to pull off with her ‘MALAMENTE’ music video.

Admittedly, without the help of our good pal Google Translate we can’t say we really know what she’s singing about, but her charisma and effortless cool definitely crosses language barriers in this video, which features traditional Spanish imagery but in a modern context.

And if that pretentious chat is off-putting at all... the song is also a bop, which helps.

Watch the video in full here.

14. Ariana Grande - ‘Thank U, Next’

Directed by Hannah Lux Davis

Vevo

‘Thank U, Next’ was already a global smash by the time its video came along, but with promises of beloved teen film parodies, allusions to her best relationships and celebrity cameos a plenty (hello Kris Jenner!), there’s no questioning that its debut was one of the biggest music video moments of the year.

The video has undoubtedly helped prolong the success of ‘Thank U, Next’, with fans flocking to watch the video on repeat in their droves, just so they can pause it and catch all of the easter eggs singer Ariana Grande (who, needless to say, you can look forward to cropping up on this countdown a fair few more times) and director Hannah Lux Davis managed to sneak into the final edit.

Watch the video in full here.

13. Kendrick Lamar and SZA - ‘All The Stars’

Directed by Dave Meyers and the Little Homies

Vevo

‘Black Panther’ set the bar massively high in terms of visuals on the big screen this year, so Kendrick Lamar had to really pull it out of the bag for the ‘All The Stars’ music video, the first song to be taken from the box office smash’s soundtrack.

Wisely reuniting with Dave Meyers (who previously directed ‘HUMBLE.’, our video of the year in 2017), the ‘All The Stars’ clip showcases the elaborate African imagery that ‘Black Panther’ featured heavily.

While the video is packed with over-the-top and cinematic scenes that have come to become a staple for the director, it says a lot about SZA that our favourite bits are just watching her do her thing, while lip syncing against a starry backdrop.

Watch the video in full here.

12. Ariana Grande - ‘No Tears Left To Cry’

Directed by Dave Meyers

Vevo

All eyes were on Ariana Grande in April, ahead of the release of ‘No Tears Left To Cry’, her first single since the terror attack at her concert in Manchester just under a year beforehand. The track served as a perfect comeback for Ariana, acknowledging the dark times she’d been through while also serving as an optimistic look to the future (though unfortunately, 2018 would end up going on to become another tough year for the singer).

This hopeful messages was perfectly illustrated by the song’s gorgeous video, which played with themes of disorientation, representing her turbulent year, while also showing Ariana holding her own throughout and eventually getting her feet back on the ground.

Watch the video in full here.

11. Tove Lo - ‘bitches’, feat. Charli XCX, Alma, Icona Pop and Eliiphant

Directed by Lucia Aniello 

Vevo

In the past, it’s fair to say that Swedish singer/songwriter Tove Lo may have been guilty of taking herself a little seriously, which is why her efforts like ‘bitches’ (and last year’s ‘Disco Tits’) have been refreshing in their silliness.

The ‘bitches’ video has a simple enough narrative, casting Tove as the leader of a very unique facility, that teaches men to hone one very specific skill.

Or, as its lead actor suggests at the end of the video: “Guys, they teach you how to eat p***y in there.”

The whole thing is a triumph in its irreverence and ludicrousness, with each of the numerous featured artists playing their parts well too.

Watch the video in full here.

10. MNEK - ‘Tongue’

Directed by Bradley&Pablo

Vevo

He’s been on the pop scene for a while now, working with big names like Beyoncé and Madonna, but 2018 felt like it saw in the true arrival of MNEK, kicked off with the music video for his single ‘Tongue’.

The clip sees the singer at his perfectly-manicured, hair-swishing, voguing, jumpsuit-sporting best, and in a year dubbed “20gayteen” by fellow pop star Hayley Kiyoko, the ‘Tongue’ video is yet more welcome queer representation, both with its romatic central storyline, but also MNEK’s unapologetic (and fabulous) approach to his aesthetics.

Watch the video in full here. 

9. Mark Ronson - ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’, feat. Miley Cyrus

Directed by We Are From LA 

Vevo

Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus offered up a bit of social commentary for the video for their country-infused first ever collaboration, ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’, which sees the singer involved in a car chase across America.

The whole thing is about as subtle as a brick, as Miley is seen driving through walls of strip clubs attended by clergymen, shooting ranges where kids playfully handle firearms without thought and a hot-tub party between two older women, before she eventually alludes to the crucifixion, putting herself on display in an art gallery.

Still, what the video lacked in subtlety, it made up for in quality, and soundtracking what “Wolf News” (we see what you did there, guys) calls “Miley’s wild ride” just makes this late contender for Song Of The Year sound even stronger.

Watch the video in full here.  

8. Christine And The Queens - ‘5 Dollars’

Directed by Colin Solal Cardo

Vevo

On her sophomore album, French singer/songwriter Héloïse Letissier took her Christine and the Queens alter-ego and ran with it even further, reinventing herself as the more masculine Chris, in what she later explained was an exploration of gender and identity.

This was never more apparent than in the ‘American Psycho’-meets-‘American Gigolo’ ‘5 Dollars’ music video. Simple enough in its premise, the video sees the singer waking up and getting dressed (with a brief pause for her to try on some S&M garb and dance around her apartment, naturally).

Sufficiently suited and booted, on top of a leather harness, the video ends with the singer heading off for a day at work in what we can only assume is Wall Street in the early 1990s. In an amazing year for Christine And The Queens, this video is something she should be particularly proud of.

Watch the video in full here. 

7. Ariana Grande - ‘God Is A Woman’ 

Directed by Dave Meyers

Vevo

Seriously, what can we say?

There’s a lot to love in the ‘God Is A Woman’ video, which showcases some of the most mature imagery we’ve ever seen from Ariana. This includes, but is not limited to: laying around in white lace surrounded by naked men covered in soap suds, lounging in a pastel pool (outlined by, it should be noted, a vagina-like shape in the water), suggestively playing with a tornado while literally sitting on top of the world, barely registering the insults hurled at her by angry white men (which include “slut”, “little girl” and “adult baby”) and a glass ceiling-smashing voice cameo from Madonna.

Our favourite Ariana video of the year is also her busiest, and even though we love ‘Breathin’ and ‘Thank U, Next’, we’re hoping 2019 sees her reuniting with Dave Meyers for at least one more video like this.

Watch the video in full here

6. Drake - ‘Nice For What’

Directed by Karena Evans

Vevo

Basically the 2018 equivalent of Charli XCX’s ‘Boys’, the ‘Nice For What’ video features some of Drake’s favourite successful women, and captures them going about their business and being fantastic.

Among them are Issa Rae taking charge over a load of old white men in a board meeting, Jourdan Dunn riding a horse, Tracee Ellis Ross dancing in nature, Letitia Wright soaking up the sun in front of a city skyline, Bria Vinaite in a racing car and Tiffany Haddish smoking a cigar and chucking some diamonds around.

Meanwhile, the man himself takes a back seat (he’s occasionally seen dancing around in his puffa jacket, but that’s about it), offering the video’s cast of women to shine on their own.

Watch the video in full here.

5. Lizzo - ‘Fitness’

Directed by Quinn Wilson 

Vevo

At a time when the body positivity movement has been somewhat taken over by one very specific type of body, it looks like Lizzo took a lot of effort to ensure as many people as possible were represented in the video for fitness, regardless of race, size or perceived femininity.

Lizzo has said of the clip: ”[Fitness] is my Declaration of Independence from the bullshit! I hope to inspire women all over to put themselves first. And next time someone has a critique about you or your body, say ‘I don’t do this for you’!”

The video shows a range of diverse and different women all working out and celebrating their uniqueness, with the video’s key message (“I don’t do this for you”) appearing on screen at the half-way point, to really drive the message home.

Watch the video in full here.

4. Kali Uchi - ‘After The Storm’, feat. Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins

Directed by Nadia Lee Cohen 

Vevo

Truthfully, we don’t have much to say about the ‘After The Storm’ video other than praise it for serving up what can only be described as consistent eye candy.

Every single shot makes full use of the same gorgeous colour pallett without giving us sensory overload, and is exaggerated and over-the-top without being outlandish or overwhelming but also takes itself just seriously enough that it doesn’t lose its cartoonish sense of fun.

Watch the video in full here.

3. Childish Gambino - ‘This Is America’

Directed by Hiro Murai

Vevo

How can one man dancing around a warehouse for four minutes tackle more important social issues than most politicians could muster in an entire national address?

Deeply unsettling and instantly iconic, the ‘This Is America’ video proved to be a career-defining moment for Childish Gambino (or Donald Glover, as fans of his acting will know him), with a simple minimal scene quickly descending into utter chaos, complete with rioting and mass shootings, all the while the rapper dances along both alone and as part of a group.

The video immediately received critical acclaim for its commentary about gun violence, racism, societal ignorance and police brutality, among other pressing themes in America, and beyond.

Watch the video in full here. 

2. Janelle Monáe - ‘PYNK’

Directed by Emma Westenberg 

Vevo

Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of her ‘Dirty Computer’ visual album, ‘PYNK’ is the most striking and memorable video Janelle Monáe released in 2018, thanks in no small part to the labia-inspired trousers she’s seen sporting throughout.

But while it’s the instantly-iconic wardrobe choices that caught people’s attention when ‘PYNK’ debuted back in April, the whole thing is actually visually stunning, with lots of subtle (and, indeed, not so-subtle) sexual and vaginal references scattered throughout, including allusions to same-sex romance, plenty of playful imagery and, our personal favourite, the “I grab back” underwear.

Not a subtle video by any means, but with this much attention to detail, who cares?

Watch the video in full here. 

1. THE CARTERS - ‘APESHIT’

Directed by Ricky Saiz

Vevo

A veritable feast for the eyes, Beyoncé and Jay-Z managed to convince the Louvre to let them film overnight at the museum, with the result becoming a true work of art in itself.

And, in true Beyoncé style, they were able to keep the whole thing a secret right up until it was released.

With hidden details and subtle political and social commentary, there’s so much to pick apart and comment on in the ‘APESHIT’ video, so much so that we’re still noticing things every time we watch it, even six months on.

Stunning looks, great performances and the juxtaposition of classic art and trap music make ‘APESHIT’ our video of the year, and another absolute visual triumph from two of the most important and impressive artists in the world.

Watch the video in full below: