The 15 Best Music Videos of 2015
We are more than a little obsessed with music videos here at TWJ, in this case taking more than four months to seek out, weed through, and compile all of the music videos that came out in 2015. Arya Stark got superpowers, Microsoft Word’s paperclip got some righteous revenge, Emma Stone went crazy and danced with a bunch of seamen, Bjork took us on a 360-degree tour of Iceland, and African wizards used their newfound powers to create a new style of dance. All of the most interesting, most lude (some NSFW caution should be used), and most insane music videos of 2015 have all been captured and contained in the playlist below, so press play and get lost.
But if you’re here to find the essentials, the ones your eyes simply can not miss, you’re in luck, we happen to have a list of 2015’s 15 Best Music Videos below. And we think you’ll come out the other end a different person.
On to the list!
15. Stealing Sheep – “Apparition” – Dir. Dougal Wilson
As mildly extreme as Morris Dancing can typically get, Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep manage to take the English dance up a few notches in their video for “Apparition,” thanks to clever editing and natural light color filtering. Director Dougal Wilson paired the song with the Folk tradition because he apparently found both “slightly strange and psychedelic.” The result features the best use of a magical transporting phone box since Season 6 Episode 4 of Doctor Who.
14. The Fjords – “All In” – Dir. Line Klungseth Johansen & Øystein Moe
If your soulmate; the one and only love of your life was horrendously and hypothetically murdered, would you choose righteous vengeance on the killer, or treat for justice? If you chose the former, Norway’s Fjords and their video for the triumphantly anthemic “All In” is your jam. That is, if you can first past the nerdgasm that is the featured boy’s room, you’ll go on to see gorgeous Scandinavian landscapes, and the bloodiest day in the history of all hot dog stands.
13. GRADES – “King” – Dir. Taichi Kimura
Someone heard the clubstep song “King” and thought to themselves, “This is the perfect song to set an elementary school girl’s epic battle with robot denizens from the underworld.” London via Japan director Taichi Kimura thought perfectly. Together with Rapparu’s animative styles, he takes a kid in Jordans and makes her the hero of detention.
12. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – “Sunday Candy” – Dir. Austin Vesely
From a lyrical standpoint, it may be difficult to reconcile the Church setting of “Sunday Candy” with the euphemistic subject matter, but the community theater Grease 3 school play aesthetic of Nico Segal and Chance The Rapper’s brainchild is as Sunday school safe as they come. So much so that the single shot (brilliantly choreographed by Ian Eastwood) short film may teach you to forgive the sins of the chorus to see the power of the video’s sermon.
11. Jungle – Julia – Dir. Oliver Hadlee Pearch
The dance art of Capoeira (cop-O-A-ra) is amazing. If you haven’t seen it in action before, Jungle’s final clip from their self-titled album is an excellent primer. Known for showcasing different forms of dance in each of their music videos, “Julia” tops them all by using a martial skill named for the movements fugitive slaves needed to move through the dense jungles in central Brazil. Before it became a dance, criminals and war lords used capoeiristas as body guards and hitmen. Jungle’s Josh Lloyd Watson explained that “Julia was supposed to be one woman dancing with a group of guys, but in rehearsals this backing dancer Jordan [Melchor] just moved in this incredibly, animated, genderless way…” All of this background exposition is to help me put words to just how well the marriage between the technical expression of Capoeira and the words of the song blend into a piece of art that is both intimidating and astounding.
10. Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better – Dir. CANADA
It’s becoming obligatory for any annual video list on a site to include something directed by the Barcelonian directive collective CANADA. The concept for their videos aren’t always immediately easy to grasp, but they always have a spot on knack for grabbing your eyeballs and keeping them well-fed. The clip for Tame Impala’s most-excellent “The Less I Know The Better” lauds an all too common story of unrequited high-school love, in this case; a love triangle between a ribbon-dancing red-head (played by Laia Manzanares Tomàs -NSFW), a lovelorn basketball player, and the school’s ever-present ape mascot, Trevor. It’s a journey through a tormented psyche, but it’s a beautiful trip.
9. Royal Blood – “Out of the Black” – Dir. David Wilson & Christy Karaca
The animative style of David Wilson is manically violent. That’s nothing to say of his film credits, the man can direct a video like a pro; he’s done so for Lady Gaga, Metronomy, Arcade Fire, and David Guetta. But if you’re even a slight fan of the Adult Swim cartoon show, Superjail!, you’ll find the visuals for Royal Blood’s 2014 standout hit “Out of the Black” like a warm, blood soaked blanket. The story is a simple telling of a Rabbit mascot with a deep secret and darker intentions. What sets this video apart from the rest are the seamless transitions between homicidal halftones and campy live action. Everything’s storyboarded to the second; from a giant ice cream cone gesticulating and stuffing its innards into a man until his head explodes, or a Jack-O-Lantern going Thud Butt on some Men In Black. And the song only helps turns the action to eleven. The twelve-year old in you will be thrilled.
8. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright” – Dir. Colin Tilley
“Alright” the track, is a telling of a hopeful life returned to the avenues and streets, reminding us that Lamar has his mind and eye still on the everyday plights of his family and friends. Events in 2015 can all too easily be summed up as the year the powder keg between police and minorities exploded. There was death, and then there was more death. And while the resulting protests and riots brought a long overdue discussion about racial prejudice to the nation’s dinner table, the Colin Tilley award winning (Best Video – Soul Train, MTV, BET, Grammy, MTV Europe) clip helps remind us that this problem isn’t new, and won’t go away until we accept we’re all responsible for change. There are so many undertones to Kendrick Lamar’s stark autobiographical clip that you’d be forgiven for not noticing that the video is monotone.
Tilly made an excellent choice to add some surrealism to a story that is powerfully realistic. Kendrick Lamar floats and hovers through scenes of want, joy, and excess, like a spirit of the streets, throwing money out of windows, hanging over crowds of smiling kids running through backlots, as if to say, “From up here I can see it all.” And while there are some scenes of violence, including Lamar being shot down from his perch by a callous-faced police officer, the death doesn’t seem to be Tilley and Lamar’s point. They want you to accept that violence, crime, and prejudice happens in the world every day, but that it’s not all that happens. There are beautiful things. And however long they may last, they are the things to remember and treasure.
7. Stromae – “Quand C’est?” – Dir. Luc Junior and Xavier Reyé
Belgian musician Stromae (Paul Van Haver) makes a habit of speaking directly to his audience through his music and lyrics, but “Quand C’est?” goes a personified step further, penning an open letter to Cancer, asking it when, who, and most poiniently; why it does what it so tragically does. The singer dances on a stage meant to express something larger, while a creeping threat meant to exemplify something global looms. The choreography is incredible, and Stromae does an amazing job contorting and beautifully ambulating in a shadow puppet theater, fighting off something, however he can, that continues to affect us all.
6. Galantis – “Peanut Butter Jelly” – Dir. Dano Cerny
This video from the Swedish electronica duo is what we in the business call a “Chocolate Clip Cookie;” a delicious treat for the eyes you’d want to come back to over and over again. If you want the Dano Cerny directed video for “Peanut Butter Jelly” to actually mean something, it can, like how you should embrace your self-worth or avoid leather-clad cat people or how you should shake a melon before purchase, but most people will tell you the video is weird, wild, and fun. But mostly it’s fun.
5. Fur Voice – “Fantasía” – Dir. Pablo Maestres
When you dream, you’re typically a passenger on a ride of your mind’s own making, witnessing events of the past day all whipped and stirred into random snippets of conversation that left an impression on you, or an image that struck home. Your mind can play its best tricks on you when you’re asleep. Pablo Maestres makes a René Magritte inspired video for Fur Voice’s “Fantasía” that shares a young girl’s waking dream; taking you through a Jumanji jungle emerging in her bedroom, to Alice in Wonderland locales surrounded by mountains of clouds. The making of video reveals some of the madness behind the magic, but the majority of it remains inexplicable and fascinating, from your first view to your ninety-ninth.
4. Dan Deacon – “When I Was Done Dying” – Animated By…
Nine different artists/animators (Jake Fried, Chad VanGaalen, Dimitri Stankowicz, Colin White, Taras Hrabowsky, Anthony Schepperd, Masanobu Hiraoka, Caleb Wood, KOKOFREAKBEAN) take turns doing their best to keep up with Dan Deacon’s careening, manic odyssey of a song. Even though all the animators take Deacon’s lyrics in “When I Was Dying” literally (for the most part), the result is the best substitute for a weekend at Bonnaroo you can find. This is the most beautiful acid trip of 2015.
3. Tiga – “Bugatti” – Dir. Helmi
We’ll be the first to admit that “Bugatti” by Tiga may be the most ridiculous combination of a song and video to come out…well, ever. The song lyrics consist of three lines about a car we had never heard of and some additional instrumentals that sound like palm smears and chicken pecks on a digital effects board. And the video seems like a lengthy sequence of one to two second long images of props from Miami Vice. But, BUT, somehow it all works. Here, Helmi has somehow found a way to bone stitch together a random series of imagery that turns out to be not so random. It might take you a few views, but you’ll begin to see how each concept (if we’re being generous here) is an exact mirror opposite or compliment to an earlier one, rapidly throwing together a game of connect the dots in your mind that you’ll struggle to follow. Helmi’s art direction even lends some legitimate depth to Tiga’s song, and you’ll find yourself singing along with snooty expression soon enough. It’s an example of when a music video surpasses the song it belongs to, becoming the primary medium to experience, and claiming ownership. You should no longer listen to the song “Bugatti,” you should watch it.
2. Robin Schulz & J.U.D.G.E – “Show Me Love” – Dir. Zak Stoltz
As you begin to watch, you start by wondering, “Why does that guy at the gym look so worried to get on the treadmill?” The fable that unfolds afterwards becomes a love story about finding the hope in dark situations, even when the universe is conspiring against you.
1. Porter – “Huitzil” – Dir. Jorge G. Camarena
Porter’s music video for “Huitzil” is the perfect example of a music video that should be experienced with a clear and open mind, and simply enjoyed. The children dressed as animals and spirits are meant to “…represent consciousness, the nature, the enlightened state. Mother Nature is represented by the woman floating in the air, and the gods dance in the astral plane, the dance of life.” But we chose to believe simply that a group of children were reveling in a long abandoned kingdom. It’s the most beautifully done piece of multimedia we saw in 2015, something that made our spirits soar with “Huitzil’s” best anthemic moments of chorus and string. It dug deep and found the lost moments in our youth when we crept through the forest and sought adventure with our best friends. We forget about life’s heavier obligations when we see what Jorge G. Camarena made. In an age when music videos can be anything, shot on anything, by anyone; Camarena reminds us what true artistic focus can create. And the sights in “Huitzil” are dreams and wonders beyond anything else we saw in 2015.
We hope you enjoyed! Come back soon.