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Editors Picks: Best music videos of 2017

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Illustration by Cynthia Alfonso, see more of her work here and here

2017 is almost over—both a blessing and a curse (we all thought things couldn’t get worse than 2016 but here we are…). Our editors are going through moments of musical and cultural reflection and we’ll be rolling out a series of our favorite moments of 2017. Stay tuned for more. 


HMLTD “To The Door”

It’s really hard for me to care about a music video but this one, the first thing I’d ever seen or heard from HMLTD was so shockingly captivating that I’ve been talking about it ever since. It has everything, red leather pants, rococo robes, and a blood bath. And of course, it helps that the track itself feels like you’re excitedly rushing towards assured destruction.

— Tamim Alnuweiri

King Krule “Dum Surfer”

Probably my favorite single of 2017, “Dum Surfer” followed King Krule’s more introspective and sensitive return to music “Czech One” with an impulsive, drunk and loud track. The video is telling of the entire album, of what Archy Marshall means by The Ooz, of how un-seriously he takes himself and ultimately how disconnected he finds himself from the rest of humanity. Covered in non natural bodily fluids and mucus, King Krule performs to a Twin Peaks crowd of an desolate bar.

— Tamim Alnuweiri

Kelela “LMK”

The second I was finished watching this video I had a high-school era reaction, immediately texting my friends if they had seen it and posting it on Facebook. When will your fave drop a video about the importance of communication and accountability in hookup culture that also offers a vision of the sickest party ever? Kelela may not have had a SZA-level breakout this year, but this reto-futuristc parade of wigs and slick dance moves confirmed her star status for those who were paying attention. To whoever didn’t make their desire clear with Kelela in the club, your loss.

—Mo Wilson

Sophie “It’s Okay To Cry”

Any release by Sophie comes with a certain level of excitement, but this video (her first) caused a full-scale meltdown alt gay twitter. While “It’s Okay to Cry” never reached heavy rotation in my life, I kept coming back to it’s surreally beautiful video. Friends and I gathered around to talk about whether or not Sophie had gotten cheek implants, how her hair color made her look like a young Winifred Sanderson, and the logistics of fan blowing. We screamed as she danced in the rain, channeling her liberation. For a musician who for so long had avoided the public eye, “It’s Ok to Cry” was a stunning step into the public spotlight.

—Mo Wilson

Jay Som “The Bus Song”

When we first posted about this video, Jake wrote “In times like these tenderness is hard to come by, but Jay Som’s “The Bus Song” offers three and half minutes of musical and visceral relief.” A happy-go lucky parade of ethnically diverse DIY kids was maybe the most kumbaya reaction to the shit storm that was 2017. This video was a morale booster, a comforting hug, a silly joke a friend tells you when you’re feeling glum. “I’ll be the one that sticks around” Melina Duterte sings, and I hope to goddess that’s true.

—Mo Wilson

Maggie Rogers “On + Off”

Okay admittedly I am by no means an authority on dance, but I’ve never seen anything quite like Maggie Rogers’ moves, at once fluid and poised but also so off the cuff and in the moment. Her videos are always infectious and joyous. “Alaska,” “Dog Years” and the recently released “Split Stones” were all shot on gorgeous locations, but “On + Off” pretty much centers solely on Rogers’ dancing. She struts onto a blank stage, rocking a deliciously 70s glam rock, all-white outfit with a Western flare. She then seems to magically conjure a slew of more colorfully dressed friends to come rock out with her, and the camera turns to reveal the set, which like everything Rogers does, lets us know that she doesn’t take herself too seriously and this is all in good fun.

— Nikki Barnhart

Lorde “Green Light”

I basically want to blow up every frame of this and hang it up in my apartment or maybe a museum somewhere. The light, the colors, it’s perfect. And Lorde singing to herself in an ornate bathroom into a dirty mirror, bathed in a green glow is iconic and the most #onbrand thing I’ve ever seen. Even though we see others throughoutbodies clubbing behind her, the driver vaping as she dances on the car’s roof, cabs driving down the street, Jack Antonoff playing the piano in the corner—Lorde is alone, these others seem to exist in different dimensions. This is a song about a personal catharsis, relinquishing something deeply rooted inside of you—feelings monumental in your own mind but invisible to others. In this video, through its propulsive, all-consuming life, we are pulled into Lorde’s catharsis, and it’s impossible not to feel our own along with hers.

— Nikki Barnhart

Steve Lacy “Ryd / Dark Red”

For those unacquainted, Steve Lacy is an extremely satisfying singer-songwriter acting on the fringes of hip-hop and indie rock. He’s got the warped vibe of Mac Demarco with the buttery voice of Stevie Wonder. He’s got a great smile and a great style. He’s affiliated with major hip-hop/R&B names like Tyler the Creator, GoldLink, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, J. Cole… but plays the hell out of a guitar, dancing tight little circles around its surf rock influences. He’s just damn satisfying. Oh, he’s also a member of the band The Internet, front by Syd (originally of Odd Future).

Steve Lacy really cannot be pigeonholed into his connections, however. Lacy’s music and overall artistic input has a genre-breaking feeling, one that is well-captured in his duo-music video for the two songs “Ryd” and “Dark Red.” Not only does Lacy combine these two songs into one video telling a singular story, showing a range of his musical styles, Lacy gives us a taste of a quaint little narrative driving his music: a woman out for revenge. This video uses camera devices to avoid directly showing conflict, but makes for a fun little screen-search when everyone’s actions seem to be off-screen.

— Will Collins

BROCKHAMPTON “STAR”

The lauded DIY scenes of NYC, DC, LA, and other metropolitan areas are not exclusive to post-punk and hardcore music: hip-hop, since its inception, has had a largely do-it-yourself attitude and work ethic. Earlier this year, the pop-rapper Kevin Abstract, who previously seemed to be a vessel for Frank Ocean’s influence, released multiple projects with his (mostly) hip-hop group, BROCKHAMPTON. The group’s style ranges from Wu-Tang era gnarl to sing-songy summer chants, officially deeming themselves a “boy-band.” They’ve released two full-length projects this year, SATURATION and SATURATION II, both taking the alternative-youth of America by storm. With another project to be released before the year’s end, the group echos Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt’s early group Odd Future, but with a more steady stream of releases to appease 2017’s insatiable need for new music.

BROCKHAMPTON, composed of many members in many different roles, not limited to Kevin Abstract, Ameer Van, Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, Dom McLennon, Jabari Manwa, Kiko Merley, JOBA, Ashlan Grey, Henock “HK” Sileshi, Bearface, Roberto, and Romil Hemnani, is on the verge of impressive mainstream success. This success story began when many members of the group met on an online Kanye West fan-forum, deciding over time to move in together to a South Central LA apartment and start making all sorts of content. This includes the launch of many, many music videos self-produced this year (largely by Kevin Abstract), which feature both meme-able humor and cinematic intensity a la Tarantino. The song “STAR,” a fan favorite with easily mimicked lines referencing pop-culture stars, is one of these videos. It features much of BROCKHAMPTON channelling oompa loompas: painted blue in orange jumpsuits and maneuvering large pencils.

— Will Collins

“The Strangle of Anna” The Moonlandingz

First of all, frontman Lias Saoudi apparently arrived on the set after a five day bender to really get into character for this video and I find that beautiful. Because of that the overall grittiness of the video is genuine. Add Saoudi’s slick backed hair, fried eggs cling-wrapped around his nipples, singer Rebecca Taylor’s free-bled stained shorts and cake smeared face, and Adrian Flanagan (keys) blasé attitude chilling in the background and you get an epic music video. The dance moves are perfectly awkward, the aesthetic is dangerously greasy, and the song, of course, is a just-right blend of creepiness and sweet melodies–I’d say the most creative music video to come out of 2017.

— Elena Childers

Black Lips “Can’t Hold On”

First of all, I fucking love this song which doesn’t make me super objective about the video. But I think that the video plunges you in the imagination of the Black Lips with shots of them at their shows (and we know how crazy those are), to dive bars, breastfeeding, cars on fire, wolf dogs and a foam rave. All of which makes sense when you know what the band is about—punk, goth and being happily scary. Plus for some reason it reminds me the Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film Santa Sangre, one of the best movies of all time.

—Julie Anna George

Starcrawler “I Love LA”

Of course for a song called “I Love LA” the video is probably a montage of California’s blue skies, palm trees and some bored teenagers. Cheesy and colorful the video is a guilty pleasure as good as a too sweet donut.

—Julie Anna George

 
The Moonlandingz “The Rabies Are Back”
“The struggle continues” is how this video starts and what a sentence for this conceptual video. In a landscape that looks to be somewhere in the northern UK, we meet Lias Saoudi aka Johnny Rocket. Our hero is shaving his face—with a piece of wood. And he seems to enjoy it a lot, every cut making him bleed. The rage is back, the blood is back and the pleasure of the madness too. Special mention to those two monks dragging a buoy on the background, who remind me a bit of the amazing video for The Fat White Family’s “Touch the leather.”

—Julie Anna George



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