The Top 10 Music Videos of 2014
Although MTV abandoned music videos right around the dawn of reality television, that doesn’t mean musicians stopped making them. In fact, you could almost make the argument that a lack of a corporate gatekeeper has us firmly in the middle of a golden age for videos. Thanks to the instant accessibility of YouTube and a decreased emphasis on videos as a means to move units, artists are free to follow their visual creativity wherever it takes them. Whether that means shooting entirely on an iPhone or casting puppets, the possibilities are seemingly endless.
With the year coming to a close, we came up with our official list of the Top 10 music videos of 2014. Disagree with our choices? Comment and let us know which video you think should’ve been No. 1.
There’s a chance Ron Swanson might be the new Spike Jonze. Nick Offerman of ‘Parks and Recreation‘ directed this hilarious clip for the Decemberists (one of two videos he helmed in 2014 to make it on this list) and he brings his legendary mustache along to play the lovelorn host of a German cable show. While his faux interview with Colin Meloy incorporates a vague ‘Between Two Ferns’ air, Offerman manages to stick in a mildly profound statement at the very end.
Although Swedish songstress Lykke Li wrote ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ about her own painful breakup, she plays a separate star-crossed lover in the midst of a very different volatile situation in the video. Alternately beautiful and narratively ugly, the clip (directed by Tarik Saleh) is a powerful one.
The Black Keys
Directed by Rolling Stone heir Theo Wenner, the Black Keys‘ video for ‘Fever’ casts frontman Dan Auerbach as a sweaty televangelist and drummer Patrick Carney as his equally sweaty sidekick. Shot to look intentionally cheap, it’s so successful at being authentic that you’ll want to shower after watching.
The Amazing Spider-Man himself — Andrew Garfield — is outright luminescent in Arcade Fire‘s controversial clip for ‘We Exist.’ Dressed in drag and assaulted at a dive bar, Garfield’s character falls into an extended dream sequence that culminates during the band’s recent appearance at Coachella. Although Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! didn’t care for it at all, we really do.
A straight-ahead and minimalistic performance video, Dirty Heads‘ clip for ‘Silence’ may lack an overarching concept or storyline, but its sheer quality elevates it. Shot using state-of-the-art cameras and with the help of fans, the video has been a mainstay on our Top 10 Video Countdown since its release in September.
At this point, you’ve gotta believe OK Go write songs specifically with elaborately choreographed music videos in mind. The drone-filmed ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ (directed by Morihiro Harano) is the latest in a long line of innovative videos, and it includes an army of umbrella-wielding Japanese schoolgirls all working to a maximum Esther Williams-type effect.
The fact that Jeff Tweedy‘s new band features his young son, Spencer, on drums leant itself perfectly to the premise of the father-son team hawking their record door-to-door. Another Nick Offerman joint, the Wilco frontman’s hysterical video features an impressive cavalcade of celebrity cameos (including Conan O’Brien and Melissa McCarthy) and also serves as a pretty poignant commentary on the current state of the record industry.
Immediately evoking a certain ‘Hunger Games’ immediacy, Alt-J‘s video for ‘Hunger of the Pines’ combines epic cinematography and special effects with downright brutal imagery. Following a young man racing for his life through thick woods, it’s so well done it can be difficult to watch — and it culminates in a finale that’ll stick with you.
There’s no subtlety in this Tim Burton-esque satire from St. Vincent (a.k.a. Annie Clark). With society’s obsession with social media squarely in its sites, the video helmed by Chino Moya depicts Clark (surreal hair and all) in a pastel but industrial world where nothing really happens. You can connect the allegorical dots from there.
True, Irish musician Hozier released ‘Take Me to Church’ toward the end of 2013, but it didn’t reach a global audience until this year — and considering how strong the video is, we felt it had a place here. Beautifully filmed with subject matter that’s heart-wrenchingly painful, the video adds another layer of depth to the already immersive song.