The Internet may have killed music sales, but it saved the music video. Thanks to YouTube and its easy-peasy embeds, musicians once again have a reason to create visual accompaniments to their songs, and as this list of the Best Music Videos of 2013 attests, we're living in a new golden age -- arguably the format's most fertile creative period since the '90s, when MTV still played these things. Our 10 picks speak to the power of the medium. Videos can be wistful, terrifying, salacious, hilarious and heartwarming, and the most successful ones enhance how we experience the music. Scroll down, pump the volume and enjoy the 2013 clips we couldn't stop watching.
These guys have come a long way since 'Kids.' The third single from MGMT's third album is a slowly boiling psych-pop puzzler, and the video is a violent narco-thriller worthy of the big screen. The action centers on a conflicted drug trafficker whose product turns users into plants. Unless the stuff he brings back from the rainforest is meant to cure the poor guy who sprouts leaves and winds up looking like a stegosaurus. It's all very complicated. Maybe they'll clear things up with a feature-length adaptation.
It's like Cyndi Lauper said back in the day: Girls just wanna have fun. That's what Charli and her gal pals do in this low-budget clip, which couldn't have set her back more than $60 ($50 for the grotty motel room and $10 for the greasy pizza). But that's all this bubbly synth-pop come-on requires.
'Queenie Eye'Paul McCartney
Still boyish and bursting with melodies, Macca gets a bunch of famous friends to vibe with him at Abbey Road in this feelgood video. Even A-listers Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep look amazed to be hanging with Sir Paul at the Beatles' old stomping grounds, and when the room comes alive toward the end, and everyone is dancing (no one more seductively than Kate Moss), it's a reminder of just how much the world loves this guy.
Washed Out's lush synth-pop conjures the everything-is-new excitement and everything-sucks sadness of being a teenager, and with 'All I Know,' director Daniel Kragh-Jacobsen creates a mini coming-of-age flick about a heartbroken dude and his well-intentioned bud taking to the road for some adventures. It ends on kind of a dark note, but hey, real life ain't 'Sixteen Candles.'
'Diane Young'Vampire Weekend
These posh Columbia grads have always seemed like the types who know what forks go with what courses, but at the dinner party in this video, rule No. 1 is there are no rules. It's Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' meets hedonistic frat party meets surrealistic nightmare, and once the food starts flying, the only thing to do is take a hit from the sax bong and smile neath your ski mask.
'Shot at the Night'The Killers
Ah, Vegas -- a place where dreams come true. In this Sin City version of Cinderella, a hotel housekeeper chances upon a handsome fella in a sharp blue suit, and the two share a magical evening that may lead to them sharing their lives together. It's ridiculously romantic and totally irresistible, just like the arena-shaking Killers jam playing over the top.
'Where Are We Now?'David Bowie
This strangely moving clip dropped out of nowhere on Jan. 8, Bowie's 60th birthday, and with it came news the reclusive rock icon would release his first album in a decade. Fans were psyched about the announcement and likely relieved when they watched the video. The song is fantastic -- a reflection on aging sung with sadness and grace -- and the vid is just whimsical and bizarre enough to reaffirm Bowie's vitality.
The second of two 'Reflektor' vids to drop on Sept. 9 -- a day the Arcade Fire had hyped for weeks with cryptic NYC graffiti displays and various online clues -- Anton Corbijn's take on this funky single highlights the Montreal band's newfound playfulness. Win, Regine and the gang don giant papier-mâché heads and rock out in the back of a truck, and when the dude with the mirrored suit shows up, things really get popping. Arcade Fire have always been dark and weird, but here, they're dark and weird in a lighthearted way, and that's what's made the 'Reflektor' marketing bonanza such a hoot.
After the drama of 'Relapse' and 'Recovery,' Eminem is having fun again, taking it "back to straight hip-hop," as he spits in the opening lines of this Beastie Boys homage. Em's at his best when he's pissed off and clowning, and that's the vibe here, as the 41-year-old wiles out with pals Rick Rubin and Kid Rock. Amid all the mugging, we get found-footage clips of people fighting and snippets of prancing '80s rocker Billy Squire, whose '81 smash hit 'The Stroke' provides the track's butt-rockin' backbone.
Part of being a teenager is constantly being told what to do. "Cover your breath / cover your teeth," Black Francis sings on this comeback single, which arrived in Bowie-like surprise fashion back in June. The kid in this clip isn't having any of it. Instead, he acts out in grand fashion, smashing plates, setting off smoke bombs and bathing in Froot Loops. In the final seconds, we learn the full extent of his misbehavior, and the revelation is absolutely chilling. Welcome back, Pixies.