I'm probably never as in tune with music videos as I should be. I'm sure I missed a significant batch of 2017 videos. That being said, I almost always try to watch animated music videos if they come across my radar. With that in mind, over half of my list is made up of animated films, from stop motion to augmented reality to a 360 virtual experience. While my 2016 list was made up of nothing but animated music videos, I felt it necessary to include a handful of live action releases from 2017, all of which visually stun or comedically delight or allowed my pupils to escape to a surreal dreamland. For that, I'm grateful.
Gorillaz - “Saturnz Barz (360)”
Dir. Jamie Hewlett
It's been a long and gloomy year, but it's important to remember that back in April, Gorillaz released their first album in six years, complete with a 360 interactive music video for the track "Saturnz Barz" featuring Popcaan. It was a warm welcome for the return of our favorite musical cartoons and one you should revisit right now.
Smino - “Anita” (Remix) w/ T-Pain
Smino had such an exceptional 2017, including international tours, hit singles, his debut album blkswn, and the remix for "Anita" featuring T-Pain. The brightly colored video was a fine addition to an already strong single (which complimented the SMIPAIN tour), and one that's nearly impossible to not dance along to as you watch.
Brock Berrigan - “The Celebration Song”
Dir. Dakota Laden
Cinematic is the first word that comes to mind while watching Brock Berrigan's music video for "The Celebration Song." The crime syndicate / police drama involves masks of all types, joints of all sizes, and crushed beer cans galore. Brock Berrigan is the super hero we need.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard w/ Mild High Club - “Countdown”
Dir. Jason Galea
This music video apparently took 300 hours and artist Jason Galea used 2,453 frames to complete. The result is a psychedelic flipbook that does nothing but enhance the auditory experience of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's collaboration with Mild High Club, off of an album that dropped back in August. This video will dilate your pupils.
Zack Villere - “Cool”
Shot: Anirudh Bharadwaj
Zack Villere's full-length album, Little World, sounds just as good with snow on the ground as it did when it dropped in the spring. The viral video "Cool" kickstarted the movement, honing in on low budget minimalism and whimsy for an all-together endearing, sincerely uplifting, and memorable music video.
El Michels Affair - “Iron Man”
Animation: El Oms
2017 needed a revitalization of El Michels Affair covering Wu-Tang instrumentals. After eight years, their heroic return came complete with a batch of new heaters and an animated music video that takes a turn for an expected and enjoyable bloodbath. What more would you expect from the streets of Shaolin?
Brockhampton – “Star”
Dir. Kevin Abstract
Boy band Brockhampton had one hell of a prolific 2017, with three albums and a baker's dozen worth of visuals, but perhaps my favorite of their portfolio is the music video for "Star" where things get very blue and very weird very fast, all the while the gang tries to one-up each other for most movie references per verse.
Nick Hakim - “Roller Skates”
Animation: Micah Buzan
Nick Hakim gave us one of the more psychedelic and ambitious projects of the year, Green Twins, which featured a handful of stellar music videos. While part of me wanted to include the cinematic "Bet She Looks Like You", I had to go with the animated surrealism of "Roller Skates" which dazzles and delights with each and every listen.
Earthgang - “Voodoo”
Dir. Mhad Grannies
Atlanta's Spillage Village is one of the finest active rap collectives. Including both duo Earthgang and solo act J.I.D., the troupe had plenty of 2017 music videos worth mentioning. Like "Meditate" and "D/vision" where all three are featured, or J.I.D.'s solo track "Never", but the one that provided the most entertainment and wacky antics for me personally was the video for Earthgang's "Voodoo", which is about as much fun as you'll have watching a hip-hop music video.
Kaada/Patton - “Red Rainbow”
Dir. Rune Spaans
I know very little about the duo of Kaada and Mike Patton, but they released an album in 2016 known as Bacteria Cult, which resulted in a 2017 music video handled by Rune Spaans. The video made its way on Vimeo's featured finest, and the botanical animation is both a beautiful dream and a frightening nightmare. You decide.
Omar Apollo – “PRAM / Brakelights”
Dir. Darien Eldridge, /Vin/ & Lonewolf
Omar Apollo had a truly breakout 2017 and this included the two singles "PRAM" and "Brakelights", both of which are included in this double video hosted by Elevator. Featuring a beachside drone-take for "PRAM" and a follow-up snippet for "Brakelights" (which wasn't fully released at the time), it was yet another reason as to why you should be listening to this talented Indiana creative.
Adot - “Rolling”
Dir. Nick Visuals
Chicago rapper Adot leveled up big time with this animated release. Featuring an augmented reality experience, director/animator Nick Visuals went mayhem on the 3D game, ending with Adot on a throne in some type of witchcraftian island palace. The song is only 85 seconds long, but I want to put on goggles and explore this world for hours.
Bohan Phoenix & Higher Brothers – “No Hook”
Dir. Bohan Phoenix
You probably already know this, but 88 Rising is the YouTube channel to watch for upcoming music sensations. It's on that page you will find videos by Joji, Rich Chigga, Yaeji, and plenty of others, like Chinese artists Bohan Phoenix and Higher Brothers, who bring the house down with smack-thumper "No Hook", a video with enough energy to make your apartment collapse.
L'Orange & Del the Funky Homosapien - “Blame the Author”
Dir. Alexander Thompson
L'Orange's The Ordinary Man is one of the standout hip-hop albums of the year, which is enhanced by the cinematic video for "Blame the Author". Featuring guest vocals from Del, the music video combines science fiction with special effects to create a robotic Frankenstein type narrative, one that fits the track oh so nicely.
Harris Cole - “Chapsitkc”
This is one hell of a tripped-out visual collage made to enhance/support Harris Cole's track "Chapsitkc". Creating a dizzying flurry of technicolor slideshows, the video kept 2017 momentum alive for Cole's album, Pause, which was released at the end of last year, and which still sounds brand new. That's word to "Louie's Lullaby," which never grows old, especially when the ground is covered in snow.
SIDENOTES // HONORABLE MENTIONS
They aren't official music videos, so I didn't include any on this list, but I spent a great deal of 2017 watching Sofar Sounds live videos from artists like Sen Morimoto, Spooky Mansion, Lucille Furs, Cae Jones, Lin-Z, LEGIT, Dalganabak, and plenty more. Scroll through their neverending channel and discover a new band that you adore.