Oh, the power of music videos.
It’s no secret, bad music videos can ruin a good song, but great music videos often give mediocre songs new life.
2014 had plenty of mediocre moments, but this group of artists and directors conceptualized music videos that were quite intriguing.
Iggy Azalea kicked off the summer with a nostalgic tribute to the 1995 cult classic Clueless for her hit single “Fancy.” Meanwhile, Beyonce waited until the end of the year to release a guerrilla-style music video for her album re-release addition “7/11.”
While the video for “Fancy” filled our hearts with glee, Beyonce’s “7/11” music video made our heads explode.
There were also a few music videos that raised awareness on various social issues like racism, interracial dating, suicide, self-esteem, and gang violence. Lykki Li, Kendrick Lamar, and SZA offered up music videos with deeper meanings for their revered singles “No Rest For The Wicked,” “i,” and “Babylon.”
It wasn’t easy narrowing down this year’s music videos to a mere 14, but it had to be done.
These are the 14 best music videos of 2014.
14. Bobby Shmurda – “Hot N*gga”
Director: Fetty Films
We know what you’re thinking. There’s nothing special about Brooklyn newcomer Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N*gga” music video. And we agree that the majority of the music video is a stereotypical rap video, but Bobby and his GS9 crew have their dance moves to thank for landing them in our top 14. Once a six second clip of Bobby and Rowdy Rebel doing the “shmoney dance” hit the ‘net, the music video went from virtually unseen to viral overnight. Plus, if it wasn’t for the video, Bobby Shmurda’s street anthem might’ve never gone platinum.
13. Travi$ Scott – “Don’t Play” Featuring Big Sean
Director: Travi$ Scott
Hip-hop heads to the wild wild west. To coincide with the release of his Days Before Rodeo project, Houston native Travi$ Scott self-directed a cowboy-inspired music video for “Don’t Play” featuring Big Sean. The cinematic video features Travi$ riding a horse hip-hop style with a voluptuous woman on the back. Big Sean also makes a cameo in the video, but there’s just something about the juxtaposition of two rappers making it rain in a rodeo side bar in some random abandoned town that makes this video worth watching.
12. Blood Orange – “You’re Not Good Enough”
Director: Gia Coppola
This video is a flashback to the ’80s (’80s daytime television actually). Dev Hynes and director Gia Coppola do a wonderful job of simultaneously capturing the freedom of eighties artistry and the tackiness that comes along with it. The video features a vintage camera filter, lots of ’80s-inspired dancing, and Dev singing into a flower. Who needs a mic when you can have a flower?
11. Lykki Li – “No Rest For The Wicked”
Director: Tarik Selah
Lykki Li is down with the swirl. Well, at least in her music video. The Tarik Selah-directed music video features Lykki Li indulging in an interracial relationship. The video should end with Lykki and her black beau running off into the sunset together, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. We don’t want to tell you the ending, but we will tell you this – the black guy doesn’t die.
10. SZA – “Babylon”
Director: APLUS & SZA
TDE first lady SZA is known for conceptualizing a good video. This time around, she received some help from director APLUS. The video depicts SZA preparing to take a dip in a pond as she sings about being crucified. As she strips off her clothes and neatly places them in a grid-like pattern, she leaves a handwritten letter to later be discovered by a beau. SZA can be seen walking to the middle of the pond and submerging herself under the water. The video ends with SZA appearing to be crucified under the water. It’s still unclear if SZA is being baptized or committing suicide, but we’re guessing it’s up to us to decide.
9. Vic Mensa – “Down On My Luck”
Director: Ben Dickinson
How many nights have you had that you wish you could do over? And over? And over again? Vic Mensa’s “Down On My Luck” video is a depiction of a quintessential night out on the town. Inspired by Groundhog Day, Vic’s night out involves date rape drugs (him being drugged by a woman), a fight with a bouncer, one too many drunk text messages, getting hit by a Mack truck, and multiple do-overs. Such a fun video to watch.
8. Kendrick Lamar – “i”
Director: Alexandre Moors & The Little Homies
Spread love, it’s the Compton way. Kendrick Lamar’s Alexandre Moors-directed music video kicks off in a dark juke joint, but quickly picks up as Kendrick leads the crowd out of the confines of the juke joint into the streets of Compton. K.Dot takes his newfound friends on a love-spreading journey through the tough streets of Compton. On his journey, K.Dot passes by scenes of police brutality, gang violence, domestic violence, and suicidal people. The video eventually ends where it started, but thanks to Kendrick’s positive trip through the hood, Compton becomes a better place.
7. Big Sean – “IDFWU” Featuring E-40
Director: Lawrence Lamont
Love, love, love this music video. 2014 was a quiet year for Big Sean musically, that is until he kicked Naya Rivera to the curb and added a shade-throwing verse to his DJ Mustard-produced track “IDFWU.” As the popularity of the super relatable song grew, Big Sean and Lawrence Lamont rounded up the troops to shoot a hilarious football-inspired music video. What makes this video so great? Well, seeing Big Sean as a quarterback, DJ Mustard as a linebacker (fitting), Teyana Taylor as a cheerleader, E-40 as an announcer, Power 106’s Big Boy as a sideline reporter, and of course, Kanye acting as the team’s head coach. We f*ck with this music video.
6. Sia – “Chandelier”
Director: Sia & Daniel Askill
Lifetime’s Dance Moms starlet Maddie Ziegler gave this music video life. Receiving some help from Daniel Askill, Sia co-directed a liberating music video using dance to capture the hearts of viewers. Dressed as a mini Sia, Maddie Ziegler performs a dance routine via jazz, contemporary, and modern dance forms. You’re not just watching a performance of “Chandelier,” you feel “Chandelier.”
5. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” Featuring Kendrick Lamar
Director: Hiro Murai
While Kendrick Lamar offered up a handful of collaborations this year, his appearance on Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead! track “Never Catch Me” was by far our favorite. Thankfully, Flying Lotus had the vision to execute a blissful visual to accompany the collaboration. The Hiro Murai video depicts the funeral of two young children who’ve passed away. While the church is mourning their loss, the young boy and girl rise out of their coffins to dance, play, and eventually drive off into the sunset in a pimped-out hearse. Who said death had to be a sad occasion?
4. Beyonce – “7/11”
Red cups, dice, boy shorts, twerking, knee pads, a sleeping Blue Ivy, and a GoPro camera is all you need to shoot a hot music video. Beyonce surprised the #BeyHive when she released her guerrilla-style music video for “7/11.” Shot in her hotel suite, Beyonce meticulously filmed a music video that shows off her goofy fun side. Beyonce’s life of leisure is far beyond our comprehension, and her “7/11” music video is the closest thing we’ll ever get to it.
3. Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
Director: Colin Tiley
Your anaconda can’t handle this music video. Nicki Minaj knows how to make her music videos vibrant and fun. Besides the obvious booty action, Nicki’s “Anaconda” video is knee-slapping hilarious. In between the twerking, Nicki manages to exercise in a thong, simulate fellatio on a whipped cream-covered banana, and make Drake revert back to a horny teenage boy. The last 90 seconds of the Colin Tiley-directed video features Nicki giving Drake the lap dance of a lifetime. We couldn’t take our eyes off Nicki’s ass and neither could Drake. They both deserve a round of applause.
2. Iggy Azalea – “Fancy”
Director: Director X
First thing’s first, this is a good-ass video. Inspired by the 1995 teen cult classic Clueless, Iggy Azalea and Director X pulled off the perfect movie tribute revamped into a 4-minute nugget worthy of 400 million YouTube views. From casting character look-a-likes to re-creating the movie’s most iconic scenes, Iggy and Director X put the “F” in as if.
1. FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
It was a hard decision, but UK singer/songwriter FKA twigs’ “Two Weeks” music video was our favorite this year. Inspired by Aaliyah’s role in Anne Rice’s The Queen Of The Damned, FKA teamed up with director Nabil to execute a shortened version of the movie. Using similar cinematography as Kanye West’s portrait-inspired “Power” music video, FKA twigs acts as the queen of light as her minions (also played by twigs) dance around her gold-trimmed throne. The song is worth multiple listens, and the music video is worth more than a few views.
VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube