There was a time after MTV started playing reality shows and before the rise of YouTube when the music video seemed dead. While the format was in between homes, artists started putting less and less effort into the medium.
Now, the internet has saved the medium – and it’s becoming more than just an accessory to a recorded track for some of the year’s leading artists. The music video is the second life of the song. It carries with it a message and plays an integral part in the overall album cycle.
Music videos are anticipated, shared, memed and devoured. They have millions of views that are just as valuable as any Spotify play. These are the best of 2017 so far.
1. Haim – ‘Right Now’
The story behind Haim’s video for ‘Right Now’, which they used to announce their long-anticipated album, is almost as good as the video itself. When the Haim sisters’ mum was just starting out as a teacher, she had this brilliant young student named Paul. As kids, the Haim sisters would turn on the TV, see Boogie Nights, and their mum would say, “Oh, that’s Paul’s movie.”
Fast-forward to 2017: Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most revered directors in Hollywood, and Haim are prepping a follow-up to their stunning debut. They’re in the studio, they call up their mum’s old student, he swings by and says, “Why don’t I just record a video right now?”
Only Paul Thomas Anderson could, on the spot, create such an immaculately executed music video – nearly a single take, which pans in time perfectly to the music, focusing on each of the musicians as their part comes in. It’s like he’s introducing again for the first time.
2. Kesha – ‘Praying’
Kesha’s return after a four-year hiatus and a messy legal battle with Dr. Luke became one of the most exciting moments in pop history this year.
“You brought the flames and you put me through hell / I had to learn how to fight for myself,” she sings on the track – making such a powerful statement (and hitting such a spine-tingling note) that it began a viral trend of reaction videos.
This is the highest reaches of what a music video can and should do, on the same level as what Beyoncé did with her visual album last year.
3. Charli XCX – ‘Boys’
What is there to say about Charli XCX’s infinitely fun ‘Boys’ video other than share a few highlights? Joe Jonas’s milk moustache. Ezra Koenig brushing his teeth. Stormzy eating cereal. Riz Ahmed with a teddy bear. Mac DeMarco licking a guitar. Even the cats nearly make Diplo somewhat bearable to look at.
Anyway, it’s truly genius – a collection of shareable scenes that people have been using in GIF form since the video was released.