The Best Music Videos of 2018 (So Far!)
Just five months into 2018, pop artists have already proven music videos can be tools for mitigating grief (Ariana Grande), celebrating women's sexuality (Janelle Monae) or, in the case of Troye Sivan, just having a gay ol' time.
Since January, artists have delivered convincing proof that — on occasion — their penchant for visuals occasionally eclipses the songs that inspire them. Kim Petras' "Heart To Break" is a straight-up fairy tale, Years & Years have imagined a future that's equal parts barren and beautiful, and BTS, well, they have continued to be their predictably charming selves, drawing legions of fans inward with each moment of considered choreography.
There are still many months to come, and we'll likely get more than our fill of shocking and moving pop videos. Still, it'd be wrong to ignore what's already set the 2018 groundwork: Check out PopCrush's favorite music videos of the past year (so far!) below.
Didn’t see a music video you loved on our list this year? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!
Funnily enough, Sivan’s first black-and-white video is his most rainbow-painted proclamation of queerdom yet. The first project from forthcoming sophomore album Bloom, “My My My!" finds the Aussie act letting go of misgivings, doing away with apprehensions and rejecting shirts that button up all the way as he marches along power lines and inside empty warehouses with the conviction of an unlikely America’s Next Top Model finalist. Not since Britney’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” has a hybrid dancefloor/bathhouse yielded something quite so sexy — finally, Sivan has learned to let loose, and not a moment too soon.
After a terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, England claimed the lives of 22 fans and left hundreds more injured a year ago, the pop star took some much needed time off to reflect and regroup. Her first single after the gruesome incident was the introspective “No Tears Left to Cry,” accompanied by a beautiful, symbolic music video featuring impossible stairways, infinite landscapes and ethereal archways inspired by the artwork of M.C. Escher. Though the harrowing event will always be a part of the singer's narrative, these stunning visuals are only the first step in the healing process.
Olivia Wilde, Rashida Jones, Tracee Ellis-Ross, Tiffany Haddish and Letitia Wright all appear in Drake’s cameo-laden “Nice For What” video. Directed by Karena Evans, the visual would be a relatively standard and moody hip-hop spot, but by the end of the song you’re barely even looking for Drake as you wonder which random actress or otherwise non-musician is about to fill the screen. Someday this will be a killer trivia question: name all fifteen famous ladies who appear in “Nice For What.”
Janelle Monae delivers one of the most potent feminist messages of 2018 with her luscious video for "Pynk," a joyful celebration of black women in particular, femme-identifying people in general, and safe spaces for women everywhere. The empowering clip—which is bathed in all manner of pink hues and feminist manifestos, including a neon sign that reads "P---y Power"—finds the singer and her Dirty Computer-era muse and ally, Tessa Thompson, finding nirvana in a literal desert oasis. At the Pynk Rest-Inn, Janelle and her girl gang are able to express their femininity, their sexuality and their innate power freely and lovingly, while intoxicating visuals (including a now-famous pair of frilly couture "vagina pants") serve as an unforgettable ode to girlhood.
Since making the world fall in love with him on Community, Donald Glover has proven he’s so much more than a quirky nerd by evolving into one of the most heralded artists of recent years. From spearheading his own television show, Atlanta, to successfully crafting one of the best albums of 2016, Awaken, My Love, under his music moniker Childish Gambino, Glover has some big shoes to fill: his own. In May, the actor/writer/musician made his hosting debut on Saturday Night Live, where he performed as the musical guest. While the show aired, he uploaded a video for a new song, “This Is America,” that racked up millions of views within a matter of hours. The video, which juxtaposes the extreme racism and gun violence that plagues this country with the distractions fed to the general population on a daily basis, set the web ablaze.
It’s safe to say BTS is the biggest music group in the world right now. When the superstar South Korean septet released the visuals for “Fake Love” in May, it helped solidify that notion. The emotionally charged, artful, metaphorical video amassed millions and millions of views in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest YouTube debut of 2018 and third biggest debut of all time.
Kim Petras is a literal pop princess in her adorable video for "Heart to Break," a contagious, upbeat electro-pop bop. In the color-drenched clip, Kim plays a Disney-esque social media maiden trapped up high in a crystal tower, a prisoner of her own fragile heart. (Seriously, she's even bubble wrapped the entire palace.) Alongside her loyal animal (erm, insect) companion, the German bubblegum pop star dances the heartache away and finds her Prince Charming in the very end.
Take the fantasy of Star Wars, cross it with the sinister slickness of Kill Bill and add a dash of end-of-the-world wariness and you’ve got the the synthpop trio’s oddest and most arresting video to date. The first single off forthcoming album Palo Alto, “Sanctify”-the-video is as deliciously sinister as its audio inspiration, and finds frontman Olly Alexander — shackled by a 14-carat dog collar — dancing to spare his life. The HD futurescape spills over with the trappings of luxury and the starkness of scarcity alike, while Alexander moves with a striking animal instinct you haven’t seen since Beyonce’s “Déjà Vu.”
The ‘80s-centric, Prince-channelling visuals for one of Janelle’s best Dirty Computer offerings, "Make Me Feel" is a joyful embrace of bisexuality from an artist who has long struggled to claim her queerness in public — and one that makes for an unabashedly fun, color-saturated watch. (Also: Bisexual lighting galore!)
The budget for Drake’s “God’s Plan” music video was nearly $1 million. He chose to give it all away in a series of surprise donations around Miami, including paying for college scholarships and donating to women’s shelters and firehouses... And that’s pretty much the whole video directed by Karena Evans: Drake giving away cash and occasionally partying with students at the University of Miami. Sometimes an artist’s video makes a statement, sometimes it just does a whole lot of good. This one’s the latter, and it’s refreshing to see.