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10 Best Music Videos of 2018 — The Best Music Videos of 2018 From Childish Gambino to Justin Timberlake
The music video, which hit a decline in the post-MTV years, has seen a roaring comeback in the age of YouTube. Now, the medium has rightfully returned as a viable art form, with artists like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, and Childish Gambino using it as more than a companion piece of images tacked on to a good song. For the likes of Gambino and Janelle Monaè, the music video is used to help convey the message of the song, whether to deliver symbolism of a political or empowering message. Artists are using this as a way to build and curate their artistic identity—or in the case of most pop stars, as a means to insert a valuable brand product placement for those billions of YouTube views. These are the best music videos of 2018.
The Carters – “Apeshit”
On “Apeshit,” Beyoncé and Jay-Z analyze cultural institutions that fail to include black artists. The video places black dancers and the Carters in front of white artwork in the Louvre in Paris. They call out the Grammys, which invite black artists for ratings at the ceremony but don’t reward these musicians with actual trophies. As a combined force, the Carters are an establishment of their own, one that’s capable of challenging the likes of the NFL and the Recording Academy.
Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
The sheer scope of Donald Glover’s body of artistic work is so incredible that he even made it into a gag in his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live. Music, movies, TV, unmade cartoons, writing—the list of his talents goes on and on. Starting as a playful hip-hop moniker, Glover’s Childish Gambino persona has evolved into something completely unexpected with his Grammy-winning third album, Awaken, My Love. On that release, he moved from rap to a falsetto-led collection of soul and R&B. But after the success of that pivot, he does so again with the jarring and brilliant “This Is America.” The song, and its accompanying video, is a surreal critique of race and violence in this country. And it’s another essential piece of Glover’s catalogue—a work of art that perfectly combines his visual and auditory brilliance.
Anderson .Paak – “Til It’s Over”
Paak had a breakout year in 2016 with his sophomore album, Malibu. It was a January release strong enough to stay on everyone’s minds through the next 12 months, and it landed near the top of every year-end list and earned him his first two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Urban Contemporary Album. He didn’t stop there, either, appearing on more than a dozen tracks since and releasing an album with his side-project NxWorries. Now, he returns with his first solo track since Malibu. “Til It’s Over” is a relaxed, trippy jam that contemplates mortality and originality. And while I hate to say that it debuted on an Apple commercial, the stunning video above was directed by Spike Jonze and stars FKA Twigs.
Drake – “God’s Plan”
Whether he means to or not, with every new release Drake is able to out-Drake himself. With “God’s Plan,” he played up his nice guy schtick with a truly touching philanthropic music video. And since this is Drake, fans took it and packaged the idea into the pervasive God’s Plan Starts Playing meme. And plus, this might be the most Drake line of all time: “I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry.” It’s impossible not to love Drake, I’m sorry.
Tierra Whack – “Whack World”
Tierra Whack’s phenomenal “visual auditory project” called Whack World is 15 tracks. and 15 minutes long, and is available as a single music video. In the video, directors Thibaut Duverneix and Mathieu Leger pair each one-minute song with a short visual interpretation, which range from satirical to goofy to literal arthouse abstract performances. To some it is absolutely an infuriating and confusing concept—but that’s exactly what good art should do.
Janelle Monáe – “PYNK”
It certainly feels like Tessa Thompson is everywhere these days from the Marvel Universe, to dystopian indie comedies, to Westworld and Janelle Monae’s sexually liberating music video. And the world is better off for it. In the “Pynk” video, she joins Monae in a sunny celebration of femininity, complete with visual references to everything from Kill Bill to anti-Trump slogans to awesome vagina pants.
Kali Uchis – “After the Storm”
Since the mid-2010s, Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis has been a familiar voice alongside the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Snoop Dogg, Miguel, and Snoop Dogg. Though so far she only has a lengthy nine-track EP to her name, she began 2018 with “After the Storm,” which hopefully is an indication of more Uchis tracks to come this year. It’s a silky R&B jam, assisted by Tyler, the Creator and Bootsy Collins. The video itself feels like a high budget indie movie, with effortless world building crafting a storybook version of the American dream. If there is a storm, hopefully we can emerge like this song—calm, wise, and optimistic.
Justin Timberlake – “Say Something”
Though the song itself is an absolute disappointment, Justin Timberlake’s Arturo Perez Jr.-directed video is an incredible accomplishment. The La Blogotheque filmmaker spent weeks of planning and used a crew of 200 people to pull off this single-shot video. “It could have been a gigantic disaster,” Perez told me earlier this year. Yet, they somehow managed to perfectly choreograph a six-minute long video that featured 17 musicians and a 60-person choir performing live audio walking through the Bradbury Building in L.A.
Tyler, The Creator – “OKRA”
Two months after his first nomination for Best Rap Album at the Grammys, Tyler, the Creator returned with an absolutely dizzying boast track. In includes some of Tyler’s most impressive wordplay, with an assault of references, jokes, and brags. In just a single line, he jumps from referencing shoe sponsorships to a Robert De Niro pun: “Red Ones look like Aidan Mackey, spent dinero like Taxi Driver.” In another just before that, Tyler once again slyly addresses his own sexuality, which was a major point of discussion on his critically acclaimed 2017 album Flower Boy. Tyler isn’t going to let you forget the year he had—no, he’s going to make you bask in it with him. The video itself is a brilliant split screen that simultaneously shows a full close up and zoomed out shot of Tyler rapping.
Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future – “King’s Dead”
It’s not a list of best music videos without something from Kendrick Lamar, who’s by far the best in the game right now. Combined with director Dave Free, Lamar has created some of the most stunning music videos of the decade. While this isn’t Lamar’s most powerful video, it does employ some more of Free’s awesome visual tricks, from the dizzying traffic shot to the three rappers dancing on buildings. Plus there’s the little nuggets of mem-eable moments like Lamar rapping in a palm tree eating corn.