Top 5 Music Videos of 2017
5. “New Rules,” Dua Lipa
Before the “New Rules” music video, Dua Lipa released five singles from her self-titled album. But it was the continuous shots and pastel tones of the “New Rules” music video that defined the single as Dua Lipa’s most successful to date. Shot at The Confidante hotel in Miami, the video illustrates her three prophetic rules for dealing with men as we enter 2018. It’s sexy, colorful and educational — even if you don’t like the music, it’s hard not to feel empowered by Dua Lipa’s newfound independence.
— Danny Madion, Daily Arts Writer
4. “HUMBLE.,” Kendrick Lamar
This was yet another year of growth for rap’s ever-changing landscape: Jay Z learned to age well, Drake continued to “globalize” his sound with more admiration than plagiarism, Kanye West recovered from his public meltdown hellscape and, of course, there was the populist power-shift towards SoundCloud rappers and dudes with funny tweets. Through it all, Kendrick Lamar’s definitive grab for the hip-hop Throne pierced through the rest of the noise.
The video for “HUMBLE.,” Kendrick’s lead single for DAMN., is all about establishing distance between him and his competitors. It is “Mind The Gap: The Movie.” Kendrick has always been a bit of a preacher, and the opening shot immediately gives him a platform to really get into character and wag his finger at your face.
He sits through a last supper of his own design. Caricatures of fledgling rappers, all style and no substance, aspire to the aura of achievement and significance that Kendrick earned but fall short on character and taste.
In one shot he is Steve Jobs but under a bridge in Compton, and in the next he enjoys breakfast in the backseat of a Chevelle. I’ve never heard a lyric more justifiably dismissive than “I’m the realest n**** after all / B****, be humble.” The video leaves little room for debate.
— Shayan Shafii, Daily Arts Writer
3. “Boys,” Charli XCX
There are two types of people in this world: Those who say “no homo” unironically, and those who have watched the music video for Charli XCX’s “Boys” at least a hundred times. The opening shot of Joe Jonas with his gorgeous eyebrows sitting down in front of a fat stack of pancakes is enough to make anyone swoon, and the video only escalates from there. There are boys playing with puppies, boys washing cars and even a shot of Jack Antonoff doing bicep curls.
The “Boys” music video is over the top in the best way possible. It invites the viewer to leave real men behind for just a few minutes to replace them with fictional perfection. We’re invited to a world where Joe Jonas looks you right in the eyes as he pours syrup over his pancakes, and where Brendon Urie gazes longingly from a bed of rose petals.
And let’s be honest, who isn’t a little busy thinking about boys?
2. “The Story of O.J.,” Jay-Z
When “The Story of O.J.” begins, we’re introduced to Jaybo, our narrator and host in the black and white cartoon world where this video exists. He’s disaffected, confident, clearly running things — a rendering of Jay-Z himself. Jaybo, along with all the other characters in this video, are drawn with hyper-exaggerated features, drawing from racist cartoons from decades prior. Some images are taken directly from the infamous “Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat” (1941) animation, like the scene where a lanky, big lipped Black man chews watermelon excitedly.
Jay-Z both subverts and takes ownership of such stereotypes in “The Story of O.J.” The cartoon is sleek, moving quickly among scenes of wealth, burlesque and O.J. Simpson: “O.J. like, ‘I’m not Black I’m O.J.’ …OK,” Jay-Z raps, with an eye-roll on the “OK.” He goes on to list different iterations of Black — rich, poor, light, dark, faux, real — ending with “still n****,” arguing that regardless of how successful a Black person in America becomes, at the end of the day he or she will still be defined by the color of their skin. Jay-Z, using himself as an example, encourages Black people to work up the capitalist system to get their due, to level credit and buy out the neighborhoods where they grew up. With “The Story of O.J.” — and with many of the 4:44 visuals — Jay-Z pushes the music video as a format. Here, he tries to propel his culture, too.
— Matt Gallatin, Daily Arts Writer
1. “Wyclef Jean,” Young Thug
Despite Young Thug never successfully showing up to set, conflict between the production staff and police and an ultimately disastrous production by modern musical standards, “Wyclef Jean” is not only a viral hit but one of the funniest and most creative works born into pop culture. Director Ryan Staake’s wry, frustrated words and honest humor carry the music video for “Wyclef Jean”; “I don’t have anything close to what I planned to film,” one frame states brazenly, “so, I’ll just explain how this video fell apart.” With details such as recordings from a brainstorming conversation juxtaposed with the actual frames, outline drawings of where Young Thug was supposed to be in each shot and a hilarious of timeline of what happened as the shoot unfurled, the video is both an interesting look into the effort that goes into producing music videos and a humorous mocking parody of industry norms.
— Samantha Lu, Daily Arts Writer