2013 has been quite the banner year for music videos. The year's top artists have made us squeal with delight—Katy Perry's turn as Queen of the Jungle in "Roar," cry—Rihanna's bare and vulnerable display in "Stay," turned up on the controversy heat—Robin Thicke's erotic "Blurred Lines" and much, much more!
We've watched them all—and we finally have one badass list to present to you. Check out these incredible feats of entertainment—and straight up works of art—and let us know what you think.
Which artist's video truly spoke to you? You know you love it, you know why, now let the world know by voting right now, right here!
After you're done casting your votes, be sure to check back to see who stays, who goes and who finally made it all the way through to win Best Video of 2013! The artist with the #1 music video will be revealed on the televised Top 40 countdown in December on Fuse TV.
Who will be the new heir to the Top 40 throne? There can only be one King or Queen... And it's on!
Gorgeous writhing, stiletto-clad women, check! Fabulous crib with killer LA views, check! Endless designer duds plucked directly from the September Vogue, Check! 2 Chainz and Pharrell—who played double-duty, as producer and guest vocalist on the track—certainly kept their word to stay "fresh as hell" in their vid for "Feds Watching." Which is a relief, because, turns out the the feds indeed are.
So, this one time Ace Hood woke up in a new Bugotti—oh, and he was surrounded by cops with guns. How'd he get there? In the vid for "Bugatti, " Ace, Rick Ross & Future take you on an epic chase involving ATVs, boats, gambling, champagne, beautiful, scantily clad women and duffle bags of Benjamins to find out how.
A$AP Rocky is very clear on star-studded single (it features Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar), "F*ckin' Problems," that he has a.) has a problem and that b.) said problem is women. The accompanying vid for the track addresses this problem—or makes it significantly worse—by being a veritable yearbook of booty-shaking women. Girls in leather, thigh-high boots, girls in mini-skirts, girls in baseball caps, girls with pom poms, girls with licorice…you get the picture.
Avicii's electric dance single, "Wake Me Up," has been heating up clubs around the country since its release. Thus, it's unsurprising that the video continued to turn up the heat. Painfully hot Russian model, Kristina Romanova, is at the center of this story about outsiders. She and her sister live in a dreary rural town full of judgy, frumpy automatons who aren't fans of their mysterious tattoos. Luckily, big sis takes off on horseback to find a world of equally beautiful people, sporting the same tat (Avicii's symbol, natch), heading to a rave full of sparkling, happy, dancing. Somewhere she and lil' sis belong.
Britney Spears goes BDSM goddess in the video for club rager, "Work, Bitch." She's got something to say, and you better listen, cause she's got an impressive assortment of whips, speakers fashioned into ball gags and an entire freaking swimming pool of sharks. ...And the most fabulous outfits, of course!
Bruno Mars' "Treasure" is a straight-up disco track so convincing, it could easily be mistaken for a number from Earth, Wind and Fire's back-catalog. The video for the tune takes the '70s element to new heights with a straight-up homage to the lo-fi vids of the era. Ginormo disco ball, matching red, polyester suits, overly-enthusiastic dancing and cheesy simple effects complete the time machine trip. Fun fact: The video is purposefully not available in HD.
Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding play lovers in the vid for their highly infectious dance number, "I Need Your Love." The clip, directed by Emil Nava, plays like a home video capturing the duo as they cruise with the top down, get tattoos and engage in serious pillow talk. Ellie and Calvin denied any real life hanky-panky, but the chemistry between these two is so palpable, it's hard to believe they're acting.
Capital Cities became a going concern when upbeat single, "Safe and Sound," took off; perhaps this is why the accompanying music video explores musicians and fame through the ages. The indie-pop duo bring an abandoned art deco theatre back to life in this gem—cleverly shot by director, Grady Hall. Ghosts of acts past, from disco roller-skaters to couples rocking the Charleston—jump out of framed pictures and once again take up residence on the theatre's creaky stage. Spirit party rocking!
Chris Brown shows a lot of smooth moves and kicks a lot of butt in his vid for R&B single, "Fine China." Chris plays the gold-bowtied boyfriend of an heiress whose daddy doesn't approve. The couple sneak out for a night on the town, so dad sends his henchmen. The result can only be described as a Michael Jackson video meets West Side Story. Quite the pairing!
Ciara brings new meaning to "effortlessly sexy" in the first half of her video for "Body Parts." Few women can be that attractive in a black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. However, the whole effortless part takes a turn after she meets a hot dude in a letterman jacket. But wait! Said hot dude looks a whole lot like Future—her real-life paramour. Things get a little kinky from there. Or at least we think they do... Watch out for the twist!
Demi Lovato is epically fierce in her video for electrifying, popanthem, "Heart Attack." She steps away from the typical female pop anthem formula of girl crushing on boy. In fact, there is nary a fake love interest in sight. Instead, we see Demi—strikingly beautiful and emotive—with slicked-back hair and black paint-covered hands. The video soon becomes a Rorschach inkblot test of sorts as globs of paint burst and drip around her, in step with the beat of the explosive music.
Drake's video for slow jam, "Hold On, We're Going Home," conjures memories of both 1980s action flicks and damsel in distress video games. The clip is set in Miami circa 1985 and opens with Drizzy and his crew happily toasting success. But meanwhile, back at the sprawling mansion, his white-lingerie clad boo is being kidnapped by an anti-Drake gang. Luckily, Drake happens to have a ginormo arsenal of impressive weapons and he and the boys head out for a serious shoot-out to get back the girl.
Ed Sheeran enlisted real-life doppelganger, Rupert Grint (AKA, Ron Weasley), for his "Lego House" video. Grint at first appears to be playing Sheeran, he mouths the words to the sorrowful single and nails his appearance down to the myriad chunky bracelets and deep penchant for hoodies. But just as "Sheeran" is about to take the stage, he's attacked by bouncers and dragged away. The rest of the clip has you half laughing at a creepy stalker—he collects and eats Sheeran's used gum—and half experiencing empathy for unrequited love. It's uncomfortable…and completely brilliant.
When Eminem spits "Let's take it back to straight hip hop and start it from scratch" on "Berzerk," he wasn't joking. The accompanying lo-fi video was filmed mostly in Brooklyn and features Em rapping into a fish-eye lens in front of a behemoth old-school boom box as producer, Rick Rubin, bobs his head. The added television static and random home video clips make for an obvious homage to the legendary hip-hop videos of the '80s. Keep an eye out for a hilarious Kid Rock cameo. Yes, it's actually him.
Fall Out Boy's music video for anthemic single, "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark," is, well...really, really dark. It begins with a man—you later find out he is 2 Chainz—pouring gallons of gasoline on a bunch of wood—likely a symbolic funeral pyre. Two stunning, leather-clad women saunter out of a van and begin to throw (very expensive!) musical instruments into the fire. They add a few Fall Out Boy posters and CDs to the mix before 2 Chainz finishes the job with a flamethrower. Just when you think they're done, the girls open up the van doors to reveal the members of the band covered in hoods. In the last scene, Chainz lights a match as a Cheshire Cat grin appears on his face. The end of Fall Out Boy as we knew them?
The video for Fun.'s "Carry On" is irrefutable proof that Fun. does indeed have a whole lot of fun. It begins with a somewhat solemn looking lead singer, Nate Ruess chugging water under a jingling chandelier. But soon enough he and the rest of the boys are gallivanting around New York City. They dance and slide around Grand Central Station, feast on an impressive number of raw oysters while sipping martinis at the historic Oyster Bar, hold jam sessions, engage bar goers in a jolly sing-along and drink, drink, drink. The clip closes with a massive balloon drop at the band's concert. Nothing more fun than that.
Considering the fact that Icona Pop ft. Charlie XCX's “I Love It” is one of the most epic party anthems of all time, it goes without saying that the music video should be one giant party. Save for random clips of the girls standing around in the wind with colored ribbons and shots of their floating, singing heads surrounded by lyrics, the entire thing consists of people jumping, dancing and just generally delighting in life. Just as it should be!
Imagine Dragons released what is probably the most out-of-left-field video of the year with their brooding single "Radioactive." The vid follows a hooded girl with piercing blue eyes as she journeys to make a delivery. She ends up at random barn, in which she finds an unsavory scene—heartless men betting on living puppet and stuffed animal fights. Also, the kingpin of the operation wears a key around his neck, which unlocks the chamber where all the members of Imagine Dragons are held captive. Teddy bear after Teddy bear have their stuffing disemboweled, until the blue-eye girl releases her ratty pink bear, which has special powers. We're guessing he's radioactive? Anyways, that Teddy kicks butt and the girl is able to steal the key and release the band. Meanwhile, the kingpin must answer to some rabid and terrifying stuffed animals. You can't make this stuff up!
Filmed in J. Cole's home state of North Carolina, the verdant scenery in the video for his Miguel featuring single, "Power Trip," serves as a jarring juxtaposition to the film's macabre subject matter. In it we find a heart aching and obsessed J. Cole waiting outside the house of the object of his affection—a girl we soon find out is seeing another man, Miguel. The next scene jumps to Cole and a friend on a trek through the country—with a mysterious package tied to the top of the car. After reaching a secluded spot in the woods, we finally understand that Cole's "constant drinking and love songs" have led him down a very sinister path.
The dysfunctional relationship between Jason Derulo and his onscreen girlfriend is clearly meant to be the heart of the video for intensely clubby single "The Other Side." However, in-between the sexual teasing and pillow fighting—which turns into actual fighting and culminates in Derulo smashing his fist into the wall—it's the singer's phenomenal dancing, not the drama, that steals the show. Seriously, at one point he actually pulls off a no-hands headstand! Nuff said.
Justin Bieber actually directed (with the help of co-director, Jon Chu) the video for bubblegum single "Beauty and the Beat." In it, you're along for the ride as Justin guides the camera through various spectacles taking place in a waterpark at night. This particular waterpark is full of synchronized swimmers, aerialists and Nicki Minaj in a giant, pink tutu. In case you were worried, Biebs makes sure to carve out plenty of time to star in synchronized dance numbers. He also saved a spot for a little Biebs on Minaj grinding.
In case you were confused as to just how swanky, smooth and cool Justin Timberlake and Jay Z are, the video for "Suit and Tie" spells it out for ya. Oh, those two! They're always getting massages, smoking giant cigars, doing choreographed dances with untied bowties, popping champagne and drinking Scotch out of crystal decanters. They really like Scotch. And to give it that extra "Casablanca" oomph, the whole thing is filmed in black and white. If for some reason you didn't already want to be them, you will now!
Kanye West worked with photographer Nick Knight for five months prior to announcing the release of his strikingly dark, industrial single, "BLKKK SKKKN HEAD." Upon watching, it's not hard to believe that a significant amount of work went into the piece's creation. It's more than a music video, it's a work of art. A work of art that plays out like a terrifying dream with Ku Klux Klansmen, frothing dogs and monstrous imagery. The video is chaotic and chilling—and, perhaps most significantly, it leaves a feeling that lingers.
Katy Perry's video for the empowering—and endlessly infectious—anthem, "Roar," takes you deep into the heart of the jungle. After her self-absorbed boyfriend is unceremoniously eaten by a tiger, Katy must redefine who she is. Instead of giving up, she takes up with monkeys, elephants, crocodiles—and fashions some fab leopard print outfits. In her greatest act of courage, she tames the same ravenous tiger that took out her man. And at last she is whole—and queen of the freaking jungle!
The words "Death to Molly" appear at the end of the video for Kendrick Lamar's single, "Don't Kill My Vibe." He has stated in interviews that the constant lyrical use of MDMA (AKA, Molly) in songs is contributing to the death of hip hop. Thus, the vid for the track is a sort of hip hop funeral. Kendrick is baptized in a baptistry of liquor, the mourners pop bottles during the funeral procession and booty dance and pose for zany pics at the gravesite before finally laying "Molly" to rest.
Lady Gaga goes straight arthouse in her video for club-fave "Applause." Directed by Dutch fashion photographer and artist duo, Inez & Vindooh, the clip features various incarnations of Gaga. At one point she is a winged being, then she is a monstrous Halloween ghoul, then the goddess Venus. In her most notable transformation, her head appears on the body of black swan. If you are aghast at its bizarreness, she's done her job.
New Zealand wunderkind Lorde is not your typical teenage pop star. Thus, it's no surprise that the video for the single that put her on the map is in no way "normal." It follows a gawky, acne-ridden young man as he partakes in activities for the lonely. The viewer gets the sense that the man is troubled as he boxes in his bedroom and listens to music on headphones, even before things actually get alarming—and he bloodies his own face. The track itself already has a certain eerie quality, and that combined with stunning shots of (for the most part) very mundane acts is fantastically striking.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' music video for smash hit, “Can’t Hold Us,” took three months to shoot. Why so long? Maybe because the video follows the boys through six different continents and 16 different shoots. This vid is the definition of "going big." It starts off with an old man in an empty icescape. Macklemore, donning a hat made out of a wolf's head (natch!), collects something from the man and takes off on dog sled for a larger-than-life journey. The item collected is the flag for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' LP, The Heist, which must eventually be planted on top of the Space Needle in Seattle—the two's hometown. Of course, getting it there involves a water plane, historic sailing vessel, classic motorcycle, camels, bouncing band of horn-playing hipsters and skydiving.
Adam Levine is once again exploring his sensual side in the video for aching Maroon 5 single, "Love Somebody," but this time visual art is at the forefront. In the clip, we see the bottom half of Levin's face set against a blank, white screen—it's soaked in a clay-like paint. As he croons, he wipes off more and more of the white to reveal more and more Adam—and the curves of an erotic mystery woman.
The video for Miguel ft. Kendick Lamar's sensual single, "How Many Drinks" is fairly minimalist. But it's the absence of crazy antics or visuals—the clips is basically just Miguel and his band performing against a hazy, red back-drop—that brings attention to the beauty and texture of the song. And, with a song as blissfully smooth and soulful as this, that's exactly how it should be.
Before there was an infamous VMA performance, there was the video for Miley Cyrus' alarmingly infectious single, "We Can't Stop." It was the world's first look at a Miley party. And it's not a Miley party without giant dancing teddy bear backpacks, taxidermy animals, plastic doll make-out sessions, hot dog piñatas and a French fry skull. Oh, and lots and lots and lots of a certain dance move.
The boys from One Direction just aren't themselves in the video for "Best Song Ever." Literally! Niall and Louis are balding, sleaze-ball producers, Liam is a flamboyant, bleach-blonde choreographer and Zayn is one sizzling assistant with a very fine derriere!
The video for the P!nk ft. Nate Ruess single, "Just Give Me a Reason," finds the melancholic blonde floating on stain-ridden mattress in the company of a giant, magic-eyed teddy bear. The bear disappears to reveal a tattooed man and Nate Ruess harmonizes with the not-sleeping beauty through an antique television. It's a hazy, disorientating dream...and it's perfection.
Can we be friends with Paramore? Please?! The video for catchy pop-punk single, "Still Into You," is a delightful romp with Haley and the boys in (what could easily be) a pastel, Parisian palace. There are copious, colorful cakes, BMX bike riding under crystal chandeliers, beautiful ballerinas, boats and balloons. And, best of all, enough of Haley's signature, frenetic dance-floor moves to keep you smiling all day long.
It's hard to believe that the video for a song as poignantly heartrending as the Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko single, “Stay,” was able to not only complement the song, but up the emotional ante. It's stark, and very little happens in the clip, but the striking shots of a near make-up less Rihanna, naked and vulnerable in a porcelain bathtub, are so achingly raw, at times it's hard to breathe.
Robin Thicke ft. TI & Pharrell's “Blurred Lines” music video was arguably the most talked about clip of the year. The extremely stylized vid, directed by Diane Martel, shows all three men as they play around with three ridiculously gorgeous models. At various times, the models are seen with taxidermy animals, a live baby goat, sausage links and a red toy car as the boys look on—or alternately slap their butts and play with their hair. In the NSFW version, the girls ditch the clothes. You can probably guess what all the talk was about.
The video for Selena Gomez' breakout hit, "Come and Get It," borrows heavily from Indian culture—both in the chosen dance choreography and costuming. The song itself is a mixture of electropop and Indian music, so the cultural elements do fit. But it's the brilliant colors—a field of bluebonnets surrounded by verdant hills, Selena's bold, red dress, hungry bonfires and those electric crimson lips—that really steal the show.
There's a Sid and Nacny-esque tale of toxic lovers at the center of the video for Taylor Swift's dubstep infused "Trouble." The film opens up with Tay awaking alone in a field with the scattered debris of a once raging party. It's the perfect post-apocalyptic set-up for us to really get the nuclear meltdown that occurred as a result of the train-wreck relationship we are about to witness.
Before it's release, Will.i.am tweeted about how exhausting rehearsals for his Justin Bieber featuring dance single, “#thatpower,” were. Considering the fact that Will.i.am, along with a crew of similarly dressed peeps, perform a bizarre, robotic choreographed dance routine throughout the entire vid, exhausting is probably an understatement. In addition to an impressive amount of dancing, the clip highlights various geometric shapes and architecture containing them. Also, Justin Bieber is a hologram.
EDM producer, Zedd, chose a toxic, combusting relationship as the subject at hand for the video for "Clarity," his emotive single featuring British songstress, Foxes. The vid throws you into the sepia-toned world of two lovers struggling and bleeding (literally) to find some type of clarity amongst the explosions and the pain.