There was an amazing variety of music videos that reflected our collective resilience in 2017. Elation was behind the fog. In picking my favorites of the year, I went with themes of nostalgia and determination. If anything can be said, artists were unafraid and resolute. Here are ten of my picks.
TOPS – Petals
The music video for TOPS’ “Petals” is an otherworldly soiree of pop-culture confetti. An airy, uncanny valley of dense cake frosting and static balloons, Jane Penny directs this three minute short with equal parts euphoria and remembrance. Underneath the pirouetting surface of celebrity impersonators and smudged champagne glasses lies a wrinkled sadness. This is the perfect video for the perfect pop song of 2017.
Dude York – Tonight
Dude York’s “Tonight” is a cinematic experience that transcends music video tropes. It also reestablishes the medium as a canvas for spontaneity, color, and untethered glee. This is my new favorite genre: mall chic. “Tonight” scores perfect marks on editing, choreography, and food court binging. It’s impossible to watch this and not want to spike a soda cup full of ice and wear department store makeup.
Phoebe Bridgers – Motion Sickness
“I hate you for what you did, and I miss you like a little kid. I faked it every time” are the best opening lines of the year. I would pay ransom money for that salvo. Phoebe Bridgers is on another level, lyrically, and we haven’t had that sort of uncompromising vulnerability since Fiona Apple rolled out “Limp.” There is a star-stung urgency to every word in Bridgers’ “Motion Sickness,” and her verses are both heavy and ethereal. With the artist’s video for that very song, she stays confidently resolute. Check out the ending where she collapses like a Jenga tower — not out of resignation but of fury and accomplishment. Your new heroes are present
Chastity Belt – Different Now
Overcast, flippantly bleak, and sweeping across an extinguished horizon. Chastity Belt’s “Different Now” affectionately lampoons Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” while creating its own language. Everyone is having fun (sidebar: Gretchen is in the goddamn zone in this video). Released in March of this year, the Seattle band’s interpretative visuals matched their reverence for emotionally striking compositions. Basically, this was a pretty good way to start of 2017 IDK what else you want from me. PS – Lisa Prank sighting.
The Total Bettys – I’ll Fix It
San Francisco’s The Total Bettys are a complete joy, and this visual accompaniment, a flip book of sun-flecked sunglasses and wily exuberance, is one of the most genuinely loopable videos of 2017. With a wave studded backdrop and a compendium of sunlight-driven optimism, the Bettys invite you to rock with them (and maybe land a taco shop burrito on the way). Hot goss: their album is amazing, too.
Chance the Rapper – Same Drugs
This video is too much for me, and soft purples make me cry. There’s nobody more vulnerable and sincere than Chance, and in this video, he’s sitting on a piano bench like “fuck my emotions up.” Let’s stop here.
Bernache – Your Name
Bernache is the solo project of Emma P., the singer and songwriter behind Men I Trust. With the glacial (in more ways than one) video for Your Name, the aesthetic currency is comprised of weathered reveries and slate skies. Slow-motion paired with unimpeded confidence. Isolation locking horns with freeform dance. It’s an experience that wants to dye your brain Slurpee blue. Let’s just freeze on the deck of a ship and ball up our hands in electric ecstasy.
Japanese Breakfast – Road Head
Michelle Zauner’s music videos are always ignited by curiosity and fast food grease. Nighttime exploration and self-medication are typically weaponized as companion pieces to her songs. In the thumping world of “Road Head,” there is enough of both themes to satiate and fascinate Japanese Breakfast fans. Things get weird, of course. And Zauner is there with a cup of noodles in hand.
Dude York – Break Up Holiday
Dare me not to say that Claire England made everything better in 2017. Not more palatable, just flat out better. Here, Dude York screams past every red light and goes into prop mayhem with positive effect. Your local Joann’s and Party City are now sold out. Just try not to belt “walk away” as you stream this from your Roku to your roommate’s television. There is an unpretentious joy to “Break Up Holiday” that circumvents snark and pole vaults into a bed of glitter and tinsel. This is the perfect song/video combination. Good job, everyone.
Suzie True – Rat Kid
Suzie True’s “Rat Kid” has one of my favorite lines of the year: “I’ll show you around my stupid town.” It’s a conversational, cavalier, and self-effacing flag wave. All of Lexi McCoy’s lyrics are both emotionally affecting and yet overtly fun. The bright, effervescent and adroit pop single has an equally efficacious aesthetic. Lexi parasols, hurdles, and climbs throughout an ever-changing landscape as she sings out some of the best lines of 2017. Suzie True is the real deal.