Here are the top 15 videos of 2017, according to Crack Magazine.

Visit 2017.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage.

Charli XCX

Boys

dir: Charli XCX

Boys licking guitars. Boys with pink teddies. Boys with toy guns and boys pouring honey. In Charli XCX’s sugar-sweet world, the male gaze is inverted – with playful, internet-friendly results. The self-directed video became a viral sensation overnight, partly because it crammed a hell of a lot of recognisable faces into a near three-minute time frame. Did you identify them all?

Vivian Yeung

Visionist

Value

dir: Frederik Heyman

In the video for Value, Louis Carnell can be seen holding onto, and being surrounded by, Louis Carnell. Addressing ideas of self-preservation, director Frederik Heyman portrays Carnell as his own saviour, often in his own embrace. According to Heyman, the imagery was created by Carnell reenacting historic press images of people in need of rescue, which were then turned into digital installations. What we’re left with is a captivating video which illustrates Carnell’s visceral, sonic onslaught; a video of photographic stills that wrap around the themes addressed in Carnell’s track: ideas of machismo, self-love and mental health.

Vivian Yeung

Obongjayor

Endless

dir: Matilda Finn

Nigeria-born London-based artist Obongjayar makes music with a life-or-death grandeur. On Endless, bone-rattling rhythms shake and snap beneath his cathartic vocals. In the visual, directed by ascendant director Matilda Finn (who’s also done great videos for Bicep and Danny Brown this year), coffins are taken to dancefloors and bodies roll around in dusty, clay-coloured mud. It’s an arresting document of land, life and mortality – an expertly shot and brilliantly edited piece of work.

Duncan Harrison

Kali Uchis

Tyrant feat. Jorja Smith

dir: Helmi

In different ways, both Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith are retrophiles. Smith’s video for the addictive banger On My Mind used wardrobe and location to present a snapshot of UKG’s pirate radio beginnings. The video for Tyrant opens with a frame of Uchis donning an oversized Sharon Stone-style blazer with scraped back hair and chunky gold earrings. Jorja arrives later in a featherweight Pucci tracksuit – matching Kali’s serene timelessness. The visual is directed by Helmi – a Paris-based image maker with an eye for glamour and extravagance. Each shot is a carefully composed vignette, reframing two of contemporary pop’s brightest hopes as idols who have been here all along.

Duncan Harrison

SZA

Drew Barrymore

dir: Dave Meyers

2017 has been a breakthrough year for the RnB star, whose debut album Ctrl catapulted her into the spotlight and marked her out as an artist who firmly holds the reins to her vision. At its core, Drew Barrymore is a heart-wrenching pop ballad with SZA’s soaring vocals taking on insecurities, measures of self-worth and questions of a potential partner’s intentions. Like the track, the video strikes a careful balance, showing scenes of loneliness – at one point, SZA poses nude in an empty launderette – while keeping it light and playful. Whether SZA is surrounded by friends on a rooftop or smoking a blunt in the bathtub, the visual exudes warmth amidst its cold, snowy setting. Oh, and there’s a very brief cameo from the actual IRL Drew Barrymore. No biggie.

Vivian Yeung

King Krule

Czech One

dir: Frank Lebon

One of three videos released during Archy Marshall’s highly anticipated return as King Krule, Czech One stands out as a highlight. Sporting an eye patch, Marshall walks through busy neon-lit streets and empty airplane hallways. Sewing together fast-flickering vignettes of cities and fisheye visuals, director Frank Lebon weaves a disorientingly warped sense of time and place that matches the isolation and feelings of disillusionment found on Krule’s brilliant second full-length, The Ooz.

Vivian Yeung

Club Kuru

Ribbons

dir: Will Dohrn

A wistful track from psychedelic sorts Club Kuru, Bristol-based director Will Dohrn’s dreamy visions of brutalist architecture and suspended television screens add a visual weight to the song’s line: “There’s a hunger in your bed tonight/ and you think you’re worthy of a better life”. The protagonist, Tatiana Hiess, wanders through surreal, pastel-hued scenes where her desires are projected onto television screens: desires of companionship and reassurance from friends. Spinning off the song’s theme of delusions of grandeur, Dohrn encapsulates feelings of longing and isolation in a dreamworld, where the protagonist is unable to connect with the figures on screen.

Vivian Yeung

Lorde

Green Light

dir: Grant Singer

While the video for Lorde’s lead single from Melodrama runs through clichés of a night out – think scenes of dancing in the street, atop a car and in a club bathroom – it’s beautifully shot by Grant Singer on 16mm film, giving the visual a grainy, cinematic look. Lorde’s infamous dancing also comes to the fore, with her moves improvised on set lending the video an exhilarating quality. It’s a perfect summation of being in your 20s, capturing those universal feelings of insecurity, heartbreak and finding love on the dancefloor.

Vivian Yeung

Migos

T-Shirt

dir: DAPS

It’s been a good year for DAPS, who’s directed the visuals for Stormzy’s Big for Your Boots, Migos’ hit Bad & Boujee and T-Shirt. Co-directed by Quavo, Migos channel Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant for their third video off 2017’s Culture. Weaving their own brand of machismo and braggadocio in the verses, the trio turn up suitably dressed in heavy furs and rich chains, oozing wealth and power. In an interview with Crack Magazine, DAPS said he always likes to “create some kind of juxtaposition”, so for T-Shirt, he shot the trio against snowy terrains. Watch them pose on snowmobiles, feast on tinned food, arch their bows and roam the woods. It is, in the truest sense of the word, epic.

Vivian Yeung

Young Thug & Carnage

Young Martha ‘Homie’ feat. Meek Mill

dir: Oscar Hudson

Homie opens with the ominous use of organs, whipping up a palpable sense of dread before the track’s even off the ground. Director Oscar Hudson opts for a handful of sinister tropes which fit seamlessly with the track’s distinct tone. From sinister butlers to giddy children holding knives. Hudson creates a murder scene via a camera that pans through a 360 parabola, continuously travelling between the floor and ceiling. The result? A disorienting topsy-turvy horror visual.

Vivian Yeung

Kendrick Lamar

Humble

dir: Dave Meyers

Laden with symbolic imagery and jaw-dropping visuals, it’s difficult to pinpoint one standout moment from Kendrick’s Dave Meyers-directed video. From the image of Kung-Fu Kenny dressed in papal robes and bathed in a dramatic stream of white light, to his parody of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, via the Being John Malkovich reference, each meticulously planned scene is packed with visual metaphors that are largely open to interpretation.

Vivian Yeung

 

Fever Ray

To the Moon and Back

dir: Martin Falck

After a quick succession of teasers, the release of To the Moon and Back marked an emphatic return for Karin Dreijer as Fever Ray. Cloaked in dark tones and neon lights, the visual sees its protagonist awake in a cryogenic lab, only to become the centrepiece of a twisted tea party. Speaking to Crack Magazine earlier this year, creative director Martin Falck described the video as a cheesy, “weird sci-fi slasher” that revolves around the premise of “longing for something and finding your ‘wolfpack’ – a place of security and trust where you can do the things you always wanted to do without being misunderstood.” It’s darkly entertaining, shocking and provocative all at once – but did you expect anything less from Fever Ray?

Vivian Yeung

Jay-Z

Moonlight

dir: Alan Yang

Created and directed by Alan Yang, the Emmy-award winning co-creator of Master of None, the video for Jay-Z’s Moonlight is a like-for-like remake of a sequence from a 1996 episode of Friends. Specifically, The One Where No One’s Ready. Issa Rae plays Rachel, Girls Trip breakout star Tiffany Haddish plays Phoebe, Dear White People’s Tessa Thompson plays Monica, Lakeith Stanfield from Get Out plays Chandler, Lil Rel Howery (also in Get Out) plays Joey and The Carmichael Show’s Jerrod Carmichael plays Ross.

Yang’s decision to reimagine one of the most successful sitcoms of all time with an African-American cast is open to interpretation. Carmichael walks off the set during a break and speaks to comedy Hannibal Buress who tells him he thinks the show is “garbage.” Later, Carmichael drifts off the set completely – he slips out of a back door and walks across fresh green grass to a park bench where he looks up at the moon. Jay-Z raps, “So fuck what we selling, fuck is we making? ‘Cause their grass is greener ’cause they always raking in more.”

Duncan Harrison

Radiohead

Lift

dir: Oscar Hudson

Oscar Hudson’s brilliant four-minute video is a literal representation of the song’s lyrics: “You’ve been stuck in a lift/ We’ve been trying to reach you”. Shuffling into a lift is an awkwardly polite Thom Yorke, plastic bag in each hand, stuck on an endless journey. Agonisingly, a large number of scenes open up before him – each one stranger than before – and yet, he never seems to arrive at his destination. Coloured in muted tones of grey, Hudson’s chosen visual palette matches the airiness of Yorke’s vocals and simultaneously imbues his surroundings with a claustrophobic sense of listlessness that draws parallels to the song’s setting, at “the bottom of the ocean”. As expected from any Radiohead video, the visual’s finale is unexpected and eerie, revealing a twist that cryptically reveals nothing. Considering the track’s place in the band’s history as a lost OK Computer cut, dug up from the past and reissued on 2017’s OKNOTOK compilation, the video is suitably packed with visual references to Radiohead’s past (Hudson has refused to give any clues away in interviews). There are also brief cameos from Yorke’s girlfriend as well as his daughter; diehard Radiohead fans had a field day.

Vivian Yeung

St. Vincent

New York

dir: Alex Da Corte

The last two years have seen Annie Clark go from cult indie artist to a tabloid staple. The fifth St. Vincent album Masseducation felt like a response to the prying telephoto lenses and tawdry tabloid stories that have become a surreal part of the St. Vincent narrative. From the beginning of the press cycle, Clark embarked on an elaborate dummy move, claiming the record as her most direct, “first-person” work while holding performative press conferences and reaching for a stylistic vernacular of hot-pink and cool detachment.

Capturing this dramatic duality perfectly was lead single New York and its accompanying video, directed by visual artist Alex Da Corte. The track: a heartsore ballad which tells of a loss so acute that it shifts the camber of the roads you call home. The video: an arresting catalogue of visual non-sequiturs and millennial colour palettes that imbued NYC signifiers – girders, street corner florists, disco balls – with the stylised artificiality of a Toilet Paper double page spread. It was a masterful move, heightening the emotional frailty at the song’s heart while assembling a wall of high camp that was unscalable. Oh, you want to know who the song is about? The wink at the end said it all, and nothing at all.

Louise Brailey