The Top 10 Music Videos of 2020
Here are 10 videos which made a lasting impact in 2020.
COVID workarounds, VFX triumphs, blockbuster time machines and vital statements told through claymation. Meet the next generation of music video directors here by getting to know the winners of our Three Minutes scheme, an incubator for aspiring music directors. We’ve also chronicled a brief history of the art-form here.
dir. Hiro Murai
Hiro Murai’s work for the likes of Flying Lotus, Earl Sweatshirt and Massive Attack, not to mention his role as one of the architects of Donald Glover’s Atlanta, makes him a master of blurring the edges of the everyday. This video for FKA twigs, where a vicious samurai battle breaks out underneath the fuzzy strip-lights of a chippy, takes that formula to stunning new heights.
Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion
dir. Colin Tilley
In 2020, moments of shared consciousness which weren’t based on terror and dread were hard to come by. So when the timeline was awash with GIFs, snippets and screen grabs from Colin Tilley’s hyperreal WAP funhouse, it felt like real escapism.
Already (ft. Shatta Wale and Major Lazer)
dir. Beyonce / Joshua Kissi
Of all Beyoncé’s preternatural superstar capabilities, her knack for absorbing ingenious choreography is among the most awe-inspiring. In 2011, it was the new hip-hop style of Les Twins that defined her self-titled era. Fast forward nine years and it’s self-taught Nigerian dancer Stephen “Papi” Ojo who is coming close to upstaging the world’s greatest living entertainer.
dir. Teeeezy C
M1llionz has quietly established himself as UK rap’s MVP this year. Over-delivering on every guest verse, putting Birmingham on the map with a string of bangers and raising the levels with this blockbuster video for Lagga shot in Kibera – an area in Nairobi and Kenya’s largest slum. We caught up with director Teeeezy C about the video here.
Oneohtrix Point Never
Lost But Never Alone
dir. Josh & Benny Safdie
The Safdie-Lopatin synergy continued in 2020 with this fuzzy, channel-surfing accompaniment to Lost But Never Alone from Magic Oneohtrix Point Never, a record which made a point of unstitching the past and the present. In a statement accompanying the video, Josh Safide captured the mood they achieved very concisely – “Nostalgia is both warming and deeply depressing.”
dir. Hannah Lux Davis
If you think your year had ups and downs, you should thank your lucky stars you’re not Doja Cat. Despite some missteps, the never-boring popstar peaked on this twinkling ode to 1970s west coast luxe. Shot at the Sheats–Goldstein Residence on the outskirts of Beverly Hills and packed with Bob Mackie-inspired gowns, it’s an indulgent nostalgia trip from 2020’s most 2020 star.
dir. Will Dohrn
Who knew that hands would carry such significance this year? Not least IDLES and director Will Dohrn who created this blistering work back in February before releasing in September on the same day as the band’s No. 1 album. Snapshots of life, death, war and peace are painted vividly by only spotlighting the characters’ right hands with an edit that darts kinetically between stories and scenes. Videos like this don’t come around often, the kind that leave you short of breath and immediately hitting replay.
dir. Arnaud Bresson
A true technical triumph in the field of music videos, Arnaud Bresson captured a series of X-ray scenes for Flatbush Zombies’ Afterlife which were painstakingly created through animation and post-production at a Paris VFX studio, taking months to nail. Beyond the technological achievement, the spectral figures and see-through scenes chime perfectly with the ghostly atmosphere of the track.
Slave ft. Twin Shadow
Duval Timothy / Max Valizadeh
A standout track from Crack Magazine’s Albums of the Year. Slave centres around a warped vocal loop of artist Ibiye Camp singing the word “slave” and an audio snippet of Pharell speaking about artists in exploitative record contracts. For the video, Timothy worked with artist Max Valizadeh on a claymation story where models of Prince and Nipsey Hussle (both artists who took control of their masters) meet Duval at the top of a mountain. Fitting, then, that this came after Timothy bought his own masters from his old label.
dir. Nina Ljeti
The plan was for Phoebe Bridgers to shoot a video for Kyoto, a poppy highlight from Punisher, while in Kyoto on tour in March. You guessed it, that wasn’t possible. The solution? A lo-fi green-screen tour of Kyoto with Bridgers standing, surfing and flying while wearing that iconic skeleton tracksuit. A surprisingly joyous artefact of these #strangeandunprecedented times.