The Best Music Videos of 2015 (So Far!)
The year-end retrospective list has become music journalism tradition come every December (or late November for some of the increasingly trigger-happy publications out there), but we thought we’d take a midyear breather to take a look back and appreciate all of the goods we’ve been given this year so far, from January to June.
All week long, we've been exploring the year's best offerings to date, including the Best Albums of 2015 (So Far!) and Best Songs of 2015 (So Far!). And as far as accompanying visuals are concerned, 2015 has been consistently bringing it. ("It" being goodness.)
Once again, the PopCrush editors have selected their two favorites from the first half of the year (in no particular order!), from Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj chowing down on burgers to Sia's mesmerizing cage match between Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler.
Didn’t see a video you loved on our list? Let us know in the comments!
If Sia’s brilliant “Chandelier” explored the beauty of spotting a wild animal, its follow-up, “Elastic Heart,” observes how a free bird handles waking up to clipped wings. The video, which finds 12-year-old dancing phenom Maddie Ziegler reprising her role as faceless-youth-in-nude-leotard, pits the preteen against an untamed Shia LaBeouf, who torments his foe as the pair goes rounds inside a giant bird cage. The clip’s lopsided choreography and filthy warfare yields a raw, junkyard beauty that doesn’t ask who will make it out alive, but whether escape is ever really on the table. — Matthew Donnelly
Lunchmoney Lewis was featured on Nicki Minaj’s “Trini Dem Girls” from The Pinkprint, and he co-wrote Fifth Harmony’s “BO$$” — but it’s the Emil Nava-directed “Bills” clip that truly introduced the world to the artist’s charm. As the singer-rapper lives out a literal interpretation of the song’s lively lyrics, finding himself neck-deep in overdue bills and attempting to use a debit card at a Girl Scout's lemonade stand, you’ll find yourself bouncing along to the music and wondering how three minutes and thirty-six seconds could have passed so quickly. — Samantha Vincenty
Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé proved one thing — many things, everything — when they released the over-indulgent ode to self-love, “Feeling Myself.” The pair are such a dynamic force that they need nary a bit of promo to get the word out when they release new material. We already knew this to be true when Bey dropped a surprise album in the middle of the night back in 2013, but it was cemented as veritable fact for the both of them when “Feeling Myself” dropped with zero warning. The blogosphere was immediately set ablaze as fans and haters alike fell all over themselves trying to find a ripped copy of the video — it’s still only officially available on Jay Z’s streaming site, TIDAL.
And with the way the world erupted, you'd think “Feeling Myself" would revolve around an intense storyline. Some stark, yet original concept. Maybe some prevalent nudity in there. And while it lacks on most of those fronts, the video is original in its own way: Minaj and Beyonce, two powerhouse artists in their own right, aren’t competing or performing. They’re just hanging out, eating burgers and pouring champagne into a pool. There’s something to be said for the way the general public perceives celebrity. These two are flawless.mp3 no doubt, but their ability to embrace their goofiness along with their inherent next level self-confidence is an alluring sight to see. It’s casual, it’s breezy, but Minaj and Beyonce quite clearly call the shots...and they don’t let you forget it. — Ali Szubiak
Our beloved Brit Brit just loves herself an Actressney moment, which is why when it came time to provide a visual for her goofy female empowerment bop "Pretty Girls" with newfound Aussie BFF Iggy Azalea (she loves that accent, y'all!), the Living Legend went all in with an Earth Girls Are Easy-inspired alien romp downtown (where her posse's at) through downtown LA. The only thing more painful than those camp '80s get-ups is their super sill-ay improvised car chat ("Fix it for may!"), but mercifully, B-Girl supplies us with a few hairflip-filled breakdowns that provide us with a brief sparkle of vintage Godney. When Britney's having a cool and fun time, we're all having a cool and fun time. — Bradley Stern
The video for Rihanna’s first post-Unapologetic single is the unfussy result of colliding bare bones with brass tacks, and is all the more striking for it. RiRi, Kanye West and Paul McCartney share a scaled-down, black-and white frame in the clip, through which the makeshift garage band convincingly scoffs at the idea that an unfettered jam band can’t make an impression. You won’t find lasers, love-drugs or stacks of cash here, but why settle for gimmicks when you’ve managed to get your mitts on a backstage pass to an unlisted acoustic set? — Matthew Donnelly
As Amy Schumer has pointed out more than once on her show, Inside Amy Schumer, the booty obsession that pervades strip club anthems went mainstream a few years ago (and shows no signs of slowing down). The comedian recruited Amber Rose — a woman with one of the most celebrated asses in hip hop — for a clip that, at first glance, could be just another butt-fixated rap video. Yet its genius lies in calling attention to the um, business end’s main function, and as eager men watch all the twerking they can’t ignore the lyrics: “This is where the poo comes out / This is where the poo comes out / This is what you think is hot?”
Amber Tamblyn watches approvingly as Girls actor Jemima Kirke shakes her butt in gold lamé leggings, but the video’s hilarious paradox leaves the viewer conflicted — and laughing — as Method Man shows up to praise the “fudge machine.” — Samantha Vincenty
This 1989-era iteration of Taylor Swift has truly been a sight to behold. She ditched the sad sack victim complex of years past, choosing to coat her newfound image in a thick, feminist lacquer instead. And it suits her, especially in the female-centric music video for “Bad Blood." The highly anticipated clip has all the makings of a short film — an insane amount of promo preceding its release, pyrotechnic flair, a wardrobe straight out of a Los Angeles sex shop and a million think pieces written about it following its premiere. The track itself even gets a much needed sonic boost from mammoth hip hop talent, Kendrick Lamar. (Truth be told it doesn’t work nearly as well without him.)The video, meanwhile, is a mishmash of references — it draws imagery from The Hunger Games, Divergent, Tron, Sin City, even Robert Wiles' famous photograph “The Most Beautiful Suicide.” Yes, it is absolutely over-saturated with famous faces, but what’s the point of fame if you can’t show off a little?
T.S. Eliot once wrote, “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but with a whimper." So it is in “Bad Blood,” its ultimate anti-climactic end culminating in the feeble slapping sound of Selena and Taylor’s hands grazing against each other with weakened force. And that’s the joke, isn’t it? All that buildup only to be faced with ultimate disappointment? Touche, Taylor. — Ali Szubiak
Tinashe gave the public a taste of her ability to whip up some fierce footwork in the decidedly turnt up video for her breakout club banger, "2 On," last year. But this time around, all bets are off — and all hands are most certainly on deck. With her latest Aquarius offering in tow, the multitalented pop princess bends and snaps her way through a shipyard, reminding us all of a time when pop stars actually used to dance. Hard. Never before has a shipping container looked so fierce. — Bradley Stern