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The Seven Best Music Videos of 2016

The demise of the music video has been greatly exaggerated thanks to the likes of Teyana Taylor in workout gear.

Patrick Greenby Patrick Green
Photo: Mat Hayward (Getty Images)

The rise of DIY culture has given new life to music videos. Once, a staple of pop culture, music videos were the forefathers of the viral video and internet meme, yet have been neglected recently as MTV went reality TV and music label budgets were cut.

Also: 2016 Music Gift Guide | 10 Presents for Music Lovers

Now, the accessibility of technology and the availability of YouTube has evened the playing field allowing artists with budgets big and small to explore the medium. The Seven Best Music Videos prove that they’re not only back, but better than ever.  

“Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels

Directed by Sam Pilling

Run the Jewels always have their middle finger on the pulse of what’s happening (including ugly Christmas sweaters). Teaming up with DJ Shadow, this hilarious video of old white guys fighting for power is a truthful depiction of the no holds-barred world of politics we live in today.

“Gosh” by Jaime XX 

Directed by Romain Gavras

There’s no narrative needed in this visionary music video starring Hassan Kone, an albino of African descent, who finds himself in a Chinese ghost town built to look like Paris (this is an actual city in Hangzhou) being worshiped by an army of  blonde-dyed haired martial artists. You don’t know what you’re watching, but you still can’t take your eyes off it.

“Because I’m Me” by The Avalanches

Directed by Greg Brunkalla

The Avalanches made a triumphant return not only to the music world in 2016, but the music video world with this feel-good 8mm-filtered stunner shot inside a New York subway station. If only Netflix’s “The Get Down” was as good as this. “Because I’m Me” has more heart, soul, and authenticity in under five minutes than the Baz Lurhman hip hop chronicle does in over 500.

“Fade” by Kanye West 

Directed by Eli Linnetz

Everyone was talking about Kanye’s NSFW “Famous” video, but it was “Fade” that got a rise out of the masses in more ways than one. The only thing more banging than the electro-beat is Teyana Taylor’s comic book body in this Flashdance-inspired video that looks like a fever dream inside Equinox.

“90210” by Travis Scott

Directed by Hype Williams

This isn’t your childhood’s stop motion. “90210” plays out more like a R-rated Robot Chicken short as we follow Travis Scott in action figure form (the same one he sold around his album release) tooling around town in Grand Theft Auto fashion indulging in big trucks and big booty before confronting his Bizarro self.

“The Greatest” by Sia 

Directed by Sia and Daniel Askill

Sia’s voice is a laser bolt of emotion and energy, yet somehow Maddie Ziegler channels the shy songstresses angelic voice into visual form. Although the former star of Dance Moms has been Sia’s alter ego in videos and concerts for a couple years now, this video, dedicated to the victims of the Orlando shooting, is perhaps her greatest performance. Ziegler, looking like a mini-Pris (Daryl Hannah), rallies an army of kids (decked out in post-apocalyptic Yeezy wear) to rise up inside an art deco prison similar to J.F. Sebastien’s robot work space.

CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ] by Aphex Twin

Directed by Ryan Wyer

If you think this DIY fan-made video was directed by a 12-year old you’re absolutely correct! Twelve year old YouTube auteur and Aphex Twin super fan, Ryan Wyer, was handpicked by the DJ himself to direct the official video for ‘CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ] after seeing the Dublin kid’s fan-made videos on YouTube.