Music videos. Where would pop be without them? Over the last 35 years, videos have become an integral part of music and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Imagine pop without the werewolves of MJ’s “Thriller” or without the flaming crucifixes of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Imagine culture without Britney’s red catsuit or Janet Jackson’s army jacket. Imagine life without “Toxic.” Frankly we’d rather not, so it came as quite a relief when some people released some videos this year. Some of them were very good. Some of them weren’t. We’ve put the good ones below.
20. Florence + the Machine – “Queen of Peace & Long and Lost”
19. Naughty Boy (feat. Beyonce and Arrow Benjamin) – “Runnin (Lose it All)”
18. The Weeknd – “The Hills”
17. Missy Elliott (feat. Pharrell Williams) – “WTF (Where They From)”
16. Troye Sivan – “WILD”
15. One Direction – “Drag Me Down”
14. Skrillex and Diplo (feat. Justin Bieber) – “Where Are U Now”
13. Tinashe (feat. Chris Brown) – “Player”
12. Disclosure (feat. Lorde) – “Magnets”
11. Madonna – “Ghosttown”
10. Lady Gaga- “Til it Happens to You”
Lady Gaga’s impassioned track about survival in the face of overwhelming odds finds a perfect visual accompaniment in this hard to watch, but ferociously important video.
9. Demi Lovato – “Cool for the Summer”
“Cool for the Summer” is Demi’s most risque offering yet, so it makes sense that the video would be equally provocative – the clip features an aesthetic explosion of neon, girl on girl teasings and hairstyles that will make no sense in five years.
8. Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj) – “Bitch I’m Madonna”
A desperate attempt to appear youthful and in-touch or a genuine celebration of Madonna’s disinterest in people’s expectations and impositions? We tend to lean towards the latter.
7. Adele – Hello
A visual triumph which perfectly captures the moody nostalgia of Adele’s enormous hit single, “Hello” will perhaps be best remembered as the video which resurrected the flip phone.
6. Sia – Elastic Heart
Shia LaBeouf cage fighting with a ten year old in a Sia wig. Need we say any more?
5. Taylor Swift (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – “Bad Blood”
There’s no doubting that Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” was the music video event of the year. Attracting a fair amount of controversy for its purported links to Swift’s feud with fellow pop entity Katy Perry, “Bad Blood” was going to be a must-watch for pop culture fans everywhere no matter what Taylor did with the video. But by giving the original track a much needed make-over, courtesy of the brilliant Kendrick Lamar, and enlisting the help of her infamous all-girl clique, Taylor Swift turned “Bad Blood” into an experience. From its nods to the videos of Britney Spears to the brutal tone of the visual, “Bad Blood” is a clip that no one will forget come 2016. – Aaron Butterfield
4. Britney Spears (feat. Iggy Azalea) – “Pretty Girls”
What makes Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea’s video for “Pretty Girls” such a strong effort from both of the blonde starlets is just how much fun the clip is. A play on an ’80s cult classic, Earth Girls Are Easy, the video is – in the best way possible – completely ridiculous from start to finish. Featuring exploding ATMs, torrents of bright pink water, absurd amounts of product placement, some purposefully goofy acting and Brit’s best dancebreak in quite some time, “Pretty Girls” is everything you could want from a Britney video. But the best thing about the “Pretty Girls” video? It finally feels like Britney’s enjoying it as much as we are again. – Aaron Butterfield
3. Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
Rather than produce the obvious video for “Sorry,” which no doubt follows Justin as he romances some hot model, Bieber handed over the reigns to all-female dance crew ReQuest to create the visual for his smash hit. The result? A brilliant, colourful and incredibly entertaining dance video that managed to rack up over 300 million views, despite JB never making an appearance in the video. The first in Bieber’s “Purpose: The Movement” series, “Sorry” was applauded by many for featuring a crew of powerful all-female dancers, with some even going so far as to label the video feminist. Whether or not it was Justin’s intent to send a message of female empowerment, we applaud him for keeping his pretty face out of this one and leaving it to the pros. – Emilie Doucet
2. Drake – “Hotline Bling”
Drake’s “Hotline Bling” peaked at the runner-up spot on BreatheHeavy’s Top 20 Music Videos of 2015 list, which is occidentally the same position it stalled at on Billboard’s Hot 100. With a heavy sample from Timmy Thomas’ 1972 song “Why Can’t We Live Together,” Drizzy offered up one hell of a booty call anthem and a visual featuring some of the most ridiculous dance moves you’ve ever witnessed from a rapper. Throw in a few star-studded covers (I’m looking at you, Disclosure, Sam Smith and Erykah Badu) and even a brief homage on “American Horror Story: Hotel” and that can only mean one thing. – James Dinh
1. Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money”
It’s not been Rihanna’s strongest year. Following far too many magazine covers, endless buzz singles and the almost laughably delayed ‘ANTi,’ you’d be excused for saying that Rihanna got more wrong than right in 2015. One thing she certainly didn’t misjudge, however, was the music video for “Bitch Better Have My Money.” An exploration of genre-specific gore, horror and thriller, “BBHMM” is far more artistic than any of Rihanna’s ANTi Diaries. Despite containing enough controversy to get almost the entire world talking about the 7 minute clip, the violence and nudity of “BBHMM” was hardly as gratuitous as the press at large seemed to believe. Giving a reasonably simple track a far deeper meaning and keeping us hooked on the solid narrative, Rihanna and co-director MegaForce achieved a perfect pop video. – Aaron Butterfield