Ciara's Top 5:
A Mitch, "Days"
A Mitch's track "Days" (from his album Pro Bono) is eerie but beautiful, and that vibe is matched by its music video. Shot by local director Erik Eagon, it finds the Portland rapper stranded on the rugged Oregon Coast, spoofing Cast Away as he wanders around the waterfalls and woods with his own Wilson volleyball.
Haim, "Right Now"
The Paul Thomas Anderson-directed live music video for Haim's "Right Now" (from their new album Something to Tell You) is striking—the three sisters are totally in sync as they execute the song's slow build. The visual is simple, but watching these three musicians work in perfect tandem was enough to give me goosebumps.
Moses Sumney, "Lonely World"
Moses Sumney's voice is gorgeous—it's both mystical and soulful, especially on "Lonely World," one of my favorite songs of 2017. The accompanying music video is built around the classic mermaid tale; Sumney is walking along a rocky coast when he happens upon a beached mermaid. But the interaction that follows is strange and definitely worth watching.
Alex Cameron, "Candy May"
The music video for Alex Cameron's "Candy May" sees him cruising through the desert, dancing alone in parking lots, and swaggering around Las Vegas. It's stunning to look at, from the bright neon lights to the muted Southwestern sunsets.
Charli XCX, "Boys"
Charli XCX's music video for "Boys" features footage of a bunch of famous boys (like Aminé!) wearing pink and rolling around in rose petals and smiling and dancing and cuddling with teddy bears and puppies. It's a complete reversal of the music video status quo—in which women are often objectified—and instead places men in the path of the female gaze. It's radical in a very tender, sweet way.
Jenni's Top 5:
Jay-Z, “The Story of O.J.”
In my humble opinion, the best music video of 2017 is Jay-Z’s “Story of O.J..” In a Disney-style animation that harkens to old racist propaganda cartoons, the video sees Hova drawn in the various “nigga” roles described in the song. The lyrics and production are brilliant on their own, but I always advise people to watch the accompanying video on their first listen, as it hammers home 4:44’s themes of how Black men navigate American society, and handle success after being poor, perfectly illustrating Jay-Z’s desire to create a legacy of generational wealth within the Black community.
Tank and the Bangas, “Quick”
NPR Tiny Desk Contest winners Tank and the Bangas’ song “Quick,” is sort of a cautionary tale from the 10-piece New Orleans band. And, though it’s a thrilling watch, the music video may not be suitable for work. Lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball narrates the story—partially in spoken word, and partially in her soulful powerhouse vocals—of a young woman who engages in various debauchery, and gets an earful from her mother about being a party girl. The main character later commits a murder in self-defense, and it is so satisfying.
SZA, “Drew Barrymore”
One of my personal favorite tracks of SZA’s out-of-this-world fantastic album Ctrl has an appropriately chilly visual for the singer’s “Am I warm enough for ya?” lyrics. The gorgeous video—which includes a cameo from Drew Barrymore herself—is set in a snow-covered New York which sees SZA gallivanting through the streets with friends, sledding downhill, smoking blunts, eating pizza, and looking like a snack while she does everything she can to cope with her romantic struggles. It’s a detailed and relatable montage that doesn’t make breaking up seem so bad.
Kendrick Lamar, “DNA”
As you probably already know, the excellent video for Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” single (off his Grammy-nominated DAMN.) features a jail interrogation from Don Cheadle that goes awry when “Kung Fu Kenny” asserts his super powers of bodily manipulation. The video also served as a confirmation that Kendrick’s nickname moniker was based on Cheadle’s Kung Fu Kenny character in Rush Hour 2.
Myke Bogan feat. Blossom, “Take the Nite Off”
The Tim Slew-directed music video for “Take the Nite Off” from Myke Bogan’s debut album Pool Party is definitely eye-catching; pairs of young women kiss in the background of the laid back and hazy scene (some of whom you might recognize if you ever run in Portland’s hip-hop minded creative circle). The girl-on-girl action is, of course, lovely. But I also love the little details that’re distinctly representative of Portland: Blossom wears a red jersey with the city’s name, and a Pendleton blanket sits on the back of the couch Bogan and Blossom are sitting on.