Best Music Videos of 2014

The 20 Best Music Videos of 2014

From widescreen grandeur to gap-toothed DIY mischief, this year's best music videos elevated and sometimes bettered the songs they were attached to.

- Dec 5, 2014

As MuchMusic (or sorry, Much) continues to distance itself from the function that initially defined it and YouTube functions more as a streaming service than as any plausible VideoFlow alternative, music videos have stayed relevant against all odds. For that you can thank the legit video auteurs in our list below, all gathering influences from cyberpunk, cult films, the clubs and the streets to elevate the medium beyond its once primarily marketing function.

Meanwhile, organizations like the Prism Prize have emerged and expanded to recognize music video directors as artists deserving of their own awards, while "Weird Al" himself has demonstrated and exploited the pervasive online buzz that can arise from a well-executed campaign. So, no, music videos aren't going anywhere.

Watch the best 20 music videos of 2014 below. And head here for the best animated music videos of 2014.

FKA twigs, "Video Girl" (dir. Kahlil Joseph)

FKA twigs - Video Girl

Masterful direction from returning 2012 champ and a stunning performance from twigs, both urging us to never look away from barbarism hiding under the auspices of civilization.

Shabazz Palaces, "#CAKE" (dir. Hiro Murai)

Shabazz Palaces - #CAKE [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Even if that Black Panther movie wasn't happening, it would still be a remarkable year for POC in fantasy, thanks to the music videos Shabazz Palaces have dropped. Stalker meets Space Is The Place.

Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar, "Never Catch Me" (dir. Hiro Murai)

Flying Lotus - Never Catch Me ft. Kendrick Lamar

The faith that fuels a country's besieged population is paid homage. As joyful as any Gene Kelly number and almost as painful as the news.

Grimes, "Go" (dirs. Grimes and Mac Boucher)

Grimes - Go ft. Blood Diamonds

Perhaps nobody wanted a video for the closing credits of an unproduced anime lingering in Grimes's subconscious. But 2014 sure needed it.

St. Vincent, "Digital Witness" (dir. Chino Moya)

St. Vincent - Digital Witness

Annie Clark is a twitchy, East Germanic Marge Simpson in a literally pencil-pushing and colour-coded society.

Owen Pallett, "In Conflict" (dir. Jason Last)

Owen Pallett - In Conflict (Official Video)

The year's most honest exploration of love is also the most elusive.

Sharon Van Etten, "Your Love Is Killing Me" (dir. Sean Durkin)

Sharon Van Etten - Your Love Is Killing Me

A pyrrhic victory unfolds, taking place with a relationship full of implied toxicity, thanks to Van Etten's moving song.

Angel Olsen, "Windows" (dir. Rick Alverson)

Angel Olsen - "Windows" (Official Video)

The most painful daydream of the year, and one of the best performances in a music video, starring Angel Olsen as a tired, jelly-faced mother. Someone put her in a movie (and if you do, and are still taking suggestions, please buy me a pizza franchise).

Willis Earl Beal, "Coming Through" (dir. Willis Earl Beal)

Willis Earl Beal - Coming Through

Bury the footage and destroy the internet, and maybe one day we'll truly believe that Mischa Barton joined a cult, led by a singer from Chicago. It's almost believable here.

Dean Blunt, "Mersh" (dir. Dean Blunt)


A king holds his court, and he does not approve.

Mykki Blanco, "She Gutta" (dir. Jude MC)

Mykki Blanco - "She Gutta" (Official Video)

Cyberpunk ain't dead yet. Jude MC delivers the gang fight cable TV's been clamouring for, with drones and anime thrown into its Natural Born Killers blend.

Perfume Genius, "Queen" (dir. SSION)

Perfume Genius - 'Queen' (Official Video)

Mike Hadreas redefines power in a number of spaces, but is it all a dream?

Vybz Kartel, "Beautiful Girl" (dir. Adri Murguia)

VICE News Gully Queens: "Beautiful Girl" (Unofficial)

The gay and transgender populations of Kingston, Jamaica who live in the city's drain system, emerge for an evening of vamping that confronts both their own marginalization and the artist who soundtracks them.

A Tribe Called Red, "Sisters" (dir. Jon Riera)

A Tribe Called Red - Sisters ft Northern Voice

A Tribe Called Red have said that as First Nations people, everything they do is political. And so this video, about three aboriginal girlfriends on a road trip to the Electric Pow Wow, is as much a wicked club video as a loadedly simple enactment of a living, partying contemporary culture.

Pussy Riot, "Putin Will Teach You How To Love" (dirs. Pussy Riot)

Pussy Riot - Putin will teach you how to love / Путин научит тебя любить Родину

Memories of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have faded, with the exception of the stand the feminist punks took against Russia's oppressive social policies.

Beyoncé, "7/11" (dir. Beyoncé?)

The biggest pop star in the world provided a more candid view of herself than an entire documentary, simply by reminding us how fun it is to dance in our living room.

"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Tacky" (dir, Weird Al; prod. Nerdist Industries)

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Tacky

In a musical climate that should logically make his brand of pop parody essentially irrelevant, the Vicar of Yanks had his biggest year ever, most of it concentrated into the 8 days that began with this joyous ode to Instagram filters (among other things).

Mac DeMarco, "Passing Out Pieces" (dir. Pierce McGarry)

Mac DeMarco - Passing Out Pieces (Official Video)

A suggestion for Eric Andre: hire Pierce McGarry as a full-time writer/editor on your show. His anarchic cartoonish sensibility is on your wavelength, and he's a proven magician with a low budget.

Wrong Hole, "HDTV" (dir. Back Channel Studios)

"HDTV" by Wrong Hole

We never knew it until this year, but lyric videos were invented for Toronto punks Wrong Hole. When you write lyrics as gloriously stupid as "Internet is Google Netflix" they deserve to be displayed onscreen.

Tanya Tagaq, "Uja / Umingmak" (Live at the Polaris Music Prize gala)

Tanya Tagaq "Uja" and "Umingmak" (live) -- Polaris Music Prize 2014

Live performances don't usually full under the jurisdiction of "music videos," but Tanya Tagaq's transcendent, indescribable performance at a gala full of industry types that would momentarily award her $30,000 is the best music video we saw all year, no matter how we define it. It would feel disingenuous not to include it.

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