Top 15 Videos From 2014

15 videos that take the original song to a completely new level.

The music video is alive and well heading into 2015.

Viral content is the goal of every web publisher and bands are no exception as they compete for fans in crowded social media news feeds. While the days of mega-budget music videos may be gone for a lot of artists, the means of production have become accessible to the point where quality and creativity is the best it’s ever been.

We asked writers and producers what the best music videos were in 2014 and here is what they said.

#15: Bahamas – “Stronger Than That”

A ridiculous mockumentary/music video featuring Afie attending your everyday run-of-the-mill strongman competition. The absurdity is punctuated by the giant men lifting massive boulders, pulling trucks, and pushing heavy weights — all to prove who is ‘stronger’.

#14: Dan Mangan – “Vessel”

Steeped in Canadian imagery and symbolism, director Ben Clarkson explained some of the meaning behind the unique visuals in his video for “Vessel”: “It is complicated to open a conversation about the way we depict our history and our identity. Stories are powerful, and the way histories are told often reinforce the power of the powerful. How we tell the story, how our oral, written and visual traditions transmit interpretations of the past affects our behaviour, our ontology, here in the present.

#13: July Talk – “Summer Dress”

July Talk has one the best visual aesthetics in music right now and “Summer Dress” is one of the most technically perfect videos you’ll see from 2014. Every frame has a purpose and the result is full of contrast, tense energy, sex appeal, and aggression — everything that makes this band great.

#12: Mr. Oizo – “Ham”

Inspired by an eye-opening trip to Wal-Mart and released appropriately on Black Friday, “Ham” is Eric Wareheim’s take on the state of consumerism in the United States. “Society is going toward fast food, obesity, and all the gun violence that’s been going on for the past couple years—it hit me really hard and I wanted to make something kind of showing the future of America, or actually present day America.” (Source)

#11: Jose Gonzales – “Every Age”

Jose Gonzales has a new album due early next year and will be titled Vestiges and Claws. The first track is sparse and haunting and the accompanying video documents a voyage to Earth’s outer atmosphere in a hot air balloon – all shot through a fish eye lens. The result is strangely transcendent.

#10: Owen Pallett – “Riverbed”

This video presents a day in the life of an elderly man and his futile attempts to feel empowered. The video ends with an ominous threat of senseless violence. The video leaves the viewer hanging as the main protagonist runs headlong into what appears to be one last senseless conflict.

#9: Timber Timbre – “Beat the Drum Slowly”

Animated by Chad Vangaalen, “Beat the Drum Slowly” is a mysterious and death-obsessed animated descent into the mind of Timber Timbre. Vangaalen explores the gooeyness and violence of the human body that has become quite literally bound to technology.

#8: Chet Faker – “Gold”

Sexy without being sleazy. Technically amazing and hypnotic – just like the song. Once you press play, you won’t take your eyes of the screen.

#7: OK Go – “The Writing’s On the Wall”

2014 gave us another installment in OK Go’s long-running tradition of making technically challenging, visually stimulating and mind-bending music videos. This video was shot in a single take using one camera that was passed around between band members through a warehouse with various sets that take us through a series of optical illusions and eye tricks. Impressively, no visual effects were used in the making of this video, and all the illusions were created in-camera with real objects.

#6: Sia – “Chandelier”

With over 400 million views on YouTube, this was one of the most watched music videos this year. It even inspired one of the best moments on SNL this year with Jim Carrey and Kate McKinnon reenacting the video by competing in a dance-off. Wearing a blonde Sia wig, the star of the video is 12 year old dancer Maddie Ziegler, cast personally by Sia (who also directed the video). Ziegler described the making of the video as “really different and weird for me, because I usually don’t, you know, be a crazy person“, with only direction being “use your crazy eyes and just be weird.” (Source)

#5: Brave Shores “Never Come Down”

This video perfectly captures the whimsy, infectiousness, and straight up fun that defines Toronto’s latest buzz-band. Look out for great things in 2015.

#4: Mac DeMarco – “Passing Out Pieces”

Mac DeMarco has a long and notorious history of making strange, cringe-inducing music videos, and this one (directed by Mac’s bandmate Pierce McGarry) is no exception. Fingers are lopped off, Mac commits multiple murders, smokes a bleach-soaked cigarette and hallucinates giving birth in a bathtub full of cabbage.

#3: Pup – “Guilt Trip”

Shot mostly in a wet lumberyard in British Columbia, the video for Pup’s “Guilt Trip” shares a dramatically fictionalized, dark and violent childhood origin story of the band.

#2: Owen Pallett – “In Conflict”

Evocative, mysterious, and melancholy, “In-Conflict” acts as the visual counterpoint to Pallett’s latest album of the same name. A visually stunning examination of intimacy and alienation set to one hell of a song.

#1: Alt j – “Hunger Of The Pine”

Directed by the highly acclaimed Nabil Elderkin, this video gave us our first taste of alt-J’s follow-up to their incredible debut album. Helplessly, we watch a man’s hopeless attempt to flee from a non-stop volley of arrows launched by unseen assailants.