The musical days of MTV and VH1 are long gone, but YouTube and other video hosting sites have quickly filled their void, and as such, made the art of the music video more direct, sharable, and important for an artist than ever before. Where once you had to watch an entire countdown show just to see your fav’s latest visual, you can now click a few times...et voilà! You’ve increased their watch count by one and inadvertently connected with the artist on a more personal level than you would have via television. Because of this, music videos aren’t just about cool dance moves and flashy outfits anymore. Hell, people like Beyoncé and Kanye West are making entire albums out of them. They’re politically and socially charged, and that’s what makes this time so exciting.
This year spawned videos that the early-Aughts would’ve deemed too artistic. Now, thanks to Kendrick Lamar, FKA twigs, and others, the more boundary-pushing you can be, the better. Some of the best ones to come out of 2015 juxtaposed political statements with the glamour of a polished music video; highlighted an artist’s variety of egos; poked fun at the media; brought back the flip phone. There were teasers for videos, countdowns, and other odd types of promotions that were unheard of a few years ago.
Keeping up with it all—let alone narrowing down 365 days of videos—was no easy feat. But one thing’s for sure: The 20 videos ahead are among the top tier of prime music video making, and set the bar for 2016’s roster pretty damn high. So let’s look back one more time before we dive into the new year, where new, exciting projects await.