There have always been sonic figureheads that have challenged the status quo. Take, for instance, Madonna, David Bowie, Björk, and Nirvana. Still, with pressures from record label execs and marketing experts, the pressure to create a widely accepted and understood video accompaniment to a Top 40 track usually trumped artistic freedom. But now, as the music industry landscape warps with the digital age, artists are no longer confined to creating formulaic, safe music videos that are “suitable for television.”
Artists like Years & Years and Troye Sivan have challenged the misrepresentation of LGBTQ figures in pop music; Beyoncé has reaffirmed the power of black women in today’s society; Pussy Riot has challenged political tradition in one of the most rigid countries on earth; and countless artists have explored what it’s like to come of age post-recession.
We’re less than three months into 2016 and already we’ve been blessed with some of the most potent, charged works in music video history. Watch them all in the gallery below.