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The Best Music Videos Of The Decade: 2016 - 19

The Best Music Videos Of The Decade: 2016 - 19

David Knight - 28th Dec 2019

And so to our final part of our look back at the decade that is about to pass into history. This takes in the final four years of the Twenty Tens, and our list shows how this period started with some of the biggest and best-loved videos of the period.

Following the previous two parts of our feature on The Best Music Videos Of The Decade, covering 2010 - 12 and 2013 - 15, the years 2016 to 2019 has seen a familiar pattern of directors breaking through in music videos before cracking it in commercials and beyond. Directors have also returned to make masterpieces.

As a certain band of videos started breaking through the billion views barrier, and budgets have increased, big names of the past have regularly returned, like Dave Meyers. Less expected, movie auteur Paul Thomas Anderson has become a regular maker of music videos. And this period contains the one video that can reasonably claim to have transcended the medium, and be instantly regarded as Art: Hiro Murai's video for Childish Gambino's This Is America.   

In creating this list, we have followed criteria of creativity that would apply when judging the UKMVAs or other creative awards. But we have also acknowledeged some gamechanging viral smash hits. in most cases, we've also added a quote from the text that was written when these videos were first featured on Promonews.

We're also open to suggestions to adding more from these years - DM us on Instagram (, with your suggestions for 2016-19 - and the earlier years of the Twenty Tens, as covered here and here.

Beyoncé - Formation (2016)
Director: Melina Matsoukas

Released the day before her Black Panther-referencing performance at the Superbowl in early 2016, we wrote: "Its implicit criticism of the police, together with her wide-ranging celebration of the American black experience, is a Beyoncé-shaped addition to the Black Lives Matter cause..."

The Blaze - Virile (2016)
Director: Jonathan Alric & Guillaume Alric (The Blaze)

A remarkable introduction to musicians who are also highly proficient filmmakers. 

The Chemical Brothers ft Beck - Wide Open (2016) 
Directors: Dom & Nic

"It's a one-shot video capturing Mizuno - who starred in the 2014 movie Ex Machina – dancing in an open space, and gradually undergoing a physical metamorphosis, from organic to synthetic. Her transformation into an artificial 3D version of herself – composed of see-through mesh – is a brilliant technical feat that looks more impressive with every viewing."

Coldplay - Up & Up (2016)
Directors: Vania Heymann & Gal Muggia

"Up is West. Down is behind you. Chris Martin is a thousand feet tall and using a mountain range as a beanbag. It'd be an almost nightmarish vision if it wasn't so brilliantly done."

David Bowie - Lazarus (2016)
Director: Johan Renck

We wrote, in a piece the day before the announcement of Bowie's death: "Bowie gives a tremendous performance (a very Bowie-esque one)... Capturing a fire in the eyes and a cheeky grin straight out of a Mick Rock photo, Johan Renck has coaxed something of the old cracked actor back."

DJ Shadow ft Run The Jewels - Nobody Speak (2016)
Director: Sam Pilling

"High-level international diplomacy that very quickly turns into an hilarious if slightly scary international brawl... the execution is brilliant, with visual punchlines delivered throughout with perfect timing."

Jamie XX - Gosh (2016)
Director: Romain Gavras

"Shot in a replica Paris in the Chinese province of Jiangsu... an opaque story of power and submission, on an epic scale, involving hundreds of identically dressed (and coiffured) extras, a striking central character, and a blue Suburu."

Massive Attack, Young Fathers - Voodoo In My Blood (2016)
Director: Ringan Ledwidge

"The way that the sphere controls an increasingly mesmerized [Rosumund] Pike is a nailbiting study in menacing suspense, as well as a metaphor on human dependence on technology."

Mikke Snow - Genghis Khan (2016)
Director: Ninian Doff

We wrote: "[Ninian Doff] gleefully dismantles the classic 007 mythology - with song and dance numbers, good performances (Adam Jones is excellent as the villain), and almost sacriligious plot twists."

Valentino Khan – Deep Down Low (2016)
Director: Ian Pons Jewell

"With peoples' dancing facial features and tentacles bursting out of the waitresses eye sockets, there's only so much the man can take..."

alt-J - 3WW (2017)
Director: Young Replicant

"A beautiful death march frozen in time... a perfect, morbid, visually-arresting resurrection story..."

The Blaze - Territory (2017)
Director: Jonathan Alric & Guillaume Alric (The Blaze)

"France's historic involvement in Algeria and Algiers in particular, and the images of a group of men in dominant display, add layers of meaning to the concept of territory... this video very clearly establishes itself as an intelligent and incisive work."

Bonobo ft Nick Murphy - No Reason (2017)
Director: Oscar Hudson

"Littered with subtle easter eggs relating to Bonobo's latest record, brilliant bits of production design and some fantastic lighting effects, this clip is a real achievement - evoking the playful, surreal feeling of now classic 90s-era Jonze and Gondry videos."

Dua Lipa - New Rules (2017)
Director: Henry Scholfield

"A beautifully designed, cast and styled production number in three acts, with on-point choreography and continually inventive camerawork. It combines the spirit and look of '50s Americana with a fresh, whipsmart attitude. And flamingos."

Kendrick Lamar - Humble. (2017)
Director: Dave Meyers & The Little Homies

"It's a big video - perhaps the biggest this year so far – that's going to stand up to viewing, and mulling over, again and again..." 

Young Thug - Wyclef Jean (2017)
Director: Ryan Staake

"There have been meta-videos before, and they tend to be fun things. But this may well be the best ever. And as Young Thug doesn't come out of it in the best light, somewhat miraculous that it was released at all."

A$AP Rocky - Sundress (2018)
Director: Frank Lebon

"A bravura exercise in inventive storytelling and technical virtuosity, with a certain psychological insight."

Billie Eilish - when the party's over (2018)
Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada

"Possibly the most ghoulish and gothic video ever to be shot in a completely white space. Just in time for Halloween..." 

Chaka Khan - Like Sugar (2018)
Director: Kim Gehrig

"A simple but deceptively clever idea that’s been expertly executed... an increasingly surreal mix of manic energy, gif-like dance moves and vibrant colours."

Childish Gambino - This Is America (2018)
Director: Hiro Murai

"With everything to Glover's 'Jim Crow' pose to the appearance of a Horseman of the Apocalypse being analysed and deconstructed all over the internet, the details are there to be debated and discussed. But the themes of violence, gun reverence, chaos and fear - and the fact that this comes from a black man's perspective - are plain as day. Draw your own conclusions."

Florence + The Machine - Big God (2018)
Director: Autumn De Wilde

"As a piece which is both exquisite to look at, and also hugely emotional, it must rank as one of the best Florence + The Machine videos ever."

Jon Hopkins - Singularity (2018)
Director: Seb Edwards

"Part dance piece, part superhero film, part psychological drama, Edwards takes us into a self-contained world in which everything is at the service to the music."

Rosalía - Malamente (2018)
Director: CANADA

"A characteristically brilliant and beautiful work that reimagines classic Spanish iconography in a thrilling fashion."

Sevdaliza - Shahmaran (2018)
Director: Emmanuel Adjei

"A cinematic experience [that] explores and questions the fascinations and desires of the human mind... highly sophisticated, complex and beautifully executed piece. More an art film than merely a music video."

FKA twigs - Cellophane (2019)
Director: Andrew Thomas Huang

FKA Twigs: "when I wrote cellophane over a year ago a visual narrative came to me immediately, I knew I had to learn how to pole-dance to bring it to life... thank you andrew, for elevating my vision beyond words. you are a visionary."

Lizzo - Juice (2019)
Director: Quinn Wilson

Because you demanded it! The most suggested video on our Instagram feed since we started the Best Videos Of The Decade series of articles is Quinn Wilson's video for . This came out right at the start of 2019 and was a great intro to the effervescent singer-songwriter and flautist who has had an amazing year.  

Salvatore Ganacci - Horse (2019)
Director: Vedran Rupic

"An absolute gem of absurdity... perhaps not for you, if you don't like even comedy violence to animals, even fake ones. But pure hilarious joy for everyone else."

Stormzy - Vossi Pop (2019)
Director: Henry Scholfield

"Transitioning from epic scene to epic scene [with] an intensity that never falters, Stormzy dominates the screen... It's a real statement of intent, from start to finish."

Tove Lo - Glad He's Gone (2019)
Director: Vania Heymann & Gal Muggia

"The video is spectacular and sweeping, and another tour de force of concept and VFX by [Heymann and Muggia}... But it's also a great showcase for Tove Lo's dry, high-concept humour." 

Thom Yorke - Anima (2019)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

​It's significance partly derives from the fact this was commissioned by Netflix and exclusive to the streaming service (so the only one you cannot watch here). Is that a one-off or the shape of things to come? And it was also the latest and the most beautifully achieved collaboration between Thom Yorke and Pauo Thomas Anderson, a celebrated movie director who now has a real taste for making music videos.

Wiley, Stefflon Don, Sean Paul ft Idris Elba - Boasty (2019)
Director: Henry Scholfield

"A hugely entertaining, non-stop expression of the vibrancy of modern London, a celebration of street culture, and, perhaps above all, a statement about the musical powerhouse that is Grime..."

• What have we missed? DM us your suggestions. Check out our previous Best of the Decade lists, for 2010 - 12, and 2013 - 15



David Knight - 28th Dec 2019


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