Regardless of who you ask, it’s bound to be a unanimous decision that 2016 was one of the weirdest years for music in recent times. We experienced the emotional losses of 20th century icons with the deaths of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. We saw the triumphant return of Radiohead, Frank Ocean, and Bon Iver – and somehow, Kanye became even weirder than he already was. In celebration of the weird and wacky year that was 2016, we cap off some of the most memorable music videos to grace our eyeballs throughout the year.
David Bowie – ‘Lazarus’
What’s more David Bowie than releasing an album in conjunction with your own death?
Released three days before his passing in January, ‘Lazarus’ is both a visual and sonic masterpiece, with its lucid, free-jazz textures perfectly complimenting Bowie’s reflections on mortality as he lays bound on his deathbed – seemingly creating a haunting personal etitaph to cement his legacy as one of the greatest artists of all time.
Radiohead – ‘Burn the Witch’
While ‘Daydreaming’ was also a strong contender, the claymation clip for ‘Burn the Witch’ just oozes Radiohead. Merging elements of the 1973 cult-horror flick ‘The Wicker Man’ with the innocence of Camberwick Green-like claymation, the lead single from A Moon Shaped Pool tends to make a statement on authoritarianism and radical political tactics adopted by recent right-wing politicians in this somewhat disturbing video.
Frank Ocean – ‘Nikes’
Complimenting the incredible LP Blonde, the woozily pitch-shifted NSFW video for ‘Nikes’ is comprised of glitter, girls, cars, lean drinking, and Frank Ocean sporting winged eyeliner as he mumbles endless stoner-isms throughout the track (“Rule number one – don’t take no photos at the party. Rule number two – don’t take no photos at the party.”). Visually packed full with pop-culture references and socio-political imagery, ‘Nikes’ is a dazzling, visual treat for all those fans the elusive Frank Ocean kept waiting for five years.
Jamie xx – ‘Gosh’
Alright, this might be cheating. I don’t actually know if this is allowed or not, seeing In Colour was released mid-2015 and ‘Gosh’ already has an alternate video, but everyone needs to see this clip – it’s an absolute masterpiece. Filmed in Tianducheng; the Chinese city which is literally a replica of Paris, the incredible Roman Gavras-helmed video was filmed without the use of CGI and features more than four hundred actors, creating a jaw dropping video to compliment The xx beatmaker’s first solo outing.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – ‘People-Vultures’
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have had an absolute belter of a year. Along with announcing their plans to release five albums in 2017, the Melbourne psych-wunderkinds’ video for Nonagon Infinity’s ‘People-Vultures’ was recently crowned Video of the Year by Triple J. The Monty Python-esque clip sees the lads battle it out with a cast of costumed superheroes whilst jamming inside a massive puppet vulture: it really doesn’t get much better than that.
Beyonce – ‘Lemonade’
Look, you’re probably sick of hearing it – but Beyonce’s new album is really good. It’s even better when you watch the accompanying ‘visual album,’ which effectively highlights the album’s lyrical themes of infidelity, racism and womanhood in a fluid, emotional masterpiece. Watch out for highlights in the Jack White featuring track ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ and ‘Forward,’ a collaboration with down-tempo crooner James Blake paired with moving visuals in a bold reflection of the social injustice in modern America.
Check it out here.
PUP – ‘Sleep in the Heat’
Music videos featuring animals are always bound to be tear-jerkers. In this video from the Canadian group’s second studio effort, child actor Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame stars in a vivid coming-of-age story scored by PUP’s signature brand of punk rock. This clip absolutely drips of teenage exuberance.
The Avalanches – ‘Frankie Sinatra’
After an excruciatingly long sixteen years, The Avalanches finally made their return in June with their oddball clip for ‘Frankie Sinatra.’ Danny Brown and MF DOOM spit bars over a heavy sample beat in a visual adventure fuelled by hovercrafts and juice, which can only be described as Swamp People on acid. It’s truly a worthy successor to their now iconic ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ video.
Anohni – ‘Drone Bomb Me’
While contemporary dance music videos are a dime a dozen these days, there’s something special about Anohni. ‘Drone Bomb Me’ is an extremely powerful track, revolving around the concept of a young girl from Afghanistan craving to be hit by a US drone strike to join her family in death. The moving film clip depicts British supermodel Naomi Campbell lip-syncing the track with tears streaming down her face as male dancers contort limbs and flow seamlessly around her in an unforgettably moving show of performance.
Death Grips – ‘Giving Good People Bad Ideas’
An oddball addition to a list otherwise comprised of big budget studio productions, Death Grips outdo themselves with this one. Simple yet effective, this hectic track from the industrial rap trio’s latest cut Bottomless Pit features the mangling of a leather shoe – and that’s just about it; effectively redefining the notion of punk for a new generation.