We love music videos. We love music videos more than we love absolutely ANYTHING ELSE on this earth and would happily spend the rest of our days watching them in an endless reel while crying with all the various emotions that we experience.
In light of this pure and beautiful love, we have chosen the best music videos from every year from the year 2000 till now
It was hard and some difficult decisions had to be made, but what follows is the Official Objectively Correct Best Video Of Every Year Of The 21st Century.
Oh, and we will wait until the end of 2022 to announce our favorite video of this year but this recent gem from Stormzy, directed by KLVDR, is simply stunning. It's for their new song Mel Made Me Do It and it is a cameo-packed masterpiece.
Best music videos of the last 25 years
1. Childish Gambino - This Is America (2018)watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Hiro Murai
A video, and song, that has aged like a fine wine. Everything showcased here is even more relevant now than when it was released. Childish Gambino has created a parable for the ages - one that focuses on the fully fledged fire that appears with when sparks of hatred appear.
2. Fatboy Slim - 'Weapon Of Choice' (2001)Watch on YouTube
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Maybe one of the best music videos of all time, this won six MTV awards in the year of its release and features Christopher Walken dancing - and flying!- around an empty LA Marriott. If watching this doesn’t bring a smile to your face you might be dead inside.
3. OK Go - 'Here It Goes Again' (2006)Watch on YouTube
Directed by: Damian Kulash, Trish Sie
It’s hard to describe the impact this video had on the Internet in an era before TikTok, memes or YouTube’s first birthday. OK Go suck (sorry) but this is a stellar piece of gym-based choreography. It’s also a lot harder than it looks, as discovered by the many, many people who tried to recreate its beauty.
4. David Bowie - Lazarus (2016)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Johan Renck
The most poignant video on this list, given it was released within days of David Bowie passing away, the video Lazarus is a masterclass in surreal symbolism, showcasing a chameleon-like Bowie bowing out. Director Johan Renck was one of the few people in the world to know that Bowie was dying and this is a fitting farewell as any.
5. Beyoncé - 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' (2008)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Jake Nava
A masterpiece of choreography and video work, this is hands down the best video of 2008 if not *Kanye voice* OF ALL TIME! (Sorry Taylor).
6. OutKast - 'The Way You Move' Ft. Sleepy Brown (2004)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Bryan Barber
This list would be a LIE if Outkast didn’t win at least one year. Pretty much every music video featuring Andre 3000 and Big Boi could be on a best of all time list, and this bonkers piece of cinematography is one of their best. Featuring some heavy green screen usage, the video sees Outkast in a mechanics garage, an ornate ballroom, the plains of Africa and also features a light saber fight in a Japan and some truly great dancing. It’s gloriously ridiculous and a whole lot of fun.
7. M.I.A. - 'Bad Girls' (2012)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Romain Gavras
Filmed in Morocco and featuring incredible footage of the country’s drag racing scene, this video gave us one of the best images ever: MIA filing her nails on top of a MOVING SIDEWAYS BMW. I have watched it 12 times in a row now and every time is somehow better than the last. Be good to yourself and watch in 1080p for the full jaw-dropping experience.
8. Sia - 'Chandelier' (2014)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by Sia and Daniel Askill
One of the most viewed music videos of all time (nearly 2.5 billion views and counting), Sia used dancer Maddie Ziegler to compliment her music and it works beautifully. Ziegler would star in more of Sia's videos and, more recently, she starred in West Side Story. They both bore the brunt of critical backlash, though, for the movie Music.
9. Christina Aguilera - 'Dirrty' Ft. Redman (2002)Watch on YouTube
Directed by: David LaChapelle
2002, what a year. Also bringing us Justin Timberlake - ‘Senorita’, Missy Elliot - ‘Work It’, Kylie Minogue’s ‘Come Into My World’ and P.Diddy’s ‘Bad Boy For Life’ video featuring more celebrities than a red carpet, this one was a hard decision. But Christina Aguilera’s iconic comeback video takes the crown if only for the shock factor: I remember exactly where I was when I first saw it and I’m willing to bet cold hard cash that you do too.
10. Rammstein - Deutschland (2019)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Specter Berlin
Perhaps the most controversial video on this list but we wouldn't expect anything else from Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein. Over the course of its 9 minutes, this epic moves swiftly through the grizzly history of Germany, from 16AD all the way up to the present. There's A LOT of fighting - from Roman legionnaires to knights to East Berlin communists and disturbing Holocaust scenes. The whole thing is watched over by some sort of queen and jaw dropping and not for the faint of heart.
11. Kendrick Lamar - 'Alright' (2015)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: The Little Homies, Colin Tilley
Kendrick is a master of the music video, and another artist who could’ve had the best video of the year literally every year he’s put one out. Shot beautifully on black and white, ‘Alright’ is a beautiful display of black joy in the face of police brutality.
12. Kanye West - 'Gold Digger' Ft. Jamie Foxx (2005)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Hype Williams
Another champion of the music video is Mr. Kanye West. Directed by master of the medium Hype Williams and featuring some of the era’s most famous video vixens as moving magazine covers, this video is a joy to watch due its exceptional use of colour and lighting. And Jamie Foxx.
13. LCD Soundsystem - 'All My Friends' (2007)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Tom Kuntz
One of the very best songs of the 2000s also has a stunning video, which features James Murphy's face in face paint channeling his inner Peter Gabriel, while the band eventually appear in the background and rain starts to pour on to him. Epic stuff.
14. UNKLE - 'Heaven' (2009)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Spike Jonze and Ty Evans
Skateboarding and explosions soundtracked by this airy gem of a track.
15. Tyler The Creator - 'Yonkers' (2011)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Wolf Haley
2011 was the year we were introduced to (now) cult skate-rap super crew Odd Future, and Tyler’s simple yet sinister visuals are a perfect accompaniment to the dark beat and flow of debut track ‘Yonkers’. Trigger warning: suicide and also a huge cockroach.
16. Charli XCX - 'Boys' (2017)Watch now on YouTube
Director: Charli XCX, Sarah McColgan
Featuring almost every hot boy in the world pandering to the female gaze with cuddly toys, inflatable flamingoes and milk mustaches, this sugary fun-filled visual was the antidote we all needed in the garbage fire that was 2017 as a year.
17. JAY-Z - 'Big Pimpin' Ft. UGK (2000)Watch on YouTube
Directed by: Hype Williams
This is early 2000’s hip-hop opulence at its finest: yachts, cigars, mansions, money being thrown into the air and approximately 6 million beautiful women having champagne poured on them. A golden era.
18. Pharrell - 'Frontin' Ft. Jay-Z (2003)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Paul Hunter
Another huge year for the music video (honourable mentions to Kelis’s ‘Milkshake’, Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’, White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ and Benni Benassi ‘Satisfaction’) - but Pharrell’s ‘Frontin’ is the winner if only because it made literally the entire world develop a crush on the N.E.R.D. front-man. It’s also one of those videos that can be used as a time capsule for if the aliens ever come to visit and want to know what 2003 was like - low-rise jeans, trucker caps, a skate ramp in the living room and Jay-Z’s verse being delivered on the display screen of a digital camera. What a time!
19. Rihanna - 'Rude Boy' (2010)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Melina Matsoukas
WHERE TO BEGIN. This colourful and cartoon-filled Caribbean banger sees the queen of the region herself rocking some sensational outfits including a STUDDED GOLD BODYSUIT and THOSE BOOTS. She also plays the drums, simulates having sex with a lion and looks down a male dancer’s trousers whilst singing “is you big enough”. What more do you need?
20. Harry Styles - 'Watermelon Sugar' (2020)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Bradley & Pablo
Before the song was shot even further into the stratosphere thanks to TikTok virality (via the Watermelon sugar / Seaside SEB mashup), the video for Styles' brilliant solo hit is a sun-drenched double entendre masterclass.
21. Justin Timberlake - Suit & Tie (2013)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: David Fincher
Before he shot to fame in Hollywood, David Fincher was one of the best music video directors around. Suit & Tie brought him back to the format with this superb video that has echoes of Madonna's genre-breaking Vogue video, which was directed by... David Fincher.
22. Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u (2021)Watch now on YouTube
Directed by: Petra Collins
One of the most infectious songs of the decade is paired with a video where abject rage has never looked so sweet. It wouldn't work without Rodrigo absolutely bossing the acting in the video and that's exactly what she does. It's also packed with homages, from Jennifer's Body to The Princess Diaries and, surprisingly, the controversial J-Horror Audition.
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Original article Niloufar Haidari; additional reporting Marc Chacksfield