10 music videos you may have missed in 2016

An alternative best-of featuring the alternative and under-celebrated music videos that deserved your attention in an uneven 2016.

by Tom Ivin
19 December 2016, 9:32pm

Beneath the pantheon of the MTV VMA-laden polytheistic music universe we now live in, there's a new breed of video artists that we think deserve a shot at the top shot. Topping everyone's Best of's will no doubt be Lemonade, Nikes, Views and, of course, anything Kanye has committed to film this year; but at the end of a tumultuous 12 months, we think it's time to praise the unsung heroes of music promos in 2016.

Our world is one of cyclical trends, and it's time once again for big characters, high concepts and explosive attitudes to take the podium; in politics, on the runways, and projected on the silver screens of our cinemas. Even television, and its online counterpart, is stuffed with bizarre big budget ideas, going against everything we've exhausted in the single-camera docu-style comedies that have saturated our screens for the last 10 years.

Music videos are much the same. Typically much more adept at the conceptual, artful and cerebral, but recently, money in that sector has slowly dwindled. Though, in times of hardship, artists prosper, and the ideas have stayed strong despite trickling money streams, liberated by not being chained to big corporations or having to tick boxes. No longer solely propelled by Top 40 sales, artists can express themselves on social media sites and YouTube in a way like never before, governed by a savvy bunch of online tastemakers, by shareability, internet popularity, and expertly curated images. Visuals have never been more important.

Obongjayar - Creeping (dir, Frank Lebon)
In his stylish and subtle video for Creeping, Obongjayar is hunted, spotlit in the street before spitting truths whilst staring straight into the lens, before his eventual ascent into a South London dawn. Director Frank Lebon brings a refreshing charm to a lo-fi concept-driven performance video, coolly commenting on while not commenting on social issues in a year where no-one knew where to lay the blame, but everybody was pointing the finger.

Nadia Rose - Skwod (dir, Reece Proctor)
Croydon young gun Nadia Rose serves bun-bunched realness in the flawless one-shot Mobo winner for Best Video. Featuring the freshest adidas gear and girl gang dance moves that should have been bigger than the #MannequinChallenge, the video for Skwod by frequent collaborator Reece Proctor, steps right up to your face and demands you listen. Guess who's back? She never left!

Mura Masa - What If I Go? (dir, Yoni Lappin)
Before the big collaboration with A$AP Rocky, Mura Masa released this video in celebration of young love and cool kids in a crap city. Racking up nearly 8 million views on YouTube, the film by Yoni Lappin features repetitive GIF-style photography which forces you to look - again and again and again. With Boomerang now a favoured feature on Instagram, this video will be more reflective of our times than we realise, before we even know it.

Clams Casino & Vince Staples - All Nite (dir, Ryan Staake)
Technically brilliant, Ryan Staake's video for All Nite is a pulsing, puzzling effort, adding to a visually exciting year from Vince Staples (check out his surrealist fish-out-of-water story in Prima Donna, a 10 minute short by Nabil). Layered strips of video in various shades of pastel pass over one another in a day-long performance by a bouncing Vince Staples decked out in a Palace hoodie. This one still has us reeling.

Mykki Blanco - Loner (dir, Anthony & Alex)
Banned on YouTube, then un-banned, now age restricted amidst speculation that the video's 'otherness' is to blame for its controversy. Like all great artists, Mykki Blanco is provocative and cunning, here responsible for creating, along with directors Anthony & Alex, a powerful set of images that challenge our collective hetero-normative gaze. Whether or not it was censored for its queerness, the online stir caused by the ban cements Loner's place in our online history, and social media hearts.

Grimes - The Ac!d Reign Chronicles (dir, Claire Boucher)
This year's alternative to Lemonade, comes in a visual album by Canadian queen of the internet Grimes, and her regular bunch of collaborators including brother Mac. Shot all over Europe and conceptualised, directed and edited by Claire Boucher herself, The Ac!d Reign Chronicles proves more than ever that if you want something doing well, you'd better do it yourself.

Happy Meal Ltd - Stained (dir, Jenkin Van Zyl)
Already masters and commanders of their own breed of squelching, sprawling, riotous punk, Happy Meal LTD have released only one single so far, accompanied by a Jenkin Van Zyl-directed video. The promo is an invasive full throttle, fleshy experience that perfectly matches the stomping, throbbing glam-swagger of Stained.

Cosima - Girls Who Get Ready (dir, Cosima)
In the multi-format, Vaseline-sheened self-directed video for dreamlike single Girls Who Get Ready, Cosima prepares for an unconventional night out; accompanied by an immaculately styled girl-gang, a pig, a goat and a forkful of cherry topped chocolate gateaux. Subversive, shimmering and not lacking a giant singalong chorus, Girls Who Get Ready hints at an arena career for the South London star, we just can't wait to see what she's preparing for!

Charli XCX + Sophie - Vroom Vroom (dir Bradley and Pablo)
A leather-clad Charli XCX is shot by PC Music's go-to filmmakers Bradley and Pablo, in a futuristic dance video that looks exactly like the sound of Sophie's laquered pink PVC production. Like a shinier version of Single Ladies with a technicolour finale, Vroom Vroom is a perfect summary of where our music's heading in 2017, dark, slick, and tongue in cheek; high concept matching an even harder performance.

Keith Ape - Diamonds (dir, BRTHR)
A psychedelic interactive adventure serves as the visuals for the follow up to It G Ma. The user can manipulate the neon lit visuals, which change pace at an alarming speed - blink and you'll miss the puffer fish man. Follow South Korea's most exciting export Keith Ape on a hazy night time walk, ending up outside in a storm, where it literally rains diamonds.


Text Tom Ivin

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