the best music videos of 2015

Fans of early 80s synthpop will remember that video killed the radio star, but these videos slayed an entire year.

by i-D Staff
24 December 2015, 2:40pm

It's been a particularly strong year for music videos, with many of them surpassing the usual formats, and entering into veritable short film territory. Interestingly, a lot of them involved a badass gun-toting female, and while this is obviously great - girl power! - said violent femmes were more often than not scantily clad and harming other women. Taylor's Bad Blood and Rihanna's BBHMM, for example, drove the world wild, featured more famous friends than a person needs, and were certainly impressive but they just didn't hit the right spot. Though it broke our hearts to not include Drake's Hotline Bling (the video that spawned a thousand memes) or Stormzy's Shut Up, that proved you don't need major label budgets to hit 15 million views, here's what made our final cut:

M.I.A, Borders
The end of the year brought Maya Arulpragasam's return, as a muted and quietly confident activist, with a music video that doubled as a comment on the refugee crisis. Using her background as visual artist, M.I.A. carefully crafted a series of moving images that pack a powerful message, including the assembling of bodies into a ship shape, M.I.A. herself acting as captain. This self-directed headline-making video promises a new era for the former 'problem' popstar. TI

Grimes, Flesh Without Blood / Life In The Vivid Dream
Fuck yes, Grimes. She's alive and kicking it in her LA rainbow world. Playing badminton in her Marie Antoinette costume, showing off her best moves and winning video games solo, her self-directed dream sleepover takes a turn for the worse when our love angel music baby stabs herself in the chest and smears blood everywhere. We'll see you in heaven, CB. Life In The Vivid Dream (Act 2) is the morning after the night before; a blood-splattered comedown so aesthetically pleasing that we really wouldn't mind having it over and over. FD

A$AP Rocky, L$D
Dexter Navy's Grammy-nominated and rich psychedelic journey through an Eastern underground world secured A$AP's second album success. The visually dazzling video was littered with cinematic references, and a dizzying mix of color palette, special effects, and dynamic camera techniques resulted in its phenomenal appeal. TI

Missy Elliott, WTF
Missy's back and she's wearing a mirrorball tracksuit, something which she told i-D was "the hardest thing to wear because it was really cut up glass… there was blood everywhere!" A lot of work went into this Dave Meyers and Missy-directed double act, having started work on it back in spring. Currently sitting at 24 million views in just over a month, WTF (Where They From) got everyone very excited; with the killer moves and sound of her classics, plus bonus Segways, Les Twins and a Pharrell puppet. What's not to love? FD

Vic Mensa, U Mad 
Grant Singer's blood-red tinted clip made headlines for Chicago native and Kanye protégé Vic Mensa. The politically charged performance video for U Mad starred Mensa, West, a white-clad team of buzz-saw equipped workers, and a confrontational bull. Quick cut with religious references, the promo commented on the current police situation in America, signalling the future, for later in the year Mensa was reportedly caught up in a riot, rallying against the shooting of Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald. TI

SIA, Elastic Heart
Powerful and brilliant, everyone's favorite actor/artist/weirdo Shia LaBeouf donned a nude leotard and joined our mate Maddie Ziegler for an emotionally-charged dance battle in a giant cage. Cries of pedophilia began to fly around the internet, but this was art and art won. We were left wondering one thing and one thing only - when will SIA open her School For Gifted Youngsters and raise the army of ultimate beings she so clearly plans to? FD

FKA Twigs, M3LLI55X
The artist formerly known as a music video backup dancer has muscled her way to the top and continued her reign this year by 'dropping a Beyoncé' in August. Twigs released a 5-track in-between-albums EP, with a playlist of self-directed videos to match, linked by the idea that the feminine should be celebrated in all forms. The clips feature a cast of vogue-dancers, Michèle Lamy, and Twigs as herself, a sex doll, and a mother amongst others. TI

The Weeknd, In The Night
Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain… with his epic In the Night, Abel killed it again. Teaming up with director duo BRTHR, the action-packed trip full of strippers, flashing lights and gun violence is a huge look for both parties. Sitting somewhere between Sin City and Only God Forgives, it stars the Grammy-nominated musician's IRL boo, Bella Hadid, as the very sexy, very badass lead. Hearty doses of blood and breathlessness keep the pace fast, and is that Bono enjoying the show and a smoke at 1:58? FD

Tame Impala, The Less I Know The Better
The Australian psych-rock band's previous clips have often incorporated mixed media, and this video is no different. For the latest in what feels like an era-defining string of videos, director collective Canada take the baton and blend Dada-esque costumes and hypnotizing animation in a journey through themes of youth and psycho-sexual high school games. TI

Kendrick Lamar, Alright
Sprung from an initial idea of Kendrick floating through LA, Colin Tilley's powerful black and white masterpiece is awesome. As Kendrick's calm, regretful voice details atop the visuals, the video is about today's everyday war based on apartheid and discrimination. Suspended above a lamppost, our positive role model is eventually shot down by a policeman's gunfingers - because at the end of the day, everyone is human in this m.A.A.d city. Alright might be a sad but very real anthem for 2015, but by keeping hope alive through these crazy times, we gon' be alright. FD


Text Francesca Dunn and Tom Ivin

music videos
Kendrick Lamar
vic mensa
The Weeknd
tame impala
Missy Elliott
A$AP Rocky:
FKA Twigs
Bella Hadid
best music videos of 2015