Caleb's Top Ten Music Videos of 2015

Posted by Caleb Jackson on December 31, 2015 in Lists

Contributor Post

As far as I'm concerned, 2015 broke some new ground for music videos, and more people are beginning to see what is possible to be done with the art form. Some of the younger directors are starting to take the place of the veterans of the 90's, gaining auteur status. I could be just seeing what I want to see, but there seems to be more opportunities opening up for music video directors, considering that more and more eyes are beginning to focus more on short form content - so much more can be done in a few minutes than with 90.

This has been a big year for really creative mainstream videos, notably "Bitch Better Have My Money," "Bad Blood," and "Hotline Bling." Many of the directors on my list have been able to take an idea that is bigger than its format, and just run with it; essentially producing a film disguised as a music video. Others take the best parts of one of those aspects, such as dance, costumes, or performance, and hone that one thing into a focused work of art that people gawk over. My hope for the industry is that the consumer's taste for quality continues to grow deeper, similar to the current golden age of TV that is going on. More money is being poured into better content. I can only wish the same upon the music video world.

Music videos are such a special thing to engage in and are commonly overlooked as a trend that started in the 80's and died in the 90's. But the music video world is not dead - it's alive and well, and is commanding the attention of many with less money, and even more creativity. This was a great year, guys. The mainstream had some really amazing releases, and the indie scene produced some realy groundbreaking stuff that will inevitably lead to more must-see picks in the years to come. Thanks for a great year!

Does it get any better than this? With a flashback narrative featuring Mads Mikkelsen acting, and Rihanna covered in blood, don’t think it does. I am really impressed with her for putting it out, although it seems a new direction for her.

By far my favorite dance video this year. Choreographed by Ryan Heffington, who had quite a year, doing all of Florence’s videos and another Sia video. This video is a boatload of fun (pun intended) and has a really great flow to it. I love the seeing Win Butler's talent being paired with other collaborators who create an incredibly enjoyable experience.

The guiltiest pleasure of my year. Ain’t even mad about it. Joseph Kahn is one of those directors who you know will go big, but you hope he does as many passion projects as possible, before he gets sucked into the Hollywood machine (But go watch Detention NOW).

The healthiest ratio of simplicity to amazing I can think of. The filmmakers at the Made Shop really pulled out the stops with this video to push the limits of stop motion filmmaking. There isn’t a narrative, but the symbolism transfers from the lyrics to the frame in such a perfect way.

Definitely the horror video of the year for me. The narrative is ambiguous, terrifying, and cohesive. Watching it multiple times helped me figure out how to connect the dots, because they are there. The character development is some of the most original I have seen.

A peek into a dystopian future where robots are sadists; but the humanity still shines bright. The narrative is well written, and has a lot of specific things to say about society through the characters. Among other things, the visual effects work is astounding, and pushes the limits of green screen based filmmaking.

The beauty of this video astounds me every time I watch it, and seems to stand as the most representative of the “How Big How Blue How Beautiful” video series. Though the other videos are similarly amazing, "St. Jude" seems to leave me with the most to consider after watching. It's beautifully shot, choreographed, and written with a perfect ratio of ambiguity to relatability.

Definitely the abstract pick of the year for me. This one hits from multiple angles but remains cohesive. There are three story vignettes - all different but are linked. This video has such a commanding pseudo-narrative, and really makes me want to know more about the two main characters. The setting is also extremely mysterious and visually engaging.

I loved the duality of tone in this vid. Such a huge juxtaposition of sadness and joy through music. This one really impressed me, and is critically underseen in my opinion. It takes place in the 1950’s and deals heavily with the current hot topics of police brutality and racism in a way that gets the point across without a heavy hand.

This video really blew me out of the water with the simple idea, engaging performance, and specific directing choices. There is a lot of subtle excellence packed into this video, but you have to pay close attention to get more out of it than is on the surface.

Caleb Jackson is a Tucson native, Los Angeles based writer and director who spends his time pretending he lives in any decade besides this one. He tends to enjoy music videos with a little bit of narrative and a lot of bright colorful lights.

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