The Best Music Videos of 2018
In 2018, more than 35 years after the music video became an art form, they continued to evolve. This year we saw clips with incisive cultural commentary (Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”), wildly creative and at times disturbing imagery (Tierra Whack’s “Whack World”), and of course a number of celebrity-studded outings (Drake’s “Nice for What?” featuring stars like Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Olivia Wilde, and Tracee Ellis Ross, and Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” with Troye Sivan, Kris Jenner, and Jennifer Coolidge).
1. “This Is America” by Childish Gambino
Coming in at number one with arguably the most socially impactful music video is Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.” Wrought with symbolism, the video boldly criticizes American gun laws by depicting scenes of senseless violence. With a nod to the 2014 Charleston church shooting, Gambino and the background actors dance along as if everything is fine.
2. “Thank U, Next by” Ariana Grande
3. “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar & SZA
The bronze medal was a tough call, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge the mesmerizing grace of Lamar and SZA as a musical power-pairing. Who could argue with Kendrick Lamar in a wooden boat sailing across a sea of waving hands as an ominously stormy sky thunders in the distance? SZA’s hair contains multitudes — actually, the entire continent of Africa — and the dynamic duo serves us attitude, symbolism, gorgeous dancers, and, of course, a pack of black panthers.
4. “APESH**T” by the Carters
You know it’s a year of astoundingly good music videos when Beyonce and Jay-Z don’t even break the top three. To film this instantly iconic video, the husband and wife team actually rented out the Louvre. Fierce angles of Bey spitting bars are contrasted by writhing bodies, dramatic shots of renaissance paintings, and other famous works of art including the Mona Lisa.
5. “Nice for What” by Drake
In Drake‘s video directed by Karena Evans, a laundry list of powerful women stars appear: Olivia Wilde, Misty Copeland, Issa Rae, Rashida Jones, Jourdan Dunn, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta, Letitia Wright, Bria Vinaite, Emma Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, and Syd.