I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for a while now and thought this was the best time to bring it forward. There were a lot of great music videos this past decade, and these were my favorites. Please send me your favorites! Take the time while you’re staying in the house and look back on some of these classics.
Aldous Harding – “The Barrel” 
Aldous made herself a hat icon with this one. Still wanting to start a #thebarrel challenge.
Anamanaguchi – “Meow” 
As someone who went to a lot of laser tag and putt putt birthday parties, this one hits home on a multitude of layers.
ASAP Rocky – “Peso” 
The prime, iconic example of the blossoming of NYC rap in the early 10s.
The Avalanches – “Because I’m Me” 
I love NYC!! Also the album this is off of really wanted to capture that late 70s / early 80s feel and again, this video nails it but keeps it current as well.
The Avalanches + Soda_Jerk – “The Was” 
SO. MUCH. POP. CULTURE.
Beach House – “Wishes” 
How can you not love everything about this video?
Beyoncé – “Countdown” 
I call a lot of videos iconic in this post, but let’s be real, this is likely the most iconic.
Beyoncé – “Formation” 
Of course I have to post this one.
BIGBANG – “BANG BANG BANG” 
I don’t even like this song, but you really have to appreciate the budget for this video. This goes for most K-pop videos.
Bill Callahan – “America!” 
Some truly great American imagery in this video, from boots that were made for walking, to a UFO-like cowboy hat, to a cherry pie in the window. And a ton of great singer-songwriters in the military, to name a few.
Björk – “Crystalline” 
It’s Björk and Michel Gondry together again. How could you NOT like this one?
Björk – “The Gate” 
Blissful, colorful energy exchange via cosmic moth flower orb.
The Books – “I Didn’t Know That” 
I absolutely love Everything Is Terrible, so that merging approach with The Books is a natural progression.
Childish Gambino – “This Is America” 
Y’all seen this one yet?
Crumb – “Locket” 
Bro this is so trippy.
Danny Brown – “Grown Up” 
Give child actor Danny Brown all the awards for the rest of time.
Das Racist – “Who’s That? Brooown!” 
Take this time to pour one out for Das Racist. Also in high school this was my foundation to what I thought NYC was like. Honestly not far off.
El Guincho – “Bombay” 
Peak CANADA direction. Seemingly random shots of provocative images under a 70s filter. American Apparel-core to the core. A perfect stylistic snapshot of the late 00s / early 10s.
El Guincho – “Comix (feat. Mala Rodriguez)” 
CANADA & El Guincho return, again to marvelous results. So many layers of cool.
Fever Ray – “To The Moon And Back” 
Fever Ray literally being busted out of a cryogenic freeze to become a sub tabletop at an orgy is exactly what I needed to power myself through the rest of the decade.
FKA Twigs – “How’s That” 
In my mind, the truest flexing of powers behind one of the best trios in the early 10s – FKA Twigs, Arca and director Jesse Kanda. Of course all three artists have moved on stylistically, but they melded so seamlessly on this video, it still retains its original beauty.
Fleet Foxes – “The Shrine / An Argument” 
You KNOW I’ll love a great animated video!!
Flying Lotus – “Kill Yr Coworkers” 
Find a great animated music video and chances are I’ll love it. Support animators at all costs. Also people holding up signs of non-sequiturs will always be funny to me. Also a robot kicking someone into a cloud of blood is #epic.
Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” 
This is my favorite music video of the decade. It never ceases to bring me to tears.
Gesaffelstein – “Pursuit” 
The kind of video I want to know the lore behind.
Girl Talk – “Girl Walk / All Day” 
Kind of lost to time, much like Girl Talk as a whole, but this is totally worth the watch.
Grimes – “Oblivion” 
So simplistic and real. Tons of beautiful shots. Grimes just getting out there and doing her thing in the public with some people that have no idea what’s going on. Shout out to Emily Kai Bock for the direction on this one. And I know artists change their style as they progress, but man I miss this Grimes sometimes.
HEALTH – “We Are Water” 
“We Are Water” is one of those songs where you’d think “there’s no way you could make a video that matches the song’s intensity. And of course, Eric Wareheim did it.
Hot Chip – “I Feel Better” 
Another video I’d love to know the lore behind. For those who’ve never watched before, I guarantee you don’t know where it’s going to end up.
Jamie xx – “Gosh” 
For pure cinematic value alone, this is one incredible video. Like, how.
Janelle Monae – “Make Me Feel” 
Janelle, thank you for this injection of Prince energy.
Joanna Newsom – “Divers” 
Joanna Newsom, Paul Thomas Anderson and Kim Keever… they want to kill me.
Joanna Newsom – “Sapokanikan” 
New York I Love You, and Joanna Newsom and Paul Thomas Anderson Makes Me Love You More.
Julian Lynch – “North Line” 
I love dogs so much. Look at the sniffers on these pups.
Kali Uchis – “After The Storm (feat. Tyler the Creator & Bootsy Collins)” 
Bootsy Collins talking to me from a cereal box is all I need to get through the day. Also Kali’s style is untouchable.
Kanye West – “Runaway” 
This is a short film! What! A lot of it is filler, but it was pretty cool to watch this back in 2010.
Kaytranada – “LITE SPOTS” 
A robot that loves to dance… it’s a beautiful thing.
Kelela – “A Message” 
Kelela cutting off her dreads and then turning into an anime character similar to Interstella 5555, in a deeply psychedelic visual? Hell yes.
Kendrick Lamar – “Alright” 
Kind of crazy that this came out before it felt like the entire world was crumbling. Yes, it felt like it was starting to fall apart, but I didn’t think it’d feel like this. A vital piece of culture from the decade.
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” 
I remember not listening to this song thinking it was all gas, then I watched the video and instantly realized, no, it was not all gas at all. This is legit.
Kiesza – “Hideaway” 
In this day and age, you have to appreciate a one-take dance video, especially when this one happens to be in the same neighborhood my work is in now and looks completely different.
Killer Mike – “Big Beast” 
With Drive mania still in full swing, the fact that Mike took that momentum and made something totally new and exciting.
Kirin J Callinan – “Big Enough (feat. Alex Cameron, Molly Lewis & Jimmy Barnes)” 
Kirin J Callinan – “S.A.D.” 
All I want is one drop of Kirin’s pure swagger and I’ll be set for life.
Lady Gaga – “Telephone (feat. Beyoncé)” 
So ridiculous. But man, looking back it makes me thankful that we got this to begin with. ALSO – the product placement! You forget about it after a while, but watching this back now and seeing all the stuff that was paid for… it’s amazing.
LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls” 
This video was weirdly hard to find, so I apologize if it’s gone by the time you read this. Look it up. Another iconic early 10s vid. One of my favorites from high school. I love that the live sound from the shooting is included, which features the members trying to sing along while being tortured by a panda cult.
Liars – “Scissor” 
A terrifying premise executing incredibly well. How did the world inherit this rocky wrath?
Little Dragon – “Lover Chanting” 
So many little details in this video make the whole thing. It could have been a total mess trying to embrace gamers or whatever, but they really nailed it. It’s fun, inventive and a blast to look at.
Mac DeMarco – “My Kind Of Woman” 
The first Mac DeMarco video we got where it was clear he got an actual budget. He used that money and gave us a carnival ride through a warehouse of knick knacks and family friends in mostly just one continuous shot. Lots of nonsense but it’s fun, right?
Majical Cloudz – “Childhood’s End” 
Just nails that feeling of finding fantasy in hopelessness that Majical Cloudz music effortlessly evokes. Shot in beautiful black and white. Another Emily Kai Bock vision of brilliance.
M.I.A. – “Bad Girls” 
Ok if “Never Catch Me” isn’t my favorite music video, then this is. I’ve probably watched this 50 times. At least.
M.I.A. – “Double Bubble Trouble” 
This video is just so addicting on account of all the insane, seemingly-random things the video throws at you over its three-minute length. 3D-printed guns, dance routines, neon peace sign drones, wild strobing color inversions, vape tricks, and more. It’s an assault.
Mitski – “Nobody” 
Finding more and more ways to squish in bizarre and uncanny imagery the better, it seems.
Mitski – “Your Best American Girl” 
Iconic! What else can I say! This thing is i-con-ic!! Shout out to director Zia Anger!
Miya Folick – “Give It To Me” 
Many songs are like a roller coaster of emotion. Miya Folick realized this and did a very smart thing.
OK Go – “Upside Down & Inside Out” 
OK Go was a gimmick until they literally said “fuck it, we’re making a video in zero G. We’re down to die for this.”
Oneohtrix Point Never – “Boring Angel” 
I know multiple people who say this is their all-time favorite video. A story told entirely with emojis and still, you’re invested.
Oneohtrix Point Never – “Sticky Drama” 
The ultimate Nickelodeon slime and Mountain Dew-fueled fever dream after playing DOOM too late and neglecting to feed your Tamagotchi before bed.
Oneohtrix Point Never – “Still Life (Betamale)” 
Absolutely upsetting and shocking. NSFW to the core. Jon Rafman is a psychotic genius that mined the internet for some of the most twisted shit imaginable. Reminds me of early 10s 4chan content.
Perfume Genius – “Hood” 
Pure vulnerability. The moment when we knew Mike Hadreas was gonna be a star, at least in the circles that knew what was good. RIP Arpad Miklos.
Perfume Genius – “Queen” 
Too many iconic shots and moments in this one to count. A defining video of the decade.
PUP – “DVP” 
Do you like video games?
Radiohead – “Daydreaming” 
Watching Thom Yorke shamble through different locations is a lot more satisfying than it may seem on paper.
Real Estate – “It’s Real” 
A dog montage leading into a concert exclusively for dogs, like Real Estate members are the only human beings left on the planet and dogs reign supreme? Unreal.
Rosalía – “MALAMENTE (Cap. 1: Augurio)” 
The first in Rosalía’s CANADA-directed videos is arguably more iconic than the second (which happens to be my favorite and also below) but is deservingly praised for its wild imagery and beautiful cinematography.
Rosalía – “PIENSO EN TU MIRÁ (Cap. 3: Celos)” 
The shot of Rosalía between the two tractor trailers is enough to list it here. Has scenes that almost reach M.I.A. “Bad Girls” level of badass.
(Sandy) Alex G – “Gretel” 
Something about this video is so nostalgic to me, even though I’ve only been to one or two demo derbies before. A stripped back look at rural, true America.
Shugo Tokumaru – “Katachi” 
Stop-motion animators will never not impress me. Think about how much work had to be put into this video. It’s insane.
Sia – “Chandelier” 
Y’all seen this one?
Standing On The Corner – “SahBabii /\ Now, Nation End, 38:15” 
A mash of formats much like Standing On The Corner’s style. Somehow keeps up with the whiplash-quick shifts in style and tone.
St. Vincent – “Cruel” 
Another favorite video from the early decade. Succinctly tells the story of one bonkers family torturing and eventually actually burying St. Vincent in the ground.
St. Vincent – “New York” 
When St. Vincent says the line about “Astor” and then she’s pushing the big cube on Astor Place? That’s the stuff. Solidified the wacky color and texture palette St. Vincent established on this most recent album run.
Tame Impala – “Mind Mischief” 
Disclaimer: The first two-thirds of this video is just trash. But the last animated third is killer. I’m a sucker for a good animated sequence. The visual of the cartoon guy getting split in half length-wise is gruesome and ultra well-done. Otherwise this video is garbage.
Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better” 
Like the other Tame Impala video – ultra-sexual libido with a really great animated sequence. Our last glimpse of CANADA on this list. Thank you CANADA.
Tierra Whack – “Whack World” 
This put Tierra on the map for a reason. Even if you don’t like the music for the whole video, it’s an awesome feat of artistic vision and prowess that everyone should watch.
Todd Terje – “Inspector Norse” 
This song makes me want to dance like an idiot, like no one’s watching. Conveniently, that’s what the video’s about. It’s obviously more than that, but it works perfectly.
Travis Scott – “SICKO MODE (feat. Drake)” 
There are parts of this video that make me think “why did they put this in?” but then I love all the other parts that really match the high-budget nature of the song.
Tune-Yards – “Bizness” 
How much fun do you think these arty kids had during this shoot?
Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers” 
ICONIC. I remember watching this video during my independent study period in the library at my high school and just getting my mind blown. I don’t think I liked the song at the time but the video was just so alluring.
Vince Staples – “Señorita” 
Vince is the master of subverting expectations in his music and in his videos.
Vince Staples – “FUN!” 
As someone who goes through his old town via Google street view at regular intervals throughout the year, this is a genius idea for a video, especially the ending, much like the ending to “Señorita”.
Zebra Katz – “Ima Read (feat. Njena Reddd Foxxx)” 
Watched this one SO much in 2012. So hypnotic, mysterious, dark and entertaining. Also Zebra Katz didn’t really have much other music out so it added to the magnetic quality of someone so new with such a strong personality and sound. Still striking eight years later.
Zola Jesus – “Siphon” 
Intimate and striking. “Siphon” is probably the most intense song on Zola Jesus’ incredibly powerful Okovi, and the Zia Anger-directed video matches it.