The beginning of a new year always brings a palpable sense of excitement, especially in the entertainment industry. What new TV shows will make headlines? What movies can we look forward to watching? Can we really wait until April for the next Avengers movie? Of course, I always look forward to which popular musical artist will dominate the Billboard Hot 100 and the radio waves for the coming months. 2018 was a great year for music with artists like Drake, Post Malone and Ariana Grande frequently delivering some really amazing hits. Furthermore, music videos have always been a great way for these artists to add some visual flavor to their top tracks. We’ve come a long way since MTV, but music videos remain widely popular, and with the advent of CGI and digital effects, music videos can be quite simply mind blowing and awe inspiring. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of some of the best music videos of 2018. Of course, these are solely my opinion, and I can’t apologize for letting a bit of bias show through (especially when it comes to my beloved K-Pop artists). However, I hope you also hold these videos in high regard and can look forward to what 2019 might also bring.
Bruno Mars- “Finesse” (January 3rd, 2018)
Bruno Mars never fails to deliver when it comes to making instant hits. “Finesse” peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained in the Top Ten for 6 consecutive weeks! The video itself amassed 13 million views in just two days, demonstrating both the popularity of Bruno Mars and Cardi B as artists, as well as the appeal of the creative and fun atmosphere of the video. Paying homage to the opening theme of the Fox comedy show In Living Color, the video is a nice throwback to the 1990s. The track’s playful R&B sound certainly characterized the decade, not to mention the choreography that we see in the video.
Drake- “God’s Plan” (February 16th, 2018)
I wonder if it was God’s plan for this video to surmount over 900 million views on YouTube? Not to mention that it peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is certainly no easy feat. Drake is a certifiable walking hit-maker, so it should be no surprise to see how successful this song was. Of course, much of its popularity had to do with the accompanying music video. At the beginning of the video, it is revealed that the budget for the video was $996,631.90, which they decide to give away to some pretty grateful individuals. The video is simple in its execution, certainly no cinematographic achievement, but that’s not the point is it? The point was to spread some love and kindness to members of a community in Florida, and I can certainly extend kudos to an artist who gives back.
Taylor Swift- “Delicate” (March 11th, 2018)
There were plenty of mixed reactions towards Taylor Swift’s reputation album. Most of the criticism stemmed from the fact that the album was so different from anything she had previously done (1989 anyone?). Of course, if it matters, I really enjoyed the album and admired Swift for doing something so different. I personally think artists should constantly be looking to evolve and experiment with different music genres instead of getting stuck doing the same thing over and over again. One of my favorite tracks from the album, “Delicate,” also came with a pretty awesome music video, which shows Taylor Swift receiving a magical note that makes her invisible to the rest of the world. Cue some pretty hilarious hijinks and fun dance sequences as Taylor makes her way through a memorable music video. With 325 million views on YouTube, I think its safe to assume that other people also found it enjoyable.
Ariana Grande- “No Tears Left to Cry” (April 19th, 2018)
Right now, I’m in the state of mind to listen to this song on endless repeat for as long as possible. Sweetener is my favorite Ariana Grande album, and it brought us fan-favorite hits like “God is a Woman” and “Breathin'”. The biggest hit from the album was definitely “No Tears Left to Cry,” which I find myself still randomly singing even months after its release. The title track peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, continuing Grande’s streak of being the only artist to debut in the top ten with the lead single from every single one of her albums. The music video has over 712 million views on YouTube, and for good reason. Out of every video you’ll see on this list, “No Tears Left to Cry” is by far my favorite. As a film minor, I can’t help but swoon over the stunning cinematography and unforgettable visuals. Not to mention the fact that Isaac Newton would be speechless if he were to see Grande’s blatant disregard for the laws of gravity.
BTS- “Fake Love” (May 18th, 2018)
Okay, I probably talk about K-Pop and BTS way too much, but it’s my favorite music genre and has officially taken over my Spotify account. In 2018, BTS actually had two music video releases: “Fake Love” and “Idol”. Both are very good, but there’s that cinematic approach to “Fake Love” that, as a film minor, I can’t resist. Of course, let’s also give some major kudos to BTS for becoming the first K-Pop group to enter the Billboard Top Ten with this upbeat hit, debuting at #10! “Fake Love” also accumulated 3.9 million likes in its first 24 hours on YouTube, making it the most liked music video in a single day! But we’re here to talk about the details of the music video, and there’s a lot to talk about. Should we discuss the awesome set designs? The boys’ various wardrobe changes? The fact that J-Hope was lying on a giant pile of snickers at several different points in the video? What stood out to me was that brief interlude in the middle of the video where we are provided with a fantastic contradiction of the water behind Jimin and the fire that erupts into the room with Suga. Such careful editing and filming demonstrate just how much thought and effort the group put into their videos. Not to mention the insane choreography that leaves me breathless just watching.
BLACKPINK- “DDU-DU DDU-DU” (June 15th, 2018)
Hey! More K-Pop! However, you have to admit that BLACKPINK deserves a mention on this list because their music videos never cease to impress me. This particular video was especially creative, managing to garner over 608 million views on YouTube (more than “Fake Love,” by the way). Let’s also not forget that the music video earned 100 million views in just 10 days, which gave BLACKPINK the honor of being the only female K-Pop group to achieve such a feat. But with these four women, should we really be surprised? The four women are constantly changing the game with their music videos. Maybe it’s a K-Pop thing, but the intense choreography will never cease to amaze me. In several different parts of the video, all four girls simply dominate the frame against eye-catching backdrops, while they show off their impressive move-sets. The video is also full of really cool visuals: the chandelier from the ceiling, the giant chess board and the scene with the gorgeous overhanging flowers. I can’t recommend BLACKPINK enough, and this video would be the first thing I showed to anyone who might be unfamiliar with the four artists.
Panic at the Disco- “High Hopes” (August 27th, 2018)
I’m so glad that Panic! at the Disco is finally getting the attention they deserve. I’ve been closely following the band since their “Miss Jackson” days from over five years ago. Honestly, I’ve heard this song on the radio more than any other song mentioned thus far. It’s certainly catchy, and it is still comfortably sitting in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 with no end in sight. The music video has over 130 million views on YouTube and that count seems to be steadily increasing, as it should. Although deceivingly simple at first, with Brendon Urie walking down the street, everything takes a sudden turn when the band’s lead singer starts to walk up the side of a building, much to the astonishment of the crowd gathering around him. Of course, in a song that talks about making it to the top, the imagery is a little obvious in its symbolism, but powerful nonetheless. I also appreciated the impromptu Panic at the Disco concert on the rooftop.
Marshmello– “Happier” (September 24th, 2018)
I won’t lie, this song is a huge mood shift from the previous entries to the list. In fact, now that I reflect back on it, the other songs were high-energy jams that warrant being blasted out in your dorm room while singing off-key. This song, however, is not as upbeat, though still catchy in its own right. Peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song is Marshmello’s biggest hit and also brought some much-deserved attention to Bastille. As for the music video? Prepare some tissues because this one is a tear jerker, even with the surprise Miranda Cosgrove appearance. This music video does something that I really like but seldom see in most videos nowadays: it tells a story, albeit a sad one. The video sees Cosgrove’s character receive a puppy for her birthday as a younger child, and we watch the progression of both Cosgrove’s character and the adorable yellow lab as they grow up together. Cosgrove’s character is the unfortunate victim of school bullying, even as she tries so hard to fit in. Thankfully, she can always rely on man’s best friend to help her out. I won’t spoil the end of the video for those who haven’t seen it but be prepared for your heart to break. A music video that can render me to tears is definitely a powerful addition to this list.
Monsta X- “Shootout” (October 22nd, 2018)
Okay, it’s time to bring the mood back up again. Trust Monsta X to always be there to put a smile on my face. This song, if you haven’t heard it yet, is one of my favorites from the group, fresh off their most recent album release. Although not as popular as BTS or BLACKPINK, Monsta X is a formidable force, especially with member Kihyun’s powerful vocals. “Shootout” is a great representation of the K-Pop genre, with its catchy melody and memorable lyrics. Moreover, the music video has almost 30 million views on YouTube which certainly isn’t as much as other additions, but it’s an impressive number for the relatively new K-Pop group. It certainly deserves more views, especially given the group’s impressive choreography, fantastic visual imagery and curious allusions to the Seven Deadly Sins. All the praise in the world for a music video that sends me on a Google search.
Ariana Grande- “thank u, next” (November 30th, 2018)
When Ariana Grande ends up twice on a list, you know she’s done something right. In all honesty, I could have included the video for “God is a Woman” as well because of its empowering message and brilliant visuals. However, this video was talked about so much in recent months that I can’t help but put it on this list. I mean, any song that debuts at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 deserves some special attention. It’s also a very fitting end to this impressive list. Speaking of accolades, let’s not forget that the video for the hit song is now the most-viewed video on YouTube in a 24-hour time period, easily beating the previous record-holder, BTS. What’s up with the video for it to gain so much attention? Well, for starters, it’s incredibly ambitious, managing to include allusions to Mean Girls, 13 Going on 30, Legally Blonde, and Bring it On! And managing to do it right! I mean, the references aren’t just randomly thrown in the video, they are carefully woven together to create an interesting narrative amid Grande’s powerful vocals. There are also cameos from some of Grande’s former Victorious cast members and some well-known YouTube stars who manage to add charm and hilarity to a video that I can say is as close to perfect as you can get.
Here’s to another year of wonderful music videos!