The 13 best clips of 2021


Even though the nostalgic industrial complex and its relentless number of unnecessary reboots kept the culture in general stagnant in 2021, a much-needed respite was found in the clips of the year. If everything else was just a boring regurgitation of something once great, the 2021 clips were a reminder that creativity isn’t completely dead on arrival.

The music that defined the year and the stories they told were given another layer of artistry through their accompanying music videos. Olivia Rodrigo’s meteoric rise from a teenage girl nursing her first broken heart with a new driver’s license to a rabid pop-punk figurehead to a new generation; Lil Nas X asserting himself as one of the most intrepid artists of the decade; Lana Del Rey evolving into her highest form as an honest to God California Lady of the Canyon; Grimes and his vast sci-fi visions that seem nothing short of prophetic; Megan Thee Stallion turning a sentence and changing language as if nothing had happened.

The 2021 clips can vary in budgets, but their common thread is clear – a little bizarre, a little funny, and always striking. See the 13 best videos of the year, in no particular order, below.

“good 4 u” – Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo not only calcified every trend of 2021, from corsets and chain necklaces to vinyl gloves and hair clips in her “good 4 u” music video, but she also touched on 2000s gems like Bring it on and Jennifer’s body – with a palpable angry pop-punk side that’s for anyone who’s ever been so pissed off they want to walk down the aisle of a drugstore and knock stuff off the shelves. The most important ? In the end, she burns everything. – Sophia June, cultural writer

“Need to know” – Chat Doja

When aliens aren’t kidnapping humans, concocting hostile takeovers, or whatever other overused intergalactic trope they’ve been grappling with, they just hang out, shop around, and try to make it. kiss. “Need To Know” is a glimpse of a night out in a galaxy far, far away with Doja Cat and his interplanetary group – which includes Grimes in his prime as an Angelic Martian – that sounds so fun, I am reserving one. one way ticket to Planet Her and never look back. – Layla Halabian, cultural editor

“Chemtrails on the Country Club” – Lana Del Rey

Lana del Rey’s “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” is half a gorgeous, gritty Super 8 version of Lana’s Laurel Canyon: red convertibles, white lace driving gloves, lemons and limes galore – so much so that we have the impression that Lana is laughing at herself. this point. But halfway through things get weird, like something from midshipman David Lynch Riverdale universe. There are wolves and rituals and rolling around and maybe a sacrifice? This is where Del Rey’s duality resides from which we cannot look away: its mess and glamor. – SJ

“The good ones” – Charli XCX

Let Charli XCX turn a burial into a bender. At this point, it’s just another day in his crusade to lead pop into the future! Watching her squirm in front of a coffin and an empty grave in “Good Ones” is a cheeky thrill, and Charli go-go-voom the glamor is a perfect harbinger of what will happen with his new record, crash. – LH

“Best Friend” – Saweetie

Saweetie’s “Best Friend” is the cutest music video of the year. It’s impossible not to be a little serious about this celebration of two hot best friends going to the strip club, hanging out in fur lined dresses and ending in a triumph. Thelma and Louise tribute. Plus, any music video that includes the words “toxic masculinity” in a gooey, glittery pink cursive on the screen is something to celebrate. – SJ

Sevdaliza – “Homunculus”

Sevdaliza makes a great action hero in “Homunculus”, as a pregnant woman who also happens to be a skilled assassin. She easily shoots intruders who arrive at her hyper-sleek and futuristic home, but the stakes continue to escalate from there as the avant-electronic artists nearly meet her creator while definitely encountering a bizarre needle injection and a cyborg version of herself. If you have some kind of deep-seated fear about doctors, this one is probably best to skip. – LH

Mitski – “Working for the knife”

Mitski feels it all in her music video for “Working For The Knife,” where she does what everyone who did theater in high school fondly remembers – waiting until no one is in the auditorium, then doing dance moves. weird on stage. (Anyone else?) She really lets it all hang out, reminding me of the cathartic chaos of how modern dance majors at my college used to dance on parties where they really had to FEEL EVERYTHING. – SJ

Magdalena Bay – “Secrets”

Magdalena Bay choosing the hills of Windows XP and GeoCities level UI as the visual backdrop for “Secrets” works seamlessly with the duo’s groovy, atmospheric pop. It makes me feel like I’m staring at an old-fashioned viewer for hours on end on my parents’ desktop, a silly little slice of lost happiness! – LH

Shy – “BDE”

“BDE” by Shygirl ft. Slowthai is incredibly exciting in the dumbest way. It gets back to the sex of birds and bees with several shots of bunnies making it almost before Shygirl goes completely Furry in an absurd and eerily sexy bunny costume at the same time. Bonus points for the long pink claws she cradles. – SJ

LSDXOXO – “Sick bitch”

“Sick Bitch” feels like watching footage found from an underground dungeon rave just before it turns into an orgy. Saturated and sultry, the video equivalent of locking foggy eyes with someone across a room and knowing your fate is sealed for the next few hours, at least. – LH

Grimes – “Gamer”

“Player Of Games” might be a real club track, but it’s also one of Grimes’ saddest songs to date. The angst of letting go of someone, of realizing that “even love couldn’t keep you in your place” is realized through Grimes’ visions of a sci-fi realm; a huge knight dueling lightsabers and swords under the bloody moons of Jupiter, their figurative and literal chess set is digital, analog and heartbreaking. Much like “Flesh Without Blood” of 2015, the second half of “Player Of Games” is shrouded in an enchanting warning. An angelic Grimes sings about the fallen angels, Lucifer and God, the entangled disorders originating from Earth and his own destiny as the victim of a man who seems to stop at nothing to get what he wants. – LH

Megan Thee Stallion – “Thot Sh * t”

The first time I saw “Thot Sh * t”, I watched it three times in one sitting. The power that Megan Thee Stallion wields over an unnamed slimy politician who verbally abuses women by being sexy in a clip while jerking off on them is fascinating. It’s fun to see him get run over by a garbage truck and be haunted everywhere he goes by the power of his hotties. In addition, the last blow! Name a more grotesque karmic image in a music video this year that you also wish you had never seen. – SJ

Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call me by your name)”

I understand that we are barely in the decade, but I already know in my heart that Lil Nas X is his definitive artist. Not only is his sensitivity to trolls top notch, but it translates beautifully from the Twitter post to his music videos; Watching him descend from a heavenly stripper pole into the depths of hell, then twerk and then destroy the devil makes me smile every time I watch. Watching a creative genius bet on himself over and over again never gets old. – LH