2013 has been a banner year for music videos. In just the first six months of the year, the genre has been taken new heights, both literally — with Commander Chris Hadfield making the first music video ever shot in space: a fitting cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” — and figuratively, with Beck more or less reinventing the genre with an intense interactive online experience for “Sound and Vision.” Indie dance duo Tanlines also got in on the genre-expansion by creating an “alpha channel” that let fans alter the video for “Not the Same” like a picture in Photoshop.
But for all the technological advances that allow a song to be beamed from space — or tinkered with by listeners — some of the best music videos are the ones that simply highlight the music and let the song shine through. Take for instance, the video for Yo La Tengo’s “I’ll Be Around,” directed by Phil Morrison. The song is simple enough, but the video elevates it into a complex story filled with strange events, mysterious arrests, and the assurance that it’s all “inspired by actual events” — with the result that fans listen to the song with new ears.
Our favorite videos for the year run the gamut from straight-forward to strange, eerie and dark to laugh out loud funny. Many of them push boundaries (meaning a few are NSFW) but most just celebrate songs, which is what music videos should do.
Here are 11 of our favorite music videos of the year (so far):