The argument of whether or not music videos still matter was undeniably shut down in 2018. This year brought us jaw-dropping, rage-inducing, awe-inspiring music videos across the musical spectrum, including hip-hop, electronic, and more. What makes a music video so good is its ability to provide a new experience for viewers, perhaps one they didn’t have when they simply pressed play on a song. The 10 music videos selected by us at NEST HQ represent the magic of music videos, and we picked the ones that made us feel something special, stunned us with gorgeous cinematography, or simply blew our minds.
Watch all 10 videos below, and come back the rest of this week for our superlatives in Albums, Producers, and more.
NEST HQ Best of 2018: Videos
*10 videos listed in alphabetical order by artist
The Carters – APESHIT
The power duo of JAY-Z and Beyoncé took 2018 by storm with the surprise release of their collaborative album EVERYTHING IS LOVE, and that storm was mostly fueled by the release of their music video for “APESHIT.” First of all, the couple shut down The Louvre to shoot this music video which is a monumental feat in itself — there’s nothing that tops that. Throughout the video, we see The Carters posing in front of iconic art pieces like the Mona Lisa and creating their own fine art-worthy stills, effortlessly rapping about what it really means to live lavish. The top comment on YouTube sums it up perfectly: “I think I’m too poor to even watch this.” — JM
Childish Gambino – This is America
What can be said about this music video that hasn’t already been said? It’s a 2018 icon, and the background and foreground symbolism that this video puts forth are incredibly poignant, with Donald Glover nailing those spicy transitions to make a thoroughly gripping and sorely needed video. Donald Glover has come a looong way since his rough-around-the-edges mixtapes started making the rounds as “this guy who also raps.” Now, he’s riding the waves of his multiple successes and proved himself as a renaissance man in the entertainment industry. — MW
Gesaffelstein – Reset
It’s been three years since Gesaffelstein’s last release, and boy, did he make sure to make an entrance upon his return. The chaotic hip-hop instrumental “Reset” came backed by an intelligently violent video commenting on the current state of hip-hop and pop music. Using repetition as the vehicle, the video manages to encapsulate the entire void of ingenuity, passion, and artistry in hip-hop at the moment, and instead shows us how it’s being filled with an exponentially growing search for fleeting materialistic tendencies. The main character in the video quickly evolves from a normal guy to the most exaggerated version of what I can only image to be 6ix9ine, and in the process he and we lose sight of what the fuck is even really going on. The video ends of a sequence of people fighting for a moment on camera, almost as if trying to prove they’re up next, further highlighting the sea of artists fighting for a chance to own this generation’s transient notion of fame. — DN
Justice – Love S.O.S.
It seems like Justice had a blast smashing (quite literally) gender stereotypes in the “Love S.O.S.” video off their live studio recording release of WOMAN WORLDWIDE. Directed by frequent creative collaborator Edouard Salier, he set the tone with the Justice boys Xavier and Gaspard of sexy strange brutality, and this visually stunning, beautifully violent work of art is the result. If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t miss a single second of this stiletto-clad bloodbath; every second looks like a gorgeous yet heinous painting come to life to beat your ass. — MH
Kali Uchis – After The Storm featuring Tyler, The Creator & Bootsy Collins
Kali Uchis released her Nadia Lee Cohen-crafted, ’70s-themed music video for “After The Storm” featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins in the very beginning of 2018, and it lasted the year as one of the most creative, yet completely uncomplicated audio-visuals to date. Hailing from her debut album Isolation, “After The Storm” sings of being your own motivator, and to, of course, wait for the sun to come back out — or in this case for Tyler, The Creator to grow out of the ground. Directed by both Uchis and Nadia Lee Cohen, the funk-bumping beat explores Uchis as a stunning housewife driven by unbelievable art direction, photography, styling, and color enhancement that makes this video feel like a painting come to life. Watch Kali Uchis plant her family-to-be Chia Pet-style as BADBADNOTGOOD musically supports her and Tyler’s low-eyed love story. — SA
ROSALÍA – MALAMENTE
Catalan singer ROSALÍA is on fire in the “MALAMENTE” music video, which feels like a continuous series of unforgettable shots designed to put a tongue-in-cheek spin on Spanish traditions (like the prevailing influence of the Catholic church, Spanish machismo, and, of course, bull-fighting). This wildly colorful, aesthetic, psychedelic fever dream of a video was directed by Lope Serrano and Nicolás Méndez who together are known as CANADA. There’s an adversarial undertone in this song that has a more playful edge coming through the visual framework of this video and makes it feels like the most sophisticated troll of institutionalized toxic masculunity ever captured on film. — MH
Slipknot – All Out Life
Slipknot made a rather thunderous return in 2018. The band hadn’t released music since 2016, and their first offering after their two-year silence came in the form of the new song and music video, “All Out Life.” It’s so unapologetically Slipknot at their hardest, and the music video is even better: masked prisoners enthusiastically hop off a bus and into a warehouse where they gather around to be doused in blood as if it’s raining down from the sky. Each shot is simply hardcore to the bone and will have you watching in both horror and amazement — we seriously couldn’t look away when we watched it for the first time. — JM
Tommy Cash – PUSSY MONEY WEED
Among hours and hours of discussions, this one was a no-brainer for everyone on the team. First, the treatment is spectacular and genuinely authentic, a trait which becomes ever more difficult to attain as we move forward into the age of the internet. The stark dichotomy between Tommy Cash’s lyrics of grandeur and the raw beauty and pain that you feel from these handicapped performers creates some serious, palpable tension that adds such depth and dimension to his commentary. This treatment is then backed by absolutely stunning photography, choreography, and styling… skin-printed Adidas logos? I mean, come on! All in all, this one’s a 10 across the board. Hats off to the team that put this together. — DN
Travis Scott – SICKO MODE featuring Drake
It’s only fair that one of the hottest songs of the year gets an equally scorching music video. Enter Travis Scott’s strange, glitched-out ASTROWORLD through the music video for “SICKO MODE,” where we find both Travis Scott and Drake bringing the essence of the song to life. Directed by Dave Meyers and Travis Scott himself, this video features some of the coolest effects we’ve seen in music videos all year as the screen melts and glitches around each scene. Hip-hop videos have certainly evolved just this year alone, and “SICKO MODE” beautifully represents that evolution. — JM
Vince Staples – FUN!
Vince Staples’ video for his surprise 22-minute album takes a look at the heart of his neighborhood through a more accurate and animated version of Google Street View. In a year filled with videos of rappers riding dune buggies in the desert, this was a welcoming, humble look at where Vince comes from and represents the theme of the album perfectly. The twist at the end is the perfect cherry-on-top as well and is pretty spot-on to Vince’s fanbase and a little snarky, self-aware response to those fans. — MW