Each month, we run down the most memorable clips and celebrate artists who are breaking ground with their visuals.
7. Bad Bunny: “BOOKER T”
Anyone who grew up watching professional wrestling is familiar with Booker T, whose scissor kicks and unfuckwithable personality made him one of the sport’s most magnetic stars. Bad Bunny pays tribute with his latest clip, a simple-but-effective effort that makes the most out of a fish-eye lens and an empty container truck (there’s also a brief, Sesame Street-inspired puppet show interlude, for good measure). Booker T himself maintains his cool in a camo outfit, as Bad Bunny leaps around him as if he were the big man’s excitable ringside manager. But the wrestler eventually drops his well-worn kayfabe, breaking out a few hip-thrusting moves of his own.
6. Cassandra Jenkins: “Hard Drive”
New York singer-songwriter Cassandra Jenkins’ “Hard Drive” steadily unfurls across five and a half minutes, its quiet spoken-word monologues building a sweeping sense of grandeur. For the video, Jenkins matches the song’s cool confidence: She strolls past a desolate office building, meanders through a forest ablaze with fall colors, and goes for a drive in a bright-red pickup truck. Small fragments of nostalgia slip through—a toy replica of the her car appears a few times—and at points Jenkins seems to be driving herself around, sprawled out in the bed of the truck in a dreamily meta image that only enhances the song’s splendor.
5. DJ Danny: “On a Mountain”
“On a Mountain” is a concentrated blast of hyperpop from PC Music alum Danny L Harle, stuffed with jungle breaks and synths that extend well past the horizon. The video ups the sensory overload tenfold: In what feels like a Dance Dance Revolution final level (with even more heaps of vibrant neon), the animated clip uses fidgety camera movements to take you through a psychedelic nightclub where Harle is the resident DJ. When a literal mountain sprouts from the booth, the imagery airlifts directly to the heavens, turning into an even trippier version of the spectacle that Seattle’s Space Needle puts on every New Year’s. This one is obviously best watched in pure 4K (and a little stoned).
4. Lana Del Rey: “Chemtrails Over the Country Club”
No stranger to vintage cinematic flair, Lana Del Rey reaches for both sumptuous glamor and retro horror in her latest video. Bedecked in pearls and lace, the singer and her friends lounge by a pool, watch old home movies, and ride around in a candy-apple-red convertible (where she also shows off that infamous bejeweled mask). A darker theme tugs at the corners of the relaxed scenes when a Wizard of Oz-style tornado sucks up the titular country club. Suddenly, Lana and her crew turn into werewolves and dance around a crackling bonfire, flipping this moneyed portrait into a decadent nightmare.
3. serpentwithfeet: “Fellowship”
“Fellowship” is one of serpentwithfeet’s gentler songs, a piano-led ode to lasting friendship and bliss in your 30s that swells with tenderness. The accompanying visual is soothingly no-frills, with the singer and his handsome partner enjoying a playful date on the beach. Shot on grainy film to resemble a cherished home video, the scenes center the two men, wearing bright yellow and orange, and festooned with gold jewelry, as they lay in the rushing tide and write in the sand. The intimate, carefree joy is in service of serpentwithfeet’s enduring lyrics: “I’m spending less time worrying and more time recounting the love.”
2. Saweetie: “Best Friend” [ft. Doja Cat]
God bless Saweetie and Doja Cat for starting the year off on a perfect, unnecessarily lavish note. The candy-coated clip for the rappers’ brash ode to BFF-dom doesn’t hold back on the opulence for a single moment, and with good reason—is there any greater joy than watching Doja speed through the streets in a diamond-encrusted sports car while Saweetie twerks on the hood? Their day trip continues as they shrug off toxic men by the pool, make it rain at a strip club, and dip through no less than eight eye-popping outfit changes before their joyride eventually lands them in a police lineup (where they flaunt face tats and more stylish looks, naturally). It all comes together with a priceless Thelma & Louise climax that doubles as one of the best, most ludicrous endings to a music video in recent memory.
1. FKA twigs, Headie One, and Fred again..: “Don’t Judge Me”
At the center of this allusive video sits famed visual artist Kara Walker’s “Fons Americanus,” a 42-foot-tall work that depicts the genesis of the African diaspora through the transatlantic slave trade. Here, Walker’s fountain is surrounded by Black British poets, activists, models, and authors, and the camera lingers over their faces and movements. The scene cuts to FKA twigs sitting alone in an ornate house; when she gets up to dance, an invisible force pulls her back to the chair where she began, at one point even lifting her across the entire room back to square one. Twigs has described the video as a representation of navigating the world as a woman of color and coming up against covert forms of discrimination. Yet each time the invisible oppressor pulls her back, she finds the fire to get up and try again, creating a vivid snapshot of perseverance that lingers long after the video ends.