From “Motivation” To “Small Talk,” The 55 Best Music Videos Of 2019

Mike Nied | January 9, 2020 12:38 am

2019 is well and over (good riddance), but we’re still working on a handful of year-end lists. And next up is best music videos. From Katy Perry’s puppy-themed “Small Talk” to Normani’s ’00s-referencing and genuinely iconic “Motivation,” it was a pretty great year for visual content. So I took on the task of pulling together what stood out for me. That includes offerings from several of pop’s biggest divas and must-sees from a crop of rising stars. Don’t fret too much over the ranking; everything on this list is exceptional. That being said see what made the cut below then let us know if you agree.

55. “Satisfaction” – ZAYN

ZAYN rolled out a plethora of videos in support of Icarus Falls, but the one that stands out is “Satisfaction.” The cinematic love story ranks as his best visual since “Pillowtalk.”

54. “Girlfriend” – MNEK

MNEK brings a tumultuous love triangle to life in “Girlfriend.” You can see the breakout star’s frustration with his closeted man and can’t help but feel bad and for the unsuspecting girlfriend. Especially since she’s in for a very rude awakening in the video’s final seconds.

53. “Now That I Found You” – Carly Rae Jepsen

Rescue one cat, and next thing you know you’re a cat lady. That’s what I get from the plot for Carly Rae Jepsen’s too-cute-for-words “Now That I Found You” video.

52. “Banana” – Anitta feat. Becky G

Something special happens when two queens unite as evidenced by Anitta and Becky G’s jaw-dropping “Banana” video. The tantalizing divas straddle a supersized banana (you have to love the not-so-subtle double entendre) and peruse a fruit stand in the scintillatingly sexy blockbuster.

51. “DripDemeanor” – Missy Elliott feat. Sum1

Last year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award recipient has still got it. Missy Elliott’s “DripDemeanor” video features futuristic tech, explicit choreography and amazing hair art.

50. “Look At Her Now” – Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez has never exactly been renowned for her dance skills, but she upped the choreography game for “Look At Her Now.” All things considered, this emerged as one of the best dance videos of the year.

49. “Rainbow” – Kacey Musgraves

Fresh off her Album of the Year win at the Grammys, Kacey Musgraves continued her hot streak with her deeply emotional and uplifting “Rainbow” video, which proves that a happy ending is always within reach.

48. “Icy” – Kim Petras

Serving endless glamour, Kim Petras captures her evolution from heartbroken to bionic superheroine in “Icy.” Pop’s ascendant Queen of Bops always delivers quality, but this is her most expensive-looking project to date.

47. “Here With Me” – Marshmello feat. CHVRCHES

Marshmello finds unexpected ways to bring his songs to life, and he continued that trend with “Here With Me.” The bucket-headed DJ used the visual to highlight the self-sacrifice of first responders and delivered another riveting must-see in the process.

46. “Dance Monkey” – Tones & I

Tones & I conquered the world with breakout hit “Dance Monkey” this year, and the bop’s quirky video is all sorts of odd but utterly enchanting.

45. “How Do You Sleep?” – Sam Smith

This year Sam Smith moved away from ballads in favor of tightly produced, deeply emotional floor-fillers. And they showed off their inner Dancing Queen in the accompanying videos. My favorite being “How Do You Sleep,” which really ups the ante.

44. “GIRL” – Maren Morris

What’s it like to be a girl? Maren Morris showcases the experience from a couple perspectives in her powerful “GIRL” video. Opening and closing with a spoken word segment from the hitmaker, this proves that the future really is female.

43. “Two Of Us” – Louis Tomlinson

This one is a tearjerker. Louis Tomlinson helps an 83-year-old named Richard check a couple items off his bucket list in his heartwarming “Two Of Us” video.

42. “Small Talk” – Katy Perry

Talk about puppy love! Katy Perry knows how to deliver a concept when she shoots a music video. That’s exactly what she did for “Small Talk,” which captures the start of a relationship at the Mutt Ball.

41. “Cash Machine” – Oliver Tree

We love a good concept, and that’s exactly what we get when Oliver Tree embarks on an adventure in a pink aquatic car for his “Cash Machine” video.

40. “Sucker” – Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers comeback was one of the happiest surprises of 2019. And they ensured that it would be memorable right off the bat by turning the video for comeback single “Sucker” into an extravagant and surprisingly sexy affair.

39. “7 rings” – Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande celebrated the finer things in life in her pink-hued and exceedingly opulent “7 rings” video. The end result is the perfect visual to accompany a song that blends The Sound Of Music with trap beats.

38. “Medellín” – Madonna feat. Maluma

Toe sucking and wedding wear. Madonna introduced us to the titular character of her latest album Madame X and got into all sorts of trouble with collaborator Maluma when they linked up to film a rebellious and predictably sexy video for “Medellín.”

37. “Chicken Noodle Soup” – j-hope feat. Becky G

They did what they had to do. BTS member j-hope and Becky G are renowned dancers, and they showed that off in their simple but exceptionally well-choreographed “Chicken Noodle Soup” video.

36. “Juice” – Lizzo

Serving retro vibes, body positivity and so much personality, Lizzo’s “Juice” video is just as enchanting as the song is underrated.

35. “Press” – Cardi B

Cardi B is put on trial for murder in the video for “Press.” But the rap empress serves her own bloody form of justice instead of bowing down to the law.

34. “Strange” – Celeste

Talk about being on the nose. Celeste delivers her intoxicating torch song “Strange” in front of a burning wreck in her “Strange” video.

33. “Circles” – Post Malone

Post Malone in a very unlikely fairytale prince in his dark and demented “Circles” video.

32. “ME!” Taylor Swift feat. Brandon Urie

What a transformation. Taylor Swift perfectly captured the end of her Reputation era and the start of Lover with the candy-coated visual for “ME!” The song may be a travesty (I said what I said), but the visual is over the top in the best ways.

31. “Nightmare” – Halsey

Fierce and femme. Halsey hits back at the unfair expectations placed on women in her ferocious “Nightmare” video.

30. “Cellophane” – FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs learned how to pole dance in order to shoot the video for “Cellophane.” Considering that it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen during the arty release, I’d say that was a very good use of her time.

29. “Kill This Love” – BLACKPINK

Just Queen things. K-Pop divas BLACKPINK pulled out all the stops in their larger-than-life “Kill This Love” video.

28. “Bury A Friend” – Billie Eilish

You’re going to want to sleep with the lights on after watching Billie Eilish in action in her “Bury A Friend” video. In it, the breakout star quite literally becomes the monster sleeping under your bed, and that’s just the first of several haunting moments in the nightmarish epic.

27. “Zoo Eyes” – Aldous Harding

Weird and wonderful, Aldous Harding pulls out all the stops in her outlandish “Zoo Eyes” video.

26. “Courage” – Céline Dion

The title track to Céline Dion’s Courage finds the vocal legend speaking to late husband René Angélil. And the accompanying video, shot in black and white, is appropriately emotional and bound to leave you gasping for breath.

25. “365” – Zedd feat. Katy Perry

Android Katy Perry and Zedd make an odd couple in the riveting visual for their underrated club collab “365.”

24. “More Than That” – Lauren Jauregui

Lauren Jauregui channels the goddess Aphrodite and hits the strip club in her visually stunning and fiercely femme “More Than That” video.

23. “Started” – Iggy Azalea

Consider the bag secured. Iggy Azalea is the ultimate gold digger in her meme-spawning and star-studded visual for “Started.”

22. “Atención” – Anitta

Boasting a diverse cast, Anitta’s “Atención” video celebrates women of all shapes and ages. It also serves as a reminder that you should be performing regular breast examinations. We stan a humanitarian legend.

21. “Tusa” – Karol G feat. Nicki Minaj

This must have been what Nicki Minaj meant by Barbie dreams. She and Colombian superstar Karol G serve nothing but opulent luxury in “Tusa.” The end result is a pink-hued fever dream with plenty of replay factor.

20. “I Fell In Love With The Devil” – Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne played with lighter imagery for the first few visuals off Head Above Water but went full goth for “I Fell In Love With The Devil.” This is a distinctly more glam version on punk edge than the neckties and wifebeaters of her previous looks, but I love it nonetheless.

19. “Lights Up” – Harry Styles

Harry Styles launched his Fine Line era with the surprise release of “Lights Up.” And while the song itself is excellent, the video (which sees him sweat-soaked in a sea of bodies and serving fabulous fashion) is even better.

18. “Spirit” – Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s “Spirit” was overlooked at the Golden Globes. But that by no means undermines the power of the song and accompanying visual. Both of which act as love letters to Africa, and the latter dos so with some of the most breathtaking camerawork of the year.

17. “Lose You To Love Me” – Selena Gomez

Sometimes less really is more, a fact Selena Gomez proved when she dropped the video for “Lose You To Love Me.” Shot on an iPhone 11 Pro, the black-and-white masterpiece keeps the focus purely on Selena’s genuine emotional response to the lyrics.

16. “Slide Away” – Miley Cyrus

Breakups suck, and so does party cleanup. Miley Cyrus is left picking up the pieces for both in the video for “Slide Away.” However, she seems at peace with the situation and ready for a fresh start as the video closes out.

15. “Boyfriend” – Social House feat. Ariana Grande

All is fair in love and war, and it is hard to tell which Ariana Grande and Mikey Foster of Social House are engaging in in their ridiculous “Boyfriend” video.

14. “Glad He’s Gone” – Tove Lo

What would you do for a friend in need? Tove Lo answers that question by embarking on an epic journey in the video for “Glad He’s Gone.” And she does so while remaining on the phone the entire time to comfort a grieving pal post-breakup.

13. “all the good girls go to hell” – Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is a fallen angel cast into an oil spill in the eerie epic for “all the good girls go to hell.” What elevates it from striking to genuinely powerful is that the release also raises awareness about the dangers of climate change.

12. “Solita” – Kali Ulchis

This is what you call a proper visual. Kali Uchis serves snakes, bejeweled face masks, shirtless man-slaves and choreography while bringing bilingual bop “Solita” to life.

11. “Gone” – Charli XCX feat. Christine and the Queens

Charli XCX and Christine And The Queens went conceptual when it was time to put together a video “Gone.” In it, the duo escapes restraints and puts on one hell while surrounded by flames. Although unexpected, it does capture what it feels like to deal with a case of social anxiety while out in a crowd.

10. “Sally Walker” – Iggy Azalea

Justice for Iggy Azalea. The hitmaker delivered one perfect video after another in 2019. And it all started with “Sally Walker.” Featuring a slew of star-studded cameos (we see you, James Charles), the funereal release is unlike any service you’ve ever attended.

9. “Walk Me Home” – Pink

Pink leads an army of shadow dancers in her poetic “Walk Me Home” video. This is the sort of release that will stand the test of time and proves the legendary diva is still very much on top of her game.

8. “Boy With Luv” – BTS feat. Halsey

The Kings of K-Pop never fail to deliver, and their pastel-hued “Boy With Luv” video was another win. In it, BTS brings chic costumes, flawless choreography and even more impressive staging. Oh yeah, there’s also an appearance from Halsey. It just keeps getting better.

7. “Con Altura” – ROSALÍA & J Balvin feat. El Guincho

ROSALÍA took over the world in 2019. And it’s easy to see why when watching her in action in the video for her J Balvin collab “Con Altura.” In it, the pair live the life of luxury in the while traveling the skies.

6. “Mother’s Daughter” – Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus celebrates the power and diversity of womanhood with “Mother’s Daughter.” Opening with a proclamation that every woman is a riot, the striking cast proves just that. Dressed in a red bodysuit (think “Oops” era Britney Spears but with more teeth), Miley is the center of the storm.

5. “Raising Hell” – Kesha feat. Big Freedia

Kesha breaks free from an abusive relationship but pays a hefty price in “Raising Hell.” It’s hard to watch the former K$ in the role without drawing comparisons to the ongoing legal woes, making it doubly powerful.

4. “Doin’ Time” – Lana Del Rey

Get ready for the attack of the 50-foot Lana Del Rey. The supersized chanteuse takes a trip to the beach and makes an unexpected cameo at a drive-in theater in her sun-dappled and utterly iconic video.

3. “Never Really Over” – Katy Perry

It feels like music videos are a lost art sometimes, but that’s never the case when Katy Perry is involved. Her third appearance on this list finds the diva escaping heartbreak at a new-age treatment center and is utterly unforgettable.

2. “Motivation” – Normani

It’s hard to think of another pop video this year that sparked as much discussion as “Motivation.” Serving awe-inspiring choreography, gorgeous looks and clever references to the golden days of the early aughts (pop was just better than), Normani proved she has what it takes to become one of music’s next greats.

1. “God Control” – Madonna

Madonna’s hard-to-watch but utterly vital “God Control” video is an 8-plus minute demand for gun reform. This is the sort of art that proves the Queen of Pop still has her finger on the pulse and is creating work that is both visually striking and capable of speaking to larger cultural issues.

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