Top 89 of 2015: Music Videos


Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar tackles violence against marginalized groups in his video for "Alright" (KendrickLamarVEVO via YouTube)

We asked, you voted! All December long, you — the music lover — voted for your favorite music videos released in 2015, and the results are in!

All of the represented albums have been heard on The Current but unlike the airwaves, YouTube isn't regulated by the FCC, so fair warning: Featured videos are slightly NSFW as they all include some combination of violence, gore, language or sexual content.

Be sure to tune in to The Current's listener-curated Top 89 countdown on Dec. 31, 2015 starting at 5 p.m. CT with a rebroadcast on New Year's Day starting at 10 a.m. CT.

5. (tie) Modest Mouse - "The Ground Walks with Time in a Box"

From Strangers to Ourselves (Epic)

As someone who has never seen a second of Game of Thrones, Modest Mouse's video for "The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box" has convinced me that I've seen a sneak preview of the series finale before it's aired. Sporting gold leggings, a fur cape and a scrap metal crown, frontman Isaac Brock is a positively possessed pompous king who stomps across a vast land of garbage occupied by fairies with wings made of plastic bags. Brock's archaic cape meets his enemy clad in ties for a brutal duel over the land's lone (living) tree that ends with the primitive king literally poking his rival's eyes out of their sockets. Brock declares victory by killing the tree, pulling it out from the ground, roots and all.

5. (tie) Father John Misty - "The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment"

From I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop)

After being called out by Funny or Die for ripping off a 2011 video featuring Dave Franco frame-by-frame, Father John Misty says screw the haters and has a casual drink with his alter ego in the video for "The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment." In a press release Father John Misty explains the video is inspired by a LeBron James quote: "It is precisely the superficial differences between people who are otherwise alike that inform the hostilities between them." He invites his "body double Tyler" home and appears to have an entertaining night before becoming intimate with himself, only to hostilely leave himself in bed just as the sun begins to rise. No one is to blame but himself, right?

4. Lizzo - "My Skin"

From Big GRRRL Small World (BGSW)

The video for Lizzo's "My Skin" is a testament to her strength. Before the song kicks in, Lizzo drops some knowledge: "Learning to love yourself, learning to love your body, is a journey that I feel like every person — more specially, women — have to go through." Beyond self-acceptance, "My Skin" is about how others must learn to accept people of color, too. When the video was released — 12 days after Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by police — Lizzo asked, "What is there to fear if a person is unarmed and detained? And then it hit me: his skin." Lizzo's statement and song lyrics encompass a powerful moment of self-actualization represented in the video by the moment she bursts balloons filled with shimmering glitter, breaking down any barriers that would have kept her from shining.

3. FKA twigs - "M3LL155X"

From M2LL155X (Young Turks)

In the epic video accompanying her M3LL155X EP, FKA twigs tackles objectification of women in 16 minutes. The first movement ("Figure 8") features an older woman imagined as a predatory anglerfish which, like humans, are known for sexual dimorphism. The illuminated bulb transforms into a blow up doll ("I'm Your Doll") with the head of twigs. In the third movement ("In Time"), FKA twigs menstruates neon paint, wears a prosthetic pregnant belly and births colorful fabric, as if those who procreate are magicians. "Glass & Patron" closes the video featuring twigs dancing on a runway in the middle of a forest. As the phrase "Strike that pose for me" is repeatedly sung more and more quietly, twigs continues to challenge the male gaze.

2. Kendrick Lamar - "Alright"

From To Pimp a Butterfly (Interscope)

Before "Alright" begins, Kendrick Lamar sets the video's tone with a statement: "While my loved ones was fighting a continuous war in the city, I was entering a new one: a war that was based on apartheid and discrimination." At its core, the song is uplifting: Lamar glides across scenes of the city six feet above ground. But the high contrast black and white video sheds light on the topic of police brutality among marginalized groups. At its conclusion, Kendrick is shot down from a streetlight by an officer with a literal handgun; after hitting the ground, Kendrick smirks. He's going to be alright.

1. Tame Impala - "The Less I Know the Better"

From Currents (Interscope)

While FKA twigs conquers objectification of women, Tame Impala tackle toxic masculinity. After a basketball player becomes intimate with an onlooker and utters the words, "I love you," his jealousy leads to hallucinations: she is taken away by a gorilla named Trevor to a fantastic land of bananas where he competes for her love. The protagonist battles his interal thoughts and eventually crushes his jealousy by facing the gorilla head-on in the school hallway, destroying Trevor by thrusting a basketball at his chest. The end!

Related Stories

  • Top 89 of 2015: The Current Staff Picks It's December, and you know what that means: year-end lists. Here's what music The Current's staff was excited about in 2015.
  • Top 89 of 2015: Local Songs We asked, you voted! All December long, you — the local music lover — voted for your favorite Minnesota songs released in 2015, and the results are in!
  • Top 89 of 2015: Twin Cities Concerts We asked, you voted! All December long, you — the local music lover — voted for your favorite Twin Cities concerts of 2015, and the results are in!