Top 89 of 2017: Music Videos


Top 89 of 2017
Top videos of 2017 (MPR Graphic)

We asked, you voted! All December long, you — the music lover — voted for your favorite music videos released in 2017, 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 may include some combination of violence, gore, language or sexual content.

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

5. Portugal. The Man, "Feel It Still"

From Woodstock (Atlantic Records)

When Portugal. The Man visited The Current studio in March, guitarist Eric Howk said, "Art that matters, I think, is an idea whose time has come again."

The band's album, Woodstock, hadn't yet been released, but "Feel It Still" had come out as a radio single a couple weeks earlier and was quickly climbing the charts; the video premiered just a few days after the song's release. Adhering to the idea of art that matters, the video for the song "Feel It Still" digs deeper than its protagonist who claims to be "a rebel just for kicks." A simultaneously released interactive version of the video contains links to resources such as donation sites for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, a way to contact the White House and a video explainer of protesters' rights.

4. Father John Misty, "Total Entertainment Forever"

From Pure Comedy (Sub Pop)

In her review of Father John Misty's album Pure Comedy, Jill Riley wrote, "If you're anything like me, you listen to a lot of music to escape the frustrating realities of the world, fights over politics, religion, the cruelty of society. You won't find that escape with this album."

Likewise, there is no escapism to be found in the video for "Total Entertainment Forever." Father John Misty — aka Josh Tillman — has a lot to say. In the video, Tillman skewers sordid sensationalism, opening on a George Washington-esque figure downing Viagra and losing himself in a virtual-reality game wherein Macaulay Culkin plays Kurt Cobain, who is promptly captured and flogged by a military tribunal dressed in Ronald McDonald costumes. Josh Tillman himself later appears in the video, in a role that mashes up Ronald McDonald, Captain Hook and John Hurt's character from Alien. The video reaches its climax in a scene in which Culkin (as Cobain) is crucified alongside Bill Clinton and — you'd never guess — Jon from Garfield. Through these and many other details in the video, it's obvious Tillman is making a statement about humanity's fascination with entertainment's baser forms.

On a lighter note, Sean Tillmann (two Ns) — aka Har Mar Superstar — makes a brief appearance in a faux lower-third forward-promotion.

3. Jain, "Come"

From Zanaka (RCA)

Not only is this song irresistibly danceable, its video is a playful visual feast. It's fitting that Jain's native language is French, because she's given us a video replete with trompe l'oeil, including Garden State-style wallpaper-to-wardrobe coordination, forced-perspective tricks, multiple composite shots, M.C. Escher staircases and more.

The video for "Come" was originally released in 2015 (the same year as the album on which it appears), eventually making its way to the U.S., where Jain's music has been captivating a whole new audience.

2. Kendrick Lamar, "DNA"

From DAMN. (Aftermath)

Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game; his latest album, DAMN., has already been called a classic (and it landed at No. 2 in The Current's Top 10 Albums of 2017, as voted by listeners), and the video for the song "DNA." continues to showcase Kendrick Lamar's artistry and creativity.

Directed by prolific music-video producer Nabil Elderkin, the video opens on an interrogation room in which acclaimed actor Don Cheadle appears to interrogate Lamar and administer a lie-detector test. Cheadle raps at the beginning, and eventually Cheadle and Lamar trade off lyrics until the polygraph gets the better of Cheadle. The second portion of the video packs a lot of rapid-fire visuals to complement the lyrical flow; there's even a quick view of the Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur poster, and appearances by Schoolboy Q and others.

1. OK Go, "Obsession"

From Hungry Ghosts (Paracadute)

The ever-visionary OK Go have landed in the top five music videos of the year for the second year in a row — although this year, the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Chicago foursome find themselves at number one.

In their video for "Obsession," OK Go and their production team constructed a soundstage backdrop composed of 567 printers, where they coordinated music, printer output and stop-motion animation to create another video to capture fans' imaginations. In the opening frames of the video, OK Go quickly silence any would-be detractors by pointing out all the paper from the video was recycled, with proceeds going to Greenpeace.

As they've done with other videos, OK Go pull back the curtain a little bit to give viewers a glimpse into the making of the video, revealing, for instance, the band's harnesses and the camera's dolly tracks. And because OK Go's videos have been used by classroom teachers in STEM-related fields, the band recently partnered with the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul to launch OK Go Sandbox, an online portal that teaches students and educators ways to combine music and engineering.

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