- Insider ranked this year’s 57 best music videos.
- “Lights Up” by Harry Styles took the top spot.
- It was followed by “Mother’s Daughter” by Miley Cyrus, “Nightmare” by Halsey, “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers, and “Bury a Friend” by Billie Eilish in the top five.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In recent years, music videos have seen a significant revival – including, but not limited to, Lady Gaga’s theatrics, Sia’s visual partnership with Maddie Ziegler, “This Is America” by Childish Gambino (last year’s crown jewel), and, well, anything Beyoncé does.
2019 has proved no different. Keep reading to see our 57 favourite music videos from this year so far, ranked in ascending order.
This list has been updated since its original publish date.
57. “Don’t Call Me Angel” by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey
This video will go down in history purely by virtue of bringing together three of pop’s most important women – and putting them in absurdly perfect outfits in the process.
56. “Orange Trees” by Marina
Marina Diamandis – known professionally as Marina and previously by the stage name Marina and the Diamonds – radiates summertime happiness joy in the video for “Orange Trees.” From the glittering ocean shots to her playful makeup looks, the clip is aggressively pleasant from start to finish.
55. “A Lot” by 21 Savage featuring J. Cole
At its most basic level, “A Lot” celebrates the complexities of family, especially in black communities. It’s an ode to the joyful moments and the deep abiding love, but also the struggles and baggage.
54. “Talk” by Khalid
Although the colourful visuals for Khalid’s “Talk” don’t totally align with the song’s anxious theme, it can easily be read as an homage to Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which is one of the best comparisons for a modern music video.
53. “Wake Up” by Travis Scott
Although “Wake Up” doesn’t quite recreate the bizarre magic of last year’s “Sicko Mode,” the visuals are still striking enough – disconcerting, yet graceful – to make a lasting impression.
52. “Cool” by the Jonas Brothers
The “Cool” video, while nothing particularly new or special, is pure bubbly joy. It’s also a fun reminder about how charmingly weird the Jonas Brothers are. Remember “Bounce”?
51. “Clementine” by Halsey
“Clementine” showcases a more vulnerable side of Halsey, who has largely made her name as a pop star who’ll do what she wants, shave her head when you least expect it, and expose cheating ex-boyfriends on live TV.
The “Clementine” video sees the singer dancing – clumsily, at times, but in an endearingly intimate way – alongside her little brother. The video even opens by proclaiming, “Performed by Ashley and Sevian Frangipane,” using Halsey’s real name to emphasise “Clementine’s” more intimate nature.
50. “Cheap Queen” by King Princess
The video for “Cheap Queen” embodies many of the reasons why fans, especially in the LGBTQ community, have gravitated towards King Princess. She’s effortlessly cool, painfully self-aware, and maintains a sharp sense of humour through it all – especially when it comes to the playacting in the world around her.
49. “Unemployed” by Tierra Whack
Tierra Whack is one of the most fascinating rappers at work today, and her “Unemployed” video capitalises on that unique, existential, slightly bewildering persona.
“‘Unemployed’ is another slice of Whack’s brain, a cracked imagining of a kitchen where the food is very, very frightened,”Billboard’s Ross Scarano writes. “There’s a bit of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at work here, but make no mistake, this is still Tierra’s show – which makes us the captive audience.”
48. “Land of the Free” by The Killers
The Killers’ brutal “Land of the Free” calls attention to the most pressing plagues in the US. The Spike Lee-directed video doubles down on that message, casting an unyielding gaze on deadly issues like gun violence and the violent treatment of Mexican immigrants.
47. “Señorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
46. “Kids Turned Out Fine” by A$AP Rocky
“Kids Turned Out Fine” is ostensibly an acid trip, but each scene also underscores the song’s themes of acceptance, growth, and diversity of experiences.
45. “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves underscores “Rainbow’s” message of hope, peace, and quiet strength in the video, which features a series of people depicted with common struggles: Motherhood, alcoholism, navigating gender identity, and family conflict.
“Musgraves is a comforting presence through each episode, more felt than seen,” Rolling Stone’s Jon Freeman writes. “In the end, the song’s message of resilience and hope prevails – each story line is granted a moment of calm and peace that matches with Musgraves’ own resolution, ‘It will all be alright.'”
44. “Waves” by Normani featuring 6lack
The visual effects in the video for “Waves” aren’t perfectly executed, but Normani’s hypnotic dancing is more than enough to make up for it.
43. “Bounce Back” by Little Mix
There’s a good reason why MTV called the “Bounce Back” video “instantly iconic.” Little Mix’s saucy interpretation of a Barbie Dreamhouse features Cheetah Girl-inspired looks and perfect choreography.
42. “More Than That” by Lauren Jauregui
Lauren Jauregui’s ethereal “More Than That” combines two classic depictions of women by men – artistic interpretations of the goddess Aphrodite and the rap video strip club trope – but flips the gaze.
“Aphrodite is the ultimate celebration of femininity and beauty and sexuality in an empowering way,” the video’s director, Lauren Dunn, told MTV News.
“Ultimately, it’s just a celebration of women’s power and beauty, in every form. Every body type, every colour,” she continued. “Because that’s where real beauty lies, is diversity. Lauren’s life mantra is celebrating women, and we just wanted to literally see these women in a new light.”
41. “Girl” by Maren Morris
“Maren Morris beautifully highlights the struggles of being a woman in ‘Girl’ from her album of the same title,” Marie Claire’s Rachel Epstein writes. “She reflects on her own insecurities as a singer and songwriter while showing the raw, real-life physical and mental struggles we face as women. It deserves all the stars.”
40. “Holy Terrain” by FKA Twigs featuring Future
“Holy Terrain,” a track co-produced by FKA Twigs herself, sees the singer-songwriter-dancer-innovator truly hitting her stride. The video compliments the pop-trap song perfectly with moody lighting, dizzying camera work, avant-garde fashion, and mesmerising choreography.
39. “Arrow” by Half Alive
The true essence of Half Alive – in particular, the easy charisma and commanding stage presence of frontman Josh Taylor – is captured beautifully in the whimsical visuals for “Arrow,” the follow-up to the beloved video for the brand’s breakout hit, “Still Feel.”
“Arrow” is slightly nonsensical but somehow feels like a fully formed, cohesive vision, blending bright colours and sharply executed dance moves to create a world all its own.
38. “Late Night Feelings” by Mark Ronson featuring Lykke Li
The video for “Late Night Feelings,” as a reflection of the song’s own genius, manages to feel both fun and desperately sad – but takes the genius a bit further, making the viewer feel both intimately engaged and voyeuristic.
37. “Lover” by Taylor Swift
Like all of Taylor Swift’s best videos, this one pays off more if you pay closer attention. “Lover” is like a reward for dedicated fans, as there are delicious callbacks to a variety of lyrics from previous (and probably future) albums: the snow globe scenery references the “1989” deep cut “You Are in Love,” while a party scene recalls the “Reputation” album closer “New Year’s Day.”
36. “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” by Ariana Grande
Closing out an album full of intimate personal details and revealing lyrics, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” comes across like a flippant outlier.
The video rejects that assumption with layered messages, though it is similarly deceptive. It’s disguised as a classic seduction tale, but the visuals are stuffed with hidden references and laced with a message of self-love – even if that goal was muddied by accusations of “queer-baiting.”
35. “Almeda” by Solange
While lacking a cohesive narrative, “Almeda” is a perfect example of Solange’s knack for striking, elegant visuals that draw on everything from blackness and femininity to fashion and architecture.
34. “Highest in the Room” by Travis Scott
“Highest in the Room” is another example of Travis Scott’s affinity for vivid, eccentric imagery. The video’s impeccable production quality and ambiguous narrative perfectly mirror the song, which (like much of Scott’s music) manages to sound at once bright and hazy.
33. “Glad He’s Gone” by Tove Lo
Tove Lo proves that she’s the friend you’d want to call after a breakup in “Glad He’s Gone.” As she braves the wilderness – and even the prison system, briefly – the video combines an achingly funny story line with stunning cinematography.
32. “Icy” by Kim Petras
Kim Petras serves look after look in her video for the ultimate sad bop “Icy,” drawing inspiration from Britney Spears’ obsession with her own abs cira “I’m a Slave 4 U” and Rihanna running errands in New York City – but, true to Petras’ brand, she puts a sexy-creepy spin on them.
The pop star pays homage to the divas that came before her while making an argument for her place amongst them.
31. “Bop” by DaBaby
DaBaby specialises in music videos with joyfully chaotic energy, keeping his own grinning charisma centerstage, and “Bop” is his crown jewel thus far. Bringing in the legendary Jabbawockeez dance crew to close the video was an especially ingenious touch.
30. “How Do You Sleep?” by Sam Smith
Sam Smith said in a statement about “How Do You Sleep?” that they feel “so free” now, and it certainly shows in this clip. Coming on the heels of their recent revelations about gender, masculinity, and sexuality, Smith appears to shed all insecurities as they shimmy along with choreography by Parris Goebel (who also choreographed Justin Bieber’s beloved “Purpose” videos, including “Sorry”).
29. “7 Rings” by Ariana Grande
“7 Rings” earmarked a triumphant new direction for Ariana Grande. After the unmitigated success of “Thank U, Next,” she strutted into a pink trap house doused in crystals and champagne to unabashedly congratulate herself. And rather than coming across as spoiled and rude, “7 Rings” feels earned – though detractors have made some valid points about its reliance on black music and culture.
28. “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” by Billie Eilish
The video for “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” is macabre, uneventful, and yet very watchable. Billie Eilish was trained in contemporary dance as a child, but you probably could sense that without actually knowing it: her innate connection to her body is palpable with each step she takes. Every time she tilts her head or twitches her shoulders, it’s subtly and hypnotically deliberate.
The video is also elevated by its essential message. “All the Good Girls Go to Hell,” which shows the world literally burning, was released alongside a note from Eilish about climate change.
“Our earth is warming up at an unprecedented rate, icecaps are melting, our oceans are rising, our wildlife is being poisoned and our forests are burning,” she writes. “You can make your voice be heard. take it to the streets.”
27. “Chatroom” by Charly Bliss
Charly Bliss’ lead singer, Eva Hendricks, said she wrote “Chatroom” as a way of processing her sexual assault. The video expertly translates that experience into a mysteriously cult-ish atmosphere, in which a group of women worship a man.
“What I really love about the concept of the video is that it really illuminates the lyrics of the song in an ingenious way: It still communicates these big ideas of mind control, and manipulation, and misogyny, and abuse without being totally literal,” Hendricks told Jezebel. “It’s adjacent to the subject matter, it’s related to it, but it’s not a literal interpretation.”
26. “Doin’ Time” by Lana Del Rey
It’s difficult to descibe exactly what makes the “Doin’ Time” video so transfixing, but something about it is just so Lana. And who amongst us doesn’t wish we had a massive clone to punish the cheating boyfriends of the world?
25. “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift
While “You Need to Calm Down” has been fairly criticised for centralizing Swift in the fight for LGBTQ rights, there’s something to be said for the world’s biggest pop star taking such a strong and explicit stand.
The video enlists an army of queer celebrities, from Laverne Cox and Ellen DeGeneres to the stars of “Queer Eye” – which certainly helps to mitigate the accusations of self-interest – to celebrate same-sex marriage and colorfully condemn homophobia.
24. “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa oozes confidence in the video for “Don’t Start Now,” her disco-infused electropop single about moving on from a still-jealous ex. The video sees a newly independent Lipa hitting the club and making eyes at someone new, but sprinkles in some enigmatic weirdness that lends an edge to this classic pop motif; Lipa seems to draw power and energy from her fellow revelers, turning the dancefloor into something like a group therapy session.
23. “Juice” by Lizzo
22. “Boy With Luv” by BTS featuring Halsey
“The concept behind ‘Boy With Luv’ is simple: coat BTS and Halsey in pastel colours and have them dance everywhere,” Billboard’s Kirsten Spruch writes. “It’s exactly what fans, and the rest of the world, want right now – joy so pure it has the power to turn your entire day around. Maybe that’s why it became the most-viewed 24-hour debut in YouTube history.”
21. “Slide Away” by Miley Cyrus
At first glance, Miley Cyrus’“Slide Away” is an archetypal video for a moody pop ballad – but its parallels to her iconic 2013 “We Can’t Stop” video make it a compelling reimagining of that convention.
Cyrus wants to prove that she’s maturing, that she’s “grown now,” but she still can’t truly leave her past behind – perhaps because our collective pop culture memory won’t let her. It’s a meditation on fame, self-image, and the pain of outgrowing relationships.
20. “Boyfriend” by Ariana Grande and Social House
“Boyfriend” takes excellent advantage of the chemistry between Ariana Grande and the boys of Social House, Mikey Foster and Charles “Scootie” Anderson, who are all close friends in real life.
It also takes the common fear of “defining the relationship” and turns it into a cheeky, unexpectedly hilarious revenge fantasy. The video serves as a reminder that Grande isn’t just a hit-maker, but a scholar of generational attitudes – and a talented comedic actor.
19. “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish
“Bad Guy” puts Billie Eilish’s undeniable charm on full display. Surrounded by vibrant colours and surreal imagery, the blue-haired pop star is both warm and standoffish, both youthfully joyful and starkly intimidating – not so much sliding between extremes and binaries as she is rejecting them completely.
18. “Graveyard” by Halsey
Not only is “Graveyard” aesthetically stunning from start to finish, it also serves to explore the psyche that informed Halsey’s forthcoming album, “Manic.”
The singer-songwriter has always been candid about her experiences, particularly with bipolar disorder. Now that she’s more famous than ever – making her relationships, breakups, and various traumas more knowable than ever – her knack for visually artful and poetic storytelling can truly shine.
17. “Prophet” by King Princess
The comment section beneath the “Prophet” video is a wonderful mix of confusion and lust, featuring gems like “This video went from very hot to very creepy real quick” and “I want her to bully me in that football uniform.”
Throughout the video, King Princess takes on stereotypically masculine roles, but is eventually made into a cake and devoured by a group of men and one woman (who had been introduced earlier as a possible love interest).
The video is multilayered but ambiguous, leading to many fan theories about its meaning. It could be about feeling exploited as a queer artist in the music industry, or feeling objectified by men when you date women.
The end appeared to pay homage to the performance artist Marina Abramović, but it could also be a commentary on how infatuation can blind you to a person’s negative intentions. It could be all of these things, or none of them – and that makes it a piece of artwork worth revisiting.
16. “Ever Again” by Robyn
“Ever Again” may be Robyn’s declaration that she’s cutting ties with heartbreak, but nearly a decade after she fused despair and triumph on 2010’s “Body Talk,” she’s dancing on her own again – this time, she said, through “a dreamy place, somewhere undefined, somewhere in my unconsciousness.”
As she’s proven many times before, Robyn needs only to dance through her own imagination, her own prismatic array of emotions and twinkling ’80s synths, in order to command our collective attention.
15. “Never Really Over” by Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s video for her de facto comeback single, “Never Really Over,” is fully weird and extremely fun – just like the “Teenage Dream” pop star that fans fell in love with years ago.
After the extended misstep known as her “Witness” era, “Never Really Over” is a deliciously bizarre return to form for Perry, who champions our culture’s current obsessions with pastel aesthetics and Petra Collins-esque surrealism in a way that still manages to feel fresh.
14. “Throw It Back” by Missy Elliott
“You don’t know who Missy is?” guest star Teyana Taylor says in the video’s intro. “Missy Misdemeanour? Missy Elliott? The innovator of all innovators? The avant-garde? The game-changing sensation?”
If not, let this video educate you. Elliott isn’t just leaning into current music video trends with “Throw It Back” – she’s reminding us that she invented them.
13. “Earfquake” by Tyler, The Creator
Come for the excellent song, stay for the delirious Tracee Ellis Ross cameo – as well as Tyler, The Creator’s complete disregard for narrow definitions of masculinity and rap video clichés. His growth as a producer, songwriter, and visual artist has never been more apparent as when he’s sliding around on a fake stage in a platinum blonde wig.
12. “Spirit” by Beyoncé
Although “Spirit’s” inextricable connection to Disney’s “The Lion King” may have slightly stunted Beyoncé’s creative expression, she more than made it up with unreasonably high glamour, inimitable choreography, and rich cultural references.
11. “Lose You To Love Me” by Selena Gomez
The beauty of Selena Gomez’s “Lose You To Love Me” is in its raw simplicity and its quiet strength: “Both the song and the video seat the singer up close at centre stage with little else to distract from her truth,” Craig Jenkins wrote for Vulture.
Indeed, Gomez sits in the spotlight with spare background details. The series of black-and-white portraits, which overlap and fuse together as Gomez sings to the camera, compliments the ballad’s elegantly minimal production. As the video goes on, Gomez grows more comfortable in her seat; instead of pulling her knees to her chest and looking around anxiously, she unbinds her body and begins to laugh, sinking into her own solitude.
10. “Cellophane” by FKA Twigs
“Cellophane” is as impressive as it is captivating. FKA Twigs, whose music is rarely detached from a striking visual component, had been honing her pole-dancing skills for months – so at the very least, considering the mind-boggling athleticism it required, this video is fascinating to watch. But it also highlights the song’s tension between vulnerability and strength, transforming Twigs’ performance into something much more profound.
9. “Caro” by Bad Bunny
On top of dreamy colours and infectiously joyful dancing, the Reggaeton rapper gracefully dismantles gender roles in his video for “Caro,” which largely stars Puerto Rican model and Bad Bunny lookalike Jazmyne Joy.
“With his painted, manicured nails and flamboyant sense of style, he’s been at odds with the machista, or often toxic masculinity, culture that’s often ingrained in Latinx life,” writes MTV’s Lucas Villa, who notes how the video is likely a direct reaction to Bad Bunny’s homophobic incident in July, when a salon in Spain refused him service because of his painted nails.
As Villa writes, Bad Bunny’s “Caro” proves that he’s “a sorely-needed Latinx artist… who understands why representation matters, champions it in spite of his critics, and is hopefully inspiring more Latinx artists to fearlessly align with the LGBTQ community.”
8. “Gone” by Charli XCX featuring Christine and the Queens
It’s almost tragic that Charli XCX and Chris aren’t in a two-person band together. Playing off each other’s looks and convulsions, they create an electric and spellbinding energy that carries throughout the “Gone” video and keeps their viewers absorbed until the very end, despite the minimalist setting and twitchy choreography.
7. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
The cinematic video for “Old Town Road” embodies the song perfectly – and why it has become the most popular song of all time. Though Lil Nas X enlisted a number of other stars for cameos, he also managed to keep his own charm and humour centre stage.
6. “Motivation” by Normani
Normani’s captivating “Motivation” video is an impeccable homage to music videos from the early 2000s, honouring a variety of iconic artists like Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Ciara, Ashanti, and Jennifer Lopez.
It’s a rare music video – particularly when it’s a solo debut- that manages to highlight the artist’s captivating stage presence and star power while also inspiring shot-for-shot breakdowns and nostalgic think pieces.
5. “Bury a Friend” by Billie Eilish
“Most conventional pop music videos aim to be dream-like escapes from the natural horrors of the outside world… but then, Billie Eilish doesn’t make conventional pop music,” Billboard’s Stephen Daw writes of the “spine-chilling” video for “Bury a Friend,” which leans heavily on horrific imagery.
“Is it a visual representation of sleep paralysis? Is it a metaphor for the fear of loneliness?” Daw continued. “When you find yourself asking these questions about a music video, you know the artist has clearly done something right.”
4. “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers
As it’s the Jonas Brothers’ official comeback video, “Sucker” was destined to be beloved by fans, but the band didn’t simply deliver on more shots ofJoe looking pained while singing directly to camera (although that motif is here, to be fair).
No, the band didn’t lean on tried-and-true formulas and visuals. They delivered a glamorous, hilarious, delightfully bizarre, and visually stunning fever dream.
The brothers smartly allowed their wives to steal the show. The video gives fans a tantalising peek into the dynamics of Kevin, Joe, and Nick’s relationships – with Danielle Jonas,Sophie Turner, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, respectively – but in a totally surreal and aspirational setting. With “Sucker,” Jonas became less of a name and more of an empire.
3. “Nightmare” by Halsey
Halsey has always created vivid, detailed music videos stuffed with metaphorical meanings, but “Nightmare” takes it to the next level.
What is easily her most relevant piece of work to date, “Nightmare” chews up forced female archetypes, swallows them, and spits them back at the audience. Surrounded by an all-female cast (and, behind the scenes, an all-female production team), Halsey bounces between personas, refusing to be defined, and embodies the righteous feminine anger that largely defines this current cultural moment.
“She really wanted to show how multifaceted women are,” director Hannah Lux Davis told MTV News. “We could be fighting in the street for sport and we could be in lingerie, really sexy and feminine and clean. That was the biggest thing that she wanted to say – just showcasing all different sides of what a woman is, and how every side is just f—ing awesome.”
2. “Mother’s Daughter” by Miley Cyrus
It’s extremely difficult to make a music video that’s at once political, artistic, visually dazzling, seductive, scary, and totally inclusive. Think: “Wrecking Ball,” but make it ultra-feminist.
Aside from the genius styling and gorgeous direction, the real triumph of Cyrus’ “Mother’s Daughter” video is how it highlights a wide variety of people – Little Miss Flint, a woman with a C-section scar, and transmodels, for example – who might connect with the song’s message of empowerment and freedom.
The video doesn’t treat its participants as afterthoughts, but rather allows the camera to linger on them and relishes in their presence.
“We wanted to make a tribute to the previous women who fought this battle, because you can imagine how hard it was for the women of the ’90s and ’80s, when it wasn’t even a subject people were bringing up,” director Alexandre Moors told the Los Angeles Times of the video, which echoes the “slogan-centric methods of feminist groups like Femen, Riot Grrrl and Guerrilla Girls.”
“These women put their bodies on the front lines to fight for what is right, and I have a deep respect and fascination for them,” he added.
Cyrus also made a point to highlight each person’s experience on her Instagram, posting captions in their own words to explain why inclusive imagery like “Mother’s Daughter” is important.
1. “Lights Up” by Harry Styles
Of his forthcoming album, Harry Styles told Rolling Stone, “It’s all about having sex and feeling sad.” And judging by the video for the album’s lead single, he’ll make sure his listeners relate to that sentiment- namely by making fans feel sad that they will never have sex with him.
The “Lights Up” video showcases the former One Direction frontman in all his glory, rocking fluid fashion that would make David Bowie proud and getting caressed by people of all genders.
The series of hazy, suggestive, enigmatic visuals – anchored by Styles’ undeniable on-camera presence – will cement his role as a new kind of sex symbol, much-needed in our new era of questioning traditional roles, exploring identities, and pushing the boundaries of “masculinity.”
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